The Class Struggles in France, 1848 to 1850
On December 20 the Janus head of the constitutional republic had still shown only one face, the executive face with the indistinct, plain features of L. Bonaparte; on May 28, 1849, it showed its second face, the legislative, pitted with the scars that the orgies of the Restoration and the July Monarchy had left behind. With the Legislative National Assembly the phenomenon of the constitutional republic was completed, that is, the republican form of government in which the rule of the bourgeois class is constituted, the common rule, therefore, of the two great royalist factions that form the French bourgeoisie, the coalesced Legitimists and Orléanists, theparty of Order. While the French republic thus became the property of the coalition of the royalist parties, the European coalition of the counterrevolutionary powers embarked simultaneously upon a general crusade against the last places of refuge of the March revolutions. Russia invaded Hungary, Prussia marched against the army defending the Reich constitution and Oudinot bombarded Rome. The European crisis was evidently approaching a decisive turning point; the eyes of all Europe were turned on Paris, and the eyes of all Paris on the Legislative Assembly.
On June 11 Ledru-Rollin mounted its tribune. He made no speech; he formulated an indictment of the ministers, naked, unadorned, factual, concentrated, forceful.
The attack on Rome is an attack on the constitution; the attack on the Roman republic is an attack on the French republic. Article 5 of the constitution reads: “The French republic never employs its forces against the liberty of any people whatsoever” – and the President employs the French army against Roman liberty. Article 54 Of the constitution forbids the executive power to declare any war whatsoever without the consent of the National Assembly. The Constituent Assembly's resolution of May 8 expressly commands the ministers to make the Rome expedition conform with the utmost speed to its original mission; it therefore just as expressly prohibits war on Rome – and Oudinot bombards Rome. Thus Ledru-Rollin called the constitution itself as a witness for the prosecution against Bonaparte and his ministers. At the royalist majority of the National Assembly, he, the tribune of the constitution, hurled the threatening declaration: “The republicans will know how to command respect for the constitution by every means, be it even by force of arms!” “By force of arms!” came the hundredfold echo of the Montagne. The majority answered with a terrible tumult; the President of the National Assembly called Ledru-Rollin to order – Ledru-Rollin repeated the challenge, and finally laid on the President's table a motion for the impeachment of Bonaparte and his ministers. By 361 votes to 203, the National Assembly resolved to pass on from the bombardment of Rome to the next item on the agenda.
Did Ledru-Rollin believe he could beat the National Assembly by means of the constitution, and the President by means of the National Assembly?
To be sure, the constitution forbade any attack on the liberty of foreign peoples, but what the French army attacked in Rome was, according to the ministry, not “liberty” but the “despotism of anarchy.” Had the Montagne still not comprehended, all experiences in the Constituent Assembly notwithstanding, that the interpretation of the constitution did not belong to those who had made it, but only to those who had accepted it? That its wording must be construed in its viable meaning and that the bourgeois meaning was its only viable meaning That Bonaparte and the royalist majority of the National Assembly were the authentic interpreters of the constitution, as the priest is the authentic interpreter of the Bible, and the judge the authentic interpreter of the laws Should the National Assembly, freshly emerged from the general elections, feel itself bound by the testamentary provisions of the dead Constituent Assembly, whose will an Odilon Barrot had broken while it was alive? When Ledru-Rollin cited the Constituent Assembly's resolution of May 8, had he forgotten that the same Constituent Assembly on May 11 had rejected his first motion for the impeachment of Bonaparte and the ministers; that it had acquitted the President and the ministers; that it had thus sanctioned the attack on Rome as “constitutional”; that he only lodged an appeal against a judgment already delivered – that he, lastly, appealed from the republican Constituent Assembly to the royalist Legislative Assembly? The constitution itself calls insurrection to its aid by summoning, in a special article, every citizen to protect it. Ledru-Rollin based himself on this article. But at the same time, are not the public authorities organized for the defense of the constitution, and does not the violation of the constitution begin only from the moment when one of the constitutional public authorities rebels against the other? And the President of the republic, the ministers of the republic, and the National Assembly of the republic were in the most harmonious agreement.
What the Montagne attempted on June 11 was “an insurrection within the limits of pure reason,” that is, a purely parliamentary insurrection. The majority of the Assembly, intimidated by the prospect of an armed rising of the popular masses, was, in Bonaparte and the ministers, to destroy its own power and the significance of its own election. Had not the Constituent Assembly similarly attempted to annul the election of Bonaparte, when it insisted so obstinately on the dismissal of the Barrot-Falloux Ministry?
Neither were there lacking from the time of the Convention models for parliamentary insurrections which had suddenly transformed completely the relation between the majority and the minority – and should the young Montagne not succeed where the old had succeeded? – nor did relations at the moment seem unfavorable for such an undertaking. Popular unrest in Paris had reached an alarmingly high point – the army, according to its vote at the election, did not seem favorably inclined toward the government; the legislative majority itself was still too young to have become consolidated, and in addition it consisted of old gentlemen. If the Montagne were successful in a parliamentary insurrection, the helm of state would fall directly into its hands. The democratic petty bourgeoisie, for its part, wished, as always, for nothing more fervently than to see the battle fought out in the clouds over its head between the departed spirits of parliament. Finally, both of them, the democratic petty bourgeoisie and its representatives, the Montagne, would, through a parliamentary insurrection, achieve their great purpose, that of breaking the power of the bourgeoisie without unleashing the proletariat or letting it appear otherwise than in perspective; the proletariat would have been used without becoming dangerous.
After the vote of the National Assembly on June 11, a conference took place between some members of the Montagne and delegates of the secret workers' societies. The latter urged that the attack be started the same evening. The Montagne decisively rejected this plan. On no account did it want to let the leadership slip out of its hands; its allies were as suspect to it as its antagonists, and rightly so. The memory of June, 1848, surged through the ranks of the Paris proletariat more vigorously than ever. Nevertheless it was chained to the alliance with the Montagne. The latter represented the largest part of the departments – it had increased its influence in the army; it had at its disposal the democratic section of the National Guard; it had the moral power of the shopkeepers behind it. To begin the revolution at this moment against the will of the Montagne would have meant for the proletariat, decimated moreover by cholera and driven out of Paris in considerable numbers by unemployment, to repeat uselessly the June days of 1848, without the situation which had forced this desperate struggle. The proletarian delegates did the only rational thing. They obligated the Montagne to compromise itself, that is, to come out beyond the confines of the parliamentary struggle, in the event that its bill of impeachment was rejected. During the whole of June 13 the proletariat maintained this same skeptically watchful attitude, and awaited a seriously engaged irrevocable melee between the democratic National Guard and the army, in order then to plunge into the fight and push the revolution forward beyond the petty bourgeois aim set for it. In the event of victory a proletarian commune was already formed which would take its place beside the official government. The Parisian workers had learned in the bloody school of June, 1848.
On June 12 Minister Lacrosse himself brought forward in the Legislative Assembly the motion to proceed at once to the discussion of the bill of impeachment. During the night the government had made every provision for defense and attack; the majority of the National Assembly was determined to drive the rebellious minority out into the streets; the minority itself could no longer retreat; the die was cast; the bill of impeachment was rejected by 377 votes to 8. The “Mountain,” which had abstained from voting, rushed resentfully into the propaganda halls of the “pacific democracy,” the newspaper offices of the Démocratie Pacifique.
