Saturday, March 17, 2018

Paris Commune


Ish Mishra

Today, March 18, is a red letter day for the working class and all true friends of the workers in the country and throughout the world. For, on this day, one hundred forty-seven years ago, in the municipality of Paris, in France, the Parisian workers garnered a historic greatest achievement. Their proletarian revolution triumphed and established the first working class government in history: the first dictatorship of the proletariat!

Many were asking Marx and Engels: is the dictatorship of the proletariat possible? What does it look like? How is it differentiated from the capitalist and landlord governments? And they answered them, “Look at the Paris Commune! That is the dictatorship of the proletariat!”

The rich and powerful ruling classes in history such as the masters during the Ancient Period (3,500 BC-500 AD); the landlords during the Middle Ages (500 – 1500) and the capitalist class during the Modern Period (1500 – the present) have always emphasized that they are the sources, owners, holders and users of power, and, of course, its beneficiaries. And the people whom they exploit, oppress, repress, discriminate, abuse, exterminate, etc. are bereft of any power. Theirs are the states, they control, exercise and enjoy their economic, political, military, even ideological and all other powers on earth. They are the representatives of the Supreme Being. And no one is above them!

Even when they say that power resides in or emanates from the people, they they, the ruling classes, the bourgeoisie, in the real sense, enjoy the same privileges in the name of the people through their political agents. They effectively remain the sources, owners, holders, users and beneficiaries of power Thus, throughout all the democratic countries in the world whose constitutions underline that sovereignty resides among the people, the capitalist class is always on top not only of the people but also of the whole society. For they own the economic resources and hence have the wealth, the government, the church, the culture and education, etc. at their service. The workers have only the strength of their unity.

But, on March 18, 1871, the whole world of the capitalist class was shocked when a proletarian revolution exploded in Paris and the workers established their first working class government in history – the first dictatorship of the proletariat. The working class by way of their concrete experience told the whole people that it has indeed not only the interest and determination but also the capability to bring down the bourgeois rule and establish their class rule.

Thus, the raging capitalists did not waste any time in responding to the historical challenge. After two months and ten days, their military invaded the Commune and carried out a most ruthless massacre of 30,000 to 60,000 workers in less than a week and caused the flooding of workers’ blood in all the streets of Paris on May 28 and the following days. But the historical experience and its lessons can no longer be undone. Paris Commune was crushed with the collective strength of the bourgeoisie as a whole through respective bourgeois states, the executive committees to manage their general interests, but the spirit of the commune became the idea of revolution, which don't die spread to create new history. Commune became the reference point for future revolution.

In November 7, 1917, the 1871 Paris Commune served as the inspiration of the Russian workers, agricultural workers and poor peasants in unleashing the Great October Revolution in Russia that established the second dictatorship of the proletariat in the form of the government of the Soviets of the Workers, Agricultural Workers and Poor Peasants Deputies. This another greatest achievement lasted for not just a number of months but more than 70 years. The capitalists’ political and military power had no match against it; their local counterrevolution and civil war and the intervention of the fourteen imperialist powers failed to destroy the greatest achievement of the working class during the 20th century.

Indeed, the Paris Commune is really meaningful to us, the workers, and all the exploited and oppressed peoples throughout the world because it was a working class state, a dictatorship of the proletariat.

And, as Marx and Engels taught us, genuine, total, structural, transformative, qualitative and most meaningful change is possible only under the dictatorship of the proletariat! For the dictatorship of the proletariat constitutes the transition to the realization of a classless society, a truly just and human world, Communism!