The Class Struggles in France, 1848 to 1850
Published: as a booklet by Engels in 1895;
Source: Selected Works, Volume 1, Progress Publishers, Moscow 1969
Note from the Selected Works, 1969, vol. 1 :
Marx’s The Class Struggles in France, 1848 to 1850 consists of a series of articles written between January and October 1850 specially for the Neue Rheinische Zeitung. Politisch-ökonomische Revue and published in it under the general title “1848-1849.” This is a most important work summing up the results of the 1848-49 revolution. In preparation for this work, Marx used French newspaper reports, reports published in the Neue Rheinische Zeitung, and accounts given by witnesses – French and German revolutionary refugees, among them Ferdinand Wolff, the Neue Rheinische Zeitung Paris correspondent, and another Communist League member, Sebastian Seiler, who was a stenographer to the French National Assembly in 1848 and 1849 and wrote a pamphlet on the events of June 13, 1849, which he presented to Marx. Marx was also probably familiar with Ledru-Rollin’s pamphlet on the same subject.
According to the original plan the work was to consist of four articles: “The Defeat of June 1848,” “June 13, 1849,” “Repercussions of June 13 on the Continent” and “Current Situation; England.” However, in Nos. 1, 2 and 3 of the journal only three articles were published: “The Defeat of June 1848,” “June 13, 1849” and “Consequences of June 13, 1849.” The influence of the June 1849 events on the Continent and the situation in England were treated in other items of the journal. particularly in the international reviews written jointly by Marx and Engels.
The work was not reprinted in full during Marx’s lifetime. In 1895 it came out in book form in Berlin, with an Introduction by Engels. The title The Class Struggles in France, 1848 to 1850 was given by Engels and the work has since appeared under this title in various languages. In the 1895 edition, Engels added the fourth chapter, which included the sections of the third international review dealing with events in France. Engels entitled this chapter “The Abolition of Universal Suffrage in 1850.” Engels wrote to Richard Fischer on February 13, 1895, that the fourth chapter “will serve as a factual conclusion to the work as a whole, without which it would have remained a fragment.” At the same time, the headings of the first three chapters were changed: I. “From February to June 1848,” II. “From June 1848 to June 13, 1849,” III. “From June 13, 1849, to March 10, 1850.” In the present edition, the headings of the first three chapters are given according to the journal, while the heading of the fourth chapter is given as in the 1895 edition.
The publication of the series of Marx’s articles drew the attention of the press. A short announcement of No. 1 of the Neue Rheinische Zeitung. Politisch-ökonomische Revue and quotations from Marx’s work were published in the Freischütz. Hamburg, No. 40, April 2, 1850; a review in the Wochenblatt der Hornisse, Cassel, No. 3, April 15, 1850~ The preface and the first article were reprinted in the Deutsche Londoner Zeitung Nos. 262, 263 and 264, April 5, 12 arid 19, 1850. On January 1, 1852, the Turn-Zeitung, published by German socialist emigrants in the USA, carried an article by Joseph Weydemeyer “On the Dictatorship of the Proletariat,” written under the direct influence of Marx’s work, the first work by Marx and Engels in which the term “the dictatorship of the proletariat” was used. On the other hand, the idea of the dictatorship of the proletariat brought criticism of the author from the petty-bourgeois democrats. The Neue Deutsche Zeitung, whose editor was a former “true socialist,” Otto Luning, published a review (Nos. 148-51, June 22-23, 25 and 26. 1850) of the four numbers of the Neue Rheinische Zeitung. Politisch-ökonomische Revue with unfavourable comments on this proposition and an incorrect interpretation of it. Marx was obliged to write Lüning a special letter rebuffing attempts to distort and dispute the idea of the dictatorship of the proletariat.
Marx and Engels attached great importance to the popularisation of the ideas contained in The Class Struggles in France among the English workers. Engels used this work in his Letters from France published in The Democratic Review and, on the basis of the first article in the series, wrote Two Years of a Revolution, which was published in the same journal. Excerpts from Marx’s work were cited by his contemporaries (Hermann Becker, Proudhon).
Excerpts from The Class Struggles in France were first published in English in the journal The Marxian, New York, 1921, Vol. 1, No. 2, and it appeared in full as a separate edition by Labour News Company, New York, 1924.
In this volume, the work is published after the Neue Rheinische Zeitung. Politisch-ökonomische Revue text, checked with that of the 1895 edition prepared by Engels. The Revue published it from the manuscript and since Marx’s handwriting was difficult to decipher, mistakes cropped up. In the present edition, all changes in style, spelling, punctuation and other corrections made by Engels have been taken into account, as well as errata printed in the Neue Rheinische Zeitung. Politisch-ökonomische Revue (to the first number in the second, and to the second and third in the fourth).
Account has also been taken of the analysis, carried out by the editorial commission working on the Marx-Engels, Gesamtausgabe (MEGA), erste Abteilung, 10. Bd. and kindly made available to us, of the marks and corrections made by Marx and Engels in their copies of the journal. Engels’ corrections apparently date from 1895 when he republished The Class Struggles (in the 1895 edition, however, they were only partly taken into account). It is also probable that Engels intended to republish the Revue in full. Some corrections by Marx and Engels coinciding with the errata printed in the Revue have been silently inserted in the text of the present edition. Changes in meaning are indicated in footnotes.
Besides this, obviously inaccurate dates and factual data, including those in the 1850 and 1895 editions, have also been silently corrected. Comments are not usually made on Marx’s free translation of quotations, except when the words Marx puts in quotation marks are not true quotations but convey the general meaning of the cited passages.
Introduction by Feredrick Engels (1895)[edit source]
Note from MECW :
Engels wrote this Introduction to Marx’s work The Class Struggles in France, 1848 to 1850 between February 14 and March 6, 1895 for the separate edition that appeared in Berlin in 1895.
When publishing the Introduction, the Executive of the Social-Democratic Party of Germany urgently requested Engels to tone down the excessively, revolutionary (or so they believed) tenor of the work by couching his ideas in more cautious terms due to the Reichstag’s debate of the bill on “preventing a coup d'état” submitted by the government in December 1894 and discussion throughout January-April 1895.
In a letter to Richard Fischer of March 8, 1895, Engels criticised the irresolute stand by the Party leadership and their attempts to act strictly within the bounds of legality. However, forced to reckon with the opinion of the Executive, he agreed to omit a number of passages and modify some of the definitions. The galley proofs where these changes were made and the manuscript of the Introduction allow us to completely reconstruct the original text. In the present edition, the deletions and the changes are pointed out in the footnotes.
Some Social-Democratic leaders used this work to try and present Engels as a supporter of a strictly peaceful transfer of power to the working class. With this end in view, on March 30, 1895 Vorwärts, the central printed organ of the Social-Democratic Party of Germany, featured an editorial entitled “Wie man heute Revolutionen macht”, which contained a biased selection from the Introduction made without Engels’ knowledge. Profoundly indignant, Engels lodged a resolute protest against the distortion of his views, addressing it to Wilhelm Liebknecht, editor of the Vorwärts. In a letter to Karl Kautsky of April 1, 1895 Engels emphasised that with the publication of the Introduction in Die Neue Zeit “this disgraceful impression may be erased”. However, both in the separate edition of Marx’s work and in Die Neue Zeit (Nos 27 and 28, 1895), the Introduction appeared with the same omissions. The full text was not published even after the threat of a new anti-socialist law in Germany had failed to materialise (in May 1895, the bill was voted down).
First published in English in an abridged form under the heading “Revolutionary Tactics” in The Plebs, London, 1921, Vol. 13, No. 1, January, pp. 12-15; No. 2, February, pp. 48-50; No. 3, March, pp. 71-74; No. 4, April, pp. 112-14. Published in full in English for the first time in: The Revolutionary Act, New York city, New York Labor News Company, 1922.
Original version[edit source]
The work republished here was Marx’s first attempt to explain a piece of contemporary history by means of his materialist conception, on the basis of the prevailing economic situation. In the Communist Manifesto, the theory was applied in broad outline to the whole of modern history; in the articles by Marx and myself in the Neue Rheinische Zeitung, it was constantly used to interpret political events of the day. Here, on the other hand, the question was to demonstrate the inner causal connection in the course of a development which extended over some years, a development as critical, for the whole of Europe, as it was typical; hence, in accordance with the conception of the author, to trace political events back to effects of what were, in the final analysis, economic causes.
If events and series of events are judged by current history, it will never be possible to go back to the ultimate economic causes. Even today, when the specialised press provides such rich material, it still remains impossible even in England to follow day by day the movement of industry and trade on the world market and the changes which take place in the methods of production in such a way as to be able to draw a general conclusion for any point in time from these manifold, complicated and ever-changing, factors, the most important of which, into the bargain, generally operate a long time in realms unknown before they suddenly make themselves forcefully felt on the surface. A clear overall view of the economic history of a given period can never be obtained contemporaneously, but only subsequently, after the material has been collected and sifted. Statistics are a necessary auxiliary aid here, and they always lag behind. For this reason, it is only too often necessary in current history to treat this, the most decisive, factor as constant, and the economic situation existing at the beginning of the period concerned as given and unalterable for the whole period, or else to take notice of only such changes in this situation as arise out of the patently manifest events themselves, and are, therefore, likewise patently manifest. So here the materialist method has quite often to limit itself to tracing political conflicts back to the struggles between the interests of the existing social classes and fractions of classes caused by economic development, and to demonstrate that the particular political parties are the more or less adequate political expression of these same classes and fractions of classes.
It is self-evident that this unavoidable neglect of contemporaneous changes in the economic situation, the very basis of all the processes to be examined, must be a source of error. But all the conditions required for a comprehensive presentation of current history inevitably include sources of error — which, however, keeps nobody from writing current history.
When Marx undertook this work, the source of error mentioned was even more unavoidable. It was simply impossible during the Revolution period of 1848-49 to follow the economic transformations taking place simultaneously or even to keep them in view. It was the same during his first months of exile in London, in the autumn and winter of 1849-50. But that was precisely the time when Marx began this work. And in spite of these unfavourable circumstances, his exact knowledge both of the economic situation in France before, and of the political history of that country after, the February Revolution made it possible for him to present a picture of events which laid bare their inner connections in a way never attained ever since, and which later passed with flying colours the double test applied by Marx himself.
The first test arose when, after the spring of 1850, Marx once again found time for economic studies, and began by applying himself to the economic history of the previous ten years. What he had hitherto deduced, half a priori, from sketchy material, thus became absolutely clear to him from the facts themselves, namely that the world trade crisis of 1847 had been the true mother of the February and March revolutions, and that the industrial prosperity which had been returning gradually since the middle of 1848 and attained full bloom in 1849 and 1850 was the revitalising force of a restrengthened European reaction. That was crucially important. Whereas in the first three articles (which appeared in the January, February and March issues of the Neue Rheinische Zeitung Politisch-ökonomische Revue, Hamburg, 1850) there was still the expectation of an early, fresh upsurge of revolutionary vigour, the historical review written by Marx and myself for the last issue, a double one (May to October), which was published in the autumn of 1850, breaks with these illusions once and for all: “A new revolution is possible only in consequence of a new crisis. It is, however, just as certain as this crisis." But that was the only major change which had to be made. There was absolutely nothing to alter in the interpretation of events given in the earlier chapters, or in the causal connections established therein, as proved by the continuation of the narrative from March 10 up to the autumn of 1850 in the said review. I have, therefore, included this continuation as the fourth article in the present new edition.
The second test was even more severe. Immediately after Louis Bonaparte’s coup d'état of December 2, 1851, Marx dealt afresh with the history of France from February 1848 up to this event which concluded the revolutionary period for the time being. (Der 18. Brumaire des Louis Bonaparte. Third edition, Hamburg, Meissner, 1885) In this pamphlet the period depicted in our present publication is again dealt with, albeit in briefer form. Compare this second presentation, written in the light of the decisive event which happened over a year later, with ours and it will be found that the author had very little to change.
What gives our work quite special significance is the fact that it was the first to express the formula in which, by common agreement, the workers’ parties of all countries in the world briefly summarise their demand for economic transformation: the appropriation of the means of production by society. In the second chapter, in connection with the “right to work”, which is described as “the first clumsy formula wherein the revolutionary demands of the proletariat are summarised”, it is said: “but behind the right to work stands the power over capital; behind the power over capital, the appropriation of the means of production, their subjection to the associated working class and, therefore, the abolition of wage labour, of capital and of their mutual relations”. Thus, here, for the first time, the proposition is formulated by which modern workers’ socialism is sharply differentiated both from all the different shades of feudal, bourgeois, petty-bourgeois, etc., socialism and from the confused community of goods of utopian and of primitive [naturwüchsigen] workers’ communism. If, later, Marx extended the formula to include appropriation of the means of exchange, this extension, which in any case was self-evident after the Communist Manifesto, only expressed a corollary to the main proposition. A few wiseacres in England have of late added that the “means of distribution” should also be handed over to society. These gentlemen would be hard put to say what these economic means of distribution, distinct from the means of production and exchange, actually are; unless political means of distribution are meant, taxes, poor relief, including the Sachsenwald and other endowments. But, first, these are even now means of distribution in the possession of society as a whole, either of the state or of the community, and second, it is precisely these we want to abolish.