Its withdrawal from the parliament building broke its strength as withdrawal from the earth broke the strength of Antaeus, her giant son. Samsons in the precincts of the Legislative Assembly, the Montagnards were only Philistines in the precincts of the “pacific democracy.” A long, noisy, rambling debate ensued. The Montagne was determined to compel respect for the constitution by every means, “only not by force of arms.” In this decision it was supported by a manifesto and by a deputation of “Friends of the Constitution.” “Friends of the Constitution” was what the wreckage of the coterie of the National, the bourgeois-republican party, called itself. While six of its remaining parliamentary representatives had voted against, the others in a body voting for, the rejection of the bill of impeachment, while Cavaignac placed his saber at the disposal of the party of Order, the larger, extra-parliamentary part of the coterie greedily seized the opportunity to emerge from its position of a political pariah and to press into the ranks of the democratic party. Did they not appear as the natural shield bearers of this party, which hid itself behind their shield, behind their principles, behind the constitution?
Till break of day the “Mountain” was in labor. It gave birth to “a proclamation to the people,” which on the morning of June occupied a more or less shamefaced place in two socialist journals. It declared the President, the ministers, and the majority of the Legislative Assembly “outside the constitution” and summoned the National Guard, the army, and finally also the people “to arise.” “Long live the Constitution!” was the slogan it put forward, a slogan that signified nothing other than “Down with the revolution!”
In conformity with the constitutional proclamation of the Mountain, there was a so-called peaceful demonstration of the petty bourgeois on June 13, that is, a street procession from the Chateau d'Eau through the Boulevards, 30,000 strong, mainly National Guardsmen, unarmed, with an admixture of members of the secret workers' sections, moving along with the cry: “Long live the Constitution!” which was uttered mechanically, icily, and with a bad conscience by the members of the procession itself, and thrown back ironically by the echo of the people that surged along the sidewalks, instead of swelling up like thunder. From the many-voiced song the chest notes were missing. And when the procession swung by the meeting hall of the “Friends of the Constitution” and a hired herald of the constitution appeared on the housetop, violently cleaving the air with his claquer hat and from tremendous lungs letting the catch – cry “Long live the Constitution!” fall like hail on the heads of the pilgrims, they themselves seemed overcome for a moment by the comedy of the situation. It is known how the procession, having arrived at the termination of the Rue de la Paix, was received in the Boulevards by the dragoons and chasseurs of Changarnier in an altogether unparliamentary way, how in a trice it scattered in all directions, and how it threw behind it a few shouts of “To arms” only in order that the parliamentary call to arms of June 11 might be fulfilled.
The majority of the Montagne assembled in the Rue du Hasard scattered when this violent dispersion of the peaceful procession, the muffled rumors of murder of unarmed citizens on the Boulevards, and the growing tumult in the streets seemed to herald the approach of a rising.Ledru-Rollin at the head of a small band of deputies saved the honor of the Mountain. Under the protection of the Paris Artillery, which had assembled in the Palais National, they betook themselves to the Conservatoire des Arts et Métiers [Museum of arts and trades, an educational institution in Paris], where the fifth and sixth legions of the National Guard were to arrive. But the Montagnards waited in vain for the fifth and sixth legions; these discreet National Guards left their representatives in the lurch; the Paris Artillery itself prevented the people from throwing up barricades; chaotic disorder made any decision impossible; the troops of the line advanced with fixed bayonets; some of the representatives were taken prisoner, while others escaped. Thus ended June 13.
If June 23, 1848, was the insurrection of the revolutionary proletariat, June 13, I849, was the insurrection of the democratic petty bourgeois, each of these two insurrections being the classically pure expression of the class which had been its vehicle.
Only in Lyons did it come to an obstinate, bloody conflict. Here, where the industrial bourgeoisie and the industrial proletariat stand directly opposed to one another, where the workers' movement is not, as in Paris, included in and determined by the general movement, June 13, in its repercussion, lost its original character. Wherever else it broke out in the provinces it did not kindle fire – acold lightning flash.
June 13 closes the first period in the life of the constitutional republic, which had attained its normal existence on May 28, 1849, with the meeting of the Legislative Assembly. The whole period of this prologue is filled with vociferous struggle between the party of Order and the Montagne, between the big bourgeoisie and the petty bourgeoisie, which strove in vain against the consolidation of the bourgeois republic, for which it had itself continuously conspired in the Provisional Government and in the Executive Commission, and for which, during the June days, it had fought fanatically against the proletariat. The thirteenth of June breaks its resistance and makes thelegislative dictatorship of the united royalists a fait accompli. From this moment the National Assembly is only a Committee of Public Safety of the party of Order.
Paris had put the President, the ministers, and the majority of the National Assembly in a “state of impeachment”; they put Paris in a “state of siege.” The Mountain had declared the majority of the Legislative Assembly “outside the constitution”; for violation of the constitution the majority handed over the Mountain to the haute cour and proscribed everything in it that still had vital force. It was decimated to a rump without head or heart. The minority had gone so far as to attempt aparliamentary insurrection – the majority elevated its parliamentary despotism to law. It decreed new “standing orders,” which annihilate the freedom of the tribune and authorize the president of the National Assembly to punish representatives for violation of the standing orders with censure, with fines, with stoppage of their salaries, with suspension of membership, with incarceration. Over the rump of the Montagne it hung the rod instead of the sword. The remainder of the deputies of the Montagne owed it to their honor to make a mass exit. By such an act the dissolution of the party of Order would have been hastened. It would have had to break up into its original component parts the moment not even the semblance of an opposition would hold it together any longer.
Simultaneously with their parliamentary power, the democratic petty bourgeois were robbed of their armed power through the dissolution of the Paris Artillery and the eighth, ninth, and twelfth legions of the National Guard. On the other hand, the legion of high finance, which on June 13 had raided the print shops of Boule and Roux, demolished the presses, played havoc with the offices of the republican journals, and arbitrarily arrested editors, compositors, printers, shipping clerks, and errand boys, received encouraging approval from the tribune of the National Assembly. All over France the disbanding of National Guards suspected of republicanism was repeated.
A new press law, a new law of association, a new law on the state of siege, the prisons of Paris overflowing, the political refugees driven out, all the journals that go beyond the limits of the National suspended, Lyons and the five departments surrounding it abandoned to the brutal persecution of military despotism, the courts ubiquitous, and the army of officials, so often purged, purged once more – these were the inevitable, the constantly recurring commonplaces of victorious reaction, worth mentioning after the massacres and the deportations of June only because this time they were directed not only against Paris but also against the departments, not only against the proletariat but, above all, against the middle classes.
The repressive laws by which the declaration of a state of siege was left to the discretion of the government, the press still more firmly muzzled, and the right of association annihilated, absorbed the whole of the legislative activity of the National Assembly during the months of June, July, and August.
