Rosa Luxemburg was born on 5 March 1871. Coincidentally, this was the same year that the workers of Paris rose up and established the Paris Commune: the first ever attempt by the working class to seize power. The euphoria that inaugurated the Commune was short-lived. After a couple of months the Parisian Revolution was smashed by the ruling class in a counter-revolutionary inferno of bullets and blood. In la semaine sanglante (“the bloody week”) that followed its crushing, 30,000 workers were murdered.

Over the past few weeks student protests have flared up at several universities across the country. The immediate cause is the chronic crisis of the National Student Financial Aid Scheme. The NSFAS is beset with problems of corruption and mismanagement. As a result, it routinely fails to pay the required funds students need for their education.

The following is an introduction to Wellred Books’ new republication of The Civil War in France by Karl Marx. In this excellent overview, Josh Holroyd from Socialist Appeal – the British section of the International Marxist Tendency – explains all the main events and political processes involved in this tremendous watershed in the history of working-class struggle. The Communards' heroic efforts to build the first workers' government is filled with lessons for revolutionaries today.

EACH TIME that we study the history of the Commune we see it from a new aspect, thanks to the experience acquired by the later revolutionary struggles and above all by the latest revolutions, not only the Russian but the German and Hungarian revolutions. The Franco-German war was a bloody explosion, harbinger of an immense world slaughter, the Commune of Paris a lightning harbinger of a world proletarian revolution.

This translation of an article originally published by Révolution (the French section of the IMT), provides an overview of the Paris Commune: its heroic rise, its tragic fall, and its lessons for revolutionaries today. We will discuss these titanic events in more depth during Wellred Books' special launch event for Marx's The Civil War in France. You can read more about this event here, and register for free here.

On the 150th anniversary of the beginning of the Paris Commune, join Wellred Books as we launch our latest title The Civil War in France by Karl Marx. Next Thursday (18 March at 6pm GMT) Jules Legendre, a leading activist from Révolution – the IMT in France, will explain these inspiring events and draw out the lessons revolutionaries must take from the first time the working class took power. Register for free here!

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