* * *
When the February Revolution broke out, all of us, as far as our conceptions of the conditions and the course of revolutionary movements were concerned, were under the spell of previous historical experience, particularly that of France. It was, indeed, the latter which had dominated the whole of European history since 1789, and from which now once again the signal had gone forth for general revolutionary change. It was, therefore, natural and unavoidable that our conceptions of the nature and the course of the “social” revolution proclaimed in Paris in February 1848, of the revolution of the proletariat, should be strongly coloured by memories of the prototypes of 1789 and 1830. Moreover, when the Paris uprising found its echo in the victorious insurrections in Vienna, Milan and Berlin; when the whole of Europe right up to the Russian frontier was swept into the movement; when thereupon in Paris, in June, the first great battle for power between the proletariat and the bourgeoisie was fought; when even the victory of its class so shook the bourgeoisie of all countries that it fled back into the arms of the monarchist-feudal reaction which had just been overthrown — there could be no doubt for us, under the circumstances then obtaining, that the great decisive battle had commenced, that it would have to be fought out in a single, long and vicissitudinous period of revolution, but that it could only end in the final victory of the proletariat.
After the defeats of 1849 we in no way shared the illusions of the vulgar democrats grouped around the future provisional governments in partibus. [In partibus infidelium — in the land of the infidels, outside reality — an addition to the title of Catholic bishops appointed to non-Christian countries] These vulgar democrats reckoned on a speedy and definitive victory of the “people” over the “tyrants”; we reckoned on a long struggle, after the removal of the “tyrants”, among the antagonistic elements concealed within this “people” itself. The vulgar democrats expected sparks to fly again any day; we declared as early as autumn 1850 that at least the first chapter of the revolutionary period was closed and that nothing was to be expected until the outbreak of a new world economic crisis. For which reason we were excommunicated, as traitors to the revolution, by the very people who later, almost without exception, made their peace with Bismarck — so far as Bismarck found them worth the trouble.
But history has shown us too to have been wrong, has revealed our point of view at that time as an illusion. It has done even more; it has not merely dispelled the erroneous notions we then held; it has also completely transformed the conditions under which the proletariat has to fight. The mode of struggle of 1848 is today obsolete in every respect, and this is a point which deserves closer examination on the present occasion.
All revolutions up to the present day have resulted in the displacement of the rule of one class by the rule of another; but all ruling classes up to now have been only small minorities in relation to the ruled mass of the people. One ruling minority was thus overthrown; another minority seized the helm of state in its stead and refashioned the state institutions to suit its own interests. Thus on every occasion a minority group was enabled and called upon to rule by the given degree of economic development; and just for that reason, and only for that reason, it happened that the ruled majority either participated in the revolution for the benefit of the former or else simply acquiesced in it. But if we disregard the concrete content in each case, the common form of all these revolutions was that they were minority revolutions. Even when the majority took part, it did so — whether wittingly or not — only in the service of a minority; but because of this, or even simply because of the passive, unresisting attitude of the majority, this minority acquired the appearance of being the representative of the whole people.
As a rule, after the first great success, the victorious minority split; one half was satisfied with what had been gained, the other wanted to go still further, and put forward new demands, which, partly at least, were also in the real or apparent interest of the great mass of the people. In isolated cases these more radical demands were actually forced through, but often only for the moment; the more moderate party would regain the upper hand, and what had been won most recently would wholly or partly be lost again; the vanquished would then cry treachery or ascribe their defeat to accident. In reality, however, the truth of the matter was usually this: the achievements of the first victory were only safeguarded by the second victory of the more radical party; this having been attained, and, with it, what was necessary for the moment, the radicals and their achievements vanished once more from the stage.
All revolutions of modern times, beginning with the great English Revolution of the seventeenth century, showed these features, which appeared inseparable from every revolutionary struggle. They appeared applicable, also, to the struggle of the proletariat for its emancipation; all the more applicable, since precisely in 1848 there were but a very few people who had any idea at all of the direction in which this emancipation was to be sought. The proletarian masses themselves, even in Paris, after the victory, were still absolutely in the dark as to the path to be taken. And yet the movement was there, instinctive, spontaneous, irrepressible. Was not this just the situation in which a revolution had to succeed, led, it is true, by a minority, though this time not in the interest of the minority, but in the finest interest of the majority? If, in all the longer revolutionary periods, it was so easy to win over the great masses of the people simply by the plausible false representations of the pressing minorities, why should they be less susceptible to ideas which were the truest reflection of their economic condition, which were none other than the clear, rational expression of their needs, of needs not yet understood but merely vaguely felt by them? To be sure, this revolutionary mood of the masses had almost always, and usually very speedily, given way to lassitude or even to a change to the opposite as soon as illusion evaporated and disappointment set in. But what was involved here were not false representations, but the implementation of the most vital interests of the great majority itself, interests which, it is true, were at that time by no means clear to this great majority, but which were bound to become clear to it as their practical implementation proceeded, by their convincing obviousness. And when, as Marx showed in his third article, in the spring of 1850, the development of the bourgeois republic that arose out of the “social” Revolution of 1848 had even concentrated real power in the hands of the big bourgeoisie — monarchistically inclined as it was into the bargain — and, on the other hand, had grouped all the other social classes, peasantry as well as petty bourgeoisie, around the proletariat, so that during and after the common victory, not they but the proletariat grown wise from experience had to become the decisive factor — was there not every prospect then of turning the revolution of the minority into a revolution of the majority?
History has proved us wrong, and all who thought like us. It has made it clear that the state of economic development on the Continent at that time was not, by a long way, ripe for the elimination of capitalist production; it has proved this by the economic revolution which, since 1848, has seized the whole of the Continent, and has caused big industry to take real root in France, Austria, Hungary, Poland and, recently, in Russia, while it has made Germany positively an industrial country of the first rank — all on a capitalist basis, which in the year 1848, therefore, still had a great capacity for expansion. But it is precisely this industrial revolution which has everywhere produced clarity in class relations, has removed a number of intermediate forms handed down from the period of manufacture and in Eastern Europe even from guild handicraft, has created a genuine bourgeois and a genuine large-scale industrial proletariat and has pushed them into the foreground of social development. However, owing to this, the struggle between these two great classes, a struggle which, outside England, existed in 1848 only in Paris and, at the most, in a few big industrial centres, has spread over the whole of Europe and reached an intensity still inconceivable in 1848. At that time the many obscure gospels of the sects, with their panaceas; today the single generally recognised, crystal-clear theory of Marx, sharply formulating the ultimate aims of the struggle. At that time the masses, sundered and differing according to locality and nationality, linked only by the feeling of common suffering, undeveloped, helplessly tossed to and fro from enthusiasm to despair; today the single great international army of socialists, marching irresistibly on and growing daily in number, organisation, discipline, insight and certainty of victory. If even this mighty army of the proletariat has still not reached its goal, if, far from winning victory by one mighty stroke, it has slowly to press forward from position to position in a hard, tenacious struggle, this only proves, once and for all, how impossible it was in 1848 to win social transformation merely by a surprise attack.
A bourgeoisie split into two dynastic-monarchist sections, a bourgeoisie, however, which demanded, above all, peace and security for its financial operations, faced by a proletariat vanquished, indeed, but still a menace, a proletariat around which petty bourgeois and peasants grouped themselves more and more — the continual threat of a violent outbreak, which, nevertheless, offered absolutely no prospect of a final solution — such was the situation, as if made-to-measure for the coup d'état of the third, the pseudo-democratic pretender, Louis Bonaparte. On December 2, 1851, by means of the army, he put an end to the tense situation and secured Europe internal tranquillity, only to confer upon it the blessing of a new era of wars. The period of revolutions from below was concluded for the time being; there followed a period of revolutions from above.
The reversion to the empire in 1851 provided fresh proof of the immaturity of the proletarian aspirations of that time. But it was itself to create the conditions under which they were bound to grow mature. Internal tranquillity ensured the unfettered advancement of the new industrial boom; the necessity of keeping the army occupied and of diverting the revolutionary currents in an outward direction produced the wars in which Bonaparte, under the pretext of asserting the “principle of nationalities”, sought to secure annexations for France. His imitator, Bismarck, adopted the same policy for Prussia; he carried out his coup d'état, his revolution from above, in 1866, against the German Confederation and Austria, and no less against the Prussian Konfliktskammer. But Europe was too small for two Bonapartes and thus the irony of history had it that Bismarck overthrew Bonaparte, and King William of Prussia not only established the little German empire, but also the French republic. The overall outcome, however, was that in Europe the independence and internal unity of the great nations, with the exception of Poland, had become a fact. Within relatively modest limits, it is true, but for all that on a scale large enough to allow the development of the working class to proceed without finding national complications any longer a serious obstacle. The grave-diggers of the Revolution of 1848 had become the executors of its will. And alongside them there already rose threateningly the heir of 1848, the proletariat, in the shape of the International.
After the war of 1870-71, Bonaparte vanished from the stage and Bismarck’s mission was fulfilled, so that he could now sink back again to the position of an ordinary Junker. The period, however, was brought to a close by the Paris Commune. A perfidious attempt by Thiers to steal the cannon of the Paris National Guard sparked off a victorious rising. It was shown once more that in Paris none but a proletarian revolution is any longer possible. After the victory power fell, quite of itself and quite undisputed, into the hands of the working class. And once again it was proved how impossible even then, twenty years after the time described in our work, this rule of the working class still was. On the one hand, France left Paris in the lurch, looked on while it bled to death from the bullets of MacMahon; on the other hand, the Commune was consumed in unfruitful strife between the two parties which split it, the Blanquists (the majority) and the Proudhonists (the minority), neither of which knew what was to be done. The victory which came as a gift in 1871 remained just as unfruitful as the surprise attack of 1848.
It was believed that the militant proletariat had been finally buried with the Paris Commune. But, completely to the contrary, it dates its most powerful resurgence from the Commune and the Franco-Prussian War. The recruitment of the whole of the population able to bear arms into armies that henceforth could be counted only in millions, and the introduction of fire-arms, projectiles and explosives of hitherto unprecedented yield, completely transformed all warfare. This revolution, on the one hand, put an abrupt end to the Bonapartist war period and ensured peaceful industrial development by making any war other than a world war of unprecedented cruelty and absolutely incalculable outcome an impossibility. On the other hand, it caused military expenditure to rise in geometrical progression and thereby forced up taxes to exorbitant levels and so drove the poorer classes of people into the arms of socialism. The annexation of Alsace-Lorraine, the immediate cause of the mad competition in armaments, was able to set the French and German bourgeoisie chauvinistically at each other’s throats; for the workers of the two countries it became a new bond of unity. And the anniversary of the Paris Commune became the first universal holiday of the whole proletariat.
The war of 1870-71 and the defeat of the Commune transferred the centre of gravity of the European workers’ movement in the meantime from France to Germany, as Marx had foretold. In France it naturally took years to recover from the blood-letting of May 1871. In Germany, on the other hand, where industry — fostered, in addition, in positively hothouse fashion by the blessing of the French milliards — developed at increasing speed, Social-Democracy experienced a still more rapid and enduring growth. Thanks to the intelligent use which the German workers made of the universal suffrage introduced in 1866, the astonishing growth of the party is made plain to all the world by incontestable figures: 1871, 102,000; 1874, 352,000; 1877, 493,000 Social-Democratic votes. Then came recognition of this advance by high authority in the shape of the Anti-Socialist Law; the party was temporarily broken up, the number of votes dropped to 312,000 in 1881. But that was quickly overcome, and then, under the pressure of the Exceptional Law, without a press, without a legal organisation and without the right of association and assembly, rapid expansion began in earnest: 1884, 550,000; 1887, 763,000; 1890, 1,427,000 votes. The hand of the state was paralysed. The Anti-Socialist Law disappeared; the socialist vote rose to 1,787,000, over a quarter of all the votes cast. The government and the ruling classes had exhausted all their expedients — uselessly, pointlessly, unsuccessfully. The tangible proofs of their impotence, which the authorities, from night watchman to the imperial chancellor had had to accept — and that from the despised workers! — these proofs were counted in millions. The state was at the end of its tether, the workers only at the beginning of theirs.
But, besides, the German workers rendered a second great service to their cause in addition to the first, a service performed by their mere existence as the strongest, most disciplined and most rapidly growing socialist party. They supplied their comrades in all countries with a new weapon, and one of the most potent, when they showed them how to make use of universal suffrage.
There had long been universal suffrage in France, but it had fallen into disrepute through the way it had been abused by the Bonapartist government. After the Commune there was no workers’ party to make use of it. It had also existed in Spain since the republic but in Spain election boycotts had been the rule for all serious opposition parties from time immemorial. The experience of the Swiss with universal suffrage was also anything but encouraging for a workers’ party. The revolutionary workers of the Latin countries had been wont to regard the suffrage as a snare, as an instrument of government trickery. It was different in Germany. The Communist Manifesto had already proclaimed the winning of universal suffrage, of democracy, as one of the first and most important tasks of the militant proletariat, and Lassalle had again taken up this point. Now that Bismarck found himself compelled to introduce this franchise as the only means of interesting the mass of the people in his plans, our workers immediately took it in earnest and sent August Bebel to the first, constituent Reichstag. And from that day on they have used the franchise in a way which has paid them a thousandfold and has served as a model to the workers of all countries. The franchise has been, in the words of the French Marxist programme, transformé de moyen de duperie qu'il a été jusquici en instrument d'emancipation — transformed by them from a means of deception, which it was before, into an instrument of emancipation. And if universal suffrage had offered no other advantage than that it allowed us to count our numbers every three years; that by the regularly established, unexpectedly rapid rise in our vote it increased in equal measure the workers’ certainty of victory and the dismay of their opponents, and so became our best means of propaganda; that it accurately informed us of our own strength and that of all opposing parties, and thereby provided us with a measure of proportion second to none for our actions, safeguarding us from untimely timidity as much as from untimely foolhardiness — if this had been the only advantage we gained from the suffrage, it would still have been much more than enough. But it did more than this by far. In election propaganda it provided us with a means, second to none, of getting in touch with the mass of the people where they still stand aloof from us; of forcing all parties to defend their views and actions against our attacks before all the people; and, further, it provided our representatives in the Reichstag with a platform from which they could speak to their opponents in parliament, and to the masses outside, with quite different authority and freedom than in the press or at meetings. Of what avail was their Anti-Socialist Law to the government and the bourgeoisie when election campaigning and socialist speeches in the Reichstag continually broke through it?