However, this epoch is characterized not by the exploitation of victory in fact, but in principle; not by the resolutions of the National Assembly, but by the grounds advanced for these resolutions; not by the thing but by the phrase; not by the phrase but by the accent and the gesture which enliven the phrase. The brazen, unreserved expression of royalist sentiments, the contemptuously aristocratic insults to the republic, the coquettishly frivolous babbling of restoration aims in a word, the boastful violation of republican decorum – give its peculiar tone and color to this period. Long live the Constitution! was the battle cry of the vanquished of June 13. The victors were therefore absolved from the hypocrisy of constitutional, that is, republican, speech. The counterrevolution subjugated Hungary, Italy, and Germany, and they believed that the restoration was already at the gates of France. Among the masters of ceremonies of the factions of Order there ensued a real competition to document their royalism in the Moniteur, and to confess, repent, and crave pardon before God and man for liberal sins perchance committed by them under the monarchy. No day passed without the February Revolution being declared a national calamity from the tribune of the National Assembly, without some Legitimist provincial cabbage-junker solemnly stating that he had never recognized the republic, without one of the cowardly deserters of and traitors to the July Monarchy relating the belated deeds of heroism in the performance of which only the philanthropy of Louis Philippe or other misunderstandings had hindered him. What was admirable in the February days was not the magnanimity of the victorious people, but the self-sacrifice and moderation of the royalists, who had allowed it to be victorious. One Representative of the People proposed to divert part of the money destined for the relief of those wounded in February to the Municipal Guards, who alone in those days had deserved well of the fatherland. Another wanted to have an equestrian statue decreed to the Duke of Orléans in the Place du Carrousel. Thiers called the constitution a dirty piece of paper. There appeared in succession on the tribune Orléanists, to repent of their conspiracy against the legitimate monarchy by Legitimists, who reproached themselves with having hastened the overthrow of monarchy in general by resisting the illegitimate monarchy; Thiers, who repented of having intrigued against Molé; Molé, who repented of having intrigued against Guizot; Barrot, who repented of having intrigued against all three. The cry “Long live the Social-Democratic Republic!” was declared unconstitutional; the cry “Long live the Republic!” was prosecuted as social-democratic. On the anniversary of the Battle of Waterloo, a representative declared: “I fear an invasion of the Prussians less than the entry of the revolutionary refugees into France.” To the complaints about the terrorism organized in Lyons and the neighboring departments, Baraguay d'Hilliers answered: “I prefer the white terror to the red terror.” And the Assembly applauded frantically every time an epigram against the republic, against the revolution, against the constitution, for the monarchy, or for the Holy Alliance fell from the lips of its orators. Every infringement of the minutest republican formality – for example, that of addressing the representatives as citoyens – filled the knights of order with enthusiasm.
The by-elections in Paris on July 8, held under the influence of the state of siege and of the abstention of a great part of the proletariat from the ballot box, the taking of Rome by the French army, the entry into Rome of the red eminences and, in their train, of inquisition and monkish terrorism, added fresh victories to the victory of June and increased the intoxication of the party of Order.
Finally, in the middle of August, half with the intention of attending the Department Councils just assembled, half through exhaustion from the tendentious orgy of many months, the royalists decreed a two – month recess of the National Assembly. With transparent irony they left behind a commission of twenty-five representatives, the cream of the Legitimists and the Orléanists, a Molé and a Changarnier, as proxies for the National Assembly and as guardians of the republic. The irony was more profound than they suspected. They, condemned by history to help to overthrow the monarchy they loved, were destined by it to conserve the republic they hated.
The second period in the life of the constitutional republic, its royalist period of sowing wild oats, closes with the recess of the Legislative Assembly.
The state of siege in Paris had again been raised, the activities of the press had again begun. During the suspension of the Social-Democratic papers, during the period of repressive legislation and royalist bluster, the Siècle, the old literary representative of the monarchist-constitutional petty bourgeois, republicanized itself; the Presse, the old literary exponent of the bourgeois reformers, democratized itself; while the National, the old classic organ of the republican bourgeois, socialized itself.
The secret societies grew in extent and intensity in the same degree that the public clubs became impossible. The workers' industrial cooperatives, tolerated as purely commercial societies, while of no account economically, became politically so many means of cementing the proletariat. June 13 had struck off the official heads of the various semirevolutionary parties; the masses that remained won a head of their own. The knights of order had practiced intimidation by prophecies of the terror of the red republic; the base excesses, the hyperborean atrocities of the victorious counterrevolution in Hungary, in Baden, and in Rome washed the “red republic” white. And the malcontent intermediate classes of French society began to prefer the promises of the red republic with its problematic terrors to the terrors of the red monarchy with its actual hopelessness. No socialist in France spread more revolutionary propaganda than Haynau. A chaque capacité selon ses oeuvres! [To each man of talent according to his work!]
In the meantime Louis Bonaparte exploited the recess of the National Assembly to make princely tours of the provinces, the most hot-blooded Legitimists made pilgrimages to Ems, to the grandchild of the saintly Louis, and the mass of the popular representatives on the side of order intrigued in the Department Councils, which had just met. It was necessary to make them pronounce what the majority of the National Assembly did not yet dare pronounce, an urgent motion for immediate revision of the constitution. According to the constitution, it could not be revised before 1852, and then only by a National Assembly called together expressly for this purpose. If, however, the majority of the Department Councils expressed themselves to this effect, was not the National Assembly bound to sacrifice the virginity of the constitution to the voice of France? The National Assembly entertained the same hopes in regard to these provincial assemblies as the nuns in Voltaire's Henriade entertained in regard to the pandours. But, some exceptions apart, the Potiphars of the National Assembly had to deal with just so many Josephs of the provinces. The vast majority did not want to understand the importunate insinuation. The revision of the constitution was frustrated by the very instruments which were to have called it into being, by the votes of the Department Councils. The voice of France, and indeed of bourgeois France, had spoken and had spoken against revision.
At the beginning of October the Legislative National Assembly met once more – tantum mutatus ab illo. Its physiognomy was completely changed. The unexpected rejection of revision on the part of the Department Councils had put it back within the limits of the constitution and indicated the limits of its term of life. The Orléanists had become mistrustful because of the pilgrimages of the Legitimists to Ems; the Legitimists had grown suspicious because of the Orléanists' negotiations with London; the journals of the two factions had fanned the fire and weighed the reciprocal claims of their pretenders. Orléanists and Legitimists grumbled in unison at the machinations of the Bonapartists, which showed themselves in the princely tours, in the more or less transparent emancipatory attempts of the President, in the presumptuous language of the Bonapartist newspapers; Louis Bonaparte grumbled at a National Assembly which found only the Legitimist-Orléanist conspiracy legitimate, at a ministry which betrayed him continually to this National Assembly. Finally the ministry was itself divided on the Roman policy and on the income tax proposed by Minister Passy, decried as socialistic by the conservatives.
One of the first bills of the Barrot Ministry in the reassembled Legislative Assembly was a demand for a credit of 300,000 francs for the payment of a widow's pension to the Duchess of Orléans! The National Assembly granted it and added to the list of debts of the French nation a sum of seven million francs. Thus while Louis Philippe continued to play successfully the role of the pauvre honteux, the shamefaced beggar, the ministry dared not move an increase of salary for Bonaparte nor did the Assembly appear inclined to grant it. And Louis Bonaparte, as ever, vacillated in the dilemma: Aut Caesar aut Clichy! 
The minister's second demand for a credit, one of nine million francs for the costs of the Rome expedition, increased the tension between Bonaparte on the one hand and the ministers and the National Assembly on the other. Louis Bonaparte had inserted a letter to his military aide, Edgar Ney, in the Moniteur, in which he bound the papal government to constitutional guarantees. The Pope, on his part, had published an address, motu proprio, in which he rejected any limitation of his restored rule. Bonaparte's letter, with studied indiscretion, raised the curtain on his cabinet in order to expose himself to the eyes of the gallery as a benevolent genius who was, however, misunderstood and shackled in his own house. It was not the first time that he had coquetted with the “furtive flights of a free soul.” Thiers, the reporter of the commission, completely ignored Bonaparte's flight and contented himself with translating the papal allocution into French. It was not the ministry but Victor Hugo who sought to save the President through an order of the day in which the National Assembly was to express its agreement with Napoleon's letter.Allons donc! Allons donc! [Let's go then!] With this disrespectful, frivolous interjection the majority buried Hugo's motion. The policy of the President? The letter of the President? The President himself? Allons donc! Allons donc! Who the devil takes Monsieur Bonaparte seriously? Do you believe, Monsieur Victor Hugo, that we believe you that you believe in the president?Allons donc! Allons donc!
Finally, the breach between Bonaparte and the National Assembly was hastened by the discussion on the recall of the Orléans and the Bourbons. In default of the ministry, the President's cousin [Joseph Bonaparte], son of the ex-king of Westphalia, had put forward this motion, which had no other purpose than to push the Legitimist and the Orléanist pretenders down to the same level, or rather a lower level than the Bonapartist pretender, who at least stood in fact at the pinnacle of the state.
