Paris 1871

On 12 April 1961, Yuri Gagarin became the first human to travel into outer space. In his space capsule he carried the remnant of the red flag flown over the Hotel de Ville in the heart of the Paris Commune in 1870.

The Franco-Prussian War initiated through the deceit of Bismarck in July of 1870 was lost to the French. In September of 1870 the Emperor of the French, Louis Napoleon III, surrendered after the battle of Sedan. Though the war continued under a republican government by the end of September Paris was under siege. During the war the population of Paris increased, the differences between the wealthy and the poor grew, and the bombardment by the Prussians increase the already widespread discontent.

On 17 January 1871, after four months of siege, the republican Government of National Defence sought an armistice with the newly proclaimed German Empire. The Germans insisted upon a triumphal entry into Paris in the armistice terms. Despite the widespread discontent of the siege, many Parisians resented bitterly that the Prussians should be allowed even a brief ceremonial occupation of their city.

During the war thousands of Parisians were enrolled into the armed militia called the National Guards. Named for the National Guards of the French Revolution. Unfortunately many of these units contained or were led by more radical socialists inspired by the writings of Karl Marx.

These guards attempted to form a "Central Committee" of the Guard, which including patriotic republicans and socialists. Its stated reason was to provide defense against a possible German attack, (which never occurred) but in reality the Commune was more concerned with a Royalist Restoration of the Bourbon line. This fear was increased following the election of February 1871 in which a monarchist majority was elected to the National Assembly.

Parisians were boldly intractable to the Germans in the aftermath of defeat, and the guardsmen were prepared to offer opposition if the German entrance into Paris resulted in aggression. The Guards assisted by the population removed field pieces in the path of the Germans which had been purchased for the Army by popular subscription. They regarded these pieces as public property and placed them in safe districts, one of which was Montmartre.

Adolphe Thiers, head of the new provisional government, realised that in the present unstable situation, the Central Committee formed an alternative centre of political and military power. The newly renamed German Army entered Paris, stayed briefly and then left. Paris remained in a high state of anxiety.The Provisional Army of France left Paris for Versailles as it afforded a better defensive position against the Germans should the Armistice be broken and fighting resume. Unfortunately this left a huge power vacuum in Paris. Thiers fearing a power grab by the radicals ordered his remaining troops to take charge of the artillery at Montmartre. It was believed that the National Guard could not control the 400 cannon it now had. As the soldiers arrived instead of taking the guns the soldiers fraternised with the National Guards. The commander of the force General Claude Lecompte who was in the company of the former commander of the National Guard, General Thomas, was shot and killed by the National Guards.

As other army units left the army to join the National Guards, Thiers ordered the police, loyal army units and as many people who would listen to retreat towards Versailles. They would soon be referred to as the Versaillais. Those who remained in Paris would be given the name Communards. The Central Committee of the National Guard was now the only effective government in Paris: it arranged elections for a Commune, to be held on March 26.

The newly elected 92 members of the "Communal Council" included skilled workers and professionals. Many of them were political activists, ranging from reformist republicans, various types of socialists and Jacobins who tended to look to the Revolution of 1789 for inspiration.

To connect themselves to the revolution of 1789 the Commune reconstituted the revolutionary calendar, and to distinguish themselves from the more moderate republican government raised the red flag of socialism. The council enacted certain measures, these included the separation of church and state; the remission of rents owed for the entire period of the siege (during which payment had been suspended); the abolition of night work in the hundreds of Paris bakeries; the granting of pensions to the unmarried companions and children of National Guards killed on active service; the free return, by the city pawnshops, of all workman's tools and household items valued up to 20 francs, pledged during the siege as they were concerned that skilled workers had been forced to pawn their tools during the war; the postponement of commercial debt obligations, and abolition of interest on the debts; and the right of employees to take over and run an enterprise if it were deserted by its owner, who was to receive compensation.

The decree which separated the church and state was particularly onerous as it made all church property public, and removed the teaching of religion from school. Churches were allowed to continue religious activity only if the churches could be used at night for public political meetings. Churches became the second most common participatory areas for political activity.