With this successful utilisation of universal suffrage, however, an entirely new method of proletarian struggle came into operation, and this method quickly took on a more tangible form. It was found that the state institutions, in which the rule of the bourgeoisie is organised, offer the working class still further levers to fight these very state institutions. The workers took part in elections to particular diets, to municipal councils and to trades courts; they contested with the bourgeoisie every post in the occupation of which a sufficient part of the proletariat had a say. And so it happened that the bourgeoisie and the government came to be much more afraid of the legal than of the illegal action of the workers’ party, of the results of elections than of those of rebellion.
For here, too, the conditions of the struggle had changed fundamentally. Rebellion in the old style, street fighting with barricades, which decided the issue everywhere up to 1848, had become largely outdated.
Let us have no illusions about it: a real victory of insurrection over the military in street fighting, a victory as between two armies, is one of the rarest exceptions. And the insurgents counted on it just as rarely. For them it was solely a question of making the troops yield to moral influences which, in a fight between the armies of two warring countries, do not come into play at all or do so to a much smaller extent. If they succeed in this, the troops fail to respond, or the commanding officers lose their heads, and the insurrection wins. If they do not succeed in this, then, even where the military are in the minority, the superiority of better equipment and training, of uniform leadership, of the planned employment of the military forces and of discipline makes itself felt. The most that an insurrection can achieve in the way of actual tactical operations is the proficient construction and defence of a single barricade. Mutual support, the disposition and employment of reserves — in short, concerted and co-ordinated action of the individual detachments, indispensable even for the defence of one borough, not to speak of the whole of a large town, will be attainable only to a very limited extent, and usually not at all. Concentration of the military forces at a decisive point is, of course, out of the question here. Hence passive defence is the predominant form of struggle; an attack will be mounted here and there, by way of exception, in the form of occasional thrusts and assaults on the flanks; as a rule, however, it will be limited to the occupation of positions abandoned by retreating troops. In addition, the military have at their disposal artillery and fully equipped corps of trained engineers, means of warfare which, in nearly every case, the insurgents entirely lack. No wonder, then, that even the barricade fighting conducted with the greatest heroism — Paris, June 1848; Vienna, October 1848; Dresden, May 1849 — ended in the defeat of the insurrection as soon as the leaders of the attack, unhampered by political considerations, acted according to purely military criteria, and their soldiers remained reliable.
The numerous successes of the insurgents up to 1848 were due to a great variety of causes. In Paris, in July 1830 and February 1848, as in most of the Spanish street fighting, a civic guard stood between the insurgents and the military. This guard either sided directly with the insurrection, or else by its lukewarm, indecisive attitude caused the troops likewise to vacillate, and supplied the insurrection with arms into the bargain. Where this civic guard opposed the insurrection from the outset, as in June 1848 in Paris, the insurrection was vanquished. In Berlin in 1848, the people were victorious partly through considerable reinforcements in the shape of new fighting forces during the night and the morning of March 19th, partly as a result of the exhaustion and poor rations of the troops, and, finally, partly as a result of the paralysis engendered by the command. But in all cases the fight was won because the troops failed to respond, because the commanding officers lost the faculty to decide or because their hands were tied.
Even in the classic time of street fighting, therefore, the barricade produced more of a moral than a material effect. It was a means of shaking the steadfastness of the military. If it held out until this was attained, victory was won; if not, the outcome was defeat. This is the main point which must be kept in view, also when examining the outlook for possible future street fighting. [The last sentence is omitted in Die Neue Zeit and in the 1895 edition of Die Klassenkampfe in Frankreich 1848 bis 1850]
Back in 1849 already, this outlook was pretty poor. Everywhere the bourgeoisie had thrown in its lot with the governments, “culture and property” had hailed and feasted the military moving against insurrection. The barricade had lost its magic; the soldier no longer saw behind it “the people”, but rebels, subversives, plunderers, levellers, the scum of society; the officer had in the course of time become versed in the tactical forms of street fighting, he no longer marched straight ahead and without cover against the improvised breastwork, but went round it through gardens, yards and houses. And this was now successful, with a little skill, in nine cases out of ten.
But since then there have been very many more changes, and all in favour of the military. If the big towns have become considerably bigger, the armies have become bigger still. Paris and Berlin have, since 1848, grown less than fourfold, but their garrisons have grown more than that. By means of the railways, these garrisons can, in twenty-four hours, be more than doubled, and in forty-eight hours they can be increased to huge armies. The arming of this enormously increased number of troops has become incomparably more effective. In 1848 the smooth-bore, muzzle-loading percussion gun, today the small-calibre, breech-loading magazine rifle, which shoots four times as far, ten times as accurately and ten times as fast as the former. At that time the relatively ineffective round shot and grape-shot of the artillery; today the percussion shells, of which one is sufficient to demolish the best barricade. At that time the pick-axe of the sapper for breaking through fire proof walls; today the dynamite cartridge.
On the other hand, all the conditions of the insurgents’ side have grown worse. An insurrection with which all sections of the people sympathise is hardly likely to recur; in the class struggle all the middle strata will never in all probability group themselves around the proletariat so exclusively that in comparison the party of reaction gathered round the bourgeoisie will well-nigh disappear. The “people”, therefore, will always appear divided, and thus a most powerful lever, so extraordinarily effective in 1848, is gone. If more soldiers who have seen service came over to the insurrectionists, the arming of them would become so much the more difficult. The hunting and fancy guns of the munitions shops — even if not previously made unusable by the removal of part of the lock on police orders — are far from being a match for the magazine rifle of the soldier, even in close fighting. Up to 1848 it was possible to make the necessary ammunition oneself out of powder and lead; today the cartridges differ for each gun, and are everywhere alike only in one point, namely, that they are a complicated product of big industry, and therefore not to be manufactured ex tempore, with the result that most guns are useless as long as one does not possess the ammunition suited only to them. And, finally, since 1848 the newly built quarters of the big cities have been laid out in long, straight, broad streets, tailor-made to give full effect to the new cannons and rifles. The revolutionary would have to be mad to choose of his own accord the new working class districts in the north or east of Berlin for a barricade fight.
Does that mean that in the future street fighting will no longer play any role? Certainly not. It only means that the conditions since 1848 have become far more unfavourable for civilian fighters and far more favourable for the military. In future, street fighting can, therefore, be victorious only if this disadvantageous situation is compensated by other factors. Accordingly, it will occur more seldom at the beginning of a great revolution than at its later stages, and will have to be undertaken with greater forces. These, however, may then well prefer, as in the whole great French Revolution or on September 4 and October 31, 1870, in Paris, the open attack to passive barricade tactics.
Does the reader now understand why the powers-that-be positively want to get us to go where the guns shoot and the sabres slash? Why they accuse us today of cowardice, because we do not take without more ado to the streets, where we are certain of defeat in advance? Why they so earnestly implore us to play for once the part of cannon fodder?
The gentlemen pour out their petitions and their challenges for nothing, for absolutely nothing. We are not that stupid. They might just as well demand from their enemy in the next war that he should accept battle in the line formation of old Fritz, [Frederick II] or in the columns of whole divisions a la Wagram and Waterloo, and with the flint-lock in his hands at that. If conditions have changed in the case of war between nations, this is no less true in the case of the class struggle. The time of surprise attacks, of revolutions carried through by small conscious minorities at the head of masses lacking consciousness is past. Where it is a question of a complete transformation of the social organisation, the masses themselves must also be in on it, must themselves already have grasped what is at stake, what they are fighting for, body and soul.
The history of the last fifty years has taught us that. But in order that the masses may understand what is to be done, long, persistent work is required, and it is just this work that we are now pursuing, and with a success which drives the enemy to despair.
In the Latin countries, too, it is being realised more and more that the old tactics must be revised. Everywhere the German example of utilising the suffrage, of winning all posts accessible to us, has been imitated; everywhere the unprepared launching of an attack has been relegated to the background. [In Die Neue Zeit and in the 1895 edition of Die Klassenkämpfe in Frankreich the words “everywhere the unprepared launching of an attack has been relegated to the background” are omitted.] In France, where for more than a hundred years the ground has been undermined by one revolution after another, where there is not a single party which has not done its share in conspiracies, insurrections and all other revolutionary actions; in France, where, as a result, the government is by no means sure of the army and where the conditions for an insurrectionary coup de main are altogether far more favourable than in Germany — even in France the Socialists are realising more and more that no lasting victory is possible for them unless they first win over the great mass of the people, i.e. the peasants in this instance. Slow propaganda work and parliamentary activity are recognised here, too, as the immediate tasks of the party. Successes have not been lacking. Not only have a whole series of municipal councils been won; fifty Socialists have seats in the Chambers, and they have already overthrown three ministries and a president of the republic. In Belgium last year the workers forced the adoption of the franchise, and have been victorious in a quarter of the constituencies. In Switzerland, in Italy, in Denmark, yes, even in Bulgaria and Romania the Socialists are represented in the parliaments. In Austria all parties agree that our admission to the Imperial Council can no longer be withheld. We will get in, that is certain; the only question still in dispute is: by which door? And even in Russia, when the famous Zemsky Sobor meets — that National Assembly to which young Nicholas offers such vain resistance — even there we can reckon with certainty on being represented in it.
Of course, our foreign comrades do not in the least renounce their right to revolution. The right to revolution is, after all, the only really “historical right”, the only right on which all modern states rest without exception, Mecklenburg included, whose aristocratic revolution was ended in 1755 by the “hereditary settlement”, the glorious charter of feudalism still valid today.
The right to revolution is so incontestably recognised in the general consciousness that even General von Boguslawski derives the right to a coup d'état, which he vindicates for his Kaiser, solely from this popular right.
But whatever may happen in other countries, the German Social-Democrats occupy a special position and thus, at least in the immediate future, have a special task. The two million voters whom they send to the ballot box, together with the young men and women who stand behind them as non-voters, form the most numerous, most compact mass, the decisive “shock force” of the international proletarian army. This mass already supplies over a quarter of the votes cast; and as the by-elections to the Reichstag, the Diet elections in individual states, the municipal council and trades court elections demonstrate, it is constantly on the increase. Its growth proceeds as spontaneously, as steadily, as irresistibly, and at the same time as tranquilly as a natural process. All government intervention has proved powerless against it. We can count even today on two and a quarter million voters. If it continues in this fashion, by the end of the century we shall have the greater part of the middle strata of society, petty bourgeoisie and small peasants, and we shall grow into the decisive power in the land, before which all other powers will have to bow, whether they like it or not. To keep this growth going without interruption until it gets beyond the control of the prevailing governmental system of itself, not to fritter away this daily increasing shock force in vanguard skirmishes, but to keep it intact until the decisive day, [In Die Neue Zeit and in the 1895 edition of Die Klassenkämpfe in Frankreich the words “not to fritter away this daily increasing shock force in vanguard skirmishes, but to keep it intact until the decisive day” are omitted.] that is our main task. And there is only one means by which the steady rise of the socialist fighting forces in Germany could be temporarily halted, and even thrown back for some time: a clash on a grand scale with the military, a blood-letting like that of 1871 in Paris. In the long run even that would be overcome. To shoot a party which numbers millions out of existence is too much even for all the magazine rifles of Europe and America. But the normal development would be impeded, the shock force would, perhaps, not be available at the critical moment, the decisive combat [In Die Neue Zeit and in the 1895 edition of Die Klassenkämpfe in Frankreich the words “the shock force would, perhaps, not be available at the critical moment” are omitted and instead of “the decisive combat” the word “decision” is printed.] would be delayed, protracted and attended by a heavier toll.
The irony of world history turns everything upside down. We, the “revolutionaries”, the “overthrowers” — we are thriving far better on legal methods than on illegal methods and overthrow. The parties of order, as they call themselves, are perishing under the legal conditions created by themselves. They cry despairingly with Odilon Barrot: la légalité nous tue, legality is the death of us; whereas we, under this legality, get firm muscles and rosy cheeks and look like life eternal. And if we are not so crazy as to let ourselves be driven to street fighting in order to please them, then in the end there is nothing left for them to do but themselves break through this dire legality.
Meanwhile they make new laws against overthrows. Again everything is turned upside down. These anti-overthrow fanatics of today, are they not themselves the overthrowers of yesterday? Have we perchance evoked the civil war of 1866? Have we driven the King of Hanover, the Elector of Hesse, and the Duke of Nassau from their hereditary lawful domains and annexed these hereditary domains? And these overthrowers of the German Confederation and three crowns by the grace of God complain of overthrow! Quis tulerit Gracchos de seditione querentes? [Who would suffer the Gracchi to complain of sedition?, Juvenal, Satire, 11.24] Who could allow the Bismarck worshippers to rail at overthrow?
Let them, nevertheless, put through their anti-overthrow bills, make them still worse, transform the whole penal law into india-rubber, they will gain nothing but fresh proof of their impotence. If they want to deal Social-Democracy a serious blow they will have to resort to quite other measures. They can cope with the Social-Democratic overthrow, which just now is doing so well by keeping the law, only by an overthrow on the part of the parties of Order, an overthrow which cannot live without breaking the law. Mr. Roessler, the Prussian bureaucrat, and Mr. von Boguslawski, the Prussian general, have shown them the only way perhaps still possible of getting at the workers, who simply refuse to let themselves be lured into street fighting. Breach of the constitution, dictatorship, return to absolutism, regis voluntas suprema lex ! [The King’s will is the supreme law!]. Therefore, take courage, gentlemen; here half measures will not do; here you must go the whole hog!
