Patriotism and Socialism

 

The article below was written over 120 years ago by the French Workers’ Party and deals with the question of internationalism in the workers’ movement.

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In their senseless rage against the rising popularity of the Wokers’ Party, our class enemies have one last card to play: slander. They are trying to tarnish our internationalist movement just as they tried to destroy our socialist vision. The same people who are now trying to label us as un-patriotic are the same people who, for a century now, have been ravaging the nation state their own class created by combining finance capital with banditry and exploiting it until “la Ricamarie” and “Fourmies” (both communes in France) bleed dry. We won’t let them confuse our communistic demands with anarchy, which is the caricature of bourgeois individualism, anymore than we will let them translate our glorious cry: Long live the International! into the pathetic muttering: Down with France!

Internationalism is neither the watering-down nor the sacrifice of patriotism. Nation states, when they were formed, were an essential first step towards the unification of humanity, a goal for which we continue to struggle. Internationalism is the coming together of all modern civilizations and it is the next, inevitable, step in the process of uniting all humanity. The formation of France did not supplant the various regions within it, regions that were snatched up and clumped together into an antagonistic gaggle. Rather, the statehood of France unified the regions for their own benefit, liberty and prosperity. In the same way, the social State reclaims the statehood of humanity. Production, exchange and science should not operate at the expense of the world’s nations, but instead for their benefit and development.

Internationalism will never stop us being patriotic. It will see the complete blossoming of humanity. Just as we saw at the end of the last century, when, although we became French, we still came from Provence, Bourbon, Belgium or Brittany.

In fact, the members of the International can congratulate themselves on being the sole true patriots. They are the only ones who understand the requisite conditions in which the future and the great state of humanity will be inaugurated. Under such conditions national antagonisms will be replaced with solidarity.

‘Long Live the International!’ is a cry synonymous with ‘Long live France of the workers!’ and through it the historical goal of the French proletariat, that of self-emancipation, will be realised by emancipating the workers of the world!

French socialists go even further than most in their patriotism: France has been and will be integral to the social evolution of our species. We want nothing but a great and strong France, capable of defending the Republic against the unholy alliance of monarchies, and capable of defending her next generation of revolutionaries against the inevitable attacks of a capitalist Europe.

France, with Babeuf, Fourier and Saint Simon, is the birth place of socialist thought. Marx and Engels brought their scientific finishing touches to France.

France became the great champion of the class war after unleashing the bourgeois revolution upon the world, which is an essential preamble to the proletarian revolution. She gave, without thinking of what she would receive in return, her revolutionary heroes from Lyon in 1832 and from Paris in 1848 and 1871.

France, once decimated at the massacres of Versailles rose again in 1889. At the immortal Paris Congress, the International flag fell into a pool of its own blood and struck the match which lit the Mayday movement. France was the first to fly the proletariat’s red flag over the offices of government on the march towards the conquest of political power.

The call of France’s revolutionary past is answered by a socialist future: When she found herself in trouble twenty-three years ago the Italian, Spanish and other internationalists came running to her rescue under the banner of the Tricolour. This was despite the foolish and criminal behaviour of the nascent German social democratic movement.

Because we are patriotic, we do not want war. War, whether resulting in victory or defeat, creates only disaster – without exception. In war, millions of men are thrown forward into the battle field armed with the artillery of death.

We don’t want war which, whatever it’s about, will squeeze the West and play into the hands of the Asiatic barbarism of Tsarist Russia.

We want peace because peace is in our interests. Peace works against the domination of the ruling class, who rely on misery and divisions between people to maintain their rule.

We want peace because though peace the bourgeoisie face extinction.

Patriotism and internationalism are not mutually exclusive, they actually two sides of the same coin. They are both an expression of the same love of humanity. Our slogans are defiant in the face of our slanderers:

Yes! The French Workers’ Party and the German Democratic-Socialist party are united against the German empire.

Yes! The French Workers’ Party makes and the Belgian Workers’ Party are united against the bourgeois monarchy of Cobourg.

Yes! The French Workers’ Party and the young and already powerful British Labour Party are united against the constitutional and capitalist English oligarchy.

Yes! All over the world, we are forever united with proletariats against the dominating and parasitic ruling classes.

We call on our French comrades, the comrades in the workshops and in the fields, to join our party’s national council in rallying to these two battle cries, both one and the same:

Long live the International! Long live France!

23 January 1893

by the National Committee of the Workers’ Party of France

translation by Marxist Student Federation