Local assemblies pursued their own goals, usually under the direction of local workers. Despite the formal reformism of the Commune council, the composition of the Commune as a whole was much more revolutionist. Revolutionary trends included an early form of moderate anarchists members of the International Socialist, Blanquists, and libertarian republicans groups. The Paris Commune has been celebrated by Anarchist and Marxist socialists continuously since then, partly due to the variety of tendencies, the high degree of workers' control and the remarkable cooperation among different revolutionists.

After only a week, the Commune came under attack by elements of a new army formed by returning prisoners, being created at a furious pace in Versailles.

On April 2, the Commune forces, now called the National Guard to connect the commune with the revolution of 1789, first began skirmishing with the regular Versailles Army . Both sides shied away from a Civil War, and neither side wanted compromise. The National Assembly's army brutally crushed the Commune, and when the Commune had been demolished, the National Assembly proceeded with executions that numbered 20,000 in one week. One of the generals leading the counter-assault headed by Thiers was the Marquis de Galliffet, (the fusilleur de la Commune who later took part as Minister of War in Waldec-Rousseau's government at the turn of the century.

The Versaillais captured the suburb of Courbevoie on 2 April. The Commune was rebuffed in an abortive attack towards Versailles the next day. It became apparent to the Commune that the National Guard was no match in it's current form with the Army in Versailles, made of battle hardened troops fresh from prisoner of war camps in Prussia. In order to improve the National guards the commune sought to instill discipline, and rudimentary tactics.

Politically the Commune was fully committed to international socialism, and therefore the Vendôme Column, celebrating the victories of Napoleon I, and considered by the Commune to be a monument to Bonapartism was pulled down.

Although there was support from international sources, such as labour unions and Marxist groups world wide, the Versailles government prevented news from going into Paris, and no information coming out. Similar uprisings in other cities along the lines of the Paris Commune were crushed quickly.

In an effort to further connect he commune with the revolution of 1789 a committee of safety was formed. This council had broad sweeping powers but it was largely ineffective.

All through the rest of April and into May the Commune forces were pushed back. A cause of this pushing back was in part due to the districts inability to work together, where they had once came to together in common cause for the commune they became disjointed because of their philosophy as anarchists to allow an overall authority. Each group fought only for themselves and each in turn was defeated. In addition the wide boulevards created during Haussmann's renovation of Paris replaced the narrow Parisian streets which had featured prominently during prior revolts (1789 and 1830) and had proved almost impregnable. On the other hand the Versaillais Army had trained for street fighting and were very adapted to it. If the National Guards barracaded a boulevard the Versaillais simply out flanked them by burrowing through a the walls of the houses on either side to get behind them and attack from all sides at once.

In the assault on Paris, the Versaillais were responsible for killing National Guard troops and civilians, prisoners taken in possession of weapons, or who were suspected of having fought, were shot out of hand and summary executions were the order of the day. It was not restricted to the Versaillais as the Commune forces also executed The Catholic Encyclopedia states that between 24 May and May 26, more than 50 hostages were murdered. In some cases, certain leaders of the Commune gave the orders, in other cases they were killed by mobs. Among the victims was the Archbishop of Paris, Georges Darboy.

On May 27 only a few pockets of resistance remained, notably the poorer eastern districts of Belleville and Ménilmontant. Fighting ended during the late afternoon or early evening of May 28. According to legend, the last barricade was in the rue Ramponeau in Belleville.

"To the inhabitants of Paris. The French army has come to save you. Paris is freed! At 4 o'clock our soldiers took the last insurgent position. Today the fight is over. Order, work and security will be reborn." wrote Marshall MacMahon.

Reprisals began in earnest. Having supported the Commune was immediately declared as a crime. Thousands were accused, thousands were shot, more thousands were deported. All future Marxists and communists laud the commune and refer to it. Marx, who was still alive wrote that it was the basic form of a Dictatorship of the Proletariat. Marx also stated that the commune wasted time in forming a government when it should have should have finished off the Versaillais when they could. Lenin and Mao continued to draw lesson from it.


The form of government created by the commune was doomed to fail. In its desire to be all things to all men (and women) it failed in it's most basic dimension. Anarchy is inherent in this form of government. If no one is in authority nothing gets done. Like a ship on the ocean who changes its captain and direction often it never arrives in port, sooner or later it is bound to flounder. In it's direct attack on the Catholic Church they saw it as the only viable competition and an "enemy" which provided authority, and stability. They did not learn from the lessons learned from an earlier revolution that one does not escape justice when one attacks the Catholic Church by force in France.

