150 years ago this week, workers and the poor of Paris seized control of the city and established a popular, elected municipal government: they took over great buildings, wiped out debts, instituted free education – and inspired countless radicals worldwide. The Commune lasted only 72 days before being drowned in blood. But each of those days was a political earthquake.
James Butler is joined by Laura Forster, a historian of the Commune, to trace its aftershocks: from the lives of exiled radicals in Soho and Fitzrovia, to the British socialists who took up the story of the Commune – both as an inspiration and a warning – through to Lenin dancing in the snow and the red thread linking the Paris Commune with the London County Council.
Delve deeper into the Paris Commune in our archives: James and Aaron discuss the political imaginary of the Commune with Kristin Ross.