League of the Just

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League of the Just

Bund der Gerechten
LeaderWilhelm Weitling
FounderTheodore Schuster
Founded1836
DissolvedJune 1847
Split fromLeague of Outlaws
Succeeded byCommunist League
HeadquartersParis (before 1839)
London (after 1839)
Membership1,000
IdeologyChristian communism
Utopian socialism
Political positionLeft-wing to far-left
Colours     Red

The League of the Just (German: Bund der Gerechten) or League of Justice was a Christian communist international revolutionary organization. It was founded in 1836 by branching off from its ancestor, the League of Outlaws (German: Bund der Geächteten), which had formed in Paris in 1834. The League of the Just was largely composed of German emigrant artisans.

In 1847, the League of the Just merged with the Communist Correspondence Committee, an organization led by Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels, creating the Communist League. The new group tasked Marx and Engels with writing a political platform for itself. The resulting document was The Communist Manifesto.

History[edit]

Theodore Schuster founded the League of Outlaws in Paris in 1834.[1] He modeled the organization closely after Philippe Buonarroti's vision of the "Universal Democratic Carbonari" as an egalitarian international revolutionary fellowship organization,[2][1][3] perhaps the first of its kind.[1][4] Its members were German emigrants.[4] Schuster's 1834 pamphlet, Confession of faith of an outlaw has been suggested as the first vision of marginalized people joining together in a coming revolution.[4]

At its peak, the League of Outlaws had about 100 members in Paris and 80 in Frankfurt am Main.[2] At this time, Schuster focused his efforts on advocating for the unification of Germany and organized middle-class republicans into the League of Germans.[2] As Schuster's and other key members' attention was focused on this work,[2][4] the working class members of the Outlaws rallied around the leadership of Wilhelm Weitling.[2] This group formed the League of the Just[5] in Paris[4] in 1836[6][1][7] as an offshoot from the League of Outlaws.[1] The Outlaws dissipated in 1838 as their members prioritized other associations.[1]

Members of the League of the Just were German journeymen artisans, primarily tailors and woodworkers.[8][9][10] Their stated goal was "the establishment of the Kingdom of God on Earth, based on the ideals of love of one's neighbor, equality and justice".[11] This was also referred to by the League as the "new Jerusalem".[12] The motto of the League of the Just was "All men are brothers".[13][11] They have been described as followers of François-Noël Babeuf[6][7] and as "utopian-communist".[6] They were anticipating a social revolution, which one of their leaders, Karl Schapper, described as "the great resurrection day of the people."[4] Friedrich Engels wrote dismissively of the League as essentially similar to other French secret societies except that it was German.[2]

The latter league had a pyramidal structure inspired by the secret society of the Republican Carbonari, and shared ideas with Saint-Simon and Charles Fourier's utopian socialism. Their goal was to establish a "Social Republic" in the German states which would campaign for "freedom", "equality" and "civic virtue".[citation needed]

Wilhelm Weitling was the most prominent leader in the movement.[14][15] Weitling proclaimed himself a "social Luther" and denounced private property and money as a source of corruption and exploitation.[16][17] Other significant leaders included Karl Schapper, Bruno Bauer, Joseph Moll,[7][17] August Hermann Ewerbeck,[10][18] and Johann Hoeckerig.[19]

Many members of the League of the Just were involved in the 12 May 1839 Blanquist revolt.[7][20] This led to the group being expelled by the French government.[13][17] They proceeded to move to London.[17] In 1840 in London they established a front organization called the Educational Society of German Workingmen.[17] They continued to grow, until reaching a peak membership of over 1,000 people.[17][21]

In 1845 there was significant public debate within the League between Weitling, who advocated for an immediate uprising of workers, and Karl Schapper, who considered this premature, especially after his experience in the 1839 uprising. Schapper advocated for a longer campaign of popular education to prepare the masses for revolution.[22]

Karl Marx was hesitant about joining the League due to political disagreements, but was convinced by Joseph Moll that he could be more influential debating as a member from within the organization when Moll visited Brussels in January 1847.[7] In June 1847, the League of the Just merged with the Communist Correspondence Committee to form the Communist League.[23]

See also[edit]