Dieu Le Roy!

V.I. Lenin, "Lessons of the Commune", Marxists Internet Archive. Originally published: Zagranichnaya Gazeta, No. March 2, 23, 1908. Translated by Bernard Isaacs. Accessed August 7, 2006. ...But two mistakes destroyed the fruits of the splendid victory. The proletariat stopped half-way: instead of setting about “expropriating the expropriators”, it allowed itself to be led astray by dreams of establishing a higher justice in the country united by a common national task; such institutions as the banks, for example, were not taken over, and Proudhonist theories about a “just exchange”, etc., still prevailed among the socialists. The second mistake was excessive magnanimity on the part of the proletariat: instead of destroying its enemies it sought to exert moral influence on them; it underestimated the significance of direct military operations in civil war, and instead of launching a resolute offensive against Versailles that would have crowned its victory in Paris, it tarried and gave the Versailles government time to gather the dark forces and prepare for the blood-soaked week of May...

The Franco-Prussian War 1870-1871 (Essential Histories) Osprey Publishing (March 25, 2003) English ISBN-10: 1841764213

Catholic Encyclopedae 1917, Martyrs of the Paris Commune


Organizing for America Will Deploy Young Cadres on ‘Summer Organizing Fellowships’

Posted on February 23, 2011 at 10:51pm by Meredith Jessup

As Winter turns to Spring, President Barack Obama’s campaign organization is setting its sights on the Summer to recruit and train an army of new community organizers, the Los Angeles Times reports.

Presumably, Organizing for America’s efforts to “strengthen our democracy” will likely also coincide with Obama’s re-election plans in 2012. However, the latest recruitment message from OFA goes beyond politics and campaigning to emphasize plans for a new military-style boot camp for grassroots organizers, a “program that aims to put boots on the ground and help foster a new generation of leaders — not just to help win elections but to strengthen our democracy in communities across the country.”

If you apply and are selected, you’ll be trained in the basic organizing principles that have helped to build and power this movement, and you‘ll be assigned to a specific community where you’ll get to work organizing supporters.

Movements are built and sustained by ordinary people taking responsibility for organizing their fellow citizens to make their voices heard. We‘re looking for individuals who are prepared to work to help support the President’s agenda — and lay the groundwork that will help us win a new set of elections.

OFA’s “Summer Organizing Fellowship” also offers college credit in exchange for participation in the two-month volunteer program.

“Effective organizing doesn’t happen in a vacuum. It takes commitment, time, and hard work to build a movement around a cause,” the message says, although it does not identify any particular “cause” other than promoting Obama and his agenda.

Seems we have heard this al1 before 1871, 1917, 1949, 1959...


Bilboard Photo offends mother of the Child.

From the Blaze

Mom Wants Child's Image Gone from Anti-Abortion Billboard: MyFoxNY.com

Mother Outraged After Her Daughter’s Image Appears on Pro-Life Billboard

Posted on February 24, 2011 at 7:39am by Jonathon M. Seidl

A mother in New York City is demanding a pro-life group take down its billboard after she discovered the group used her daughter’s image on it. But there’s just one problem: the mother signed a release form allowing the modeling company who took the picture to sell it as a stock photo.

The billboard, which appears in the SoHo district in Manhattan, is sparking controversy for its message: “The Most Dangerous Place for an African American is in the Womb.” That, say critics, is wrong and even racist.

“Common decency demands it be taken down.” Christine Quinn, the Speaker of New York City council, told the London Telegraph. “To refer to a woman‘s legal right to an abortion as a ’genocidal plot’ is not only absurd, but offensive to women and to communities of color.”

“I would never endorse something like that,” Tricia Fraser, mother of Anissa, 6, whose image appears on the billboard, told WNYW. “Especially with my child’s image.”

Tricia signed her kids up with a modeling agency two years ago and had their pictures taken. And despite signing a release form that she knew meant the images could become stock photos, she’s not happy.

“It‘s bad enough you’re saying this about African Americans, but then you put a child with an innocent face,” she added. “I just want the image off of it. Use another image — just not hers.

