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The Seattle Soviet



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The tragicomedy of Free Capitol Hill, CHAZ, and CHOP. Matthew Continetti writes:

"What," Marx asked, "is the Commune, that sphinx so tantalizing to the bourgeois mind?"

In 1871 the Commune was the revolutionary government of Paris, a revolt against the newborn Third Republic of Adolphe Thiers. The communards, drawn from the ranks of city-dwelling laborers, overthrew the republican army and replaced it with an armed guard. The police were disbanded—or "defunded"—and reconstituted as an agency of the Commune. "It aimed to expropriate the expropriators." Churches were closed, judges were disestablished, and offices redistributed among the masses of the people.

"In a rough sketch of national organization which the Commune had no time to develop," Marx wrote in "The Civil War in France," "it states clearly that the Commune was to be the political form of even the smallest country hamlet, and that in the rural districts the standing army was to be replaced by a national militia, with an extremely short term of service." The Russian word for the form of social organization exemplified by the Commune is "soviet."

The Commune was crushed when Thiers organized a new regular army from the French provinces and retook Paris. Recent events in Seattle, though, drew me back to my Marx-Engels Reader. On June 8, after days of violent clashes with protesters, Mayor Jenny Durkan ordered police to abandon the East Precinct headquarters in the crunchy neighborhood of Capitol Hill. The demonstrators quickly established an "autonomous zone" within a six-block area devoid of police and governed, if that is the word, by decentralized and rotating groups of social justice warriors, anarchists, and armed men. The Seattle soviet was born.

Matthew Continetti, "The Seattle Soviet," Washington Free Beacon, June 19]


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