Battle of Waterloo 1815The Battle of Waterloo - 200 years ago, on 18th June 1815 - was the last great event that marked the end of that great historical process that was begun in 1789 by the Great French Revolution. With the defeat of Napoleon, the last flickering embers of the fires lit by revolutionary France were extinguished. A long, grey period settled down on Europe like a thick coat of suffocating dust. The forces of triumphant reaction seemed firmly in the saddle.

In the recent period, the so-called Tea Party movement has laid claim to the legacy of the American Revolution. With their tri-corner hats and abstract appeals to patriotism and freedom, they have seized headlines, aided by generous coverage by the corporate media. This has led to tremendous confusion when it comes to the real class roots of this world-shaking event. Unfortunately, for many Americans, the Revolution has been reduced to a summer barbecue on the 4th of July, flag-waving, fireworks, and images of George Washington heroically crossing the Delaware River.

Paris_Commune_Barricade18March1871-thThe Paris Commune of 1871 was one of the greatest and most inspiring episodes in the history of the working class. In a tremendous revolutionary movement, the working people of Paris replaced the capitalist state with their own organs of government and held political power until their downfall in the last week of May. The Parisian workers strove, in extremely difficult circumstances, to put an end to exploitation and oppression, and to reorganise society on an entirely new foundation. The lessons of these events are of fundamental importance for socialists today. We publish this article ahead of the 140th anniversary of the Commune's suppression, tomorrow, 28 May.

Shays’ Rebellion and the American RevolutionThe American Revolution shook up the entire world. The thirteen British colonies that would become the United States of America, fought and won against the most powerful imperial power on the planet. In the years following the American victory over the British, the hopes of the masses were betrayed. As a result, there were many popular movements and uprisings. But none had as big an impact on the psychology of the ruling class and the future structure of the U.S. government as Shays’ Rebellion of 1786-87, which some have called “The American Revolution’s Final Battle.”

The Last Stand of the LevellersOn 17 May 1649, three soldiers were executed on Oliver Cromwell’s orders in Burford churchyard, Oxfordshire, England. They were the leaders of 300 men who belonged to the movement known as the Levellers. They had decided to fight against Cromwell who they considered was betraying the ideals of what the “Civil War”, i.e. the English Revolution, had been about.

Today is the 200th anniversary of the battle that is associated with the name of one man, Horatio Nelson. He was considered a national hero, both in his own lifetime and in the Victorian period following his death. But should the working class celebrate the life of this man? We will examine his exploits and show them in a light that is not exactly what the present patriotic hullabaloo is designed to do.

In a new series Alan Woods looks at the specific historical role of Napoleon Bonaparte. He looks into the characteristics of this man that fitted the needs of the reactionary bourgeoisie as it attempted to consolidate its grip on French society and sweep to one side the most revolutionary elements who had played a key role in guaranteeing the victory of the revolution.

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