Napoleon Bonaparte was disrespectful enough to make the recall of the expelled royal families and the amnesty of the June insurgents parts of one and the same motion. The indignation of the majority compelled him to apologize immediately for this sacrilegious concatenation of the holy and the impious, of the royal races and the proletarian brood, of the fixed stars of society and of its swamp lights, and to assign each of the two motions to its proper place. The majority energetically rejected the recall of the royal family, and Berryer, the Demosthenes of the Legitimists, left no doubt about the meaning of the vote. The civic degradation of the pretenders, that is what is intended! It is desired to rob them of their halo, of the last majesty that is left to them, the majesty of exile! What, cried Berryer, would the pretenders think of the President, who, forgetting his august origin, came here to live as a simple private individual? It could not have been more clearly intimated to Louis Bonaparte that he had not gained the day by his presence, that whereas the royalists in coalition needed him here in France as a “neutral man” in the presidential chair, the serious pretenders to the throne had to be kept out of profane sight by the fog of exile.
On November 1, Louis Bonaparte answered the Legislative Assembly with a message which in quite brusque words announced the dismissal of the Barrot Ministry and the formation of a new ministry. The Barrot-Falloux Ministry was the ministry of the royalist coalition, the Hautpoul Ministry was the ministry of Bonaparte, the organ of the President as against the Legislative Assembly, the ministry of the clerks.
Bonaparte was no longer the merely neutral man of December 10, 1848. His possession of the executive power had grouped a number of interests around him, the struggle with anarchy forced the party of Order itself to increase his influence, and if he was no longer popular, the party of Order was unpopular. Could he not hope to compel the Orléanists and the Legitimists, through their rivalry as well as through the necessity of some sort of monarchist restoration, to recognize the neutral pretender?
From November 1, 1849, dates the third period in the life of the constitutional republic, a period which closes with March 10, I850. The regular game, so much admired by Guizot, of the constitutional institutions, the wrangling between executive and legislative power, now begins. More, as against the hankering for restoration on the part of the united Orléanists and Legitimists, Bonaparte defends his title to his actual power, the republic; as against the hankering for restoration on the part of Bonaparte, the party of Order defends its title to its common rule, the republic; as against the Orléanists, the Legitimists, and as against the Legitimists, the Orléanists, defend the status quo, the republic. All these factions of the party of Order, each of which has its own king and its own restoration in petto [secretly], mutually enforce, as against their rivals' hankering for usurpation and revolt, the common rule of the bourgeoisie, the form in which the special claims remain neutralized and reserved the republic.
Just as Kant makes the republic, so these royalists make the monarchy the only rational form of state, a postulate of practical reason whose realization is never attained, but whose attainment must always be striven for and mentally adhered to as the goal.
Thus the constitutional republic had gone forth from the hands of the bourgeois republicans as a hollow ideological formula to become a form full of content and life in the hands of the royalists in coalition. And Thiers spoke more truly than he suspects when he said: “We, the royalists, are the true pillars of the constitutional republic.”
The overthrow of the ministry of the coalition and the appearance of the ministry of the clerks has a second significance. Its Finance Minister was Fould. Fould as Finance Minister signifies the official surrender of France's national wealth to the Bourse, the management of the state's property by the Bourse and in the interests of the Bourse. With the nomination of Fould, the finance aristocracy announced its restoration in the Moniteur. This restoration necessarily supplemented the other restorations, which form just so many links in the chain of the constitutional republic.
Louis Philippe had never dared to make a genuine loup-cervier [stock-exchange wolf] finance minister. Just as his monarchy was the ideal name for the rule of the big bourgeoisie, so in his ministries the privileged interests had to bear ideologically disinterested names. The bourgeois republic every where pushed into the forefront what the different monarchies, Legitimist as well as Orléanist, had kept concealed in the background. It made earthly what they had made heavenly. In place of the names of the saints it put the bourgeois proper names of the dominant class interests.
Our whole exposition has shown how the republic, from the first day of its existence, did not overthrow but consolidated the finance aristocracy. But the concessions made to it were a fate to which submission was made without the desire to bring it about. With Fould, the initiative in the government returned to the finance aristocracy.
The question will be asked how the coalesced bourgeoisie could bear and suffer the rule of finance, which under Louis Philippe depended on the exclusion or subordination of the remaining bourgeois factions.
The answer is simple.
First of all, the finance aristocracy itself forms a weighty, authoritative part of the royalist coalition, whose common governmental power is denominated republic. Are not the spokesmen and leading lights among the Orléanists the old confederates and accomplices of the finance aristocracy? Is it not itself the golden phalanx of Orleanism? As far as the Legitimists are concerned, under Louis Philippe they had already participated in practice in all the orgies of the Bourse, mine, and railway speculations. In general, the combination of large landed property with high finance is a normal fact. Proof: England; proof: even Austria.
In a country like France, where the volume of national production stands at a disproportionately lower level than the amount of the national debt, where government bonds form the most important subject of speculation and the Bourse the chief market for the investment of capital that wants to turn itself to account in an unproductive way – in such a country a countless number of people from all bourgeois or semi-bourgeois classes must have an interest in the state debt, in the Bourse gamblings, in finance. Do not all these interested subalterns find their natural mainstays and commanders in the faction which represents this interest in its vastest outlines, which represents it as a whole?
What conditions the accrual of state property to high finance? The constantly growing indebtedness of the state. And the indebtedness of the state? The constant excess of its expenditure over its income, a disproportion which is simultaneously the cause and effect of the system of state loans.
In order to escape from this indebtedness, the state must either restrict its expenditure, that is, simplify and curtail the government organism, govern as little as possible, employ as few personnel as possible, enter as little as possible into relations with bourgeois society. This path was impossible for the party of Order, whose means of repression, official interference in the name of the state, and ubiquity through organs of state were bound to increase in the same measure as the number of quarters increased from which its rule and the conditions for the existence of its class were threatened. The gendarmerie cannot be reduced in the same measure as attacks on persons and property increase.
Or the state must seek to evade the debts and produce an immediate but transitory balance in its budget by putting extraordinary taxes on the shoulders of the wealthiest classes. But was the party of Order to sacrifice its own wealth on the altar of the fatherland to stop the national wealth from being exploited by the Bourse? Pas si bête! [Not so stupid!]
Therefore, without a complete revolution in the French state, no revolution in the French state budget. Along with this state budget necessarily goes the lordship of the trade in state debts, of the state creditors, the bankers, the money dealers, and the wolves of the Bourse. Only one faction of the party of Order was directly concerned in the overthrow of the finance aristocracy – the manufacturers. We are not speaking of the middle, of the smaller people engaged in industry; we are speaking of the reigning princes of the manufacturing interests, who had formed the broad basis of the dynastic opposition under Louis Philippe. Their interest is indubitably reduction of the costs of production and hence reduction of the taxes, which enter into production, and hence reduction of the state debts, the interest on which enters into the taxes, hence the overthrow of the finance aristocracy.
In England – and the largest French manufacturers are petty bourgeois compared with their English rivals actually find the manufacturers, a Cobden, a Bright, at the head of the crusade against the bank and the stock-exchange aristocracy. Why not in France? In England industry predominates – in France, agriculture. In England industry requires free trade; in France, protective tariffs, national monopoly alongside the other monopolies. French industry does not dominate French production; the French industrialists, therefore, do not dominate the French bourgeoisie. In order to secure the advancement of their interests as against the remaining factions of the bourgeoisie, they cannot, like the English, take the lead of the movement and simultaneously push their class interests to the fore; they must follow in the train of the revolution, and serve interests which are opposed to the collective interests of their class. In February they had misunderstood their position; February sharpened their wits. And who is more directly threatened by the workers than the employer, the industrial capitalists? The manufacturer, therefore, of necessity became in France the most fanatical member of the party of Order. The reduction of his profit by finance, what is that compared with the abolition of profit by the proletariat?
