[Marxism] Popular front-the Left in the 1850s

Mark Lause MLause at cinci.rr.com
Sat Oct 8 00:07:45 MDT 2005

There were several attempts to start national organizations of German
socialists, but little left of it by 1860.  Herman Kriege's Social
Reformers in the 1840s was swallowed by the Democrats.  Wilhelm
Weitling's Arbeiterbund which had a national convention and showed some
promise in 1850 before getting itself swallowed in various communitarian
ventures.  Weydemeyer attempted several organizations, before giving up
and working in local groups.  After 1857, there were Kommunist Klubs in
NYC and various other cities, but it is very unclear what they meant by
"Kommunist" and it almost never meant what you or I would mean by it.
There existed nothing we'd recognize as a national organization, save by
intentions.  Rather, there were decentralized local groups, residues of
various Arbeiterbund groups. 

However, the Turners were a much larger group, had a national
organization, and had voted that they were socialists earlier in the
1850s.  But they were really not a political group with a national
political strategy--did fine amateur theatre and gymnastics, of course. 

However, the French were even larger.  We just don't realize it in the
historical record very clearly, because they tended to go back after the
proscriptions were lifted in the late 1850s.  While they were here,
though, they probably were closer than the Germans to a national
structure, particularly the Blanquists, but their focus was on Europe
and what they did here was pretty much local.  

New York City had very large associations of Italians and
Hungarians--both Garibaldi and Kossuth came over here.  And there were
also Poles, Cubans and other émigrés with their own groups.

The American groups--the Fourierists, land reformers, and Protective
Unionists--were much larger numerically, but they never had more than a
shadow of a national organization--and that shadow was gone by the later

In 1858, these different groups pulled together some demonstrations in
solidarity with Felice Orsini, the Italian revolutionary who had tried
to assassinate Napoleon III and was executed.  They were loosely
associated under the umbrella of the "International Association," which
went belly up pretty quickly.  I've never seen much trace of it after
late 1858.  It was noteworthy as a kind of loose formation,
ideologically bridging Giuseppe Mazzini's bourgeois nationalism and the
later "International Workingmen's Association" established by the former
Chartists, Marx and Engels, etc.

The Republican Party was really a kind of American analogy to this
International Association--historically the last gasp of the great
bourgeois revolutions of the previous decades and centuries. 

Mark L.

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