The Paradise of Association: Political Culture and Popular Organizations in the Paris Commune of 1871

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Overview


The Paradise of Association is the first comprehensive treatment of the tumultuous revolutionary clubs in the Paris of 1871. It proposes an innovative approach to the Paris Commune, the largest urban uprising in modern European history. For Marx and Lenin the Commune was a brilliant harbinger of proletarian dictatorship; for others, it was merely the last of the nineteenth-century revolutions. The Paradise of Association argues instead that the Commune resulted from revolutionary action by popular clubs, and it was shaped by the unique political culture fostered within them. The volume combines a detailed social analysis of 733 club militants with a "new cultural history" perspective, examining the language and practices of popular organizations in relation to such topics as historical memory, gender difference, definitions of citizenship, and revolutionary symbolism.

The first study of popular organizations during the Commune to take full advantage of the abundant archival materials, this book reveals previously unsuspected coordination and consciousness by revolutionaries in preparation for a seizure of power.

"Clubistes" were socially diverse individuals very likely to have a history of revolutionary activity. They did not constitute a social class, but rather a culturally and politically defined revolutionary community. A prominent feature of the political culture of popular organizations was the cult of revolutionary violence, based upon the memory of the French Revolution. By dominating the Commune, club militants imposed their political culture upon the nascent revolution and upon the capital.

This new perspective on the Commune entails revising several assumptions about the development of socialism and the evolution of party structures and popular movements in the late nineteenth century. It will be of interest to historians, to those interested in the relationship between popular culture and politics, and to researchers and students of gender relations and class dynamics in revolutionary movements.

Martin Johnson is Lecturer in History, University of Nevada, Las Vegas.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780472107247
  • Publisher: University of Michigan Press
  • Publication date: 2/1/1997
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 336

Table of Contents

Introduction: Revolution and Political Culture 1
Pt. 1 The Origins of the Commune
Ch. 1 Club Politics during the Siege of Paris 17
Ch. 2 The Revolutionary Socialist Party 55
Ch. 3 Shaping the Revolution 89
Pt. 2 The New World
Ch. 4 Association and the New World 131
Ch. 5 The Structures of Club Society 165
Ch. 6 The Components of Club Culture 203
Ch. 7 Gender and Clubiste Political Culture 235
Conclusion: The Legacies of the Commune 275
Sources 289
Index 313
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