On March 18, 1871, the people of Paris rose up against the government and took power, hoisting the red flag and proclaiming the revolutionary commune.
During the two months that followed there were no traces of the old state, while the communards took their destiny into their own hands and put socialism into practice. Neighborhood councils and producer associations sprung up to secure food supplies; the means of production were placed under worker control; education and healthcare became free and universally accessible. At the same time, elected officials had modest wages and were subjected to being recalled at any time.
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Though the commune set up barricades and tried to defend itself, it could not avoid defeat and a massacre at the hands of the Versailles government. An estimated 30 thousand people were killed in what became known as the “bloody week” (May 21-28, 1871).
The Paris Commune lasted a mere two months, but it is a landmark moment for revolutionary movements. Marx, Lenin, Rosa Luxemburg and many others drew inspiration from this revolutionary experiment, when the people “stormed the heavens,” to dream and move forward in the struggle for a better world, a society of justice and equality. ¡Vive la commune!