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The Communist Party In France

The French Communist Party or the "Parti Communiste Français" was started in 1920 as a branch off of the "French Section of the Workers International." After World War 2, the party gained 25% of the vote, the Party's support has declined since then but it still remains Frances largest leftwing party with 6.9% of the total vote in the 2012 election.

However, the first socialist party in France was the Workers Party which was founded in 1880 and led by Karl Marx's son in law Paul Lafargue.

Woman During The French Revolution

The March to Versailles on June 20th 1792 is probably the best known case of "Feminist militant activism." 7000 armed working class woman marched on the Kings residence at Versailles to protest the terrible famines that plagued the working class people of France.

The Class System in France Pre-1989

Before the Revolution French society consisted of 3 distinct classes or estates. The first estate consisted on the King and his clergy. These people were very rich and paid no taxes at all. The second estate consisted of nobles who were also wealthy but not to the same extent of the first. They had to pay taxes only in war-time. The third estate consisted of everyone else and they had to pay heavy taxes laid down by the king. They had no political influence and were the primary group involved in the revolution of 1989.

The Role of Violence During The French Revolution

The French Revolution contained various degrees of violence throughout it's course. The revolution "radicalized" in 1793, meaning that the revolution saw a quick uptake in violence among other factors. This period from 1793-1799 is referred to as the "Reign of Terror" Maximilian Robespierre (the leader in France at the time) argues is his "Justification on the Use of Terror" that "the sword that gleams in the hands of the heroes of liberty resembles that with which the henchmen of tyranny are armed." This is an extreme example of a force of social change that turned violent and cost the lives of many innocent people.

The Struggle for Black Rights in France

In May of 2013 the French Government passed a bill to remove the words "race" and "racial" from it's penal code. This was supposed to eliminate "genealogical distinctions" from French law. Of course, this also made it harder to prosecute people for things like hate crimes because they no longer have the language for it in their laws. Many French men fought in World War Two because the French Government promised them citizenship in exchange for their service. Many Black soldiers died in the war and their sacrifices were virtually obliterated from history. Many Black people took part in the French Student Proletarian protests of May 1968. While other groups were rebelling against what they saw to be an oppressive and capitalist government, many Black people joined the protests in the hopes that they would gain fair treatment if the protests succeeded.

The Debate Over Abortion Rights

Previous to 2014 there was a law in France that stated that a women had to prove that she was in "distress" before she would be allowed to get an abortion. Abortion in France was legalized in 1975, with the stipulation that a woman face danger to her health and safety before a doctor was allowed to perform one. In practice, this law is not really enforced and most women who want a abortion are allowed to have one. However French parliament still faced considerable conservative opposition whilst trying to repeal the law. The opposition included massive civilian marches in Paris protesting the bill. This amendment to the law was successfully passed in January of 2014.

Indigenous Rights in New Caledonia

New Caledonia is an overseas territory of France. In 1999 a slow transition of power from France to a New Caledonian government that is supposed to last between 15 and 20 years. The Indigenous population of New Caledonia is the Kanak people. The Kanak people revolted unsucessfully against the French government throughout the 1980's and although their agitation for independence failed, it did result in a series of treaties designed to slowly transfer the governing duties away from the French and to the people of New Caledonia.

Environmentalism in France

French concern for the environment really picked up in the 1960's and 1970's. The peak of French activism surrounding in the environment happened in the 1970's with anti-nuclear rallies. The UN climate change summit is being held in Paris in November of 2015 and there were some huge marches and protests that had been planned in association with this event, by both French citizens and people who had travelled to Paris to participate. These marches have since been cancelled by the French government in light of the recent Paris attacks.

French Resistance Against German Occupation During World War Two

France surrendered to the advancing German Army in 1940. When this happened France was divided into two zones, Vichy France, which was the Southern half of France, governed by a puppet government, and Northern France or occupied France, which was completely controlled by the German Army. There were many groups in France that resisted German occupation including Communist/Socialist groups, and student groups. Eventually, these groups joined together into one resistance group called the Maquis. The Maquis committed many acts of sabotage towards the German army during their occupation and generally fought to reclaim their political autonomy from occupying forces.

Informal Film Review-The Wall: A World Divided

I actually really enjoyed this documentary, I thought that the way that they showed people who had been a part of the events in Berlin in the 60’s walking around the modern Berlin created a sort of really cool living history. That father Rudolph Miller talking about bringing his family over to West Berlin felt much more like a real relevant history because we could see him walking back and forth across the place in modern Berlin where the wall had once stood. I had learned about the Berlin wall in school, but I didn’t know how close the border between the two halves of the city were, with some East Berliners having apartments whose doors opened up onto the streets of East Berlin. I also didn’t know that the Wall ended up coming down essentially by accident, and I was really cool to see contemporary footage of that.

I thought that the filmmakers reconstruction of the security around the Berlin Wall was really interesting and not something that I had known before. I also really liked the way that they included news footage from the 60’s and video footage along with the modern city, reconstructions of wall security and historians talking about the events. This made the history feel very close and real. The connections that were made with other social movements like environmentalism, feminism and anti-nuclear movements provided an interesting perspective as well.

I though that it was good that they provided different perspectives of the movement (political, social, media) but I thought it was kind of frustrating that they were not really willing to make any critical statements about the political leaders involved such a Bush and Gorbachev about their failure to act and remove restrictions on East German Citizens. In my opinion, they showed these leaders, especially US President Bush in a suspiciously positive light. However, I really liked the interviews with former Berlin residents who had lived through the events of the wall. Over all, I thought that this method of showing and telling history was really interesting and successful, and I really enjoyed watching this documentary.