The Texas-based group Life Always is sponsoring the billboard.

“During Black History Month, we celebrate our history, but our future is in jeopardy as a genocidal plot is carried out through abortion,” said Life Always Board Member Pastor Stephen Broden, who’s also black, in a press release.

According to statistics on the group’s website, “An African American baby is three times more likely to be aborted from the womb as a white baby,“ and ”Twice as many African Americans have died from abortion than the combined tolls of violent crimes, cancer, heart disease, accidents, and AIDS.”

The billboard is part of an upcoming national campaign and is specifically meant to target abortion provider Planned Parenthood.

“The image was properly licensed through a reputable stock image service,” the group told WNYW regarding the controversy. “We’ll be looking into the origin of the image and are certainly open to talking to the family directly if they have any concerns.”

If it is true why os she outraged?



Uncommon Valor was a Common Virtue

66 years ago elements of the 5th Marine Division fighting on the island of Iwo Jima raised the United States Flag over Mount Suribachi. Fortuately the raising was immortalized by photographer Joe Rosenthal in the famous picture which has been reproduced and stands as a memorial to all Marines past and present. In the words of Admiral Chester Nimitz, "Among the men who fought on Iwo Jima, uncommon valor was a common virtue." This one photo guaranteed the existance of the Marine Corps for a hundred years. The image is so tightly connected the Marine Corps that it is instantly recognizable by any one who sees it.

My wife Suzanne, a former US Navy Corpsman, reminds me that there was a Corpsman at the flag raising, John Bradley.

The six flag raisers were a diverse lot drawn from all over the nation:

Sgt Mike Strank was born in 1919 at Jarabenia, Czechoslovakia.
He died on Iwo Jima, 1 March 1945.

Harlon Block was born in 1924 in Yorktown, Texas.
He died on Iwo Jima (The date is not recorded in my source).

Franklin Sousley was born in 1925 at Hilltop, Kentucky.
He died on Iwo Jima, 21 March, 1945.

Ira Hayes was born in 1923 on 12 January in Sacaton, Arizona.
He died on 24 January 1955 at Bapchule, Arizona.

Rene Gagnon was born on 7 March 1925 in Manchester, New Hampshire.
he died on 12 October 1979 in Manchester, New Hampshire.

John Bradley was born on 10 July 1923 at Antigo, Wisconsin.
He died 11 January 1994 Antigo, Wisconsin.

More US Marines earned the Medal of Honor on Iwo Jima than in any other battle in US History. In 36 days of fighting there were 25,851 US casualties (1 in 3 were killed or wounded). Of these, 6,825 American boys were killed. Virtually all 22,000 Japanese perished.

Recollections of the flag raising on Mount Suribachi during the Battle of Iwo Jima by Pharmacist Mate Second Class John H. Bradley, USN, with the 5th Marine Division.

Adapted from John Bradley interview in box 3 of World War II Interviews, Operational Archives Branch, Naval Historical Center.

John Bradley:
I was attached to the 5th Marine Division on Iwo Jima and I was a member of the 28th Marine Regiment who raised the American flag on the highest point on that island which is Mount Suribachi. The company that I was assigned to hit the beach, (we were in the 9th wave); we hit the beach approximately H-Hour plus 45, which would be 45 minutes after H-hour [H-Hour was scheduled for 9:00 a.m.; the first assault wave of armored tracked landing vehicles began landing at 8:59 a.m. on 19 Feb. 1945]. When we hit the beach I was a little bit too busy to do any sight seeing at the time because we had a lot of casualties around the beach. In our company we went right up in the front lines about 45 minutes after we bit the beach and we stayed there. The 28th Marines sector of that island was the southern tip of Iwo Jima which Mount Suribachi was on.

In the morning of D plus 4 [23 Feb.] we organized a patrol of approximately 40 men [from Company E]. And myself and another hospital corpsmen by the name of Zimik (?), Pharmacist's Mate, 2/c [Second Class] were the [medical] corpsmen attached to that patrol. At that time we didn't know if we were going to be able to plant the American flag on the top of Mount Suribach. but previous to that the Navy [warships] gave the mountain a terrific bombarding, assisted by the Navy, Army and Marine Corps fighter planes.

