Black Reconstruction and the Paris Commune: Two Momentous Revolutions

first_imgBlack History Month brings back to life long-buried struggles of African-American people for liberation and justice. One of the most stirring such struggles took place a century-and-a-half ago during Reconstruction, when a revolutionary upsurge in the 1870s led to formerly enslaved people winning political power throughout the U.S. South.A contemporaneous revolutionary struggle over 4,000 miles away shared significant features with radical Reconstruction. In 1871, French workers seized power in Paris and proclaimed the Paris Commune after the bourgeois government fled the city.Parallels between Reconstruction and the Paris Commune were remarked on at the time. In the June 21, 1871, issue of the New York Tribune, a Northern Republican rightly warned that the “dangerous alliance of poor southern whites” and Black people “might form a party by themselves as dangerous to the interest of society as the communists of France.”Of course, the two developments were not identical. Radical Reconstruction was a movement against big landowners by mostly Black agricultural workers, joined by mostly white small landholders supported temporarily by a section of big capital. The Paris Commune reflected urban class struggle and socialist agitation against expanding industrial capital. But the parallels are striking.From war to revolutionLike many revolutions, Reconstruction and the Paris Commune were triggered by military defeats of the ruling regimes. Reconstruction arose after the defeat of the Southern slaveholders in the Civil War. The Commune arose after Prussia’s defeat of France and replacement of the existing empire by a bourgeois republic.In both cases, the victorious capitalist governments sought deals with their supposed enemies. These betrayals fostered mass anger that erupted into revolutionary action. The achievements of Reconstruction and the Commune rested on force of arms.Enslaved Black people left the plantations in what historian W.E.B. Du Bois called “a general strike.” Almost 200,000 enrolled in the Union army and helped break the back of Confederate resistance. The presence of Black soldiers encouraged widespread land seizures, and a small section of “radical” Northern capitalists, to preserve their victory, were forced to support the formation of militias of Black soldiers under federal protection.In Paris, the bourgeois government’s attempt to confiscate National Guard cannons sparked the workers and poor to rise up and seize power. The Commune they established quickly abolished conscription and the standing army, leaving the people as the sole armed force.Political mobilizations of the oppressedBoth Reconstruction and the Paris Commune reflected vast political mobilizations of the oppressed. In the South, although it had been a crime for enslaved people even to read, political consciousness developed quickly with emancipation. Black people organized conventions to resist the ex-slaveowners’ imposition of racist “Black Codes.” During the six-week Paris Commune, virtually every city block hosted daily agitational meetings, demonstrations and rallies.These mass mobilizations were reflected at the polls. With property qualifications abolished, Black people voted in at least some Southern states in proportion to their population. In South Carolina, they won roughly two-thirds of legislative seats, leading Du Bois to hail “the South Carolina Commune.” Throughout the South, some 2,000 Black people won state and federal positions. Likewise, an expanded franchise for the Paris Commune elections heightened the impact of the more population-dense, working-class districts.Social reforms wonThe Reconstruction and Commune governments aimed legislation at comparable problems, including education. While illiteracy was the heritage of slavery, even in urban Paris only 30 percent could read and write. Reconstruction Alabama provided more funding to public schools than ever before, and the Commune ensured that all public school education was secular.Labor issues also received much attention. The Commune abolished night work for bakers and infraction fines for all workers, and it authorized labor unions to seize abandoned workshops, form cooperatives and resume production. Reconstruction decrees authorized land seizures, including on the Sea Islands, where 40,000 formerly enslaved people administered 400,000 acres of abandoned rice plantations until the lands were stolen back when Reconstruction ended.Both revolutions addressed the needs of the poor. Reconstruction governments abolished imprisonment for debt and set up relief programs. The Commune canceled past-due rent payments and decreed a three-year moratorium on debt payments.Women played vital rolesWomen played a key role in both struggles. Reconstruction governments passed groundbreaking laws to protect women’s rights to divorce and hold property. Accounts of battles against the emerging Ku Klux Klan speak of Black women “carrying axes or hatchets in their hands, their aprons or dresses half-concealing the weapons.”In the Parisian clubs, many of the most radical proposals came from women, who displayed legendary heroism on the barricades.The socialist and anarchist communards had been schooled in internationalism. Lacking that background, revolutionary Reconstruction found its way to it. The National “Colored” Labor Convention, held in Washington in 1869, supported Cuban independence against Spain and elected a delegate to represent the interests of Black workers at the 1870 International Labor Congress. Black Reconstruction congressmembers also championed relief for embattled Cherokees and opposed restrictions on Chinese immigration.Counterrevolutionary terror unleashedBoth Southern Black people and Parisian workers suffered from a lack of dependable allies. Black people in the South needed support from poor Southern whites — allies with objectively more lasting potential than Northern capitalists — and the groundwork for such an alliance was laid. The Communards needed support from the French peasantry. But both the Southern whites and French peasants were blindered by the hostility unleashed by the rich and became tools of reaction.Both Reconstruction and the Commune were drowned in waves of blood. Pro-slavery terrorists murdered tens of thousands of Black people in the South from 1867 to 1877. A white terror group in South Carolina became the state militia in 1877, reflecting the heralded “compromise” between Northern capitalists and Southern landowners that ended Reconstruction.Over 15,000 Parisians were killed by French republican troops in the single week after the Commune’s fall — five times more than were killed in Paris during the so-called “Great Terror” of 1793-1794.Struggles rebornBut the struggle against racist oppression and capitalist exploitation lived on. Just seven months after the fall of the Paris Commune, the Skidmore Guards, a militia comprised of Black members, formed the front ranks of a New York City march organized by the International Workingmen’s Association to protest the continuing executions of Paris Commune leaders.The truth about Reconstruction was unearthed and kept alive by Du Bois and other Black historians. The militancy of that period was born anew in the Civil Rights and Black Liberation movements of the last century. Likewise, analyses of the Paris Commune by socialists Karl Marx and V.I. Lenin, as well as revival of the French workers’ movement in the 1880s, ensured that the achievements of the Paris Commune would continue to inspire revolutionaries.Indeed, within a week after the fall of the Paris Commune, Eugène Pottier, a French revolutionary, penned lyrics to the “Internationale,” the socialist anthem, that sum up the spirit of these two great revolutions on opposite sides of the Atlantic: “Arise ye prisoners of starvation, arise ye wretched of the earth, … Arise ye slaves no more in thrall, … We have been naught, we shall be all!”This excerpted article was originally published in Workers World newspaper on April 1, 1983.FacebookTwitterWhatsAppEmailPrintMoreShare thisFacebookTwitterWhatsAppEmailPrintMoreShare this Reconstruction after slavery. Paris Communelast_img read more

