150th anniversary of the Paris Commune

May 2021 Forums General discussion 150th anniversary of the Paris Commune


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    twc writes:

    Lurking behind the France 24 video on Cuba’s Covid 29 vaccine program, i.e. the next video in the playlist, was France 24‘s video to mark the 150th anniversary of the Paris Commune.


    That programme claims that

    La Commune de Paris was a revolutionary Socialist government that controlled Paris from March 18 to May 28, 1871.

    That wasn’t Marx’s description. In a letter he wrote ten years later to the Dutch socialist (later anarchist) Domela Nieuwenhuis he said that the Paris Commune

    was merely the rising of a town under exceptional conditions, the majority of the Commune was in no sense socialist, nor could it be.

    That didn’t mean that he regarded it as worthless. On the contrary, he regarded it as a working class uprising that established an ultra-democratic regime which showed that the working class were quite as capable as the bourgeois class of administering society.

    Our Party took the same view and right up until the mid-twenties used to hold a Paris Commune commemoration meeting every 18 March.

    It also had important implications for socialist theory and showed that by “dictatorship of the proletariat” Marx did not mean, as Lenin did, the literal dictatorship of a party (claiming to) represent the proletariat, but the democratic rule of the working class.


    If we hold that socialism is not possible in one country, it is certainly logical to conclude that socialism is not possible in one city (Barcelona), one commune (Kronstadt) or one factory (syndicalism or cooperatives) or one park (Occupy Wall St)

    But as you say, lessons can be drawn from all such experiences.


    Just re-read the whole of that letter and his opinion is quite reasonable even if he does use the term “socialist government” which we don’t like (and he does as the word he uses in German is Regierung).

    I like this formulation:

    No equation can be solved unless the elements of its solution are involved in its terms.

    It applies to all attempts to establish socialism when the forces of production are not developed enough to provide a comfortable life for all (they are now, so this is about why socialism couldn’t have been established before capitalism) or when a majority doesn’t yet want it (which unfortunately is still the case at the moment).


    It was Lenin who distorted the whole thing. He took phrases out of context from Marx 18 Brumaire on Louis Bonaparte, and the Civil War in France, and he inserted it in his State and the Revolution. It is a clear indication that Lenin was an opportunist and Marx distorter. For years the left and the Leninists have not been able to see that, and they continue hammering on the same mistake that the Commune of Paris was the first socialist government, Marx did not say that, it was Lenin who said that. Marxism/Leninism was a hybrid created by Joseph Stalin Stalin in his book: Foundation of Leninism


    It is the same mistake of the uprisings which took place in France and Germany, it was not a socialist revolution either, they were workers uprising demanding capitalist reforms. Workers did not have socialists consciousness either

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