We started up the mountain immediately after the Naval barrage and plane strafing was over and we reached the top. And I might add that the reason we reached the top of Mount Suribachi without a single enemy shot being fired was because the Japs were still in their caves waiting for the bombardment to be lifted. When we reached the top we formed our battle line [the platoon moved from the column formation used to climb the mountain trail to one with the squads and fireteams on line] and we all went over the top [attacked] together and much to our surprise we didn't find a Jap in sight. If one Jap had been up there manning one of his guns I think he could have pretty well taken care of our 40-man patrol.

Well, the minute we got up on top we set our line of fire [defensive perimeter firing positions] up, the Lieutenant in charge placed the machine guns where he wanted them, had our rifle men spotted [positioned] and immediately we sent patrols to the right and to the left [on the slopes]. We went up the mountain almost in the middle so consequently we sent patrols around to the right and left to take care of any Japs that might come out. When we got there I was with the group that swung to the left and immediately the Lieutenant sent a man around to look for a piece of staff [i.e., a flagpole] that we could put the American flag on. And the Japs had some old pipes that were laying around there, they used these pipes to run water down below the mountain. And we used this Jap pipe and we attached the American flag on there and we put it up. And Joe Rosenthal happened to be there at the right time. He came up a little while after we were on top and much to his surprise the picture that is now so famous....the Flag Raising on Mount Suribachi.

After the flag was raised we went back to work taking care of [i.e., killing] the Japs that were here and there and we found many of them in caves. In fact in one cave we counted 142 Japs. And the flame throwers did a fine job on top of the mountain. We tried to talk them out. They wouldn't come out so then we used the flame throwers as a last resort. There were numerous caves all. around there and we didn't have one single casualty on top of that mountain. [Flame throwers were first used in modern warfare by the Germans in World War I. The flame throwers used by the Marines in this action were carried by one Marine on his back and shot a stream of flaming fuel - standard gasoline or thickened "napalm" gasoline - from 20-40 yards against enemy caves/pillboxes to kill the enemy by burning, suffocation, or shock.]

Mount Suribachi was a [volcanic] mountain approximately 560 feet high and at the top it was a hollow...it was hollow on top, with about a 20, oh, I'd say a 20-foot ledge that you could walk all a-way around before this crater sank in. This crater was, oh, I'd say approximately 50 to 60 feet deep and it was down in this crater that the Japs were honeycombed in these caves. They had the caves dug in all the way around this crater. Suribachi was inactive at the time but we noticed smoke, sort of a vapor coming out of the ground up on this crater but it was purely inactive. The surface of that crater down below was warm but according to the north end that our regiment went on later, it was cold compared to that north end because that north end was really hot. In fact some of the boys received burns just from sleeping on the ground.

Bradley, in the picture which man are you?

John Bradley:
I'm the one that's second from the right as you're looking at the picture. And right next to me there you can see a man's helmet sticking up, that's Pfc. [Private First Class Rene A.] Gagnon [USMC]. The man bending over nearest to the ground is [Corporal Harlon Henry Block] [USMC]. And the one in back of us with the rifle slung on his shoulder is Pfc. Ira Hayes [USMC]. He is also a survivor. And the one in back of Hayes, is Pfc. [Frank R.] Sousley [USMC] who was later killed in action on the north end [of the island]. And there's two men that you can hardly see in the picture, they are from, the one on the right hand side is Pfc. Rene Gagnon who is a survivor of the flag raising. And the other one in back of Gagnon is Sergeant [Michael] Strank [USMC] who was killed later in action on the north end of Iwo Jima.

Was this your first invasion?

John Bradley:
Yes it was, that was my first invasion with these Marines.

Did you go up the seaward side of Mount Suribachi or the other side?

John Bradley:
We went facing the south....we went like I said before, it was in the middle of the mountain, it wasn't on the seaward side, [but the] land side.

Some Naval officers that have been back said that the Naval ships let a great cheer or salute when they noticed the flag up. Could you hear anything of that demonstration or see anything of it?

John Bradley:
Well, at that time we didn't think of the significance of the flag raising but they've told me that they did and it seems to me that I can recall something of that. We men up on top of the mountain weren't thinking of anything like that at the time. In fact we were all worried.

I understand this is the second flag raising that occurred there.

