Alain Ah-Vee gave a political analysis in historical terms of the Paris Commune to a group of LALIT members on Thursday 10 September at the LALIT headquarters in Grand River North West. He introduced his talk by linking this vital event, where workers not only challenged the bourgeois state in France at the time, but actually took power for the very first time, to the recent commemoration of the August 1979 general strike movement in Mauritius, when the working class challenged the State so bravely here.
He linked his overview of the Paris Commune to the situation in Paris at the time, where the working class had for two years been in huge class confrontations, and where at a European level, Napoleon III adventurously invaded Prussia and got trounced by Bismarck's army, which then came into France, headed for Paris. He situated this in the context of the relationship of the working class in Paris to the International Workingmen's Assocation (IWA). He outlined the way in which the first workers' State immediately did away with the death penalty, declared equal wages for all officers of the state, army, and the Commune, introduced democracy and the right to recall at all levels, armed everyone to defend against the Prussian invasion and the bourgeois come-back, and began opening up factories that the bosses had closed down. All 20 wards of the City of Paris were involved. Foreigners were protected, and three of the ten or so elected to the equivalent of ministerial posts were from abroad. The way in which women organized, despite opposition even from within the Commune, was highlighted. The rallying of the bourgeois States of Europe against the Commune was also outlined, as was the slaughter that the bourgeois forces engaged in, in order to "give a lesson to the workers" after they had taken Paris back into bourgeois control. Alain Ah-Vee also spoke of the lessons learnt during this brief time from 18 March to about 28 May, 1871 for the working class when it would 50 years later, take power in Russia.
Questions and discussion afterwards ranged broadly over the issues of the change in the balance of forces from the French bourgeois Revolution 80 years previously, through the 1848 struggles, and before, during and after the Commune.
This session was partly as a preparatory session for those who will be watching the Peter Watkins marathon film, La Commune (Paris 1871), being viewed by the Fim K-lib, jointly with LALIT, soon. The film was made in the year 2000, and has some curious effects like an intentionally anachronistic situation where two competing media stations, La Commune v/s Versailles were reporting on events as they unfurled. It is a 6-hour film, so there will be two "lantrak", for eating, drinking, discussion and moving about.
Anyone who would like to see the film, please contact any LALIT member or Fim K-lib member.