On the anniversary of the Paris Commune we republish an article written by Lenin in 1908.

The 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.

Today marks the anniversary of the beginning of the Paris Commune, where the working class for the first time in history, took power into its own hands. On this occasion we republish the following classic work by Leon Trotsky about the lessons of the Commune.

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.

The 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.

The 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.”

On 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.

"The year 1848 is turning out well", wrote Engels. "By this glorious revolution the French proletariat has again placed itself at the head of the European movement. All honour to the workers of Paris!" That revolution spread across the whole of Europe, marking an important development in the class struggle.

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.

In the second part of his series on Napoleon Bonaparte, Alan Woods looks at how Napoleon came to prominence as the embodiment of the bourgeoisie's desire for "order" and an end to the "excesses" of the revolution which had brought it to power.

In the third part of his series, Alan Woods looks at Napoleon Bonaparte as he concentrated all power in his hands striking blows against the Left and reintroducing many of the trappings of the old regime, while maintaining the essential social aspects of the revolution, the abolition of feudalism and the establishment of bourgeois property relations.

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