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On 18 March 1871, the Parisian working class began a rebellion that shook the foundations of European society. Laborers seized direct control over their city, expelling their government and capitalist rulers. These revolutionary men and women declared Paris an independent municipality and commune where they would collectively manage their society through new institutions of their own creation, providing for their own welfare and defense.
The Commune was annihilated 71 days later in one of the deadliest campaigns in French military history, La Semaine Sanglante, "The Bloody Week," during which over 30,000 men, women, and children were murdered for their revolutionary aspirations.
Despite the brutality of its destruction, the Paris Commune uprising inspired revolutionaries the world over. In the near century-and-a-half that has passed since the Commune's destruction, anarchists and libertarian-socialists across the generations have looked to the 1871 Paris Commune, seeking to learn from its example--both its strengths and its limitations.
The Commune: Paris, 1871, is a new collection of writings and critical reflections on the Paris Commune by classic anarchist and libertarian-socialist authors like Louise Michel, William Morris, Mikhail Bakunin, Peter Kropotkin, Voltairine de Cleyre, Alexander Berkman and Maurice Brinton.
Though never as imfamous as Emma Goldman, Voltairine de Cleyre distiguished herself as a leading intellectual, activist, speaker and writer. Though she died young in 1912 at age 46 she had already made a tremendous impact in anarchist, feminist and labor movements in America.
Alexander Berkman was a leading writer and participant in the 20th century Anarchist movement. The young, idealistic Berkman practiced "propaganda by deed" attempting to assassinate Henry Clay Frick during the Homestead Steel Strike of 1892. While imprisoned, he wrote the classic tale of prison life Prison Memoirs of and Anarchist. After his release, Berkman edited Emma Goldman's Mother Earth and his own paper The Blast!. Deported from New York City to his native Russia in 1919, were he saw first hand the failure of the Bolshevik revolution and dedicated himself to writing the classic primer on Anarchism, What is Anarchism?.
Maurice Brinton is the author of Bolsheviks & Workers' Control, Irrational in Politics and countless essays that have been printed widely from 1960 to the present.
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