What was the impact of the Paris Commune of 1871 on Revolutionaries?


The barricade on Blanche Place in Paris, 1871

In 1871, in Paris, there was one of the first modern left-wing revolutions in the world. It came amidst a background of war and siege. The Paris Commune as the revolution was known, sought to implement some of the most radical ideas of the French Revolution. The revolutionaries were much influenced by anarchism and were in many ways the precursors the Soviet Communist in Russian in the early 20th century. The Paris Commune was ultimately defeated, but it served as a model for many revolutionaries at the time and to the present day.

In 1870, the Prussian Chancellor Bismarck engineered a war with France, under its Emperor Napoleon III. The two nations fought each other mainly in north-eastern France. The Prussians and their German allies defeated the French at the Battle of Sedan and captured the Emperor and they then proceeded to besiege Paris. In the city, the local defence was often in the hands of the the local militia, the National Guard and they were organised on the basis of neighbourhoods. At this time, many citizens of Paris, especially in the poorer neighbourhoods, effectively governed themselves, as they were cut off from the control of the central government, during the Prussian siege. A new provisional French government was located in Bordeaux, far in the South-West of France. Many of the members of the National Guard had left-wing sympathies and they had long resented the autocratic rule of Napoleon III and were eager for change. [1] Many of the more radical elements in the National Guard were radicals and wanted a revolution. Many of these were sympathetic to the first Socialist movement the ‘First International’.[2] Many in Paris felt abandoned by the new French government and angry at their handling of the war effort.

Read the entire article at DailyHistory.org.

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