February 27, 2005

The Paris Commune

March 18th marks the 130th anniversary of the Paris Commune. The Commune of 1871 played an important role in the development of both anarchist ideas and the movement and so should be remembered and, equally as important, learnt from.

For anarchists, the lessons of the Paris Commune were threefold. Firstly, a decentralised confederation of communities is the necessary political form of a free society ("This was the form that the social revolution must take -- the independent commune." [Kropotkin's Revolutionary Pamphlets, p. 163]). Secondly, "there is no more reason for a government inside a Commune than for government above the Commune." [Peter Kropotkin, Fighting the Revolution, vol. 2, p. 19] This means that an anarchist community will be based on a confederation of neighbourhood and workplace assemblies freely co-operating together. Thirdly, it is critically important to unify political and economic revolutions into a social revolution. "They tried to consolidate the Commune first and put off the social revolution until later, whereas the only way to proceed was to consolidate the Commune by means of the social revolution!" [Peter Kropotkin, Op. Cit., p. 19]



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