The Paris Commune
Reform or Revolution

Socialism 2018

July 05, 2018

In March 1871, Parisian workers rose up and drove the national state and its armed forces out of the city, seizing control of Paris. The Paris Commune was elected on March 26 and remained in power for only two months. But in those months ordinary workers were able to show their capacity for running society on a different footing. Fatefully, the Communards didn’t follow up their victory by defeating the army, nor did they attempt to spread the Commune to other cities. This gave France’s President Thiers the breathing space to reorganize at Versailles and eventually fight his way back into Paris to crush the Commune in an orgy of violence. Marx hailed the Paris Commune as “essentially a working class government, the product of the struggle of the producing against the appropriating class, the political form at last discovered under which to work out the economical emancipation of labor.”

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