Tendance Coatesy

Left Socialist Blog

Paris Commune, the 150th Anniversary.

with 4 comments

MR Online | The Cry of the People: The Commune in Image [Le cri du peuple: la commune en image]

Le Cri du peuple. Jacques Tardi.

2001, the graphic adaptation of the libertarian novel  about the Commune of Paris by Jean VautrinThe Cry of the People.*  The project was to be completed in three volumes, but Tardi eventually decided to devote the fourth and last volume, which just appeared, to the unbearable repression by the Versailles troops during the bloody week (la semaine sanglante).

The Cry of the People: The Commune in Images [Le cri du peuple: la commune en image]

This Blog highly recommends all of Tardi’s bandes dessinées. This series (having seen the first three)  is very memorable.

Paris Perspective #3: ‘Parisian Exceptionalism’ 150 years after the Commune

Radio France International.


2021 marks the 150th anniversary of the Paris Commune. Some look upon the Commune as a great leap forward for democratic rights, to others it’s a failed anarchist experiment that proves that “mob rule can’t rule”. And to others still, just an unfortunate oil-stain on the fabric of France’s recent history. In this edition of Paris Perspective, we try to better understand the events that took place in the French capital from March to June 1871 in a modern context.

From the declaration of war on Prussia in July 1870 up to the brutal repression of the Communards in June 1871, the events of what Victor Hugo called “The Terrible Year” resonate to this day in the French capital’s on-going story, and are among the most tragic in the history of France in the nineteenth century……


Faisons Vivre La Commune!


“Vive la Commune!”: Belgian exhibition celebrating the 150th birthday of the Paris Commune


This exhibition, “Vive la Commune!” will take place in Brussels and Liège in Belgium during the 72 days of the Commune, from March 18 to May 28 2021. It will be composed of photographic images taken by Karim Brikci-Nigassa of places important to the history of the Paris Commune. Manu Scordia and Thibaut Dramaix will interpret these images by trying to reconstruct the historical events through drawings in the photographs. Historical, social and political explanations will be written by Sixtine van Outryve. This combination aims to put visitors into the atmosphere of the Paris Commune and make them discover or rediscover an important episode in the working class and social history of our region.

Written by Andrew Coates

February 1, 2021 at 12:41 pm

4 Responses

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  1. Andrew, I and I know many others bow to your knowledge and erudition when it comes to the history of the French state and the French left tradition. So can I pose a query which I’m sure you can answer ? You have often referrred to Georges Boulanger and his role in the creation of an incipient right. I gather that Boulanger was among the Third Republic military leaders who crushed the Paris Commune and had blood stained hands. So why was it that a mere 17 or so years down the line he was able to be elected as a deputy for Paris with a massive overall majority of the popular vote ? Changes in Parisian social demography ? A popular or populist revolt (a la Red Wall) against the Commune and its ideals ? Or is it just far more complicated ?

    david walsh

    February 1, 2021 at 4:00 pm

    • The post here is principally inspired by the pretty good introduction from Radio France Internationale.

      It is one the great paradoxes of Boulangism that many Blanquistes, or neo-Jacobins, pillars of the Commune (though they lost power) – and not just a large section of the electorate – went onto to support this butcher.

      “Subsequently, Boulanger was among the Third Republic military leaders who crushed the Paris Commune in April–May 1871. He was wounded a third time as he led troops to the siege of the Panthéon, and was promoted commandeur of the Légion d’honneur by Patrice Mac-Mahon. ”

      Of course there was strongly nationalist colour to much of the Commune, which is why, were to write a proper detailed post, I would not ignore. And a lot of less romantic political disputes, administrative failures and other shortcomings.

      A picture of the event, not written sur le vif, as Marx’s best known writings were, is offered in this famous book, which Marx appreciated.

      Lissagaray 1876 History of the Paris Commune of 1871.

      Translated from the French by Eleanor Marx. https://www.marxists.org/history/france/archive/lissagaray/index.htm

      “Perhaps you will point to the Paris Commune; but apart from the fact that this was merely the rising of a town under exceptional conditions, the majority of the Commune was in no sense socialist, nor could it be. With a small amount of sound common sense, however, they could have reached a compromise with Versailles useful to the whole mass of the people — the only thing that could be reached at the time. The appropriation of the Bank of France alone would have been enough to dissolve all the pretensions of the Versailles people in terror, etc., etc.”

      Marx to Domela Nieuwenhuis. 1881.

      Andrew Coates

      February 1, 2021 at 5:07 pm

  2. Communist novel perhaps, anarchist novel maybe, but not libertarian novel. We have enough bad press with Republican National Socialists and legalize-murder anarchists posing as soi disant “libertarians.” None of them have read any of our platforms or voted for any of our candidates. Libertariantranslator


    February 2, 2021 at 7:47 pm

  3. I am just reading Zola’s ‘Debacle’ about the Franco-Prussian War. The treatment of the soldiers and the peasantry by the callously indifferent ruling class makes my blood boil. Marching them round and round pointlessly for days and not feeding them, not supplying adequate weapons (not that I want Frenchmen to blow up Germans but they needed a sporting chance!) and utter incompetence of the General Staff. I am following the battlefields on Google Earth and they are just as Zola describes. One village is said to have a yellow church and indeed, when I looked closely, it did. He must have written it with the newspaper reports at his elbow. I gather from a review I read that he was not too keen on the Commune though. I haven’t reached that part yet, so no spoilers please.

    Sue R

    February 3, 2021 at 2:50 pm

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