Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Louise Michel

28 May 1871 was the last day of the "semaine sanglante," which put an end to the Paris Commune. Tens of thousands of Communards were summarily executed or imprisoned, and about 4,000 were deported to New Caledonia, a penal colony of France.

In New Caledonia, the exiled Communards encountered the Kanaks, the indigenous people of the islands, who were also oppressed by the same ruling class that had crushed the Commune. When the Kanaks rose up in rebellion in 1878, however, most of the Commundards "rallied to the French state," with a few exceptions such as Louise Michel, who wrote: "The Kanaks were seeking the same liberty we had sought in the Commune."

Can the rebels of the North side with the rebels of the South? The history of the metropolitan Left in imperialism gives an ambiguous answer to this question.

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