This Day In 1871: Paris Commune Established

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Above Worker’s Barricade, the Paris Commune 1871.

On March 18, 1871, the workers of Paris rose up and declared a revolutionary Commune whose historical experience continues to resonate today.

Exactly 146 years ago today, the workers of Paris rose up against their treacherous and tyrannical government and defiantly hoisted the red flag of the Paris Commune over the Hôtel de Ville. The event sent shockwaves throughout the continent: with armed citizens erecting barricades in working-class neighborhoods and government officials on the retreat to Versailles, the City of Light had suddenly fallen into the hands of its people.

Over the next two months, all signs of state power evaporated from the French capital as the proletarians of Paris took charge of their own destiny, forming neighborhood councils and producer associations, electing moderately paid delegates subject to immediate recall, and instituting basic reforms like free access to public education, the granting of citizenship to immigrants, and the reopening of workplaces under workers’ control.

The Commune was eventually defeated at the hands of the Versailles government, setting the stage for the bloody massacre of up to 30,000 Communards and unarmed citizens. But for all the force and vengeance the Versaillais could muster, the Commune did not die — the idea survived its “own working existence” and lived on, subterraneously, in the sacrifices of its martyrs, the aspirations of its survivors and the writings of its leading theoreticians.

One year ago today, ROAR released its first special print issue on the revival of the Commune in our times. The issue’s contents are now freely available online, along with the other issues we have released since then. For those who are interested, a limited number of hard copies are still available in our web shop.

Remembering the Paris Commune: When Workers and Women Arise

ROAR #1: Revive la Commune!

Editorial — The Commune Lives
George Katsiaficas — The Evolving Form of Freedom
Kristin Ross — The Survival of the Paris Commune
Dilar Dirik — Building Democracy without the State
Richard Pithouse — Decolonizing the Commune
Joris Leverink — Pirates, Peasants and Proletarians
Barucha Peller — Self-Reproduction and the Oaxaca Commune
John Curl — Reclaiming the American Commons
Kate Shea Baird — The Disobedient City and the Stateless Nation
George Ciccariello-Maher — Venezuela: ¡Comuna o Nada!
Jerome Roos — The Political Form at Last Rediscovered

ROAR has grown rapidly since the release of Issue #1. We now have paying subscribers in over 40 countries on six continents. In a few days, we’ll be closing subscriptions for our fifth issue — Not This Time! — on anti-fascism and the struggle against the far-right. It’s promising to be our strongest yet, so make sure not to miss it and help us sustain the magazine over the course of 2017:

Subscribe now!

  • Jon

    The Paris Commune is a subject worthy of much study–a truly egalitarian society, for a short while, and an inspiration ever since.