I thought I'd start with a piece written not by me, but by someone else - a cop out maybe! It does however hold some resonance for today, despite the fact that it was written some 130 odd years ago. On 18th March 1871, troops were sent into Paris to gain control of the city and to remove the cannons from Montmatre. They were unsuccessful in their efforts as they were surrounded by ordinary people, who quickly set up barricades and defended their city. Troops refused to fire on the people and revolted against their orders. It was here that saw the beginnings of what was to become the Paris Commune.
Although the Commune itself was only to last until 28th May, it is an event of huge significance for socialists. It gave a glimpse of what can happen when workers take power into their own hands. The ideas of socialism were evident and were expressed in street posters, pamphlets and newspapers. The following piece is taken from an article which appeared in Le Drapeau on March 18th 1871. Le Drapeau was the temporary name for the widely circulated Cri de Peuple which had been banned by General Vinoy
Casimir Bouis 'SOCIALISM'
....Yes, for eighty-two years we have struggled for nothing; we have taken the wrong route and brought ourselves to disaster. How ridiculous to have smashed the power of kings without destroying monarchy; to have abolished privileges without eliminating privileged classes; removed symbols while leaving intact the reality they represented! We have foolishly rid ourselves of the men and retained the institutions; killed the animal without destroying the poison!......
Let's do the job properly this time!
Socialism, citizens, socialism!
Let's be socialist, at last; that is, let's change the foundations of social order, its machinery, its institutions, its laws, its needs, its functioning. Let's build a new world. Let's sow the seeds of freedom; let's emancipate labour; lets establish equality......War upon privilege! War upon exploitation! War upon ignorance, misery, servitude! Instead of removing the thorns of the brambles, workers, remove their roots.......
Socialism! In other words, once again change the old social order; but this time entirely, absolutely, radically-
That's where the future lies - if there still remains a future.