In France, the petty bourgeois does what normally the industrial bourgeois would have to do; the worker does what normally would be the task of the petty bourgeois; and the task of the worker, who accomplishes that? No one. In France it is not accomplished; in France it is proclaimed. It is not accomplished anywhere within the national boundaries. The class war within French society turns into a world war, in which the nations confront one another. Accomplishment begins only at the moment when, through the world war, the proletariat is pushed to the fore of the people that dominates the world market, to the forefront in England. The revolution, which finds here not its end, but its organizational beginning, is no short-lived revolution. The present generation is like the Jews whom Moses led through the wilderness. It not only has a new world to conquer, it must go under in order to make room for the men who are able to cope with a new world.
Let us return to Fould.
On November 14, 1849, Fould mounted the tribune of the National Assembly and expounded his system of finance: an apology for the old system of taxes! Retention of the wine tax! Abandonment of Passy's income tax!
Passy, too, was no revolutionist; he was an old minister of Louis Philippe's. He belonged to the Puritans of the Dufaure brand and to the most intimate confidants of Teste, the scapegoat of the July Monarchy. Passy, too, had praised the old tax system and recommended the retention of the wine tax, but he had at the same time torn the veil from the state deficit. He had declared the necessity for a new tax, the income tax, if the bankruptcy of the state was to be avoided. Fould, who had recommended state bankruptcy to Ledru-Rollin, recommended the state deficit to the Legislative Assembly. He promised economies, the secret of which later revealed itself in that, for example, expenditures diminished by sixty millions while the floating debt increased by two hundred millions – conjurers' tricks in the grouping of figures, in the drawing up of accounts, which all finally amounted to new loans.
Alongside the other jealous bourgeois factions, the finance aristocracy naturally did not act in so shamelessly corrupt a manner under Fould as under Louis Philippe. But once it existed, the system remained the same: constant increase in the debts, masking of the deficit. And in time the old Bourse swindling came out more openly. Proof: the law concerning the Avignon Railway; the mysterious fluctuations in government securities, for a brief time the topic of the day throughout Paris; finally, the ill-starred speculations of Fould and Bonaparte on the elections of March 10.
With the official restoration of the finance aristocracy, the French people soon had to stand again before a February 24.
The Constituent Assembly, in an attack of misanthropy against its heir, had abolished the wine tax for the year of our Lord 1850. New debts could not be paid with the abolition of old taxes. Creton, a cretin of the party of Order, had moved the retention of the wine tax even before the Legislative Assembly recessed. Fould took up this motion in the name of the Bonapartist ministry and on December 20, 1849, the anniversary of the day Bonaparte was proclaimed President, the National Assembly decreed the restoration of the wine tax.
The sponsor of this restoration was not a financier; it was the Jesuit chief Montalembert. His argument was strikingly simple: Taxation is the maternal breast on which the government is suckled. The government is the instruments of repression; it is the organs of authority; it is the army; it is the police; it is the officials, the judges, the ministers; it is the priests. An attack on taxation is an attack by the anarchists on the sentinels of order, who safeguard the material and spiritual production of bourgeois society from the inroads of the proletarian vandals. Taxation is the fifth god, side by side with property, the family, order, and religion. And the wine tax is incontestably taxation and, moreover, not ordinary, but traditional, monarchically disposed, respectable taxation. Vive l'impôt des boissons! [Long live the tax on drinks!] Three cheers and one cheer more!
When the French peasant paints the devil he paints him in the guise of a tax collector. From the moment when Montalembert elevated taxation to a god, the peasant became godless, atheist, and threw himself into the arms of the devil, of socialism. The religion of order had forfeited him; the Jesuits had forfeited him; Bonaparte had forfeited him. December 20, 1849, had irrevocably compromised December 20, 1848. The “nephew of his uncle” was not the first of his family whom the wine tax defeated, this tax which, in Montalembert's phrase, heralds the revolutionary storm. The real, the great Napoleon declared on St. Helena that the reintroduction of the wine tax had contributed more to his downfall than all else, since it had alienated from him the peasants of Southern France. As far back as under Louis XIV the favorite object of the hatred of the people (see the writings of Boisguillebert and Vauban), abolished by the first revolution, it was reintroduced by Napoleon in a modified form in 1808. When the Restoration entered France, there trotted before it not only the Cossacks,, but also the promises to abolish the wine tax. The gentilhommerie [gentry] naturally did not need to keep its word to the gens taillables à merci et miséricorde [people taxed pitilessly]. The year I830 promised the abolition of the wine tax. It was not its way to do what it said or say what it did. The year 1848 promised the abolition of the wine tax, just as it promised everything. Finally, the Constituent Assembly, which promised nothing, made, as already mentioned, a testamentary provision whereby the wine tax was to disappear on January 1, 1850. And just ten days before January 1, 1850, the Legislative Assembly introduced it once more, so that the French people perpetually pursued it, and when they had thrown it out the door saw it come in again through the window.
The popular hatred of the wine tax is explained by the fact that it unites in itself all the odiousness of the French system of taxation. The mode of its collection is odious, the mode of its distribution aristocratic, for the rates of taxation are the same for the commonest as for the costliest wines; it increases, therefore, in geometrical progression as the wealth of the consumers decreases, an inverted progressive tax. It accordingly directly provokes the poisoning of the laboring classes by putting a premium on adulterated and imitation wines. It lessens consumption, since it sets up octrois [toll houses] before the gates of all towns of over four thousand inhabitants and transforms each such town into a foreign country with a protective tariff against French wine. The big wine merchants, but still more the small ones, the marchands de vins, whose livelihood directly depends on the consumption of wine, are so many avowed enemies of the wine tax. And finally, by lessening consumption the wine tax curtails the producers' market. While it renders the urban workers incapable of paying for wine, it renders the wine growers incapable of selling it. And France has a wine-growing population of about twelve million. One can therefore understand the hatred of the people in general; one can in particular understand the fanaticism of the peasants against the wine tax. And in addition they saw in its restoration no isolated, more or less accidental event. The peasants have a kind of historical tradition of their own, which is handed down from father to son, and in this historical school it is muttered that whenever any government wants to dupe the peasants, it promises the abolition of the wine tax, and as soon as it has duped the peasants, it retains or reintroduces the wine tax. In the wine tax the peasant tests the bouquet of the government, its tendency. The restoration of the wine tax on December 20 meant: Louis Bonaparte is like the rest. But he was not like the rest; he was a peasant discovery, and in the petitions carrying millions of signatures against the wine tax they took back the votes that they had given a year before to the “nephew of his uncle.”
The country folk – over two-thirds of the total French population – consist for the most part of so-called free landowners. The first generation, gratuitously freed by the Revolution of 1789 from its feudal burdens, had paid no price for the soil. But the following generations paid, under the form of the price of land, what their semi-serf forefathers had paid in the form of rent, tithes, corvee, etc. The more, on the one hand, the population grew and the more, on the other hand, the partition of the soil increased, the higher became the price of the parcels, for the demand for them increased with their smallness. But in proportion as the price the peasant paid for his parcel rose, whether he bought it directly or whether he had it accounted as capital by his co-heirs, necessarily the indebtedness of the peasant, that is, the mortgage, also rose. The claim to a debt encumbering the land is termed a mortgage, a pawn ticket in respect of the land. Just as privileges accumulated on the medieval estate, mortgages accumulate on the modern small allotment. On the other hand, under the system of parcelisation the soil is purely an instrument of production for its proprietor. Now the fruitfulness of land diminishes in the same measure as land is divided. The application of machinery to the land, the division of labor, major soil – improvement measures, such as cutting drainage and irrigation canals and the like, become more and more impossible, while the unproductive costs of cultivation increase in the same proportion as the division of the instrument of production itself. All this, regardless of whether the possessor of the small allotment possesses capital or not. But the more the division increases, the more does the parcel of land with its utterly wretched inventory form the entire capital of the small allotment peasant, the more does investment of capital in the land diminish, the more does the peasant lack land, money, and education for making use of the progress in agronomy, and the more does the cultivation of the soil retrogress. Finally, the net proceeds diminish in the same proportion as the gross consumption increases, as the whole family of the peasant is kept back from other occupations through its holding and yet is not enabled to live by it.
