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New Left Review I/65, January-February 1971


Auguste Blanqui

Instructions for an Uprising

An insurrection in Paris today, based on old models, has no chance of success. In 1830 popular enthusiasm alone could overthrow a power surprised and terrified by an armed uprising: an unthinkable event which went far beyond any of its predictions. This could work once. The government then learned its lesson. Although founded by a revolution, it remained a counter-revolutionary monarchy. It began to study the strategy of street warfare and its superior skill and discipline soon gave it the advantage over the people’s inexperience and confusion. Yet it is said that the people won in 1848 by the methods of 1830. This is all right, but there should be no illusions; the victory of February was only a lucky chance. If Louis Philippe had seriously defended himself, power would have stayed with the uniforms. The proof is the June days. It is there that we can see how fatal were the tactics of the rising or rather its lack of tactics. Never had an insurrection had such good odds: ten to one. On one side, the government in open anarchy, the troops demoralized; on the other, the workers were ready and almost certain of success. Why did they fail? Lack of organization. To understand their defeat, we only have to analyse their strategy.

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