But do not forget that the German empire, like all small states and generally all modern states, is a product of contract; of the contract, first, of the princes with one another and, second, of the princes with the people. If one side breaks the contract, the whole contract falls to the ground; the other side is then also no longer bound, as Bismarck demonstrated to us so beautifully in 1866. If, therefore, you break the constitution of the Reich, Social-Democracy is free, and can do as it pleases with regard to you. But it will hardly blurt out to you today what it is going to do then. [In Die Neue Zeit and in the 1895 edition of Die Klassenkämpfe in Frankreich the end of this paragraph starting with the words “as Bismarck” is omitted.]
It is now, almost to the year, sixteen centuries since a dangerous party of overthrow was likewise active in the Roman empire. It undermined religion and all the foundations of the state; it flatly denied that Caesar’s will was the supreme law; it was without a fatherland, was international; it spread over the whole empire, from Gaul to Asia, and beyond the frontiers of the empire. It had long carried on seditious activities underground in secret; for a considerable time, however, it had felt itself strong enough to come out into the open. This party of overthrow, which was known by the name of Christians, was also strongly represented in the army; whole legions were Christian. When they were ordered to attend the sacrificial ceremonies of the pagan established church, in order to do the honours there, the subversive soldiers had the audacity to stick peculiar emblems — crosses — on their helmets in protest. Even the customary barrack bullying of their superior officers was fruitless. The Emperor Diocletian could no longer quietly look on while order, obedience and discipline in his army were being undermined. He stepped in with vigour, while there was still time. He promulgated an anti-Socialist — I beg your pardon, I meant to say anti-Christian-law. The meetings of the overthrowers were forbidden , their meeting halls were closed or even pulled down, the Christian emblems, crosses, etc., were, like the red handkerchiefs in Saxony, prohibited. Christians were declared ineligible for holding public office; they were not to be allowed to become even corporals. Since at that time there were no judges so well trained in “respect of persons” as Mr. von Köller’s anti-overthrow bill assumes, Christians were forbidden out of hand to seek justice before a court. Even this exceptional law was to no avail. The Christians tore it down from the walls with scorn; they are even supposed to have set fire to the Emperor’s palace in Nicomedia in his presence. Then the latter revenged himself by the great persecution of Christians in the year 303 A.D. It was the last of its kind. And it was so effective that seventeen years later the army consisted overwhelmingly of Christians, and the succeeding autocrat of the whole Roman empire, Constantine, called the Great by the priests, proclaimed Christianity the state religion.
London, March 6, 1895
Modified version[edit source]
This newly republished work was Marx's first attempt, with the aid of his materialist conception, to explain a section of contemporary history from the given economic situation. In The Communist Manifesto, the theory was applied in broad outline to the whole of modern history, while in the articles by Marx and myself in the Neue Rheinische Zeitung, it was constantly used to interpret political events of the day. Here, on the other hand, the question was to demonstrate the inner causal connection in the course of a development which extended over some years, a development as critical, for the whole of Europe, as it was typical; that is, in accordance with the conception of the author, to trace political events back to the effects of what are, in the last resort, economic causes.
In judging the events and series of events of day-to-day history, it will never be possible for anyone to go right back to the final economic causes. Even today, when the specialized technical press provides such rich materials, in England itself it still remains impossible to follow day by day the movement of industry and trade in the world market and the changes which take place in the methods of production, in such a way as to be able to draw the general conclusion, at any point of time, from these very complicated and ever changing factors; of these factors, the most important, into the bargain, generally operate a long time in secret before they suddenly and violently make themselves felt on the surface. A clear survey of the economic history of a given period is never contemporaneous; it can only be gained subsequently, after collecting and sifting of the material has taken place. Statistics are a necessary help here, and they always lag behind. For this reason, it is only too often necessary, in the current history of the time, to treat the most decisive factor as constant, to treat the economic situation existing at the beginning of the period concerned as given and unalterable for the whole period, or else to take notice only of such changes in this situation as themselves arise out of events clearly before us, and as, therefore, can likewise be clearly seen. Hence, the materialist method has here often to limit itself to tracing political conflicts back to the struggles between the interests of the social classes and fractions of classes encountered as the result of economic development, and to show the particular political parties as the more or less adequate political expression of these same classes and fractions of classes.
It is self-evident that this unavoidable neglect of contemporaneous changes in the economic situation, of the very basis of all the proceedings subject to examination, must be a source of error. But all the conditions of a comprehensive presentation of the history of the day unavoidably imply sources of error—which, however, keeps nobody from writing contemporary history.
When Marx undertook this work, the sources of error mentioned were, to a still greater degree, impossible to avoid. It was quite impossible during the period of the Revolution of 1848-49 to follow the economic transformations which were being consummated at the same time, or even to keep a general view of them. It was just the same during the first months of exile in London, in the autumn and winter of 1849-50. But that was just the time when Marx began this work. And in spite of these unfavorable circumstances, his exact knowledge both of the economic situation in France and of the political history of that country since the February Revolution, made it possible for him to give a picture of events which laid bare their inner connections in a way never attained since, and which later brilliantly withstood the double test instituted by Marx himself.
The first test resulted from the fact that after the spring of 1850 Marx once again found leisure for economic studies, and first of all took up the economic history of the last ten years. In this study, what he had earlier deduced, half a priori, from defective material, was made absolutely clear to him by the facts themselves, namely, that the world trade crisis of 1847 had been the true mother of the February and March Revolutions and that the industrial prosperity which had been returning gradually since the middle of 1848, and which attained full bloom in 1849 and 1850, was the revivifying force of the newly strengthened European reaction. That was decisive. Whereas in the three first articles (which appeared in the January, February and March number of the N. Rh. Z., politisch-ökonomische Revue, Hamburg, 1850) there was still the expectation of an imminent new upsurge of revolutionary energy, the historical review written by Marx and myself for the last number, which was published in the autumn of 1850 (a double number, May to October), breaks once and for all with these illusions: "A new revolution is only possible as a result of a new crisis. It is just as certain, however, as this." But that was the only essential change which had to be made. There was absolutely nothing to alter in the interpretation of events given in the earlier chapters, or in the causal connections established therein, as the continuation of the narrative from March 10, up to the autumn of 1850 in the review in question, proves. I have therefore included this continuation as the fourth article in the present new edition.
The second test was even more severe. Immediately after Louis Bonaparte's coup d'état of December 2, 1851, Marx worked out anew the history of France from February 1848, up to this event, which concluded the revolutionary period for the time being. ( The Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte. Third edition, Meissner, Hamburg, 1885.) In this brochure the period which we had depicted in our present publication is again dealt with, although more briefly. Compare this second production, written in the light of decisive events which happened over a year later, with our present publication, and it will be found that the author had very little to change.
The thing which still gives this work of ours a quite special significance is that, for the first time, it expresses the formula in which, by common agreement, the workers' parties of all countries in the world briefly summarize their demand for economic reconstruction: the appropriation by society of the means of production. In the second chapter, in connection with the "right to work," which is characterized as "the first clumsy formula wherein the revolutionary aspirations of the proletariat are summarized," it is said: "But behind the right to work stands the power over capital; behind the power over capital, the appropriation of the means of production, their subjection to the associated working class and, therefore, the abolition of wage labor as well as of capital and of their mutual relationships." Thus, here, for the first time, the proposition is formulated by which modern working class socialism is equally sharply differentiated both from all the different shades of feudal, bourgeois, petty-bourgeois, etc., socialisms and also from the confused community of goods of utopian and spontaneous communism. If, later, Marx extended the formula to appropriation of the means of exchange also, this extension, which, in any case, was self-evident after The Communist Manifesto, only expressed a corollary to the main proposition. A few wiseacres in England have of late added that the "means of distribution" should also be handed over to society. It would be difficult for these gentlemen to say what these economic means of distribution are, as distinct from the means of production and exchange; unless political means of distribution are meant, taxes, poor relief, including the Sachsenwald and other endowments. But, first, these are means of distribution now already in collective possession, either of the state or of the commune, and, secondly, it is precisely these we wish to abolish.
When the February Revolution broke out, we all of us, as far as our conception of the conditions and the course of revolutionary movements was concerned, were under the spell of previous historical experience, namely, that of France. It was, indeed, the latter which had dominated the whole of European history since 1789, and from which now once again the signal had gone forth for general revolutionary change. It was therefore natural and unavoidable that our conceptions of the nature and the path of the "social" revolution proclaimed in Paris in February 1848, of the revolution of the proletariat, were strongly colored by memories of the models of 1789-1830. Moreover, when the Paris upheaval found its echo in the victorious insurrections in Vienna, Milan and Berlin; when the whole of Europe right up to the Russian frontier was swept into the movement; when in Paris the first great battle for power between the proletariat and the bourgeoisie was joined; when the very victory of their class so shook the bourgeoisie of all countries that they fled back into the arms of the monarchist-feudal reaction which had just been overthrown—for us under the circumstances of the time, there could be no doubt that the great decisive struggle had broken out, that it would have to be fought out in a single, long and changeful period of revolution, but that it could only end with the final victory of the proletariat.
After the defeats of 1849 we in no way shared the illusions of the vulgar democracy grouped around the would-be provisional governments in partibus. This vulgar democracy reckoned on a speedy and finally decisive victory of the "people" over the "usurpers"; we looked to a long struggle, after the removal of the "usurpers," between the antagonistic elements concealed within this "people" itself. Vulgar democracy expected a renewed outbreak from day to day; we declared as early as autumn 1850 that at least the first chapter of the revolutionary period was closed and that nothing further was to be expected until the outbreak of a new world crisis. For this reason we were excommunicated; as traitors to the revolution, by the very people who later, almost without exception, have made their peace with Bismarck—so far as Bismarck found them worth the trouble.
But we, too, have been shown to have been wrong by history, which has revealed our point of view of that time to have been an illusion. It has done even more: it has not merely destroyed our error of that time; it had also completely transformed the conditions under which the proletariat has to fight. The mode of struggle of 1848 is today obsolete from every point of view, and this is a point which deserves closer examination on the present occasion.
All revolutions up to the present day have resulted in the displacement of one definite class rule by another; all ruling classes up till now have been only minorities as against the ruled mass of the people. A ruling minority was thus overthrown; another minority seized the helm of state and remodeled the state apparatus in accordance with its own interests. This was on every occasion the minority group, able and called to rule by the degree of economic development, and just for that reason, and only for that reason, it happened that the ruled majority either participated in the revolution on the side of the former or else passively acquiesced in it. But if we disregard the concrete content of each occasion, the common form of all these revolutions was that they were minority revolutions. Even where the majority took part, it did so—whether wittingly or not—only in the service of a minority; but because of this, or simply because of the passive, unresisting attitude of the majority, this minority acquired the appearance of being the representative of the whole people.
As a rule, after the first great success, the victorious minority became divided; one half was pleased with what had been gained, the other wanted to go still further, and put forward new demands, which, to a certain extent at least, were also in the real or apparent interests of the great mass of the people. In individual cases these more radical demands were realized, but often only for the moment; the more moderate party again gained the upper hand, and what had eventually been won was wholly or partly lost again; the vanquished shrieked of treachery, or ascribed their defeat to accident. But in truth the position was mainly this: the achievements of the first victory were only safeguarded by the second victory of the more radical party; this having been attained, and, with it, what was necessary for the moment, the radicals and their achievements vanished once more from the stage.
All revolutions of modern times, beginning with the great English revolution of the seventeenth century, showed these features, which appeared inseparable from every revolutionary struggle. They appeared applicable, also, to the struggles of the proletariat for its emancipation; all the more applicable, since in 1848 there were few people who had any idea at all of the direction in which this emancipation was to be sought. The proletarian masses themselves, even in Paris, after the victory, were still absolutely in the dark as to the path to be taken. And yet the movement was there, instinctive, spontaneous, irrepressible. Was not this just the situation in which a revolution had to succeed, led certainly by a minority, but this time not in the interests of the minority, but in the real interests of the majority? If, in all the longer revolutionary periods, it was so easy to win the great masses of the people by the merely plausible and delusive views of the minorities thrusting themselves forward, how could they be less susceptible to ideas which were the truest reflex of their economic position, which were nothing but the clear, comprehensible expression of their needs, of needs not yet understood by themselves, but only vaguely felt? To be sure, this revolutionary mood of the masses had almost always, and usually very speedily, given way to lassitude or even to a revulsion to its opposite, so soon as illusion evaporated and disappointment set in. But here it was not a question of delusive views, but of giving effect to the very special interests of the great majority itself, interests, which at that time were certainly by no means clear to this great majority, but which must soon enough become clear in the course of giving practical effect to them, by their convincing obviousness. And if now, as Marx showed in the third article, in the spring of 1850, the development of the bourgeois republic that had arisen out of the "social" revolution of 1848 had concentrated the real power in the hands of the big bourgeoisie—monarchistically inclined as it was—and, on the other hand, had grouped all the other social classes, peasants as well as petty bourgeoisie, round the proletariat, so that, during and after the common victory, not they, but the proletariat grown wise by experience, must become the decisive factor—was there not every prospect here of turning the revolution of the minority into the revolution of the majority?
