We can examine the French revolution as a prototype of how revolutions occur and progress. Kropotkin defined it as the "mother of us all ". The ideas and methods of the French Revolution still have relevance to us today
ON THE FIRST day of 1994 a group calling itself the Zapatista National Liberation Army [EZLN] launched an uprising in the Chiapas State of Mexico. They are fighting the dictatorship of Carlos Salinas de Gortari and are calling for "free democratic government". The first of January was the date upon which the North American Free Trade Agreement was to come into operation and their is a widespread belief amongst the mainly Indian EZLN that this will only lead to further poverty.
The picture shows some of the Protestant workers from Belfast's Shankill Road who took part in the Wolfe Tone commemoration at Bodenstown in 1934. Linked to the left wing Republican Congress movement, they were attacked by right wing Republicans who were led by Séan McBride.
In 1869 feudalism was abolished and the clans surrendered their fiefs to the government. All classes were declared equal before the law and barriers on local movement and internal trade removed. Individuals were allowed acquire land and all the professions and trades were thrown open.
Emma Goldman was born in 1869 in a Jewish ghetto in Russia where her family ran a small inn. When she was 13 the family moved to St Petersburg. It was just after the assassination of Alexander II and so was a time of political repression. The Jewish community suffered a wave of pogroms. The severe economic hardship of the time meant that Emma Goldman had to leave school after six months in St Petersburg and work in a factory.
The commune was formally installed in the Hotel de Ville two days later in the glorious spring sunshine of Tuesday, 28 March. The national Guard battalions assembled, the names of the newly elected members were read out , as, wearing red, they lined up on the steps of the Hotel de Ville under a canopy surmounted by a bust to the republic. On high the red flag was flying as it had done ever since 18 March and guns saluted the proclamation of the Paris Commune...
This is the notes for a talk given to a WSM meeting in October 1993 that was heavily based on The Communards of Paris, 1871: edited by Stewart Edwards, and published by Cornell Paperbacks; CORNELL UNIVERSITY PRESS
As its in note form it includes sections copied from this book.
The Russian revolutions of 1917 demonstrate that a revolution is possible but they also warn against authoritarian methods of introducing socialism.
The factory committees appeared in Petrograd and Moscow around February/March of 1917, and quickly spread. Elected directly by the workers in each enterprise, they appear initially to have formed in a response to theatened closures, and to press for the 8-hour day, though the scope of their demands would soon extend. But by 1918 they were being suppressed by the new Bolshevik government.
THIS YEAR sees the celebrations of the 'discovery' of America in 1492 by Columbus. The celebrations have generated some debate about the rights and wrongs of the events which followed the discovery. In Spain itself, Seville has seen riots as marches protesting at the celebration have been broken up by the police.
Was the Cheka integral to Lenin's doctrine or did it arrive by chance?