The Paris Commune of 1871 arose victoriously from the ruins of the Second Empire and, after seventy-two epoch-making days, it succumbed heroically under the hail of bullets of the Versailles counter-revolution. The Commune was, in a far higher sense than the June insurrection of 1848, the “most tremendous event in the history of European civil wars” (Marx) in the nineteenth century. It marked the violent conclusion of the “pre-history” of the proletarian revolution ; with it begins the era of proletarian revolutions. It was the brilliant culmination of the romantic “Sturm and Drang” period of the revolutionary proletariat, which was glorious in heroic deeds and bloody defeats, in bold initiative and growing attempts. But chiefly it was the first dress rehearsal in world history of the socialist revolution of the working class, which, at the head of all oppressed and exploited classes, for the first time set up its power by its own might with the purpose of setting the whole of society free from the system of enslavement and exploitation, as well as securing its own political and social emancipation.

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