AWSM Note: This article originally appeared in French
With this special dossier of libertarian Alternative, on the occasion of the 150th anniversary of the event, it is a question of rediscovering it in its singularity, without displaying it anarchronistically.
Murdered, the Commune of 1871 was in more ways than one. It was so by the ruthless repression of Bloody Week. It was so by the slander that was poured upon her, reducing it to a “betrayal” fomented by occult forces. It was again achieved by the Stalinist cross-dressing which, with a chisel, tried to establish a lineage between the federated wall and the place of Colonel Fabien, via the USSR. It was so by its reduction, in textbooks, to an episode of civil war without logic.
But bruised, it was also a little bruised by a workers’ movement too fond of images of Epinal: barricades of cobblestones, bayonets and red flags in tatters.
However, the Paris Commune was a little more than that.
It is important to rediscover it in its singularity, without displaying it with anachronistic oripeaux. No, the Commune was neither libertarian, nor socialist, nor communist. Like the workers’ movement at the time, it was both a patriot and an internationalist; combatant and anti-militarist; self-manager and bureaucratic; republican and proletarian; socialist and moderate… and ferociously anticlerical. It respected the Bank of France but burned the Tuileries. Unsealed feminist, she was nevertheless a springboard for women’s action.
The dossier proposed by Alternative libertarian seeks to decipher a key moment in the history of the popular emancipation movements. It is of course a tribute to the women and men whose hope was so great that it still inspires us today. But memory and lucidity must go hand in hand, and we have sought to avoid both mythification and condescension. What were the internal contradictions, the dynamics, the limits? What lessons for us today, what pitfalls to avoid?
While refusing to annex the 1871 Commune to the history of the anarchist movement, which was not born until a decade later, we tried to analyze it from a libertarian point of view. To what extent was there a surge of popular power? Was there any temptation to question the private ownership of the means of production and exchange? Why was the “people in arms” so crushed by the regular army? To what extent was the gender hierarchy altered? What were the educational and democratic principles in gizz? Let us leave devotion to devotees, bitterness to the pastists, and let us ask ourselves the questions as revolutionaries, following the example of the most lucid of the communards: both feet firmly in the present and all our energy stretched towards the future.
A file coordinated by Guillaume (UCL Montreuil) and Cuervo (UCL Marseille)