Communal Luxury

Communal Luxury:The Political Imaginary of the Paris Commune

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Reclaiming thelegacy of the Paris Commune for the twenty-first century

Kristin Ross’s new work on the thought and culture of the Communard uprising of 1871 resonates with the motivations and actions of contemporary protest, which has found its most powerful expression in the reclamation of public space. Today’s concerns—internationalism, education, the future of labor, the status of art, and ecological theory and practice—frame and inform her carefully researched restaging of the words and actions of individual Communards. This original analysis of an event and its centrifugal effects brings to life the workers in Paris who became revolutionaries, the significance they attributed to their struggle, and the elaboration and continuation of their thought in the encounters that transpired between the insurrection’s survivors and supporters like Marx, Kropotkin, and William Morris.

The Paris Commune was a laboratory of political invention, important simply and above all for, as Marx reminds us, its own ‘working existence.’ Communal Luxury allows readers to revisit the intricate workings of an extraordinary experiment.


  • No work specifies more fully Marx’s claim that, the greatest achievement of the Paris Commune was its ‘actual working existence.'

  • Ross is the perfect guide for such a journey: few critics are more attuned to how words and images can travel … [she] has an acute eye for this juxtaposition of the pastoral and the political, how the vines of nature can overtake the monuments of empire, how revolutionary events can interrupt the silence of the countryside.

    Corey RobinSalon
  • In recent years, the Paris Commune has again moved to the center of political thinking. Kristin Ross’s new book now, virtually for the first time, gives us an account of the intellectual antecedents of the Commune as well as its contemporary impact. This is an indispensable text for all current left theory!

    Fredric Jameson