History has proved us, and all who thought like us, wrong. It has made it clear that the state of economic development on the Continent at that time was not, by a long way, ripe for the removal of capitalist production; it has proved this by the economic revolution which, since 1848, has seized the whole of the Continent, has really caused big industry for the first time to take root in France, Austria, Hungary, Poland and, recently, in Russia, while it has made Germany positively an industrial country of the first rank—all on a capitalist basis, which in the year 1848, therefore, still had great capacity for expansion. But it is just this industrial revolution which has everywhere for the first time produced clarity in the class relationships, which has removed a number of transition forms handed down from the manufacturing period and in Eastern Europe even from guild handicraft, and has created a genuine bourgeoisie and a genuine large-scale industrial proletariat and pushed them into the foreground of social development. But owing to this, the struggle of these two great classes, which, apart from England, existed in 1848 only in Paris and, at the most, a few big industrial centers, has been spread over the whole of Europe and has reached an intensity such as was unthinkable in 1848. At that time the many obscure evangels of the sects, with their panaceas; today the one generally recognized, transparently clear theory of Marx, sharply formulating the final aims of the struggle. At that time the masses, sundered and differing according to locality and nationality, linked only by the feeling of common suffering, undeveloped, tossed to and fro in their perplexity from enthusiasm to despair; today a great international army of Socialists, marching irresistibly on and growing daily in number, organization, discipline, insight and assurance of victory. If even this mighty army of the proletariat has still not reached its goal, if, a long way from winning victory with one mighty stroke, it has slowly to press forward from position to position in a hard, tenacious struggle, this only proves, once and for all, how impossible it was in 1848 to win social reconstruction by a simple surprise attack.
A bourgeoisie split into two monarchist sections adhering to two dynasties, a bourgeoisie, however, which demanded, above all, peace and security for its financial operations, faced with a proletariat vanquished, indeed, but still a constant menace a proletariat round which petty bourgeois and peasants grouped themselves more and more—the continual threat of a violent outbreak, which, nevertheless, offered no prospect of a final solution—such was the situation, as if created for the coup d'état of the third, the pseudo-democratic pretender Louis Bonaparte. On December 2, 1851, by means of the army: he put an end to the tense situation and secured for Europe the assurance of domestic tranquility, in order to give it the blessing of a new era of wars. The period of revolutions from below was concluded for the time being; there followed a period of revolutions from above.
The imperial reaction of 1851 gave a new proof of the unripeness of the proletarian aspirations of that time. But it was itself to create the conditions under which they were bound to ripen. Internal tranquillity ensured the full development of the new industrial boom; the necessity of keeping the army occupied and of diverting the revolutionary currents outwards produced wars, in which Bonaparte, under the pretext of asserting “the principle of nationality,” sought to sneak annexations for France. His imitator, Bismarck, adopted the same policy for Prussia; he made his coup d'état his revolution from above, in 1866, against the German Confederation and Austria, and no less against the Prussian Konfliktskammer. But Europe was too small for two Bonapartes and historical irony so willed it that Bismarck overthrew Bonaparte, and King William of Prussia not only established the little German Empire, but also the French Republic. The general result, however, was that in Europe the autonomy and internal unity of the great nations, with the exception of Poland, had become a fact. Within relatively modest limits, it is true, but, for all that, on a scale large enough to allow the development of the working class to proceed without finding national complications any longer a serious obstacle. The grave-diggers of the Revolution of 1848 had become the executors of its will. And alongside of them rose threateningly the heir of 1848, the proletariat, in the International.
After the war of 1870-71, Bonaparte vanishes from the stage and Bismarck's mission is fulfilled, so that he can now sink back again into the ordinary Junker. The period, however, is brought to a, close by the Paris Commune. An underhand attempt by Thiers to steal the cannon of the Paris National Guard, called forth a victorious rising. It was shown once more that, in Paris, none but a proletarian revolution is any longer possible. After the victory power fell, wholly of its own accord and quite undisputed, into the hands of the working class. And once again, twenty years after the time described in this work of ours, it was proved how impossible, even then, was this rule of the working class. On the one hand, France left Paris in the lurch, looked on while it bled from the bullets of MacMahon; on the other hand, the Commune was consumed in unfruitful strife between the two parties which divided it, the Blanquists (the majority) and the Proudhonists (the minority), neither of which knew what was to be done.
The victory which came as a gift in 1871 remained just as unfruitful as the surprise attack of 1848.
It was believed that the militant proletariat had been finally buried with the Paris Commune. But, completely to the contrary, it dates its most powerful advance from the Commune and the Franco-German war. The recruitment of the whole of the population able to bear arms into armies that could be counted in millions, and the introduction of firearms, projectiles and explosives of hitherto undreamt of efficacy created a complete revolution in all warfare. This, on the one hand, put a sudden end to the bonapartist war period and insured peaceful industrial development, since any war other than a world war of unheard of cruelty and absolutely incalculable outcome had become an impossibility. On the other hand, it caused military expenditure to rise in geometrical progression, and thereby forced up taxes to exorbitant levels and so drove the poorer classes of people into the arms of Socialism. The annexation of Alsace-Lorraine, the most immediate cause of the mad competition in armaments, might set the French and German bourgeoisie chauvinistically at each other's throats; for the workers of the two countries it became a new bond of unity. And the anniversary of the Paris Commune became the first universal commemoration day of the whole proletariat.
The war of 1870-71 and the defeat of the Commune had transferred the center of gravity of the European workers' movement for the time being from France to Germany, as Marx foretold. In France it naturally took years to recover from the bloodletting of May, 1871. In Germany, on the other hand, where industry was, in addition, furthered (in positively hothouse fashion) by the blessing of the French milliards and developed more and more quickly, Social-Democracy experienced a much more rapid and enduring growth. Thanks to the understanding with which the German workers made use of the universal suffrage introduced in 1866, the astonishing growth of the Party is made plain to all the world by incontestable figures. 1871, 102,000; 1874, 352,000; 1877, 493,000 Social-Democratic votes. Then came recognition of this advance by high authority in the shape of the Anti-Socialist Law: the Party was temporarily disrupted; the number of votes sank to 312,000 in 1881. But that was quickly overcome, and then, though oppressed by the Exceptional Law, without press, without external organization and without the right of combination or meeting, the rapid expansion really began: 1884, 550,000; 1887, 763,000; 1890, 1,427,000 votes. Then the hand of the state was paralyzed. The Anti-Socialist Law disappeared; socialist votes rose to 1,787,000, over a quarter of all the votes cast. The government and the ruling classes had exhausted all their expedients—uselessly, to no purpose, and without success. The tangible proofs of their impotence, which the authorities, from night watchman to the imperial chancellor, had had to accept—and that from the despised workers—these proofs were counted in millions. The state was at the end of its Latin, the workers only at the beginning of theirs.
But the German workers did a second great service to their cause in addition to the first, which they rendered by their mere existence as the strongest, best disciplined and most rapidly growing Socialist Party. They supplied their comrades of all countries with a new weapon, and one of the sharpest, when they showed them how to use universal suffrage.
There had long been universal suffrage in France, but it had fallen into disrepute through the misuse to which the Bonapartist government had put it. After the Commune there was no workers' party to make use of it. Also in Spain it had existed since the republic, but in Spain boycott of the elections was ever the rule of all serious opposition parties. The Swiss experiences of universal suffrage, also, were anything but encouraging for a workers' party. The revolutionary workers of the Latin countries had been wont to regard the suffrage as a snare, as an instrument of government trickery. It was otherwise in Germany. The Communist Manifesto had already proclaimed the winning of universal suffrage, of democracy, as one of the first and most important tasks of the militant proletariat, and Lassalle had again taken up this point. When Bismarck found himself compelled to introduce the franchise as the only means of interesting the mass of the people in his plans, our workers immediately took it in earnest and sent August Bebel to the first, constituent Reichstag. And from that day on, they have used the franchise in a way which has paid them a thousandfold and has served as a model to the workers of all countries. The franchise has been, in the words of the French Marxist program, "transformé, de moyen de deperie gu'il a été jusqu'ici, en instrument d' émancipation"—they have transformed it from a means of deception, which it was heretofore, into an instrument of emancipation. And if universal suffrage had offered no other advantage than that it allowed us to count our numbers every three years; that by the regularly established, unexpectedly rapid rise in the number of votes it increased in equal measure the workers' certainty of victory and the dismay of their opponents, and so became our best means of propaganda; that it accurately informed us concerning our own strength and that of all hostile parties, and thereby provided us with a measure of proportion for our actions second to none, safeguarding us from untimely timidity as much as from untimely foolhardiness—if this had been the only advantage we gained from the suffrage, then it would still have been more than enough. But it has done much more than this. In election agitation it provided us with a means, second to none, of getting in touch with the mass of the people, where they still stand aloof from us; of forcing all parties to defend their views and actions against our attacks before all the people; and, further, it opened to our representatives in the Reichstag a platform from which they could speak to their opponents in Parliament and to the masses without, with quite other authority and freedom than in the press or at meetings. Of what avail to the government and the bourgeoisie was their Anti-Socialist Law when election agitation and socialist speeches in the Reichstag continually broke through it?
With this successful utilization of universal suffrage, an entirely new mode of proletarian struggle came into force, and this quickly developed further. It was found that the state institutions, in which the rule of the bourgeoisie is organized, offer still further opportunities for the working class to fight these very state institutions. They took part in elections to individual diets, to municipal councils and to industrial courts; they contested every post against the bourgeoisie in the occupation of which a sufficient part of the proletariat had its say. And so it happened that the bourgeoisie and the government came to be much more afraid of the legal than of the illegal action of the workers' party, of the results of elections than of those of rebellion.
For here, too, the conditions of the struggle had essentially changed. Rebellion in the old style, the street fight with barricades, which up to 1848 gave everywhere the final decision, was to a considerable extent obsolete.
Let us have no illusions about it: a real victory of an insurrection over the military in street fighting, a victory as between two armies, is one of the rarest exceptions. But the insurgents, also, counted on it just as rarely. For them it was solely a question of making the troops yield to moral influences, which, in a fight between the armies of two warring countries do not come into play at all, or do so to a much less degree. If they succeed in this, then the troops fail to act, or the commanding officers lose their heads, and the insurrection wins. If they do not succeed in this, then, even where the military are in the minority, the superiority of better equipment and training, of unified leadership, of the planned employment of the military forces and of discipline makes itself felt. The most that the insurrection can achieve in actual tactical practice is the correct construction and defense of a single barricade. Mutual support; the disposition and employment of reserves; in short, the cooperation and harmonious working of the individual detachments, indispensable even for the defense of one quarter of the town, not to speak of the whole of a large town, are at best defective, and mostly not attainable at all; concentration of the military forces at a decisive point is, of course impossible. Hence the passive defense is the prevailing form of fight: the attack will rise here and there, but only by way of exception, to occasional advances and flank assaults; as a rule, however, it will be limited to occupation of the positions abandoned by the retreating troops. In addition, the military have, on their side, the disposal of artillery and fully equipped corps of skilled engineers, resources of war which, in nearly every case, the insurgents entirely lack. No wonder, then, that even the barricade struggles conducted with the greatest heroism—Paris, June 1848; Vienna, October 1848; Dresden, May 1849—ended with the defeat of the insurrection, so soon as the leaders of the attack, unhampered by political considerations, acted from the purely military standpoint, and their soldiers remained reliable.
The numerous successes of the insurgents up to 1848 were due to a great variety of causes. In Paris in July 1830 and February 1848, as in most of the Spanish street fights, there stood between the insurgents and the military a civic militia, which either directly took the side of the insurrection, or else by its lukewarm, indecisive attitude caused the troops likewise to vacillate, and supplied the insurrection with arms into the bargain. Where this citizens' guard opposed the insurrection from the outset, as in June 1848 in Paris, the insurrection was vanquished. In Berlin in 1848, the people were victorious partly through a considerable accession of new fighting forces during the night and the morning of the 19th, partly as a result of the exhaustion and bad victualing of the troops, and, finally, partly as a result of the paralyzed command. But in all cases the fight was won because the troops failed to obey, because the officers had lost their power of decision or because their hands were tied.
Even in the classic time of street fighting, therefore, the barricade produced more of a moral than a material effect. It was a means of shaking the steadfastness of the military. If it held out until this was attained, then victory was won; if not, there was defeat. [This is the main point, which must be kept in view, likewise when the chances of contingent future street fights are examined.]
The chances, however, were in 1849 already pretty poor. Everywhere the bourgeoisie had thrown in its lot with the governments, "culture and property" had hailed and feasted the military moving against the insurrections. The spell of the barricade was broken; the soldier no longer saw behind it "the people," but rebels, agitators, plunderers, levelers, the scum of society; the officer had in the course of time become versed in the tactical forms of street fighting, he no longer marched straight ahead and without cover against the improvised breastwork, but went round it through gardens, yards and houses. And this was now successful, with a little skill, in nine cases out of ten.
But since then there have been very many more changes, and all in favor of the military. If the big towns have become considerably bigger, the armies have become bigger still. Paris and Berlin have, since 1848, grown less than fourfold, but their garrisons have grown more than that. By means of the railways, the garrisons can, in twenty-four hours, be more than doubled, and in forty-eight hours they can be increased to huge armies. The arming of this enormously increased number of troops has become incomparably more effective. In 1848 the smooth-bore percussion muzzle-loader, today the small-caliber magazine breech-loading rifle, which shoots four times as far, ten times as accurately and ten times as fast as the former. At that time the relatively ineffective round-shot and grape-shot of the artillery; today the percussion shells, of which one is sufficient to demolish the best barricade. At that time the pick-ax of the sapper for breaking through walls; today the dynamite cartridge.
