Subversive Historian – 03/18/09

The Paris Uprising

Back in the day on March 18th, 1871 an uprising took hold in Paris, France that would eventually lead to the establishment of the Paris Commune. The immediate political catalyst for the insurrection in the capital city was the defeat of the French in the Franco-Prussian War. In negotiating an armistice, members of France’s National Assembly sought a return to monarchical rule and were favorable to the terms of the occupiers. Others, including sectors of the French working class, found the peace terms disagreeable. Sensing tension, provisional government leader Adolphe Thiers sought to disarm the wartime National Guard citizen militias in Paris, but they refused setting the stage for the rebellion. In time, Thiers was forced to call a widespread evacuation of the city leaving only the Central Committee of the National Guard to govern. Elections calling for the commune soon followed thereafter.

The first government of the working-class lasted through much of Spring until May 28th of that year when it was violently destroyed. But as the great Chilean poet of the 20th Century Pablo Neruda once said, “They can cut all of the flowers, but they can not detain the coming of the spring.”

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