Paris is delivered. Today the struggle is over, order, work and security will now revive. I read that announcement in the Rue de Rivoli, not far from the Hotel-de-Ville. A moment later, however, I heard a discharge of musketry … Several insurgents who had been taken fighting were being shot. My Adventures in the Commune, Paris, , an anti-Commune source. The day was climax and curtains for the first working-class seizure of power in industrial Europe, but in truth indiscriminate reprisal executions had been underway since troops of the conservative Versailles government first breached rebellious Paris on May
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His father an agricultural day labourer, also had a small piece of land to grow vegetables. His stories had a big influence on Eugene. He attended school until 13 and then took an apprentice as a bookbinder with his uncle in Paris. He took evening courses at the same time, even learning Latin and distinguished himself in his studies. Eugene became conscious of the need to organise and joined the Bookbinders Society at the age of This society concerned itself with sickness benefits and retirement sums and he sought to make it more militant.
In , already on police files, he took part in his first strike and became a member of the strike committee. At the same time he organised a cooperative restaurant and a cooperative shop. During the strike wave of he set up a strike fund, not devoted to one trade but for all workers on strike.
Eugene became a socialist, adopting the mutualist outlook of Proudhon, situating himself on the left of that current and acting among the anti-authoritians within the First International which he joined in He advanced the ideas of federalism within it. He began writing for the weekly paper of the First International. La Tribune Ouvriere.
He was one of the 4 French delegates at the London conference. However he felt the need to continue to work within it. He was opposed to the Proudhonist position which said that women should stay at home and not work in the factories.
He had meetings with Bakunin and James Guillaume, representing the libertarian current within the International. With the banning of the International in he was fined and served 3 months in prison. He believed the societies could be a place to train people for a future society. At the end of , after having set up sections of the international in Lyon, Lille and Creusot, he had to flee to Belgium. With the fall of Napoleon III and the setting up of a government of national defence in Paris, he returned there and founded the vigilance committee of the 4th arrondissement.
He became delegate to the central committee of twenty arrondissements, where he was in charge of finance. However he resigned from the battalion when it failed to accept his suggestions.
He saw that the new government was prepared to make a deal with the Prussians and to flee Paris for Versailles. When this government attempted to seize the cannons at Montmartre Eugene Varlin was among those who took part in the subsequent insurrection, with the battalions of the Batignolles district taking control of the area. On the 26th March as a member of the International he was elected to the Council of the Commune, being the only delegate to be elected in 3 arrondissements.
He served on the finance committee, finally passing to the committee for military supply. With his experience of cooperatives he now set up clothing workshops, one of which was directed by Louise Michel. As a libertarian he was opposed to the moves to set up a Committee of Public Safety to defend the Commune, reminding himself of the role of such an organisation in the Revolution.
He saw in it the danger of a dictatorship in opposition to the grass roots organisations of the masses. He signed the declaration of the minority, flyposted throughout Paris protesting against these moves. During the Bloody Week, with the advance of the troops of the Versailles government, he led the defence of the 6th and 10th arrondissements, fighting from barricade to barricade.
The Versaillais troops began massacres, but Varlin denounced the attempts by some Communards to retaliate with similar massacres, and tried unsuccessfully to stop the execution of 50 hostages. Recognised by a priest in the street on 28th MAY he was arrested. He had made no attempt to flee or to hide himself.
He was tortured and beaten and then finally put up against a wall and shot, his body lying on the ground for several hours. In front of the firing squad he cried out Vive la Commune! This article first appeared in Organise! No Magazine of the Anarchist Federation www. For those interested, a new and complte translation of Varlin's article on Workers Societies can found here. The country-wide rebellion that was kicked off by the police murder of George Floyd continues to grow, as across the US people hit the streets in solidarity.
Mass demonstrations, freeway shut Second of our two-part interview with John Barker, Angry Brigade prisoner, covering the arrests, the sensational trial, his time in prison and the political situation upon his release in the late Harry Cleaver's seminal work on forming a practical, political interpretation of Marx's Capital.
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Eugene Varlin (1839-1871)
Go beyond the abolition of contract to the abolition not only of the sword and of capital, but also of property and of authority in all its forms. Then you will have arrived at the anarchist community; that is to say, the social state where each one is free to produce or consume according to his will or his fancy without controlling, or being controlled by any other person whatever; where the balance of production and consumption is established naturally, no longer by the restrictive laws and arbitrary force of others, but in the free exercise of industry prompted by the needs and desires of each individual. The sea of humanity needs no dikes. Give its tides full sweep and each day they will find their level. Exchange, like all things, can be considered from three perspectives: the past, the present, and the future. In the past, those who would gather the scattered products of industry and agriculture in a bazaar, the merchants who would spread under a portico what they called their merchandise, would thus engage, to a certain degree, in exchange. Today, we call this commerce, which is to say parasitism, and we are right to do so.
His father an agricultural day labourer, also had a small piece of land to grow vegetables. His stories had a big influence on Eugene. He attended school until 13 and then took an apprentice as a bookbinder with his uncle in Paris. He took evening courses at the same time, even learning Latin and distinguished himself in his studies. Eugene became conscious of the need to organise and joined the Bookbinders Society at the age of
EUGENE VARLIN SCHOOL
He was one of the pioneers of French syndicalism. Apprenticed as a painter, he moved to Paris and became a bookbinder by profession. As a young man he read the writings of the anarchist social critic Pierre-Joseph Proudhon , which greatly influenced him. In , Varlin participated in founding a bookbinders' mutual aid society, which became the nucleus of a bookbinders' trade union. Varlin was one of the principal organisers of the very first strike of the Parisian bookbinders in