Citations[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e f Davies 2014, p. 31.
  2. ^ a b c d e f Lause 2011, p. 11.
  3. ^ Billington 1980, p. 176,183. Cf. 93.
  4. ^ a b c d e f Rothbard 2009, p. 164.
  5. ^ While in most literature the group is referred to as "Bund der Gerechten" (League of the Just), the German historian Waltraud Seidel-Höppner has, based on new archival sources, argued that the group itself used the name "Bund der Gerechtigkeit" (League of Justice) (Höppner & Seidel-Höppner 2002)
  6. ^ a b c Day & Gaido 2009, p. 4.
  7. ^ a b c d e Marik 2008, p. 58.
  8. ^ Hobsbawm 2012, p. 3.
  9. ^ Hobsbawm 2011, p. 101.
  10. ^ a b Wheen 2001, p. 109.
  11. ^ a b G.N. Volkov et al., The Basics of Marxist-Leninist Theory. Moscow: Progress Publishers, 1979.
  12. ^ Toews 1999, p. 8.
  13. ^ a b Vander Hook 2011, p. 16.
  14. ^ Birchall 1997, p. 95.
  15. ^ Rothbard 2009, p. 164f.
  16. ^ Lattek 2006, p. 23.
  17. ^ a b c d e f Rothbard 2009, p. 165.
  18. ^ Henderson 1976, p. 41,91.
  19. ^ Billington 1980, p. 185.
  20. ^ Bernard Moss, "Marx and the Permanent Revolution in France: Background to the Communist Manifesto," in The Communist Manifesto Today: The Socialist Register, 1998. New York: Monthly Review Press; pg.10.
  21. ^ Vander Hook 2011, p. 17.
  22. ^ Henderson 1976, p. 90.
  23. ^ Toews 1999, p. 10.

References[edit]

  • Billington, J.H. (1980). Fire in the minds of men: origins of the revolutionary faith. Basic Books.CS1 maint: ref=harv (link)
  • Birchall, I.H. (1997). The Spectre of Babeuf. Palgrave Macmillan UK. ISBN 978-1-349-25599-3.CS1 maint: ref=harv (link)
  • Davies, T.R. (2014). NGOs: A New History of Transnational Civil Society. Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0-19-938753-3.CS1 maint: ref=harv (link)
  • Day, R.B.; Gaido, D. (2009). Witnesses to Permanent Revolution: The Documentary Record. Historical Materialism Book Series. Brill. ISBN 978-90-04-16770-4.CS1 maint: ref=harv (link)
  • Henderson, W.O. (1976). The Life of Friedrich Engels. Vol. 1. Cass. ISBN 978-0-7146-4002-0.CS1 maint: ref=harv (link)
  • Hobsbawm, E. J. (2012). "Introduction". The Communist Manifesto: A Modern Edition. Verso Books. ISBN 978-1-84467-903-4.CS1 maint: ref=harv (link)
  • Hobsbawm, E. J. (2011). How to Change the World: Reflections on Marx and Marxism. Ciencias sociales. Yale University Press. ISBN 978-0-300-17825-8.CS1 maint: ref=harv (link)
  • Lattek, C. (2006). Revolutionary Refugees: German Socialism in Britain, 1840–1860. British Politics and Society Series. Routledge. ISBN 978-0-7146-5100-2.CS1 maint: ref=harv (link)
  • Lause, M. A. (2011). A Secret Society History of the Civil War. University of Illinois Press. ISBN 978-0-252-09359-3.CS1 maint: ref=harv (link)
  • Marik, S. (2008). Reinterrogating the Classical Marxist Discourses of Revolutionary Democracy. Aakar Books. ISBN 978-81-89833-34-3.CS1 maint: ref=harv (link)
  • Rothbard, M. (2009). Review of Austrian Economics, Volume 4. Ludwig von Mises Institute. ISBN 978-1-61016-163-3.CS1 maint: ref=harv (link)
  • Toews, J. (1999). The Communist Manifesto, with Related Documents. The Bedford Series in History and Culture. Bedford/St. Martin's. ISBN 9780312157111.CS1 maint: ref=harv (link)
  • Vander Hook, S. (2011). Communism. Exploring World Governments. ABDO Publishing Company. p. 16. ISBN 978-1-61714-789-0.CS1 maint: ref=harv (link)
  • Wheen, F. (2001). Karl Marx: A Life. Norton. ISBN 978-0-393-32157-9.CS1 maint: ref=harv (link)

Further reading[edit]