Paris Commune

Dear Editor,

Recently in a conference of over 120 countries organized by the US government called “Summit for Democracy” it was declared:

“We, the leaders of the Summit for Democracy, reaffirm our shared belief that democracy – government reflecting the effective participation and will of the people – is humanity’s most enduring means to advance peace, prosperity, equality, sustainable development, and security. …To meet the rising challenges to democracy worldwide, we commit to strengthen democratic institutions and processes and build resilience.  …We believe democratic institutions, which take time and concerted effort to develop, are best supported by an inclusive society that respects diversity, promotes decent work for all, and enables everyone to freely pursue their aspirations, exercise their human rights and fundamental freedoms, and live without fear of violence and threats to their safety.”

Narendra Modi, the Indian PM, declared in the same summit that India is the mother of democracy and so on.

In this context of blatant demagogy about democracy by reactionary, anti-democratic, anti-people leaders of the world, MEL has done a great service by publishing the article “The Paris Commune and the Superiority of Proletarian Democracy” March 17, 2023 on the occasion of the anniversary of the heroic Paris Commune of March 1871.

The Indian ruling classes and those in all the capitalist imperialist countries exercise brutal bourgeois dictatorship over the workers, peasants and all the toilers; the real wealth creators, while hiding behind the shell of multiparty system and parliamentary democracy.

The Paris Commune on the other hand was the first where new proletarian democracy was established for the first time by the militant workers and people of Paris. You have very well described the unprecedented democratic measures taken by the Communards to start constructing the real rule of the majority and for the majority of working people.

The Commune did not last long due to both the internal and international circumstances at that time.

Karl Marx hailed the communards, reported every action of theirs in detail and analysed their triumphs and weaknesses. His work “Civil War in France” is the gold standard of journalism. It is at once detailed; analytical and draws important generalisations.

He pointed out that among other things there were three weaknesses of the commune that contributed to its short life:

1) not taking over the big banks and thereby allowing the bourgeoisie to draw the monies from the Banks and regroup

2) being lenient and letting the bourgeoisie go from Paris when they had been been cornered by the workers. The bourgeoisie however showed no mercy when they later regrouped and massacred the communards, men women and children.

3) Not enough attention was paid to the provinces around Paris, to mobilise the peasantry in small towns and the countryside as allies of the heroic Paris workers. This resulted in the bourgeoisie instead mobilizing their army from those very provinces and attacking Paris.

Important lessons paid for in blood indeed.

The most important achievement of Paris workers; as Marx and later Lenin pointed out was: not to try to merely seize the existing reactionary state machinery of the bourgeoisie but to dismantle it and build fresh organs of state power that would genuinely work for the working class and people. A lesson to be embossed in golden letters in the political science of working class.

Warm regards
SK, Dharwad

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