lines from the days of the commune

In classics long after, quotables on January 21, 2010 at 10:30 am

“We must smash their unwashed faces on the cobbles, in the name of culture.” – Thiers (2)

days of the commune

A later, perhaps lesser Brecht, ‘The Days…’ dramatises the Paris Commune more as a Babel of ideals than a heroic bubble. He’s most interested in dramatising how the newly liberated debating chamber, in indulging those voices so long suppressed so long, fails consensus, thus collective will, thus collective action, and so eventually destroyed by a well-drilled reactionary bloc (as their bourgeois owners employ opera glasses to watch the characters we’ve lived with for the length of the play butchered in their own streets).

“I’m not talking about me and you. I said ‘we’. ‘We’ are more than me and you.” – Genevieve (13)

commune stamp

There is an attitude – prevalent even among revolutionaries – that leaders should be trusted (“They must know what they’re doing, after all”). In this play, the rebels are not undone by corruption or brutality but through sticking too closely to their ideals – they retain their purity, but it becomes the blamelessness of a sacrifice rather than a new power. Even as enemy forces are recapturing the city, the central committee continue with polite, officious peacetime business: “Citizen Delegates, we shall continue with the business at hand. The next item is the organisation of a commission for the education of women…” As such, the feelings of frustration are pushed onto the audience, who are helpless – but if they carry the grievance out into the world with them…

“Smash the enemy within today or you will be no match for the enemy outside your forts tomorrow” – Ranvier (9a)


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