Marx and Engels in Neue Rheinische Zeitung April 1849

French Foreign Policy

Source: MECW Volume 9, p. 191;
Written: on April 3, 1849;
First published: in the Neue Rheinische Zeitung No. 263, April 4, 1849.

Cologne, April 3. The sitting of the French National Assembly on March 31 was marked by the speech of the “versatile little man”, Monsieur Thiers, who with cynical frankness and unambiguous clarity defended the Vienna Treaties of 1815[176] and upheld them as the basis of the present political situation of Europe. Was the little man not perfectly justified in ridiculing the contradiction of allowing these treaties to exist in fact while disavowing them in legal phraseology? And that was the cautious course of action of the Provisional Government[177] as it was that of Cavaignac. Barrot’s foreign policy was the necessary consequence of Cavaignac’s policy, just as Cavaignac’s foreign policy was the necessary consequence of Lamartine’s policy. Lamartine, like the Provisional Government as a whole, of whose foreign policy he was the agent, betrayed Italy and Poland on the pretext of not hindering the internal development of the French Republic. The clang of arms would have sounded a dissonant note in Lamartine’s oratorical propaganda. Just as the Provisional Government pretended that it could abolish the contradiction between the bourgeois class and the working class with a phrase about “fraternisation” and spirit away the class struggle, so it did also with regard to the contradiction between nations and foreign war. Under the aegis of the Provisional Government the oppressors of the Poles, Italians and Hungarians reconstituted themselves simultaneously with the French bourgeoisie, which at the end of June put into effect Lamartine’s policy of fraternisation. Cavaignac maintained peace with foreign countries in order calmly to wage civil war within France and not endanger the destruction of the defeated red republic, the workers’ republic, by the respectable moderate republic, by the bourgeois republic. Under Cavaignac the old Holy Alliance was re-established in Europe, as in France was the new Holy Alliance of the legitimists, Philippists, Bonapartists and “respectable” republicans. The Government of this duplicate Holy Alliance is that of Odilon Barrot.[178] His foreign policy is the policy of this Holy Alliance. He needs the victory of the counter-revolution abroad, in order to complete the counter-revolution in France itself.

At the sitting of the National Assembly on March 31 the Provisional Government repudiated Cavaignac. Cavaignac rightly maintains that he is the legitimate offspring of the Provisional Government and, for his part, repudiated Odilon Barrot, who imperturbably takes delight in believing that the meaning of the February revolution lies in the Vienna Treaties of 1815. Flocon states — without being disavowed by Odilon Barrot — that two days ago the Government formally imposed an interdict on Italy, and all Frenchmen, Poles and Italians who want to go there are being refused passports. Does not Barrot deserve to become the Prime Minister of Henry V?

Incidentally, in his rejoinder to Thiers, Ledru-Rollin admitted:

“Yes, I must confess that I acted wrongly; the Provisional Government ought to have sent its soldiers to the frontiers, not in order to conquer, but to defend our oppressed brothers, and from that moment there would have been no more despots in Europe. But if we hesitated at that time to begin a war, the blame lay on the monarchy, which had exhausted our finances and emptied our arsenals.”