Category Archives: defeat

Articles on the Paris Commune at 150

The Paris Commune at 150

From the Commune to communalism

The Paris Commune Taught the Bolsheviks How to Win a Revolution

From red scarfs to yellow vests: the communalist tradition

La Commune de Paris

The Paris Commune

Brecht de Smet: “Egypt’s Decade of Revolution and Counterrevolution”

“The fall of the Egyptian dictator, Hosni Mubarak, ten years ago today, was a triumph for popular mobilization. But the revolutionary forces lacked the political organization and vision needed to head off a counterrevolutionary backlash that restored the authoritarian state’s power.”

Robert Solé: “Ten Years of Hope and Blood”

“But in Lebanon, as in Algeria or Sudan, the game is not over. The same can be said of all the countries that have experienced a “Spring”, however fleeting, followed by a counter-revolution. The Arab peoples now know that it is not enough to overthrow an authoritarian regime to achieve democracy. Elsewhere in the world, the road has always been long and painful. Refusing to despair, the most committed or lucid citizens are trying, in Gramsci’s words, to combine the pessimism of intelligence with the optimism of will.”

“A Decade After the Arab Spring, Autocrats Still Rule the Mideast”

“Ten years later, the collisions between that old order and the popular uprisings across the Middle East in 2011 that became known as the Arab Spring have left much of the region in smoldering ruins.”

Julius Gavroche: “Reading the times with Alain Badiou”

“What such movements call for are myths, myths which as “precious stones of memory” (Marcel Detienne, L’invention de la mythologie) weave a present to a past powerful enough to project a future, myths which fracture the eternal present of capitalist utility generating profaned spaces and times of collective play, of common joyful expenditure (Georges Bataille), myths which bind us to our shared ancestors, to the telluric or chthonic dimension of our lives which are not reducible to the managed and cultivated topoi of Gaia (Giorgio Agamben).”

Beatrice de Graaf: “Red, White, and Blood: White Terror and Great Fear, 1789-2021”

““White terror” has always been the twin brother of “revolutionary” or “red terror.” Modern history since the French Revolution has witnessed an effervescent parade of rebellions, insurrections, insurgencies, and proper coups – but they almost always came in pairs, as, for example, with revolutionary terror (against sitting feudal, authoritarian regimes) and white terror, counter-revolutionary violence, directed against the alleged revolutionary (or socialist, after 1917) activists and dissidents. Applying this dichotomy of terror to the current wave of insurrection (in the United States and elsewhere) helps us to put its dynamics in a broader historical context.”

“Refusing to forget a revolution: The Arab Spring”

“An event, a revolution, is neither objectively caused so as to be explained, nor subjectively undertaken under some calculus of rational self-interest susceptible to an evaluation based on the success or failure of meeting the chosen ends.”

Asad Haider: “Pessimism of the Will”

“Optimism of the intellect, because we have to start by recognizing that all people are capable of thought, that they are able to not only form conceptions of the world but also to experiment with new possibilities. … But pessimism of the will, because we know that the will has to take a material organizational form, and that across the history of revolutionary politics the classical form assumed by the young Gramsci is no longer available to us. We lack the concrete basis for organizations on the model of the twentieth century revolutions, and we know from the history which followed these revolutions that the emancipatory potential of the party seizing the state has been exhausted. … Our subjective horizon is the optimism of the intellect; our objective, structuring condition is pessimism of the will. Without optimism of the intellect, we have the party without the people. Without pessimism of the will, we have the illusion of power. Until we recognize this there is no path for action.”

John Westmoreland: “The Paris Commune: When workers ran a city”

“Between March and May 1871 the workers of Paris ran their city as a collective, democratic government of the workers known as the Paris Commune.”

Jérôme Baschet interviewed: ‘History Is No Longer On Our Side’

“It has recently been said that there is a major cleavage within the thought of emancipation. For some, it is necessary to preserve, or rediscover, the classical parameters of modernity, and in particular a conception of History understood as a triumphant advance of Progress. … On the other side of the dividing line are all those who, following Benjamin, consider that we must completely abandon an untenable modern-progressive conception of history.”