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The Paris Commune Lives On
Saga remembered and honored by "Friends of the Commune"
Photos: Leon Kunstenaar / Pro Bono PhotoIn a quiet neitghboorhood in Paris there is a little storefront and office with a sign that says "Paris Commune 1871." It is the office of the "Friends of the Commune", established in 1882 by those who had participated in the seventy-two day life of the Paris Commune and had just returned from exile. The organization holds events throughout the year to honor the memory of the Commune and seeks to promote the ideals it stood for. They sell posters and books and hold tours to locations in Paris where Commune events took place.
The Commune, like the French Revolution is a central marker in the narrative of the political Left, a narrative for those who seek to create a world of.. there is no better way to put it... Liberté, Egalité, Fratenité. The Commune was the first to separate church and state, mandate free education, workers' rights, and gender equality. They implemented measures that are still being fought for today throughout the world.
French history is marked by great advances in political thought that usually end up in horrific, disastrous massacres. The Commune was no exception. It was put down in a terrible massacre in which 20,000 Parisians perished. Not only that, but there was an intense effort to discredit the Commune as consisting of bandits, murderers and prostitutes. The then new technology of photography was used to fake photos of "communards" committing crimes. Many such photos survive today and are still used to discredit the Commune.