A COMMUNIST INTERREGNUM

A DIRECT outcome of these events was the incident of the Paris Commune. A republic was set up, but a strong party under Thiers wished to restore the Orleans monarchy. Another party wished to restore the Bourbons. The republic defiantly ordained the establishment of government by local communes, and in the Commune of Paris [3] the elected leaders proposed further reforms. The royalist and orthodox republican parties employed the army to suppress them. Paris was reconquered at an appalling cost in bloodshed, both in action and in executions. She lost in all eighty thousand lives. McMahon, an avowed royalist, became president in 1873, but a royalist restoration was obviously unwelcome, and the republic continued. The constitution of the Third Republic, which has lasted to the present day, was largely a copy of the English constitution of the same period. The President is invested with advisory and ex-hortatory powers. The Senate, corresponding to the House of Lords, has a longer and more continuous life than the Chamber of Deputies, corresponding to the House of Commons, to which ministers are responsible.

Despite the short lives of French governments, there has been strong continuity in French policy. The French constitution has proved that there is nothing in the French national character incompatible with parliamentary government, but that fitness for parliamentary government is a matter of time and training. The chief political weaknesses of modern France have been corruption among officials and politicians and the hostility to the republic of the clerical and military party, while the system of numerous small parliamentary groups makes for bargains and illicit arrangements.



[3] In the Marxist interpretation of history, the institution of the Paris Commune takes a most important place, for not only is it held to be the first revolt of the industrial working class against the capitalist system, but it also offered valuable lessons to the communists in their pursuance of the Class Struggle. It is held by the Marxist to have failed chiefly because of the indecision at vital moments of its leaders, the intellectuals, among them the famous socialist thinker. Louis Blanc.