Paris: They are getting too old, or too fat, to build barricades, their hands too soft to dig up cobblestones, but they still have the voice to sing to the glory of those who fought to defend the world’s first workers democracy, a two month long experiment in 1871 which ended in a blood bath: The Paris Commune.
Every September for the past 15 years, the Association “Friends of the Paris Commune 1871” organizes a block party at Place de La Commune de Paris – 1871 (where else?) in the 13th district of Paris. They drink blood red wine made deeper with cassis, curse the Versaillais and Adolphe Thiers who sent the French Army to massacre the people and generally enjoy a Fall afternoon.
Their hair has long turned gray. They have visions of barricades dancing in their heads. They have fire in their eyes and the same determination they had as youngsters in the 1968 revolts. Some 200 veterans of class struggle in France answered the call of the association Friends of the Paris Commune – 1871 on Saturday to celebrate the short-lived People’s Republic which became a springboard for proletarian revolution for a century.
They are closer to 70 than 50 but have all the dynamism of the French high school students who disrupted Paris this week. They came out of the workers’s movements of the 1960s and 1970s and have not lost their determination to change the world, or at least a name.