Street Fighting (The Advice of a General of the Commune)
|Written||23 October 1905|
Source: Lenin Collected Works, Foreign Languages Publishing House, 1962, Moscow, Volume 8, pages 237-238.
This paragraph is a foreword by Lenin to the translation of Cluseret’s article published in Vperyod, No. 11, March 23 (10), 1905, under the heading “Street Fighting. (The Advice of a General of the Commune)”. The translation was edited by Lenin (see Lenin Miscellany XXVI, 1934, pp. 355-65).
(The Advice of a General of the Commune)[edit source]
Editors’ foreword: The article presented below is a translation from the memoirs of Cluseret, a famous leader of the Paris Commune. As is evident from the short biographical sketch here given, Cluseret based his considerations chiefly, though not exclusively, on the experience of the Paris street uprisings. Moreover, he had in mind specifically a revolution of the proletariat against all propertied classes, whereas we in Russia are now experiencing a revolution which is largely a movement of the whole people against the government clique. It goes without saying, therefore, that Cluseret’s original ideas should serve the Russian proletariat only as material for an independent analysis of the experience of the West-European comrades with a view to its adaptation to our own conditions. We believe it would be useful to acquaint the reader briefly with the author’s life, which is not devoid of interest.
Gustave-Paul Cluseret was born in Paris on June 13, 1823. He studied at the Military School of Saint-Cyr, from which he graduated in 1843 as a second lieutenant. In 1848, with the rank of lieutenant, he took a very active part in suppressing the workers’ revolt in Paris (the June Days). Within six hours he took eleven barricades and captured three banners. For this “heroic deed” he was awarded the Order of the Legion of Honour. In 1855, now a captain, he fought in the Crimean campaign, and then retired. He served under Garibaldi in Italy’s war of liberation. In 1861 he went to America, where he fought in the Civil War against the slave states. He was raised to the rank of general and (after the victory at Cross Keys) was granted American citizenship. He then returned to France. In 1868 he received a prison term for his articles in the newspaper L’Art. In Sainte-Pélagie prison he became connected with leaders of the International. His sharp military criticisms in the newspapers resulted in his deportation as an American citizen. Upon the proclamation of the Republic (September 4, 1870), he returned to Paris and took part in the attempts at a revolt in Lyons and in Marseilles. On April 3, 1871, he was appointed Minister of War of the Commune. On April 16, he was elected a member of the Commune. For surrendering Fort Issy he was dismissed by the Commune and arrested,but he was acquitted by a court of honour. After the amnesty of 1881 he returned to France and contributed to the newspapers La Commune and La Marseillaise. He was sentenced to two years’ imprisonment for inciting the army to insubordination and fled from France. In the 1888 elections to the Chamber of Deputies he was a candidate of the Revolutionary Party. He waged a zealous campaign against parliamentarism and the “Clemencist” Radical Party. In 1889 he was elected to the Chamber of Deputies by the second arrondissement of Toulon. Belonged to the Socialist Labour group. Wrote a book The Army and Democracy (1869) and two volumes of Memoirs (1887) dealing with the Commune.