Blanc, Louis

Blanc, Louis

(lwē bläN), 1811–82, French socialist politician and journalist and historian. In his noted Organisation du travail (1840, tr. Organization of Work, 1911), he outlined his ideal of a new social order based on the principle "Let each produce according to his aptitudes … let each consume according to his need." He advocated, as a first stage in the achievement of this goal, a system of national workshops (ateliers sociaux) controlled by workingmen with the support of the state. He attacked the Louis Philippe government in Histoire de dix ans (5 vol., 1841–44, tr. The History of Ten Years, 1830–1840, 1844–45). As a member of the provisional government of 1848 he insisted on the establishment of the social workshops, but the plan was sabotaged by other leaders of the government. Implicated in the subsequent insurrection of the workers, Blanc fled to England, where he remained until 1871. While in exile he wrote the 13-volume Histoire de la Révolution française (1847–62), in which his admiration of Jacobinism was manifest. After his return to France, he became (1871) a member of the national assembly and was later a leader of the left in the chamber of deputies. Blanc's ideas, which Marx labeled "utopian socialism," influenced the thought of later political thinkers, especially Ferdinand Lassalle and the German socialists.


See biography by L. A. Loubère (1961); D. C. McKay, The National Workshops (1933); C. Landaur, European Socialism (1959).

Blanc, Louis


Born Oct. 29,1811, in Madrid; died Dec. 6, 1882, in Cannes. French Utopian socialist; historian; journalist; figure in the Revolution of 1848. Born into a noble family.

During the 1830’s, Blanc became a well-known journalist in Paris. He based his views on the development of the historical process on the ideas of Saint-Simon. Blanc’s work The Organization of Labor (1839; Russian translation, 1926), which gave a plan for social reform, made him popular. Beginning in 1843 he contributed to the petit bourgeois newspaper La Réforme (Reform). Between 1841 and 1844 he published The History of Ten Years, which was directed against the July Monarchy. In 1847 he published the first volume of his 12-volume History of the French Revolution (Russian translation, vols. 1–12, 1907–09), in which he presented a positive evaluation of the Jacobin period of the Revolution.

Blanc’s reputation as a social reformer, his connections with bourgeois democratic circles, and his negative attitude toward the class struggle of the proletariat made him a “representative of the workers” who was useful to the bourgeois majority in the provisional government, which he had joined during the Revolution of 1848. Heading the so-called Luxembourg Commission, Blanc attempted to avert revolutionary action by the proletariat. Although Blanc did not participate in the June Uprising of 1848, the bourgeoisie, which came to power, prosecuted him. In August 1848 he emigrated to England. There he wrote the work The History of the Revolution of 1848 (1870; Russian translation, vols. 1–2, 1907), in which he attempted to justify his policy of compromise. Blanc returned to France in 1870. Elected to the National Assembly in 1871, Blanc was among the enemies of the Paris Commune of 1871 at Versailles.

In the development of society Blanc saw a succession of three principles: authority, which was dominant during the Middle Ages; individualism, which became firmly established in bourgeois society; and fraternity, which would become a reality under socialism. According to Blanc, insofar as competition was inevitable in a social system based on the principle of individualism, it was pernicious not only for the workers but also for the bourgeoisie, who risked being ruined. Proceeding from this point, Blanc believed that social reform could be brought about by the common efforts of the people and the bourgeoisie. According to Blanc’s concept, the state should undertake the organization of “social workshops” which would attract the participation of the bourgeoisie. In Blanc’s opinion, these social associations would be victorious in the competitive struggle against private enterprises because of the greater productivity of their labor. Blanc’s Utopian plan spread the illusion of the possibility of resolving peacefully the contradictions between labor and capital. Blanc took his place in the history of socialism and the workers’ movement as the forefather of opportunism and reformism (Luiblanovshchina, or Louis Blancism).


Marx, K. “Klassovaia bor’ba vo Frantsii s 1848 po 1850 g.” K. Marx and F. Engels. Soch., 2nd ed., vol. 7.
Lenin, V. I. “Luiblanovshchina.” Poln. sobr. soch., 5th ed., vol. 31.
Lenin, V. I. “I. G. Tsereteli i klassovaia bor’ba.” Poln. sobr. soch., 5th ed., vol. 31.
Lenin, V. I. “Iz kakogo klassovogo istochnika prikhodiat i ’pridut’ Kaven’iaki?” Poln. sobr. soch., 5th ed., vol. 32.
Vigdorchik, A. “Taktika Lui Blana v revoliutsii 1848 g.” Uch. zap. Leningradskogo gosudarstvennogo universiteta: Seriia istoricheskikh nauk, 1950, issue 17.
Bendrikova, L. A. Lui Blan kak istorik. Moscow, 1959.


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