Hu Jia spends his 35th birthday alone in prison

first_imgNews News April 27, 2021 Find out more Follow the news on China ChinaAsia – Pacific Leading human rights activist Hu Jia today spent his 35th birthday alone in his cell in Hubai prison in Tianjin (200 km southeast of Beijing). “The police have behaved disgracefully,” Reporters Without Borders said. “It is unacceptable that Hu Jia’s family has not been allowed to visit him on his birthday. We are worried about his health which is worsening steadily.” ChinaAsia – Pacific Hu and Zeng were awarded the Reporters Without Borders – Fondation de France special “China” prize at the start of December. Time magazine named Zeng as one of the world’s 100 most influential people in 2006. Addressing the European Parliament by webcam on 26 November, Hu said: “It is ironic that one of the people in charge of organising the Olympic Games is the head of the Bureau of Public Security, which is responsible for so many human rights violations. It is very serious that the official promises are not being kept before the games.”China is the world’s biggest prison for cyber-dissidents, with 50 currently detained.Sign the petition to call for his releaseThree-and-a-half-year jail term for Hu Jia called “provocation” just four months before Olympics News Help by sharing this information Leading human rights activist Hu Jia today spent his 35th birthday alone in his cell in Hubai prison in Tianjin (200 km southeast of Beijing). His wife, Zeng Jinyan, his mother and his sister were not allowed to see him. The police told them they were “too busy to make the necessary arrangements.” The last time his mother and sister were allowed to see him was on 4 May.“The police have behaved disgracefully,” Reporters Without Borders said. “It is unacceptable that Hu Jia’s family has not been allowed to visit him on his birthday. We are worried about his health which is worsening steadily. He suffers from cirrhosis, as a result of an attack of hepatitis, but he has not had a single medical examination since his arrest. It is appalling that, just a few days before the start of the Olympic Games, a prisoner of conscience is not even being allowed to see his wife on his birthday.”Two Agence France Presse journalists were invited by Zeng to come to her Beijing apartment today, but the police prevented them from going in although they were carrying documents saying they have the right to interview Chinese citizens during the Olympic Games period.Arrested in Beijing on 27 December, Hu was sentenced on 3 April to three and a half years in prison on a charge of “inciting subversion of state authority” for posting articles about government issues on websites based abroad. He was transferred to Hubai prison on 8 May. His wife and baby are meanwhile effectively under house arrest in Beijing. Organisation center_img News Receive email alerts to go further RSF_en June 2, 2021 Find out more Democracies need “reciprocity mechanism” to combat propaganda by authoritarian regimes July 25, 2008 – Updated on January 20, 2016 Hu Jia spends his 35th birthday alone in prison China: Political commentator sentenced to eight months in prison China’s Cyber ​​Censorship Figures March 12, 2021 Find out morelast_img read more

Leading wicket-takers in Test matches

first_img(REUTERS) – The 10 leading Test wicket-takers, after England’s James Anderson claimed his 600th victim yesterday.Muttiah Muralitharan (Sri Lanka) – 800 wickets in 133 matchesShane Warne (Australia) – 708 wickets in 145 matchesAnil Kumble (India) – 619 wickets in 132 matchesJames Anderson (England) – 600 wickets in 156 matchesGlenn McGrath (Australia) – 563 wickets in 124 matchesCourtney Walsh (West Indies) – 519 wickets in 132 matchesStuart Broad (England) – 514 wickets in 143 matchesDale Steyn (South Africa) – 439 wickets in 93 matchesKapil Dev (India) – 434 wickets in 131 matchesRangana Herath (Sri Lanka) – 433 wickets in 93 matcheslast_img