In the measure, therefore, that the population and, with it, the division of the land increases, does the instrument of production, the soil, become more expensive and its fertility decrease, does agriculture decline and the peasant become loaded with debt. And what was the effect becomes, in its turn, the cause. Each generation leaves behind another more deeply in debt – each new generation begins under more unfavorable and more aggravating conditions; mortgaging begets mortgaging, and when it becomes impossible for the peasant to offer his small holding as security for new debts, that is, to encumber it with new mortgages, he falls a direct victim to usury, and usurious interest rates become so much the more exorbitant.
Thus it came about that the French peasant cedes to the capitalist, in the form of interest on the mortgages encumbering the soil and in the form of interest on the advances made by the usurer without mortgages, not only ground rent, not only the industrial profit – in a word, not only the whole net profit – but even a part of the wages, and that therefore he has sunk to the level of the Irish tenant farmer – all under the pretense of being a private proprietor.
This process was accelerated in France by the ever growing burden of taxes, by court costs called forth in part directly by the formalities with which French legislation encumbers the ownership of land, in part by the innumerable conflicts over parcels everywhere bounding and crossing each other, and in part by the litigiousness of the peasants, whose enjoyment of property is limited to the fanatical assertion of their title to their fancied property, their property rights.
According to a statistical statement of 1840, the gross production of French agriculture amounted to 5,237,178,000 francs. Of this the costs of cultivation came to 3,552,000,000 francs, including consumption by the persons working. There remained a net product of 1,685,178,000 francs, from which 550,000,000 had to be deducted for interest on mortgages, 100,000,000 for law officials, 350,000,000 for taxes, and 107,000,000 for registration money, stamp duty, mortgage fees, etc. There was left one-third of the net product or 538,000,000; when distributed over the population, not 25 francs per head net product. Naturally, neither usury outside of mortgage nor lawyers' fees, etc., are included in this calculation.
The condition of the French peasants, when the republic had added new burdens to their old ones, is comprehensible. It can be seen that their exploitation differs only in form from the exploitation of the industrial proletariat. The exploiter is the same: capital. The individual capitalists exploit the individual peasants through mortgages and usury, the capitalist class exploits the peasant class through the state taxes. The peasant's title to property is the talisman by which capital held him hitherto under its spell, the pretext under which it set him against the industrial proletariat. Only the fall of capital can raise the peasant; only an anti-capitalist, a proletarian government can break his economic misery, his social degradation. The constitutional republic is the dictatorship of his united exploiters; the social-democratic, the red republic, is the dictatorship of his allies. And the scale rises or falls according to the votes the peasant casts into the ballot box. He himself has to decide his fate. So spoke the socialists in pamphlets, almanacs, calendars, and leaflets of all kinds. This language became more understandable to him through the counter-writings of the party of Order, which for its part turned to him, and which by gross exaggeration, by its brutal conception and representation of the intentions and ideas of the socialists, struck the true peasant note and overstimulated his lust after forbidden fruit. But most understandable was the language of the actual experience that the peasant class had gained from the use of the suffrage, were the disillusionments overwhelming him, blow upon blow, with revolutionary speed. Revolutions are the locomotives of history.
The gradual revolutionizing of the peasants was manifested by various symptoms. It early revealed itself in the elections to the Legislative Assembly – it was revealed in the state of siege in the five departments bordering Lyons; it was revealed a few months after June 13 in the election of a Montagnard in place of the former president of the Chambre introuvable by the Department of the Gironde; it was revealed on December 20, 1849, in the election of a red in place of a deceased Legitimist deputy in the Department du Gard, that promised land of the Legitimists, the scene of the most frightful infamies committed against the republicans in 1794 and 1795 and the center of the white terror in 1815, when liberals and Protestants were publicly murdered. This revolutionizing of the most stationary class is most clearly evident since the reintroduction of the wine tax. The governmental measures and the laws of January and February, 1850, are directed almost exclusively against the departments and the peasants. The most striking proof of their progress.
The Hautpoul circular, by which the gendarme was appointed inquisitor of the prefect, of the subprefect, and, above all, of the mayor, and by which espionage was organized even in the hidden corners of the remotest village community; the law against the schoolteachers, by which they (the men of talent, the spokesmen, the educators and interpreters of the peasant class) were subjected to the arbitrary power of the prefect – they, the proletarians of the learned class, were chased like hunted beasts from one community to another; the bill against the mayors, by which the Damocles sword of dismissal was hung over their heads, and they, the presidents of the peasant communities, were every moment set in opposition to the President of the Republic and the party of Order; the ordinance which transformed the seventeen military districts of France into four pashaliks and forced the barracks and the bivouac on the French as their national salon; the education law, by which the party of Order proclaimed unconsciousness and the forcible stupefaction of France as the condition of its life under the regime of universal suffrage what were all these laws and measures? Desperate attempts to reconquer the departments and the peasants of the departments for the party of Order.
Regarded as repression, they were wretched methods that wrung the neck of their own purpose. The big measures, like the retention of the wine tax, of the 45-centime tax, the scornful rejection of peasant petitions for the repayment of the milliard, etc., all these legislative thunderbolts struck the peasant class all at once, wholesale, from the center; the laws and measures cited made attack and resistance general, the topic of the day in every hut; they inoculated every village with revolution; they localized and peasantized the revolution.
On the other hand, do not these proposals of Bonaparte and their acceptance by the National Assembly prove the unity of the two powers of the constitutional republic, so far as it is a question of repression of anarchy – that is, of all the classes that rise against the bourgeois dictatorship? Did not Soulouque [Louis Bonaparte], directly after his brusque message, assure the Legislative Assembly of his dévouement [devotion] to order, through the immediately following message of Carlier, that dirty, mean caricature of Fouché, as Louis Bonaparte himself was the shallow caricature of Napoleon?
The education law shows us the alliance of the young Catholics with the old Voltaireans. Could the rule of the united bourgeois be anything else but the coalesced despotism of the pro-Jesuit Restoration and the make–believe free–thinking July Monarchy? Had not the weapons that the one bourgeois faction had distributed among the people against the other faction, in their mutual struggle for supremacy, again been torn from it, the people, since the latter was confronting their united dictatorship? Nothing has aroused the Paris shopkeeper more than this coquettish étalage [display] of Jesuitism, not even the rejection of the concordats à l'amiable [friendly agreements].
