Paris Commune

By Doug Enaa Greene

The history of the Paris Commune has become a touchstone of great importance for the question: How should the revolutionary working class organize its tactics and strategy in order to achieve ultimate victory? With the fall of the Commune, the last traditions of the old revolutionary legend have likewise fallen forever; no favorable turn of circumstances, no heroic spirit, no martyrdom can take the place of the proletariat’s clear insight into … the indispensable conditions of its emancipation. What holds for the revolutions that were carried out by minorities, and in the interests of minorities, no longer holds for the proletariat revolution. … In the history of the Commune, the germs of this revolution were effectively stifled by the creeping plants that, growing out of the bourgeois revolution of the eighteenth century, overran the revolutionary workers’ movement of the nineteenth century. Missing in the Commune were the firm organization of the proletariat as a class and the fundamental clarity as to its world-historical mission; on these grounds alone it had to succumb.

— Franz Mehring1

March 22, 2021 — Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal reposted from Left Voice — In 1919 at the end of the failed January Uprising in Berlin, Rosa Luxemburg observed the following in one of her last articles:

The whole path of socialism, as far as revolutionary struggles are concerned, is paved with sheer defeats. And yet, this same history leads step by step, irresistibly, to the ultimate victory! Where would we be today without those “defeats” from which we have drawn historical experience, knowledge, power, idealism! Today, where we stand directly before the final battle of the proletarian class struggle, we are standing precisely on those defeats, not a one of which we could do without, and each of which is a part of our strength and clarity of purpose.2

Whereas nobody’s left who still believes
The government whatever it promises
We have resolved we’ll build ourselves good lives
By being the only ones who govern us.
Whereas you’ll listen to what the cannon say —
No other language will you listen to —
Well then, we’ll have to turn the cannon your way.
Yes, that will be the best thing we can do!

— Bertolt Brecht, “Resolution of the Communards”

By Doug Enaa Greene

March 19, 2021 — Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal reposted from Left Voice — On March 18, 1871, the National Guard took over all the strategic points in Paris without meeting any resistance. It was the largest revolutionary organization in Paris, but it had not planned to take power that day. Now power had practically fallen into its hands; the guard had only to decide what to do with it.

By Doug Enaa Greene To my friend and comrade Francesca. November 6, 2016 — Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal — “What side of the barricades are you on?” This phrase expresses the poignant meaning that the term barricades has in the revolutionary lexicon. Barricades represent a line of demarcation in the class war between the exploiters and the exploited. To stand with the exploited on the barricades is to pick a side, it is an action of solidarity with one's comrades, and shows that one is read to sacrifice their life for the cause. Although barricades dominated the insurrectionary movements during the nineteenth century, as time passed the barricade was found wanting as a effective tactic to topple the state, especially as the forces of order redesigned cities to prevent uprisings and revolutionaries pursued legal channels for political advance. When revolutionary opportunities came following the Russian Revolution, the barricade was relegated to the background in favor of more sophisticated approaches to insurrection.

Doug Enaa Greene presented a talk on the life and thought of Louis-Auguste Blanqui to the Center for M