On the other hand, all the conditions on the insurgents' side have grown worse. An insurrection with which all sections of the people sympathize, will hardly recur; in the class struggle all the middle sections will never group themselves round the proletariat so exclusively that the reactionary parties gathered round the bourgeoisie well-nigh disappear. The "people," therefore, will always appear divided, and with this a powerful lever, so extraordinarily effective in 1848, is lacking. Even if more soldiers who have seen service were to come over to the insurrectionists, the arming of them becomes so much the more difficult. The hunting and luxury guns of the gunshops—even if not previously made unusable by removal of part of the lock by the police—are far from being a match for the magazine rifle of the soldier, even in close fighting. Up to 1848 it was possible to make the necessary ammunition oneself out of powder and lead; today the cartridges differ for each rifle, and are everywhere alike only in one point, that they are a special product of big industry, and therefore not to be prepared ex tempore, with the result that most rifles are useless as long as one does not possess the ammunition specially suited to them. And, finally, since 1848 the newly built quarters of the big towns have been laid out in long, straight, broad streets, as though made to give full effect to the new cannons and rifles. The revolutionary would have to be mad, who himself chose the working class districts in the North and East of Berlin for a barricade fight. [Does that mean that in the future the street fight will play no further role? Certainly not. It only means that the conditions since 1848 have become far more unfavorable for civil fights, far more favorable for the military. A future street fight can therefore only be victorious when this unfavorable situation is compensated by other factors. Accordingly, it will occur more seldom in the beginning of a great revolution than in its further progress, and will have to be undertaken with greater forces. These, however, may then well prefer, as in the whole Great French Revolution on September 4 and October 31, 1870, in Paris, the open attack to the passive barricade tactics.]
Does the reader now understand, why the ruling classes decidedly want to bring us to where the guns shoot and the sabers slash? Why they accuse us today of cowardice, because we do not betake ourselves without more ado into the street, where we are certain of defeat in advance? Why they so earnestly implore us to play for once the part of cannon fodder?
The gentlemen pour out their prayers and their challenges for nothing, for nothing at all. We are not so stupid. They might just as well demand from their enemy in the next war that he should take up his position in the line formation of old Fritz, or in the columns of whole divisions a la Wagram and Waterloo, and with the flintlock in his hands at that. If the conditions have changed in the case of war between nations, this is no less true in the case of the class struggle. The time of surprise attacks, of revolutions carried through by small conscious minorities at the head of unconscious masses, is past. Where it is a question of a complete transformation of the social organization, the masses themselves must also be in it, must themselves already have grasped what is at stake, what they are going in for [with body and soul]. The history of the last fifty years has taught us that. But in order that the masses may understand what is to be done, long, persistent work is required, and it is just this work which we are now pursuing, and with a success which drives the enemy to despair.
In the Latin countries, also, it is being more and more recognized that the old tactics must be revised. Everywhere [the unprepared onslaught has gone into the background, everywhere] the German example of utilizing the suffrage, of winning all posts accessible to us, has been imitated. In France, where for more than a hundred years the ground has been undermined by revolution after revolution, where there is no single party which has not done its share in conspiracies, insurrections and all other revolutionary actions; in France, where, as a result, the government is by no means sure of the army and where, in general, the conditions for an insurrectionary coup de main are far more favorable than in Germany—even in France the Socialists are realizing more and more that no lasting victory is possible for them, unless they first win the great mass of the people, i.e., in this case, the peasants. Slow propaganda work and parliamentary activity are being recognized here, too, as the most immediate tasks of the Party. Successes were not lacking. Not only have a whole series of municipal councils been won; fifty Socialists have seats in the Chambers, and they have already overthrown three ministers and a President of the Republic. In Belgium last year the workers enforced the franchise, and have been victorious in a quarter of the constituencies. In Switzerland, in Italy, in Denmark, yes, even in Bulgaria and Rumania the Socialists are represented in the Parliaments. In Austria all parties agree that our admission to the Reichsrat can no longer be withheld. We will get in, that is certain, the only question still in dispute is: by which door? And even in Russia, when the famous Zemsky Sober meets, that National Assembly to which young Nicholas offers such vain resistance, even there we can reckon with certainty on also being represented in it.
Of course, our foreign comrades do not renounce their right to revolution. The right to revolution is, after all, the only real "historical right" the only right on which all modern states without exception rest, Mecklenburg included, whose aristocratic revolution was ended in 1755 by the "hereditary settlement," the glorious charter of feudalism still valid today. The right to revolution is so incontestably recognized in the general consciousness that even General von Boguslawski derives the right to a coup d'état, which he vindicates for his Kaiser, solely from this popular right.
But whatever may happen in other countries, German Social-Democracy has a special situation and therewith, at least in the first instance, a special task. The two million voters, whom it sends to the ballot box, together with the young men and women, who stand behind them as non-voters, form the most numerous, most compact mass, the decisive "shock force" of the international proletarian army. This mass already supplies over a fourth of the recorded votes; and as the by-elections to the Reichstag, the diet elections in individual states, the municipal council and industrial court elections demonstrate, it increases uninterruptedly. Its growth proceeds as spontaneously, as steadily, as irresistibly, and at the same time as tranquilly as a natural process. All government interventions have proved powerless against it. We can count even today on two and a half million voters. If it continues in this fashion, by the end of the century we shall conquer the greater part of the middle section of society, petty bourgeois and small peasants, and grow into the decisive power in the land, before which all other powers will have to bow, whether they like it or not. To keep this growth going without interruption until of itself it gets beyond the control of the ruling governmental system [not to fritter away this daily increasing shock force in advance guard fighting, but to keep it intact until the day of the decision,] that is our main task. And there is only one means by which the steady rise of the socialist fighting forces in Germany could be momentarily halted, and even thrown back for some time: a clash on a big scale with the military, a bloodbath like that of 1871 in Paris. In the long run that would also be overcome. To shoot out of the world a party which numbers millions—all the magazine rifles of Europe and America are not enough for this. But the normal development would be impeded, [the shock force would, perhaps, not be available at the critical moment,] the decisive struggle would be delayed, protracted and attended by heavy sacrifices.
The irony of world history turns everything upside down. We, the "revolutionaries," the "rebels"—we are thriving far better on legal methods than on illegal methods and revolt. The parties of order, as they call themselves, are perishing under the legal conditions created by themselves. They cry despairingly with Odilon Barrot: la légalité notes tue, legality is the death of us; whereas we, under this legality, get firm muscles and rosy cheeks and look like eternal life. And if we are not so crazy as to let ourselves be driven into street fighting in order to please them, then nothing else is finally left for them but themselves to break through this legality so fatal to them.
Meanwhile they make new laws against revolution. Again everything is turned upside down. These anti-revolt fanatics of today, are they not themselves the rebels of yesterday? Have we, perchance, evoked the civil war of 1866? Have we driven the King of Hanover, the Elector of Hesse, the Duke of Nassau from their hereditary, lawful domains, and annexed these hereditary domains? And do these rebels against the German Confederation and three crowns by the grace of God complain of overthrow? Quis tulerit Gracchos de seditione querentes? Who could allow the Bismarck worshipers to rail at revolt?
Let them, nevertheless, put through their anti-revolt bills, make them still worse, transform the whole penal law into india-rubber, they will achieve nothing but anew proof of their impotence. In order seriously to hit Social-Democracy, they will have to resort to quite other measures. They can only hold in check the Social-Democratic revolt which is just now doing so well by keeping within the law, by revolt on the part of the parties of order, which cannot live without breaking the laws. Herr Rossler, the Prussian bureaucrat, and Herr von Boguslawski, the Prussian general, have shown them the only way in which the workers, who refuse to let themselves be lured into street fighting, can still, perhaps, be held in check. Breach of the constitution, dictatorship, return to absolutism, regis voluntas suprema lex! Therefore, only courage, gentlemen; here is no backing out of it; here you are in for it!
But do not forget that the German Empire, just as all small states and generally, all modern states, is a product of contract; of the contract, firstly, of the princes with one another and, secondly, of the princes with the people. If one side breaks the contract, the whole contract falls to the ground; the other side is then also no longer bound [as Bismarck showed us so beautifully in 1866. If, therefore, you break the constitution of the Reich, then the Social-Democracy is free, can do and refrain from doing what it will as against you. But what it will do then it will hardly give away to you today!].
It is now, almost to the year, sixteen hundred years since a dangerous party of revolt made a great commotion in the Roman Empire. It undermined religion and all the foundations of the state; it flatly denied that Caesar's will was the supreme law; it was without a fatherland, international; it spread over all countries of the Empire from Gaul to Asia, and beyond the frontiers of the Empire. It had long carried on an underground agitation in secret; for a considerable time, however, it had felt itself strong enough to come out into the open. This party of revolt, which was known by the name of Christians, was also strongly represented in the army; whole legions were Christian. When they were ordered to attend the sacrificial ceremonies of the pagan established church, in order to do the honors there, the soldier rebels had the audacity to stick peculiar emblems—crosses—on their helmets in protest. Even the wonted barrack cruelties of their superior officers were fruitless. The Emperor Diocletian could no longer quietly look on while order, obedience and discipline in his army were being undermined. He intervened energetically, while there was still time. He passed an anti-Socialist, I should say anti-Christian, law. The meetings of the rebels were forbidden, their meeting halls were closed or even pulled down, the Christian badges, crosses, etc., were, like the red handkerchiefs in Saxony, prohibited. Christians were declared incapable of holding offices in the state, they were not to be allowed even to become corporals. Since there were not available at that time judges so well trained in "respect of persons" as Herr von Koller's anti-revolt bill assumes, the Christians were forbidden out of hand to seek justice before a court. This exceptional law was also without effect. The Christians tore it down from the walls with scorn; they are even supposed to have burnt the Emperor's palace in Nicomedia over his head.
Then the latter revenged himself by the great persecution of Christians in the year 303, according to our chronology. It was the last of its kind. And it was so effective that seventeen years later the army consisted overwhelmingly of Christians, and the succeeding autocrat of the whole Roman Empire, Constantine, called the Great by the priests, proclaimed Christianity as the state religion.
London, March 6, 1895
Foreword by Marx[edit source]
With the exception of only a few chapters, every important part of the revolutionary annals from 1848 to 1849 bear the heading: Defeat of the revolution!
What succumbed in these defeats was not the revolution. It was the pre-revolutionary traditional appendages, results of social relationships which had not yet come to the point of sharp class antagonisms — persons, illusions, conceptions, projects from which the revolutionary party before the February Revolution was not free, from which it could be freed not by the victory of February, but only by a series of defeats.
In a word: The revolution made progress, forged ahead, not by its immediate tragicomic achievements but, on the contrary, by the creation of a powerful, united counterrevolution, by the creation of an opponent in combat with whom the party of overthrow ripened into a really revolutionary party.
To prove this is the task of the following pages.
Part I. The Defeat of June, 1848[edit source]
After the July Revolution [of 1830], when the liberal banker Laffitte led his compère, the Duke of Orléans, in triumph to the Hôtel de Ville, he let fall the words: “From now on the bankers will rule”. Laffitte had betrayed the secret of the revolution.
It was not the French bourgeoisie that ruled under Louis Philippe, but one faction of it: bankers, stock-exchange kings, railway kings, owners of coal and iron mines and forests, a part of the landed proprietors associated with them – the so-called financial aristocracy. It sat on the throne, it dictated laws in the Chambers, it distributed public offices, from cabinet portfolios to tobacco bureau posts.
The industrial bourgeoisie proper formed part of the official opposition, that is, it was represented only as a minority in the Chambers. Its opposition was expressed all the more resolutely the more unalloyed the autocracy of the finance aristocracy became, and the more it imagined that its domination over the working class was insured after the revolts of 1832, 1834, and 1839, which had been drowned in blood. Grandin, a Rouen manufacturer and the most fanatical instrument of bourgeois reaction in the Constituent as well as in the Legislative National Assembly, was the most violent opponent of Guizot in the Chamber of Deputies. Léon Faucher, later known for his impotent efforts to climb into prominence as the Guizot of the French counterrevolution, in the last days of Louis Philippe waged a war of the pen for industry against speculation and its train bearer, the government. Bastiat agitated in the name of Bordeaux and the whole of wine-producing France against the ruling system.
The petty bourgeoisie of all gradations, and the peasantry also, were completely excluded from political power. Finally, in the official opposition or entirely outside the pays légal [electorate], there were the ideological representatives and spokesmen of the above classes, their savants, lawyers, doctors, etc., in a word, their so-called men of talent.
Owing to its financial straits, the July Monarchy was dependent from the beginning on the big bourgeoisie, and its dependence on the big bourgeoisie was the inexhaustible source of increasing financial straits. It was impossible to subordinate the administration of the state to the interests of national production without balancing the budget, without establishing a balance between state expenditures and revenues. And how was this balance to be established without limiting state expenditures – that is, without encroaching on interests which were so many props of the ruling system – and without redistributing taxes – that is, without shifting a considerable share of the burden of taxation onto the shoulders of the big bourgeoisie itself?
On the contrary, the faction of the bourgeoisie that ruled and legislated through the Chambers had a direct interest in the indebtedness of the state. The state deficit was really the main object of its speculation and the chief source of its enrichment. At the end of each year a new deficit. After the lapse of four or five years a new loan. And every new loan offered new opportunities to the finance aristocracy for defrauding the state, which was kept artificially on the verge of bankruptcy – it had to negotiate with the bankers under the most unfavorable conditions. Each new loan gave a further opportunity, that of plundering the public which invested its capital in state bonds by means of stock-exchange manipulations, the secrets of which the government and the majority in the Chambers were privy to. In general, the instability of state credit and the possession of state secrets gave the bankers and their associates in the Chambers and on the throne the possibility of evoking sudden, extraordinary fluctuations in the quotations of government securities, the result of which was always bound to be the ruin of a mass of smaller capitalists and the fabulously rapid enrichment of the big gamblers. As the state deficit was in the direct interest of the ruling faction of the bourgeoisie, it is clear why the extraordinary state expenditure in the last years of Louis Philippe's reign was far more than double the extraordinary state expenditure under Napoleon, indeed reached a yearly sum of nearly 400,000,000 francs, whereas the whole average annual export of France seldom attained a volume amounting to 750,000,000 francs. The enormous sums which in this way flowed through the hands of the state facilitated, moreover, swindling contracts for deliveries, bribery, defalcations, and all kinds of roguery.
