Corbyn and Louise Michel: lessons from the Paris Commune?

The Paris Commune and the victory of Jeremy Corbyn in the Labour leadership contest might not have very much in common. Nevertheless, both could be interpreted as manifestations of class struggle. Furthermore, it is possible to see both events as moments where socialist values bubbled up in a way which threatened to disturb the power of hegemonic ideas.

In addition, the two events led to a situation where the movements which flourished under them were under immediate threat. The Paris Commune was threatened by military force on the ground, whereas Corbyn and his followers have been threatened by the power of the mass media. In both cases, political survival  became a priority.

Louise Michel was a veteran of the Paris Commune. The anarchist heroine continued her political activities after its unfortunate demise. Corbyn supporters should learn from her resilience and her love of the struggle. In her memoirs, Michel wrote:

“Yes, barbarian that I was, I loved the cannon, the smell of gunpowder and grapeshot in the air, but above all, I was in love with the revolution!”


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