The execution was as foolish as the conception. On 18th March, at three o’clock in the morning, several columns dispersed in various directions to the Buttes Chaumont, Belleville, the Faubourg du Temple, the Bastille, the Hôtel-de-Ville, Place St Michel, the Luxembourg, the thirteenth arrondissement and the Invalides. General Susbielle marched on Montmartre with two brigades about 6,000 men strong. All was silent and deserted. The Paturel brigade took possession of the Moulin de la Galette without striking a blow. The Lecomte brigade gained the Tower of Solferino only meeting with one sentinel, Turpin, who crossed bayonets with them and was hewn down by the gendarmes. They then rushed to the post of the Rue des Rosiers, stormed it, and threw the National Guards into the caves of the Tower of Solferino. At six o’clock the surprise was complete. M. Clémenceau hurried to the Buttes to congratulate General Lecomte. Everywhere else the cannon were surprised in the same way. The Government triumphed all along the line, and D’Aurelles sent the papers a proclamation written in the conqueror’s vein.
For Marx, the greatest achievement of the Paris Commune was its "actual working existence", and we should certainly not exclude its geographical organisation and defensive arcitecture from this category. Ahead of Kristin Ross' discussion with Alberto Toscano at Goldsmiths tonight on the political imaginary of the Paris Commune, we share a series of maps created by Leopold Lambert detailing the shifting architecture of the Commune over time. You can download a high-resolution version of the map here.
From Lambert's essay:
History tends to describe the city where events unfold themselves as a mere context, indifferent to the action that it hosts … I wanted to illustrate how the city, through its constructive, destructive and modificative logics plays a biased role in these historical events. As Karl Marx pointed out in The Civil War in France (1871), many things could have given the Commune higher chances to survive (a more organized offensive against Versailles in the beginning of its existence, the use of the Banque de France left untouched, a more comprehensive defensive strategy etc.), but the thing that the Commune has lacked the most is likely to be time itself, in an effort to transform and subvert the capitalist, imperialist and militarized logics that contextualized the urban fabric in which it was attempting to exist.
Interview with Joseph Confavreux for Mediapart on the occasion of the publication of the French translation of Communal Luxury: The Political Imaginary of the Paris Commune
Convinced that “the world of the Communards is closer to us than the world of our parents,” and that “it is actions that produce dreams and not the reverse,” Kristin Ross explores the imaginary and the practices of the Paris Commune, in order to show its political actuality today. At the juncture of a history of ideas, of imaginaries and of facts, Ross, a Professor of Comparative Literature at New York University, explores the Commune and its “afterlives,” in a book that is at once a textual study, an exploration of the thoughts and practices of Communards and their fellow travelers, and a political proposition for the present moment.