Meanwhile the collisions between the different factions of the party of Order, as well as between the National Assembly and Bonaparte, continued. The National Assembly was far from pleased that Bonaparte, immediately after his coup d'état, after appointing his own, Bonapartist ministry, summoned before him the invalids of the monarchy, newly appointed prefects, and made their unconstitutional agitation for his reelection as President the condition of their appointment; that Carlier celebrated his inauguration with the closing of a Legitimist club, or that Bonaparte founded a journal of his own, Le Napoleon, which betrayed the secret longings of the President to the public, while his ministers had to deny them from the tribune of the Legislative Assembly. The latter was far from pleased by the defiant retention of the ministry, notwithstanding its various votes of no confidence; far from pleased by the attempt to win the favor of the noncommissioned officers by an extra pay of four sous a day and the favor of the proletariat by a plagiarisation of Eugène Sue's Mysteries by an honor loan bank; far from pleased, finally, by the effrontery with which the ministers were made to move the deportation of the remaining June insurgents to Algiers, in order to heap unpopularity on the Legislative Assembly en gros, while the President reserved popularity for himself en detail, by individual grants of pardon.Thiers let fall threatening words about coups d'état and coups de tête [rash acts], and the Legislative Assembly revenged itself on Bonaparte by rejecting every proposed law that he put forward for his own benefit, and by inquiring with noisy mistrust, in every instance when he made a proposal in the common interest, whether he did not aspire, through increase of the executive power, to augment the personal power of Bonaparte. In a word, it revenged itself by a conspiracy of contempt.
The Legitimist party, on its part, saw with vexation the more capable Orléanists once more occupying almost all posts and centralization increasing, while it sought its salvation principally in decentralization. And so it was. The counterrevolution centralized forcibly, that is, it prepared the mechanism of the revolution. It even centralized the gold and silver of France in the Paris Bank through the compulsory quotation of bank notes, and so created the ready war chest of the revolution.
Lastly, the Orléanists saw with vexation the emergent principle of legitimacy contrasted with their bastard principle, and themselves every moment snubbed and maltreated as the bourgeois misalliance of a noble spouse.
Little by little we have seen peasants, petty bourgeois, the middle classes in general, stepping alongside the proletariat, driven into open antagonism to the official republic and treated by it as antagonists. Revolt against bourgeois dictatorship, need of a change of society, adherence to democratic-republican institutions as organs of their movement, grouping around the proletariat as the decisive revolutionary power – these are the common characteristics of the so-called party of social democracy, the party of the red republic. This party of anarchy, as its opponents christened it, is no less a coalition of different interests than the party of Order. From the smallest reform of the old social disorder to the overthrow of the old social order, from bourgeois liberalism to revolutionary terrorism – as far apart as this lie the extremes that form the starting point and the finishing point of the party of “anarchy.”
Abolition of the protective tariff – socialism! For it strikes at the monopoly of the industrial faction of the party of Order. Regulation of the state budget – socialism! For it strikes at the monopoly of the financial faction of the party of Order. Free admission of foreign meat and corn – socialism! For it strikes at the monopoly of the third faction of the party of Order, large landed property. The demands of the free–trade party, that is, of the most advanced English bourgeois party, appear in France as so many socialist demands. Voltaireanism socialism! For it strikes at a fourth faction of the party of Order, the Catholic. Freedom of the press, right of association, universal public education – socialism, socialism! They strike at the general monopoly of the party of Order.
So swiftly had the march of the revolution ripened conditions that the friends of reform of all shades, the most moderate claims of the middle classes, were compelled to group themselves around the banner of the most extreme party of revolution, around the red flag.
Yet manifold as the socialism of the different large sections of the party of anarchy was, according to the economic conditions and the total revolutionary requirements of the class or fraction of a class arising out of these, in one point it is in harmony: in proclaiming itself the means of emancipating the proletariat and the emancipation of the latter as its object. Deliberate deception on the part of some; self-deception on the part of the others, who promote the world transformed according to their own needs as the best world for all, as the realization of all revolutionary claims and the elimination of all revolutionary collisions.
Behind the general socialist phrases of the “party of anarchy,” which sound rather alike, there is concealed the socialism of the National, of the Presse, and of the Siécle, which more or less consistently wants to overthrow the rule of the finance aristocracy and to free industry and trade from their hitherto existing fetters. This is the socialism of industry, of trade, and of agriculture, whose bosses in the party of Order deny these interests, insofar as they no longer coincide with their private monopolies. Petty bourgeois socialism, socialism par excellence, is distinct from this bourgeois socialism, to which, as to every variety of socialism, sections of the workers and petty bourgeois naturally rally. Capital hounds this class chiefly as its creditor, so it demands credit institutions; capital crushes it by competition, so it demands associations supported by the state; capital overwhelms it by concentration, so it demands progressive taxes, limitations on inheritance, taking over of large construction projects by the state, and other measures that forcibly stem the growth of capital. Since it dreams of the peaceful achievement of its socialism – allowing, perhaps, for a second February Revolution lasting a brief day or so the coming historical process naturally appears to it as an application of systems which the thinkers of society, whether in companies or as individual inventors, devise or have devised. Thus they become the eclectics or adepts of the existing socialist systems, of doctrinaire socialism, which was the theoretical expression of the proletariat only as long as it had not yet developed further into a free historical movement of its own.
While this utopian doctrinaire socialism, which subordinates the total movement to one of its stages, which puts in place of common social production the brainwork of individual pedants and, above all, in fantasy does away with the revolutionary struggle of the classes and its requirements by small conjurers' tricks or great sentimentality, while this doctrinaire socialism, which at bottom only idealizes present society, takes a picture of it without shadows, and wants to achieve its ideal athwart the realities of present society; while the proletariat surrenders this socialism to the petty bourgeoisie; while the struggle of the different socialist leaders among themselves sets forth each of the so-called systems as a pretentious adherence to one of the transit points of the social revolution as against another – the proletariat rallies more and more around revolutionary socialism, around communism, for which the bourgeoisie has itself invented the name of Blanqui. This socialism is the declaration of the permanence of the revolution, the class dictatorship of the proletariat as the necessary transit point to the abolition of class distinctions generally, to the abolition of all the relations of production on which they rest, to the abolition of all the social relations that correspond to these relations of production, to the revolutionizing of all the ideas that result from these social relations.
The scope of this exposition does not permit of developing the subject further.
We have seen that just as in the party of Order the finance aristocracy necessarily took the lead, so in the party of “anarchy” the proletariat. While the different classes, united in a revolutionary league, grouped themselves around the proletariat, while the departments became ever more unsafe and the Legislative Assembly itself ever more morose toward the pretensions of the French Soulouque, the long deferred and delayed by–election of substitutes for the Montagnards, proscribed after June 13, drew near.
The government, scorned by its foes, maltreated and daily humiliated by its alleged friends, saw only one mean of emerging from this repugnant and untenable position – revolt. A revolt in Paris would have permitted the proclamation of a state of siege in Paris and the departments and thus the control of the elections. On the other hand, the friends of order, in face of a government that had gained victory over anarchy, were constrained to make concessions, if they did not want to appear as anarchists themselves.
The government set to work. At the beginning of February, 1850, provocation of the people by chopping down the trees of liberty. In vain. If the trees of liberty lost their place, the government itself lost its head and fell back, frightened by its own provocation. The National Assembly, however, received this clumsy attempt at emancipation on the part of Bonaparte with ice-cold mistrust. The removal of the wreaths of immortelles from the July column was no more successful. It gave part of the army an opportunity for revolutionary demonstrations and the National Assembly the occasion for a more or less veiled vote of no confidence in the ministry. In vain the government press threatened the abolition of universal suffrage and the invasion of the Cossacks. In vain was Hautpoul's direct challenge, issued to the Left in the Legislative Assembly itself, to betake itself to the streets, and his declaration that the government was ready to receive it. Hautpoul received nothing but a call to order from the President, and the party of Order, with silent, malicious joy, allowed a deputy of the Left to mock Bonaparte's usurpatory longings. In vain, finally, was the prophecy of a revolution on February 24. The government caused February 24 to be ignored by the people.
The proletariat did not allow itself to be provoked to revolt, because it was on the point of making a revolution.
