The Paris Commune was a short window of time in 1871 when workers took control over Paris, and made radical demands for a programme of socialist government:
- the separation of church and state;
- the remission of rents owed for the entire period of the siege (during which, payment had been suspended);
- the abolition of night work in the hundreds of Paris bakeries;
- the granting of pensions to the unmarried companions and children of National Guards killed on active service;
- the free return, by the city pawnshops, of all workmen's tools and household items valued up to 20 francs, pledged during the siege; the Commune was concerned that skilled workers had been forced to pawn their tools during the war;
- the postponement of commercial debt obligations, and the abolition of interest on the debts; and
- the right of employees to take over and run an enterprise if it were deserted by its owner; the Commune, nonetheless, recognized the previous owner's right to compensation.
The Commune, though it lasted just a short while, formed a large part of the basis on which Marx wrote his later writings on revolution and socialist society. It has informed much of the theory and practice of both Socialist and other revolutionary schools of thought (such as Anarchism) until the present day.
Sheffield Workers Liberty will be leading a discussion about the nature and legacy of the Commune - what, who, where, how and why, and what we can learn from it today.
You don't have to know anything in advance, but if you want to read up first, here's some recommended online texts:
Karl Marx, The Civil War in France: http://www.marxists.org/archive/marx/works/1871/civil-war-france/ch05.htm
Frederick Engels, Introduction to The Civil War In France: http://www.marxists.org/archive/marx/works/1871/civil-war-france/intro.htm
Marxist Internet Archive: http://www.marxists.org/glossary/orgs/p/a.htm
Olivier Lissagaray, History of the Paris Commune 1871: http://www.marxists.org/history/france/archive/lissagaray/index.htm
Lenin: Lessons of the Commune: https://www.marxists.org/archive/lenin/works/1908/mar/23.htm