Paris Commune

commune

The Paris Commune is one of the most inspiring episodes in the entire history of the working class. In just a few weeks in 1871, surrounded by enemies, the working men and women of Paris demonstrated with brilliance that it is possible for the workers to run society democratically, without capitalists, bankers or even a standing army.

For the first time, albeit confined to a single city, we see the proletariat consciously organised as the ruling class. As Marx put it, the Communards “stormed heaven”. And to this day, the experience of the Commune contains essential lessons for Marxists as well as inspiration.

In the place of the old rotten state, with its corrupt parliament and bloated bureaucracy, the Parisian workers elected their own representatives by universal (male) suffrage. These members of the Commune, like all its officials, received no more than a workman’s wage. Those who failed to carry out their responsibilities to the workers’ satisfaction could be recalled at any time. Compare this to the ridiculous fraud of our so-called “democracy” today!

As in all great revolutions, women played a leading role in the Commune from start to finish. At the birth of the Commune on 18 March, it was the working women of Montmartre who disarmed the reactionary generals by fraternising with the troops. And in the Commune’s dying hours, women could be seen at every barricade, arms in hand, fighting for their class.

Isolated and overpowered, the Commune was defeated, and drowned in blood. But the spirit of the Commune lives on. It was to the Commune that the Bolsheviks looked when they led the workers to power in 1917, and it still provides a model for workers’ power today. What the workers of Paris began, we must complete the world over. Vive la Commune! 

Women in the Paris Commune.

“We have come to the supreme moment, when we must be able to die for our Nation. No more weakness! No more uncertainty! All women to arms! All women to duty! Versailles must be wiped out!” These were the words of Nathalie Lemel, participant in the Paris Commune of 1871, and member of the Union des Femmes pour la Defense de Paris et les Soins aux Blesses (The Union of Women for the Defense of Paris and Aid to the Wounded).

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.

Speaking on the 1871 Paris Commune at the IMT Winter School in Berlin, Greg Oxley explained: "The history of the Paris Commune is not just history, but it is our history. It is really the beginning of the concsious struggle for socialism. The Paris Commune was the first time the working class rose up, took power, held on to power for ten weeks before it was brutally crushed in the last week of May 1871."

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. 130 years later the lessons of these events are of fundamental importance for socialists today.

This article, written by Alan Woods just before the June elections, reviews the election campaign and the several incidents which happened during this, an interview with the leader of the Vlora Committee, Shyti, and draws the lessons for the Albanian revolution from previous revolutionary movements which only went half way.

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.

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

Written by Karl Marx as an address to the General Council of the International, with the aim of distributing to workers of all countries a clear understanding of the character and world-wide significance of the heroic struggle of the Communards and their historical experience to learn from. The book was widely circulated by 1872 it was translated into several languages and published throughout Europe and the United States.