Les interprétations marxistes de la « guerre des paysans »

The history which comprises the subject of the present article does not begin in 1517 (the nailing of Luther’s theses to the door of the Church of Wittenberg Castle, nor in 1515 (Battle of Frankenhausen) but in 1848, or rather 1850 when, in the context of Marxism, consideration was given to the failure of the 1848 Revolution. Attention was also paid to certain structural analyses which go back further in the past to the only revolution that took place in Germany: the peasants’ war of 1525. Thus, rather than examining the case of Thomas Müntzer within the framework of the Protestant Reformation, or how his links with Luther developed, we concentrate on the discussion initiated by Engels’ small book which continued into the first half of the 20th century in the work of Ernst Bloch and Georg Lukács.

The entire early part of the article focuses on Engels, showing that the relationship between the structure and superstructure does not develop in a single direction (reciprocal implication, see Max Weber); there were also socialist sources (Zimmermann, Weill) underpinning Engels’ output. Next we interrogate the problem of the Marxist nature of the interpretation of Bloch; according to Lukács, who places emphasis on Hegel – and thus dialectic – Block is to be linked to the thinking of Kant who, according to Lukács, is the most important thinker of the bourgeoisie. The article goes on to consider the relationship between historical or philosophical texts and literary texts, namely Goethe’s plays/theatrical output (Goetz von Berlichingen, 1773) or Lassalle (Franz von Sickingen, 1859) and Kleist’s novel: Michael Kohlhaas, 1810.