The defrauding of the state, practiced wholesale in connection with loans, was repeated retail in public works. What occurred in the relations between Chamber and government became multiplied in the relations between individual departments and individual entrepreneurs.
The ruling class exploited the building of railways in the same way it exploited state expenditures in general and state loans. The Chambers piled the main burdens on the state, and secured the golden fruits to the speculating finance aristocracy. One recalls the scandals in the Chamber of Deputies when by chance it leaked out that all the members of the majority, including a number of ministers, had been interested as shareholders in the very railway constructions which as legislators they had carried out afterward at the cost of the state.
On the other hand, the smallest financial reform was wrecked through the influence of the bankers. For example, the postal reform. Rothschild protested. Was it permissible for the state to curtail sources of revenue out of which interest was to be paid on its ever increasing debt?
The July Monarchy was nothing other than a joint stock company for the exploitation of France's national wealth, whose dividends were divided among ministers, Chambers, 240,000 voters, and their adherents. Louis Philippe was the director of this company – Robert Macaire on the throne. Trade, industry, agriculture, shipping, the interests of the industrial bourgeoisie, were bound to be continually endangered and prejudiced under this system. Cheap government, governement à bon marché, was what it had inscribed on its banner in the July days.
Since the finance aristocracy made the laws, was at the head of the administration of the state, had command of all the organized public authorities, dominated public opinion through the actual state of affairs and through the press, the same prostitution, the same shameless cheating, the same mania to get rich was repeated in every sphere, from the court to the Café Borgne to get rich not by production, but by pocketing the already available wealth of others, Clashing every moment with the bourgeois laws themselves, an unbridled assertion of unhealthy and dissolute appetites manifested itself, particularly at the top of bourgeois society – lusts wherein wealth derived from gambling naturally seeks its satisfaction, where pleasure becomes crapuleux [debauched], where money, filth, and blood commingle. The finance aristocracy, in its mode of acquisition as well as in its pleasures, is nothing but the rebirth of the lumpenproletariat on the heights of bourgeois society.
And the nonruling factions of the French bourgeoisie cried: Corruption! The people cried: À bas les grands voleurs! À bas les assassins! [Down with the big thieves! Down with the assassins!] when in 1847, on the most prominent stages of bourgeois society, the same scenes were publicly enacted that regularly lead the lumpenproletariat to brothels, to workhouses and lunatic asylums, to the bar of justice, to the dungeon, and to the scaffold. The industrial bourgeoisie saw its interests endangered, the petty bourgeoisie was filled with moral indignation, the imagination of the people was offended, Paris was flooded with pamphlets – “The Rothschild Dynasty,” “Usurers Kings of the Epoch,” etc. – in which the rule of the finance aristocracy was denounced and stigmatized with greater or less wit.
Rien pour la gloire! [Nothing for glory!] Glory brings no profit! La paix partout et toujours! [Peace everywhere and always!] War depresses the quotations of the 3 and 4 percents which the France of the Bourse jobbers had inscribed on her banner. Her foreign policy was therefore lost in a series of mortifications to French national sentiment, which reacted all the more vigorously when the rape of Poland was brought to its conclusion with the incorporation of Cracow by Austria, and when Guizot came out actively on the side of the Holy Alliance in the Swiss separatist war. The victory of the Swiss liberals in this mimic war raised the self-respect of the bourgeois opposition in France; the bloody uprising of the people in Palermo worked like an electric shock on the paralyzed masses of the people and awoke their great revolutionary memories and passions. [Annexation of Cracow by Austria in agreement with Russia and Prussia on November 11, 1846. – Swiss Sonderbund war: November 4 to 28, 1847. – Rising in Palermo: January 12, 1848; at the end of January, nine days’ bombardment of the town by the Neapolitans. Note by Engels to the edition of 1895.]
The eruption of the general discontent was finally accelerated and the mood for revolt ripened by two economic world events.
The potato blight and the crop failures of 1845 and 1846 increased the general ferment among the people. The famine of 1847 called forth bloody conflicts in France as well as on the rest of the Continent. As against the shameless orgies of the finance aristocracy, the struggle of the people for the prime necessities of life! At Buzançais, hunger rioters executed; in Paris, oversatiated escrocs [swindlers] snatched from the courts by the royal family!
The second great economic event that hastened the outbreak of the revolution was a general commercial and industrial crisis in England. Already heralded in the autumn of 1845 by the wholesale reverses of the speculators in railway shares, staved off during 1846 by a number of incidents such as the impending abolition of the Corn Laws, the crisis finally burst in the autumn of 1847 with the bankruptcy of the London wholesale grocers, on the heels of which followed the insolvencies of the land banks and the closing of the factories in the English industrial districts. The after-effect of this crisis on the Continent had not yet spent itself when the February Revolution broke out.
The devastation of trade and industry caused by the economic epidemic made the autocracy of the finance aristocracy still more unbearable. Throughout the whole of France the bourgeois opposition agitated at banquets for an electoral reform which should win for it the majority in the Chambers and overthrow the Ministry of the Bourse. In Paris the industrial crisis had, moreover, the particular result of throwing a multitude of manufacturers and big traders, who under the existing circumstances could no longer do any business in the foreign market, onto the home market. They set up large establishments, the competition of which ruined the small épiciers [grocers] and boutiquiers [shopkeepers] en masse. Hence the innumerable bankruptcies among this section of the Paris bourgeoisie, and hence their revolutionary action in February. It is well known how Guizot and the Chambers answered the reform proposals with an unambiguous challenge, how Louis Philippe too late resolved on a ministry led by Barrot, how things went as far as hand-to-hand fighting between the people and the army, how the army was disarmed by the passive conduct of the National Guard, how the July Monarchy had to give way to a provisional government.
The Provisional Government which emerged from the February barricades necessarily mirrored in its composition the different parties which shared in the victory. It could not be anything but a compromise between the different classes which together had overturned the July throne, but whose interests were mutually antagonistic. The great majority of its members consisted of representatives of the bourgeoisie. The republican petty bourgeoisie was represented by Ledru-Rollin and Flocon, the republican bourgeoisie by the people from the National, the dynastic opposition by Crémieux, Dupont de l'Eure, etc. The working class had only two representatives, Louis Blanc and Albert. Finally, Lamartine in the Provisional Government; this was at first no real interest, no definite class; this was the February Revolution itself, the common uprising with its illusions, its poetry, its visionary content, and its phrases. For the rest, the spokesman of the February Revolution, by his position and his views, belonged to the bourgeoisie.
If Paris, as a result of political centralization, rules France, the workers, in moments of revolutionary earthquakes, rule Paris. The first act in the life of the Provisional Government was an attempt to escape from this overpowering influence by an appeal from intoxicated Paris to sober France. Lamartine disputed the right of the barricade fighters to proclaim a republic on the ground that only the majority of Frenchmen had that right; they must await their votes, the Paris proletariat must not besmirch its victory by a usurpation. [From Lamartine's speech of 24 February] The bourgeoisie allows the proletariat only one usurpation – that of fighting.
Up to noon of February 25 the republic had not yet been proclaimed; on the other hand, all the ministries had already been divided among the bourgeois elements of the Provisional Government and among the generals, bankers, and lawyers of the National. But the workers were determined this time not to put up with any bamboozlement like that of July, 1830. They were ready to take up the fight anew and to get a republic by force of arms. With this message, Raspail betook himself to the Hôtel de Ville. In the name of the Paris proletariat he commanded the Provisional Government to proclaim a republic; if this order of the people were not fulfilled within two hours, he would return at the head of 200,000 men. The bodies of the fallen were scarcely cold, the barricades were not yet disarmed, and the only force that could be opposed to them was the National Guard. Under these circumstances the doubts born of considerations of state policy and the juristic scruples of conscience entertained by the Provisional Government suddenly vanished. The time limit of two hours had not yet expired when all the walls of Paris were resplendent with the gigantic historical words:
République français! Liberté, Egalité, Fraternité!
Even the memory of the limited alms and motives which drove the bourgeoisie into the February Revolution was extinguished by the proclamation of the republic on the basis of universal suffrage. Instead of only a few factions of the bourgeoisie, all classes of French society were suddenly hurled into the orbit of political power, forced to leave the boxes, the stalls, and the gallery and to act in person upon the revolutionary stage! With the constitutional monarchy vanished also the semblance of a state power independently confronting bourgeois society, as well as the whole series of subordinate struggles which this semblance of power called forth!
By dictating the republic to the Provisional Government, and through the Provisional Government to the whole of France, the proletariat immediately stepped into the foreground as an independent party, but at the same time challenged the whole of bourgeois France to enter the lists against it. What it won was the terrain for the fight for its revolutionary emancipation, but by no means this emancipation itself.
The first thing the February Republic had to do was, rather, to complete the rule of the bourgeoisie by allowing, besides the finance aristocracy, all the propertied classes to enter the orbit of political power. The majority of the great landowners, the Legitimists, were emancipated from the political nullity to which they had been condemned by the July Monarchy. Not for nothing had the Gazette de France agitated in common with the opposition papers; not for nothing had La Roche-Jaquelein taken the side of the revolution in the session of the Chamber of Deputies on February 24. The nominal proprietors, the peasants, who form the great majority of the French people, were put by universal suffrage in the position of arbiters of the fate of France. The February Republic finally brought the rule of the bourgeoisie clearly into view, since it struck off the crown behind which capital had kept itself concealed.
Just as the workers in the July days had fought for and won the bourgeois monarchy, so in the February days they fought for and won the bourgeois republic. Just as the July Monarchy had to proclaim itself a monarchy surrounded by republican institutions, so the February Republic was forced to proclaim itself a republic surrounded by social institutions. The Paris proletariat compelled this concession, too.
Marche, a worker, dictated the decree [decree on the right to work, 25 February 1848] by which the newly formed Provisional Government pledged itself to guarantee the workers a livelihood by means of labor, to provide work for all citizens, etc. And when a few days later it forgot its promises and seemed to have lost sight of the proletariat, a mass of 20,000 workers marched on the Hôtel de Ville with the cry: Organize labor! Form a special Ministry of labor! Reluctantly and after long debate, the Provisional Government nominated a permanent special commission charged with lending means of improving the lot of the working classes! This commission consisted of delegates from the corporations [guilds] of Paris artisans and was presided over by Louis Blanc and Albert. The Luxembourg Palace was assigned to it as its meeting place. In this way the representatives of the working class were banished from the seat of the Provisional Government, the bourgeois part of which retained the real state power and the reins of administration exclusively in its hands; and side by side with the ministries of finance, trade, and public works, side by side with the Bank and the Bourse, there arose a socialist synagogue whose high priests, Louis Blanc and Albert, had the task of discovering the promised land, of preaching the new gospel, and of providing work for the Paris proletariat. Unlike any profane state power, they had no budget, no executive authority at their disposal. They were supposed to break the pillars of bourgeois society by dashing their heads against them. While the Luxembourg sought the philosopher's stone, in the Hôtel de Ville they minted the current coinage.
And yet the claims of the Paris proletariat, so far as they went beyond the bourgeois republic, could win no other existence than the nebulous one of the Luxembourg.
In common with the bourgeoisie the workers had made the February Revolution, and alongside the bourgeoisie they sought to secure the advancement of their interests, just as they had installed a worker in the Provisional Government itself alongside the bourgeois majority. Organize labor! But wage labor, that is the existing, the bourgeois organization of labor. Without it there is no capital, no bourgeoisie, no bourgeois society. A special Ministry of Labor! But the ministries of finance, of trade, of public works – are not these the bourgeois ministries of labor? And alongside these a proletariat Ministry of Labor had to be a ministry of impotence, a ministry of pious wishes, a Luxembourg Commission. Just as the workers thought they would be able to emancipate themselves side by side with the bourgeoisie, so they thought they would be able to consummate a proletarian revolution within the national walls of France, side by side with the remaining bourgeois nations. But French relations of production are conditioned by the foreign trade of France, by her position on the world market and the laws thereof; how was France to break them without a European revolutionary war, which would strike back at the despot of the world market, England?
As soon as it has risen up, a class in which the revolutionary interests of society are concentrated finds the content and the material for its revolutionary activity directly in its own situation: foes to be laid low, measures dictated by the needs of the struggle to be taken; the consequences of its own deeds drive it on. It makes no theoretical inquiries into its own task. The French working class had not attained this level; it was still incapable of accomplishing its own revolution.