Unhindered by the provocations of the government, which only heightened the general exasperation at the existing situation, the election committee, wholly under the influence of the workers, put forward three candidates for Paris: Deflotte, Vidal, and Carnot. Deflotte was a June deportee, amnestied through one of Bonaparte's popularity-seeking ideas; he was a friend of Blanqui and had taken part in the attempt of May 15. Vidal, known as a communist writer through his book Concerning the Distribution of Wealth, was formerly secretary to Louis Blanc in the Luxembourg Commission. Carnot, son of the man of the Convention who had organized the victory, the least compromised member of the National party, Minister of Education in the Provisional Government and the Executive Commission, was through his democratic public education bill a living protest against the education law of the Jesuits. These three candidates represented the three allied classes: at the head, the June insurgent, the representative of the revolutionary proletariat; next to him the doctrinaire socialist, the representative of the socialist petty bourgeoisie; finally, the third, the representative of the republican bourgeois party whose democratic formulas had gained a socialist significance vis-a-vis the party of Order and had long lost their own significance. This was a general coalition against the bourgeoisie and the government, as in February. But this time the proletariat was at the head of the revolutionary league.
In spite of all efforts the socialist candidates won. The army itself voted for the June insurgent against its own War Minister La Hitte. The party of Order was thunderstruck. The elections in the departments did not solace them; the departments gave a majority to the Montagnards.
The election of March 10, 1850! It was the revocation of June, 1848: the butchers and deportees of the June insurgents returned to the National Assembly but returned, bowed down, in the train of the deported, and with their principles on their lips. It was the revocation of June 13, 1849: the Montagne, proscribed by the National Assembly, returned to the National Assembly, but as advance trumpeters of the revolution, no longer as its commanders. It was the revocation of December 10: Napoleon had lost out with his Minister La Hitte. The parliamentary history of France knows only one analogy: the rejection of d'Haussez, minister of Charles X, in 1830. Finally, the election of March 10, 1850, was the cancellation of the election of May 13, which had given the party of Order a majority. The election of March 10 protested against the majority of May 13. March 10 was a revolution. Behind the ballots lie the paving stones.
“The vote of March 10 means war,” shouted Ségur d'Aguesseau, one of the most advanced members of the party of Order.
With March 10, 1850, the constitutional republic entered a new phase, the phase of its dissolution. The different factions of the majority are again united among themselves and with Bonaparte; they are again the saviors of order – he is again their neutral man. If they remember that they are royalists, it happens only from despair of the possibility of a bourgeois republic; if he remembers that he is a pretender, it happens only because he despairs of remaining President.
At the command of the party of Order, Bonaparte answers the election of Deflotte, the June insurgent, by appointing Baroche Minister of Internal Affairs, Baroche, the accuser of Blanqui and Barbès, of Ledru-Rollin and Guinard. The Legislative Assembly answers the election of Carnot by adopting the education law, the election of Vidal by suppressing the socialist press. The party of Order seeks to blare away its own fears by the trumpet blasts of its press. “The sword is holy,” cries one of its organs; “the defenders of order must take the offensive against the Red party,” cries another; “between socialism and society there is a duel to the death, a war without surcease or mercy; in this duel of desperation one or the other must go under; if society does not annihilate socialism, socialism will annihilate society,” crows a third cock of Order. Throw up the barricades of order, the barricades of religion, the barricades of the family! An end must be made of the 127,000 voters of Paris! A Bartholomew's Night for the socialists! And the party of Order believes for a moment in its own certainty of victory.
Their organs hold forth most fanatically of all against the “boutiquiers [tradesmen] of Paris.” The June insurgent of Paris elected by the shopkeepers of Paris as their representative! This means that a second June, 1848, is impossible; this means that a second June 13, 1849, is impossible; this means that the moral influence of capital is broken; this means that the bourgeois assembly now represents only the bourgeoisie; this means that big property is lost, because its vassal, small property, seeks its salvation in the camp of the propertyless.
The party of Order naturally returns to its inevitable commonplace. “More repression,” it cries, “tenfold repression!” But its power of repression has diminished tenfold, while resistance has increased a hundredfold. Must not the chief instrument of repression, the army, itself be repressed? And the party of Order speaks its last word: “The iron ring of suffocating legality must be broken. The constitutional republic is impossible. We must fight with our true weapons; since February, 1848, we have fought the revolution with its weapons and on its terrain – , we have accepted its institutions; the constitution is a fortress which safeguards only the besiegers, not the besieged! By smuggling ourselves into holy Ilion in the belly of the Trojan horse, we have, unlike our forefathers, the Grecs, not conquered the hostile town, but made prisoners of ourselves.
The foundation of the constitution, however, is universal suffrage. Annihilation of universal suffrage – such is the last word of the party of Order, of the bourgeois dictatorship.
On May 4, 1848, on December 20, 1848, on May 13, 1849, and on July 8, 1849, universal suffrage admitted that they were right. On March 10, 1850, universal suffrage admitted that it had itself been wrong. Bourgeois rule as the outcome and result of universal suffrage, as the express act of the sovereign will of the people – that is the meaning of the bourgeois constitution. But has the constitution any further meaning from the moment that the content of this suffrage, of this sovereign will, is no longer bourgeois rule? Is it not the duty of the bourgeoisie so to regulate the suffrage that it wills the reasonable, its rule? By ever and anon putting an end to the existing state power and creating it anew out of itself, does not universal suffrage put an end to all stability, does it not every moment question all the powers that be, does it not annihilate authority, does it not threaten to elevate anarchy itself to the position of authority? After March 10, 1850, who would still doubt it?
By repudiating universal suffrage, with which it hitherto draped itself and from which it sucked its omnipotence, the bourgeoisie openly confesses, “Our dictatorship has hitherto existed by the will of the people; it must now be consolidated against the will of the people.” And, consistently, it seeks its props no longer within France, but without, in foreign countries, in invasion.
With the invasion, this second Coblenz, its seat established in France itself, rouses all the national passions against itself. With the attack on universal suffrage it provides a general pretext for the new revolution, and the revolution requires such a pretext. Every special pretext would divide the factions of the revolutionary league, and give prominence to their differences. The general pretext stuns the semi-revolutionary classes; it permits them to deceive themselves concerning the definite character of the coming revolution, concerning the consequences of their own act. Every revolution requires a question for discussion at banquets. Universal suffrage is the banquet question of the new revolution.
The bourgeois factions in coalition, however, are already condemned, since they take flight from the only possible form of their united power, from the most potent and complete form of their class rule, the constitutional republic, back to the subordinate, incomplete, weaker form of monarchy. They resemble the old man who in order to regain his youthful strength fetched out his boyhood garments and suffered torment trying to get his withered limbs into them. Their republic had the sole merit of being the hothouse of the revolution.
March 10, 1850, bears the inscription:
Après moi le déluge! After me the deluge!
7. How great the change since then (Virgil, Aeneid).
8. Either Caesar or Clichy. Clichy was a debtors' prison in Paris.
9. From Georg Herwegh, “Aus den Bergen” (“From the Mountains”).
10. Note by Engels to the 1895 edition: On July 8, 1847, before the Chamber of Peers in Paris, began the trial of Parmentier and General Cubières for bribery of officials with a view to obtaining a salt works concession, and of the then Minister of Public Works, Teste, for accepting such money bribes. The latter, during the trial, attempted to commit suicide. All were sentenced to pay heavy fines, Teste, in addition, to three years' imprisonment.
11. Note by Engels to the 1895 edition: This is the name given by history to the fanatically ultraroyalist and reactionary Chamber of Deputies elected immediately after the second overthrow of Napoleon, in 1815.
12. Note by Engels to the 1895 edition: A play on words: Greeks, but also professional cheats.
13. Coblenz was the center of the counterrevolutionary emigres during the French Revolution.
14. Words attributed to Louis XV.