In May of 1871 some 25,000 workers – men, women, children – were slaughtered in the streets of Paris, France by the forces of “law and order” and big capitalist interests. Thirty thousand more were to be jailed, deported and executed in the coming months. Their crime? Proclaiming the world’s first working class-led government known as the Paris Commune.
It was the first time in history that workers had actually seized government and administered, that the working class actually became the recognized leading force of society.
In September, 1870, the corrupt empire of emperor-dictator Louis Bonaparte had imploded in the course of a disastrous war with Prussia. The Prussian army was at the gates of Paris and laid siege to it. The Third Republic was proclaimed, but capitalist interests collaborated with the Prussian army, tried to dispel calls for democratic change and continued the starvation of the Parisian workers. In March, 1871, Parisian workers rallied, fraternized with the National Guard and the Commune was proclaimed. The conservative big capitalist interests fled to Versailles to prepare an assault upon the revolutionary capital.