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1848. Marx and the ordeal of revolution [Podcast] – COUNTERTIMES

In this new episode of the program “En avant Marx”, available on the Specter platform and in video on the Hors-série website, Marina Simonin returns with the philosopher Stathis Kouvélakis to the place of the 1848 revolutions in the political and intellectual trajectory of Marx and Engels and on the way in which the latter intervened in what is still known as the “springtime of the peoples”. This episode is also an opportunity to hear Adèle Haenel, who here lends her voice to Karl Marx and makes us discover a series of excerpts from the main texts that Marx wrote during the revolution.

For this new episode, Marina Simonin invites you to travel to the heart of the spring of the peoples, in the midst of the 1848 revolution. Started in Paris on February 22, she reached Berlin on March 18 and, in just a few weeks, she established herself as a European revolution. On the eve of the revolution, Marx and Engels had just elaborated their materialist conception of history and participated in the reorganization of the communist movement. The experience of the revolution is an opportunity for them to confront their theory to the test of practice. For a year, from April 1848 to May 1849, Marx and Engels took an active part in the German revolution. They write hundreds of articles, analyze on a daily basis the dynamics at work in this complex and unprecedented historical process and intervene directly in the course of events. They propose slogans, debate tactical choices, argue with their adversaries and work the movement from within its organizations. We can say that this is the most militant moment of their trajectory.

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From the political point of view, the “48 moment” corresponds in Marx and Engels to a conception of the revolution that recapitulates the notion of “permanent revolution” or “permanently” revolution. If this term does not appear explicitly until 1850, in the midst of a period of reflux, we will see that this conception permeates (sometimes in a contradictory way) the whole of the thought of Marx and Engels in those years. The two revolutionaries are in fact tackling a major problem: how and under what conditions can a revolution that breaks out in a backward country of capitalism like Germany pave the way and be transformed into a social revolution, or even into a proletarian revolution? This is the great question of strategy that is posed by the 1848 revolution, but it is also the one that other revolutionaries will ask themselves, such as in Russia at the beginning of the 20th century.

From the summer of 1849, it became clear that the reactionary order had won over the Continent and Marx and Engels were forced into exile in London. After the revolution, the experience of defeat will also be rich in lessons. This is all the more so since the reaction did not give rise to “classic” restoration phenomena but rather to unprecedented reactionary regimes, of which the Bonapartist coup in France is undoubtedly the most monstrous example. In short, 1848 is indeed a pivotal date, both a historical break and a political break, and it constitutes, from this point of view, a decisive moment in the Marxian trajectory.

Texts by Marx and Engels published by Social Editions

– The Manifesto of the Communist Party,

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– The New Rhenish Gazette, three volumes

– La Nouvelle Gazette Rhénane – review of political economy

– Class struggles in France

– 18 Brumaire by Louis Bonaparte

– Correspondence, volumes 1, 2, 3

Other references

– The 1848 revolution in Marx and Engels, Fernando Claudin

– Political Marx, under the direction of Jean-Numa Ducange and Isabelle Garo, and in particular the contribution of Stathis Kouvélakis “The political form of emancipation”

– State and Revolution, Lenin

– Karl Marx, 19th century man, Jonathan Sperber

– Revolution and democracy in Marx and Engels, Jacques Texier

– The origins of the permanent revolution, Alain Brossat

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