Tendance Coatesy

Left Socialist Blog

The Paris Commune Commemorated Amidst Controversy.

with 3 comments

La Maire de Paris Anne Hidalgo (centre) pose aux côtés de silhouettes de communards, en face de la basilique du Sacré-Coeur, le 18 mars 2021, pour commémorer les 150 ans de la Commune de Paris.

Thursday, Mayor of Paris Anne Hidalgo (centre) “la Commune n’est pas morte ! 


To commemorate the 150th anniversary of the Paris Commune there have been events, exhibitions and many excellent documentaries and radio programmes. There are so many articles, newly published, or re-issued books, that one risks being overwhelmed by the quantity.

This Blog strongly recommends this, from Arte (you can see it on Arte directly through Smart Televisions in the UK).



On the English speaking left worth signalling are:

The Paris Commune of 1871, Banks and Debt.

And from the Alliance for Workers’ Liberty.


Kelly Rogers.

2021 marks the 150th anniversary of the Paris Commune; the moment that the working class seized political power for the first time, and held it for 72 days. Thousands of women took part in the events of the Commune and, against a backdrop of deep-rooted sexism, championed a revolutionary vision for the transformation of working class women’s lives.

Also available at Shiraz.

There have also been intense arguments over the commemoration of the 150th anniversary of the Paris Commune in France.

Streets named after Thiers, who led the crushing of the Commune, have been the centre of calls to have them renamed, or  ‘re-baptised’.

Nowhere have the controversies more intense than in Paris itself. The right wing on the City council refused point blank the proposed celebrations of the Commune.


A Paris, Mairie et manifestants célèbrent la mémoire de la Commune

Le Monde.

This Thursday, March 18, the socialist mayor Anne Hidalgo and a handful of elected officials from the left are celebrated the 150th anniversary of the Paris Commune on Place Louise-Michel, at the foot of the Sacré-Coeur.

Fifty Parisians wore as many colourful silhouettes representing anonymous people and a few celebrities such as Louise Michel, Jules Vallès or Arthur Rimbaud, while a narrator told of the unfolding of the events and their heritage: “One hundred and fifty years later, the Commune is not dead! “

Radical leftists protested at the spectacle,

Below, blocked behind the gates, some demonstrators waved red flags and protest. “From Versailles to Paris and Hidalgo, always the same!” They shouted. ‘Down with Macron, down with Castex! “ Their voices disturbed a little the official show, but the accordion amplified by the PA is more powerful. Especially when the singer sang the Internationale, “Arise ye wretched of the earth…”, and continued with Le Temps des cerises, and selected people recited lyrics. “I know my classics” laughed Anne Hidalgo.

Earlier this year there had been a violent debate in the  City Council Chamber.

On February the 3rd, at the municipal council, Anne Hidalgo and her rosé (Socialist)-red-green team received violent criticism from the right, very hostile to the idea of ​​glorifying the event, “this sad moment of civil war “. For the right-wing party Les Républicaines there should have been no question of transforming the Communards into into heroes ” who took hostage and murdered” religious figures, and killed gendarmes, or  for “those who chose to burn the Tuileries, the Palais-Royal, the Palais d’Orsay , the synagogues and our City hall ”.

Here is a detailed article on that row: « Légende noire » contre « légende rouge » : la difficile commémoration des 150 ans de la Commune de Paris.

There is a video to accompany it:



The BBC also reports on the issues,

A century and a half on, the Commune continues to divide.

For three months from today, Paris’s left-run city hall has prepared commemorations focusing on what it sees as the movement’s great social advances: equality for the sexes, disempowering the Church, participative democracy.

But the right-wing opposition says that Socialist mayor and presidential hopeful Anne Hidalgo is “instrumentalising history” for political ends.

“You can summarise the Commune in one word: violence,” says Rudolph Granier, a member of the centre-right Les Républicains (LR) on the city council.

“It was a populist movement. And in the current state of France and the world – when in Paris we have the yellow vests and in Washington they’re storming the Capitol – I do not think we should be celebrating people who burned down our city hall.”

or another LR councillor, Antoine Beauquier, “the left-wing majority is doing its usual thing of mixing up history and politics”.

“Of course there was an event called the Commune which we should remember. But we should remember what it actually was – not the fantasy of the Communist Party (PC). They think every Communard was a hero. But many were also killers.”

According to the right, by allowing them to run the Commune commemorations Anne Hidalgo is throwing her PC allies a bone in the hope that they’ll support her in the race for the French presidency next year.

The left has retorted by accusing the right of being “sectarian” and failing to see the justice behind the Communards’ cause.

“It is a sign of the times – the French right is getting more and more hardline,” says Laurence Patrice, Communist deputy mayor of Paris.

“They never used to care that much about the Commune. But now with Emmanuel Macron, the French have a president who has abandoned his centrism and is in fact more and more right-wing.

“And that is forcing the traditional right into positions that are ever closer to the extreme.”






Written by Andrew Coates

March 19, 2021 at 11:49 am

3 Responses

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  1. Having just read ‘The Debacle’ I must disagree with the comment that Zola was pro the Commune. Quite clearly he was not as he describes all sorts of deserters and petty criminals as taking control of it. The moral centre of the book, Maurisse Lavoissor, an intellectual and ardent Communard, is killed by accident by Jean Jacquard, a stout peasant and French soldier who had been his boon companion.

    Sue r

    March 19, 2021 at 1:58 pm

    • Certainly you are right, Zola backed the 3rd Republic, founded by Thiers, and whatever his feelings about the Versailles forces was sceptical if not hostile to the Commune.

      I re-read La Débâcle only few years ago – I got, a real bargain from the Oxfam second hand shop, one of the volumes of the La Pléiade collected works of Zola,(they contain a number of novels in each one) for £5 (new price is, just noted 63 Euros).

      I found it rather sprawling, and the episodes at the end situated during the Commune, far from memorable.

      Andrew Coates

      March 19, 2021 at 7:57 pm

  2. Thinking about it, not sur Maurice is the moral centre. Zola appears to me to be a pragmatist. You do what you have to do to survive. Typical peasant.

    Sue r

    March 19, 2021 at 2:39 pm

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