Louis Blanc

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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

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.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
References in classic literature ?
There is Napoleon; who, upon the top of the column of Vendome, stands with arms folded, some one hundred and fifty feet in the air; careless, now, who rules the decks below; whether Louis Philippe, Louis Blanc, or Louis the Devil.
Notre recherche porte sur les discours fondateurs de la Troisieme Republique, ceux des grands leaders comme Paul Bert, Louis Blanc, Jules Ferry, Charles Floquet, Leon Gambetta, Victor Fiugo, Eugene Spuller, dans les annees 1868-1882.
The lecture was delivered by Professor Louis Blanc at UNESCO headquarters in Paris yesterday.
His friends and collaborators included Garibaldi, Mazzini, Michelet, Louis Blanc, Proudhon, Victor Hugo, and Thomas Carlyle.
Paris from PS138pp: Spend three nights B&B at the three-star Louis Blanc flying from Luton on November 10.
First from French revolutionary Louis Blanc, and then by Karl Marx.
If Burczak had been more aware of the real libertarian tradition he would have discovered that Proudhon had argued, against the centralised socialism of Louis Blanc, that without competition the prices of goods would be arbitrary and so meaningless, while Kropotkin had argued that 'a strongly centralised Government' managing the economy was 'wildly Utopian' and that communism needed decentralisation and free agreement to access 'the co-operation, the enthusiasm, the local knowledge' of the people.
Mill on socialism, a bioeconomic Marx-Weber paradigm, Japanese cultural concepts of eclecticism and civil society, and amongst essays on new horizons, topics such as Louis Blanc and associationism in France, the Brussels Democratic Association and the Communist Manifesto and editorial problems in establishing a new edition of The German Ideology.
Louis Blanc, searching for consensus, is shown as coming before his time and certain ly a poor revolutionary.
But it was Frenchman Louis Blanc who in 1840 defined socialism as: "From each according to his abilities, to each according to his needs." But everyone from Marx to Thatcher had their own definition.
The voluminous histories of Lamartine, Michelet, and Louis Blanc began appearing at the same time: 1847.