John Bradley:
That's right. The first flag was a smaller flag and it was put up by Platoon Sergeant [a Staff Noncommissioned Officer rank above that of sergeant] Ernest I. ["Boots"] Thomas of Tallahassee, Florida. He was the Platoon Sergeant in charge of the 40-man patrol [not factually correct - PlSgt Thomas was the senior enlisted man in the platoon and his duty was to assist the Platoon Commander, a commissioned officer]. He put up that flag about one half hour before this larger one was put up. It was so small that it couldn't be seen from down below so our Battalion commander, Lieutenant Colonel Chandler W. Johnson [USMC] sent a four-man patrol up with this larger flag which is the flag you see on the poster for the 7th war Loan Drive.

None of these six men in the picture then actually carried the flag up?

John Bradley:
No sir, the flag was carried by the Lieutenant in charge of the patrol. That was the first flag. And the second flag that want up was carried, in the patrol, there was Sergeant Strank who was in the second flag raising and whose picture is on it and Pfc. Hayes and Pfc. Sousley, They were in the group of the four men that the Battalion Commander sent up with the second flag.

Do you care to identify your Lieutenant in charge of your patrol?

John Bradley:
The Lieutenant in charge of that 40-man patrol was First Lieutenant [Harold] Shrier [USMC]. He is one of Carlson's Old Second Raiders [i.e., 1stLt Shrier was a former member the 2nd Raider Battalion, which was formed and commanded by LtCol Evans F. Carlson USMC from 1942-1943, when it was disbanded and the officers and men transferred to other Marine combat units] and he worked up from an enlisted man and he's now a First Lieutenant. And he happened to be Executive Officer [second in command] of E Company, 2nd Battalion, 28th Marines.

Do you care to tell us how you got hurt later?

John Bradley:
None of the boys got hurt or killed in action at time of the flag raising. All this took place when we received orders to go down to the north end [of the island, where the Marines were fighting to eliminate remaining Japanese-held pockets of resistance] and help them out with the fighting down there. My injury took place on March 12th which was the 22nd day of The operation. It was just about evening. I was getting things squared around my fox hole [a one or two-man fighting hole dug deep enough to protect the user from artillery fire and tanks and still permit him to stand within and fire his weapon over the top edge], getting my medical gear and personal gear arranged so that at night if we got the word to move out I'd know just where everything was and while I was arranging that--things were entirely quiet up to this time. While I was arranging this a Jap mortar shell lit [hit, or exploded] several feet from me and it caught four men and I happened to be one of them. I received wound fragments in both legs and one fragment hit my foot and it broke a bone in my foot. [Mortars are anti-personnel weapons designed to fire explosive or illumination shells at high angles over ranges up to 4,000 yards - the projectiles are fired at a high angle in order to clear obstacles between the mortar and the target, and projectiles plunge almost straight down into the target, thus hitting behind protective fortifications. Mortars were located in infantry company and battalion weapons platoons.]

I received very good medical care. Just as soon as I was hit the corpsmen were there to fix me up and the battalion surgeon sent his men up to evacuate me back to the battalion aid station, received supplementary treatment there and in a matter of three-quarters of an hour after I was hit I was back in the field hospital. The next morning I was put on a plane and flown to a rear area hospital which was at Guam. From Guam I was evacuated to Pearl Harbor. From Pearl Harbor to Oakland, California and then I received my orders to report to Washington, D.C. At this time I am a patient at the National Naval Medical Center at Bethesda, Maryland.

How long were you on top of Mount Suribachi?

John Bradley:
We stayed there approximately three days, a little over three days and then we received our orders to go to the north end.

How long did the flag stay up?

John Bradley:
The flag stayed up all the while. That flag was never taken down.

Why was Iwo Jima important? The island was destined to be used for an emergency landing point for B-29's carrying the atomic bomb. The two bombs used contained almost the entire accumilation of fusionable material, therefore it wss crucial to preserve the bombs in case of an aircraft malfunction.

As early as 4 March 1945, while fighting was till going on a B-29 returning from over Japan requested and received permission to make an emergency landing. "DINA MIGHT" was but the first of 2,251 B-29 landings on Iwo Jima.

Semper Fidelis.
Gunnery Sergeant of Marines (ret)