The development of the industrial proletariat is, in general, conditioned by the development of the industrial bourgeoisie. Only under its rule does the proletariat gain that extensive national existence which can raise its revolution to a national one, and only thus does the proletariat itself create the modern means of production, which become just so many means of its revolutionary emancipation. Only bourgeois rule tears up the material roots of feudal society and levels the ground on which alone a proletarian revolution is possible. French industry is more developed and the French bourgeoisie more revolutionary than that of the rest of the Continent. But was not the February Revolution aimed directly against the finance aristocracy? This fact proved that the industrial bourgeoisie did not rule France. The industrial bourgeoisie can rule only where modern industry shapes all property relations to suit itself, and industry can win this power only where it has conquered the world market, for national bounds are inadequate for its development. But French industry, to a great extent, maintains its command even of the national market only through a more or less modified system of prohibitive duties. While, therefore, the French proletariat, at the moment of a revolution, possesses in Paris actual power and influence which spur it on to a drive beyond its means, in the rest of France it is crowded into separate, scattered industrial centers, almost lost in the superior number of peasants and petty bourgeois. The struggle against capital in its developed, modern form – in its decisive aspect, the struggle of the industrial wage worker against the industrial bourgeois – is in France a partial phenomenon, which after the February days could so much the less supply the national content of the revolution, since the struggle against capital's secondary modes of exploitation, that of the peasant against usury and mortgages or of the petty bourgeois against the wholesale dealer, banker, and manufacturer – in a word, against bankruptcy – was still hidden in the general uprising against the finance aristocracy. Nothing is more understandable, then, than that the Paris proletariat sought to secure the advancement of its own interests side by side with those of the bourgeoisie, instead of enforcing them as the revolutionary interests of society itself, that it let the red flag be lowered to the tricolor. The French workers could not take a step forward, could not touch a hair of the bourgeois order, until the course of the revolution had aroused the mass of the nation, peasants and petite bourgeois, standing between the proletariat and the bourgeoisie, against this order, against the rule of capital, and had forced it to attach itself to the proletarians as its protagonists. The workers could buy this victory only through the tremendous defeat in June.
The Luxembourg Commission, this creation of the Paris workers, must be given the credit of having disclosed, from a Europe-wide tribune, the secret of the revolution of the nineteenth century: the emancipation of the proletariat. The Moniteur blushed when it had to propagate officially the “wild ravings” which up to that time had lain buried in the apocryphal writings of the socialists and reached the ear of the bourgeoisie only from time to time as remote, half-terrifying, half-ludicrous legends. Europe awoke astonished from its bourgeois doze. Therefore, in the minds of the proletarians, who confused the finance aristocracy with the bourgeoisie in general; in the imagination of the good old republicans who denied the very existence of classes or, at most, admitted them as a result of the constitutional monarchy; in the hypocritical phrases of the factions of the bourgeoisie which up to now had been excluded from power, the rule of the bourgeoisie was abolished with the introduction of the republic. At that time all the royalists were transformed into republicans and all the millionaires of Paris into workers. The phrase which corresponded to this imaginary abolition of class relations was fraternité, universal fraternization and brotherhood. This pleasant abstraction from class antagonisms, this sentimental reconciliation of contradictory class interests, this visionary elevation above the class struggle, this fraternite, was the real catchword of the February Revolution. The classes were divided by a mere misunderstanding, and on February 24 Lamartine christened the Provisional Government “une gouvernement qui suspends ce malentendu terrible qui existe entre les différentes classes” [a government that removes this terrible misunderstanding which exists between the different classes, from Lamartine's speech, 24 February 1848]. The Paris proletariat reveled in this magnanimous intoxication of fraternity.
The Provisional Government, for its part, once it was compelled to proclaim the republic, did everything to make it acceptable to the bourgeoisie and to the provinces. The bloody terror of the first French republic was disavowed by the abolition of the death penalty for political offenses; the press was opened to all opinions – the army, the courts, the administration remained with a few exceptions in the hands of their old dignitaries; none of the July Monarchy's great offenders was brought to book. The bourgeois republicans of the National amused themselves by exchanging monarchist names and costumes for old republican ones. To them the republic was only a new ball dress for the old bourgeois society. The young republic sought its chief merit not in frightening, but rather in constantly taking fright itself, and in winning existence and disarming resistance by soft compliance and nonresistance. At home to the privileged classes, abroad to the despotic powers, it was loudly announced that the republic was of a peaceful nature. Live and let live was its professed motto. In addition to that, shortly after the February Revolution the Germans, Poles, Austrians, Hungarians, and Italians revolted, each people in accordance with its immediate situation. Russia and England – the latter itself agitated, the former cowed – were not prepared. The republic, therefore, had no national enemy to face. Consequently there were no great foreign complications which could fire the energies, hasten the revolutionary process, drive the Provisional Government forward or throw it overboard. The Paris proletariat, which looked upon the republic as its own creation, naturally acclaimed each act of the Provisional Government which facilitated the firm emplacement of the latter in bourgeois society. It willingly allowed itself to be employed on police service by Caussidière in order to protect property in Paris, just as it allowed Louis Blanc to arbitrate wage disputes between workers and masters. It made it a point d'honneur [point of honor] to preserve the bourgeois honor of the republic unblemished in the eyes of Europe.
The republic encountered no resistance either abroad or at home. This disarmed it. Its task was no longer the revolutionary transformation of the world, but consisted only in adapting itself to the relations of bourgeois society. As to the fanaticism with which the Provisional Government undertook this task there is no more eloquent testimony than its financial measures.
Public credit and private credit were naturally shaken. Public credit rests on confidence that the state will allow itself to be exploited by the wolves of finance. But the old state had vanished and the revolution was directed above all against the finance aristocracy. The vibrations of the last European commercial crisis had not yet ceased. Bankruptcy still followed bankruptcy.
Private credit was therefore paralyzed, circulation restricted, production at a standstill before the February Revolution broke out. The revolutionary crisis increased the commercial crisis. And if private credit rests on confidence that bourgeois production in the entire scope of its relations – the bourgeois order – will not be touched, will remain inviolate, what effect must a revolution have had which questioned the basis of bourgeois production, the economic slavery of the proletariat, which set up against the Bourse the sphinx of the Luxembourg? The uprising of the proletariat is the abolition of bourgeois credit, for it is the abolition of bourgeois production and its order. Public credit and private credit are the economic thermometer by which the intensity of a revolution can be measured. The more they fall, the more the fervor and generative power of the revolution rises.
The Provisional Government wanted to strip the republic of its antibourgeois appearance. And so it had, above all, to try to peg the exchange value of this new form of state, its quotation on the Bourse. Private credit necessarily rose again, together with the current Bourse quotation of the republic.
In order to allay the very suspicion that it would not or could not honor the obligations assumed by the monarchy, in order to build up confidence in the republic's bourgeois morality and capacity to pay, the Provisional Government took refuge in braggadocio as undignified as it was childish. In advance of the legal date of payment it paid out the interest on the 5-percent, 4 ½-percent and 4-percent bonds to the state creditors. The bourgeois aplomb, the self-assurance of the capitalists, suddenly awoke when they saw the anxious haste with which this government sought to buy their confidence.
The financial embarrassment of the Provisional Government was naturally not lessened by a theatrical stroke which robbed it of its stock of ready cash. The financial pinch could no longer be concealed and petty bourgeois, domestic servants, and workers had to pay for the pleasant surprise which had been prepared for the state creditors.
It was announced that no more money could be drawn on savings bank books for an amount of over a hundred francs. The sums deposited in the savings banks were confiscated and by decree transformed into an irredeemable state debt. This embittered the already hard-pressed petty bourgeois against the republic. Since he received state debt certificates in place of his savings bank books, he was forced to go to the Bourse in order to sell them and thus deliver himself directly into the hands of the Bourse jobbers against whom he had made the February Revolution.
The finance aristocracy, which ruled under the July Monarchy, had its high church in the Bank. Just as the Bourse governs state credit, the Bank governs commercial credit.
Directly threatened not only in its rule but in its very existence by the February Revolution, the Bank tried from the outset to discredit the republic by making the lack of credit general. It suddenly stopped the credits of the bankers, the manufacturers, and the merchants. As it did not immediately call forth a counterrevolution, this maneuver necessarily reacted on the Bank itself. The capitalists drew out the money they had deposited in the vaults of the Bank. The possessors of bank notes rushed to the pay office in order to exchange them for gold and silver.
The Provisional Government could have forced the Bank into bankruptcy without forcible interference, in a legal manner; it would have had only to remain passive and leave the Bank to its fate. The bankruptcy of the Bank would have been the deluge which in an instant would have swept from French soil the finance aristocracy, the most powerful and dangerous enemy of the republic, the golden pedestal of the July Monarchy. And once the Bank was bankrupt, the bourgeoisie itself would have had to regard it as a last desperate attempt at rescue, if the government had formed a national bank and subjected national credit to the control of the nation.
The Provisional Government, on the contrary, fixed a compulsory quotation for the notes of the Bank. It did more. It transformed all provincial banks into branches of the Banque de France and allowed it to cast its net over the whole of France. Later it pledged the state forests to the Bank as a guarantee for a loan contracted from it. In this way the February Revolution directly strengthened and enlarged the bankocracy which it should have overthrown.
Meanwhile the Provisional Government was writhing under the incubus of a growing deficit. In vain it begged for patriotic sacrifices. Only the workers threw it their alms. Recourse had to be had to a heroic measure, to the imposition of a new tax. But who was to be taxed? The Bourse wolves, the bank kings, the state creditors, the rentiers, the industrialists? That was not the way to ingratiate the republic with the bourgeoisie. That would have meant, on the one hand, to endanger state credit and commercial credit, while on the other, attempts were made to purchase them with such great sacrifices and humiliations. But someone had to fork over the cash. Who was sacrificed to bourgeois credit? Jacques le bonhomme, the peasant.
The Provisional Government imposed an additional tax of 45 centimes to the franc on the four direct taxes. The government press cajoled the Paris proletariat into believing that this tax would fall chiefly on the big landed proprietors, on the possessors of the milliard granted by the Restoration. But in truth it hit the peasant class above all, that is, the large majority of the French people. They had to pay the costs of the February Revolution; in them the counterrevolution gained its main material. The 45-centime tax was a question of life and death for the French peasant. He made it a life and death question for the republic. From that moment the republic meant to the French peasant the 45 centime tax, and he saw in the Paris proletariat the spendthrift who did himself well at his expense.
Whereas the Revolution of 1789 began by shaking the feudal burdens off the peasants, the Revolution of 1848 announced itself to the rural population by the imposition of a new tax, in order not to endanger capital and to keep its state machine going.
There was only one means by which the Provisional Government could set aside all these inconveniences and jerk the state out of its old rut – a declaration of state bankruptcy. Everyone recalls how Ledru-Rollin in the National Assembly subsequently described the virtuous indignation with which he repudiated this presumptuous proposal of the Bourse Jew, Fould [from Ledru-Rollin's speech 21 April 1849], now French Finance Minister. Fould had handed him the apple from the tree of knowledge.
By honoring the bills drawn on the state by the old bourgeois society, the Provisional Government succumbed to the latter. It had become the hard-pressed debtor of bourgeois society instead of confronting it as the pressing creditor that had to collect the revolutionary debts of many years. It had to consolidate the shaky bourgeois relationships in order to fulfill obligations which are only to be fulfilled within these relationships. Credit became a condition of life for it, and the concessions to the proletariat, the promises made to it, became so many fetters which had to be struck off. The emancipation of the workers – even as a phrase – became an unbearable danger to the new republic, for it was a standing protest against the restoration of credit, which rests on undisturbed and untroubled recognition of the existing economic class relations. Therefore, it was necessary to have done with the workers.
The February Revolution had cast the army out of Paris. The National Guard, that is, the bourgeoisie in its different gradations, constituted the sole power. Alone, however, it did not feel itself a match for the proletariat. Moreover, it was forced gradually and piecemeal to open its ranks and admit armed proletarians, albeit after the most tenacious resistance and after setting up a hundred different obstacles. There consequently remained but one way out: to play off part of the proletariat against the other.
For this purpose the Provisional Government formed twenty–four battalions of Mobile Guards, each a thousand strong, composed of young men from fifteen to twenty years old. They belonged for the most part to the lumpen proletariat, which in all big towns forms a mass sharply differentiated from the industrial proletariat, a recruiting ground for thieves and criminals of all kinds living on the crumbs of society, people without a definite trade, vagabonds, gens sans feu et sans aveu [men without hearth or home], varying according to the degree of civilization of the nation to which they belong, but never renouncing their lazzaroni character – at the youthful age at which the Provisional Government recruited them, thoroughly malleable, as capable of the most heroic deeds and the most exalted sacrifices as of the basest banditry and the foulest corruption. The Provisional Government paid them 1 franc 50 centimes a day; that is, it bought them. It gave them their own uniform; that is, it made them outwardly distinct from the blouse-wearing workers. In part it assigned officers from the standing army as their leaders; in part they themselves elected young sons of the bourgeoisie whose rodomontades about death for the fatherland and devotion to the republic captivated them.
And so the Paris proletariat was confronted with an army, drawn from its own midst, of 24,000 young, strong, foolhardy men. it gave cheers for the Mobile Guard on its marches through Paris. It acknowledged it to be its foremost fighters on the barricades. It regarded it as the proletarian guard in contradistinction to the bourgeois National Guard. Its error was pardonable.
Besides the Mobile Guard, the government decided to rally around itself an army of industrial workers. A hundred thousand workers, thrown on the streets by the crisis and the revolution, were enrolled by the Minister Marie in so-called national ateliers [workshops]. Under this grandiose name was hidden nothing else than the employment of the workers on tedious, monotonous, unproductive earthworks at a wage of 23 sous. English workhouses in the open – that is what these national ateliers were. The Provisional Government believed that it had formed, in them, a second proletarian army against the workers themselves. This time the bourgeoisie was mistaken in the national ateliers, just as the workers were mistaken in the Mobile Guard. It had created an army for mutiny.
But one purpose was achieved.
National ateliers was the name of the people's workshops which Louis Blanc preached in the Luxembourg Palace. Marie's ateliers [workshops], devised in direct antagonism to the Luxembourg, offered occasion, thanks to the common label, for a comedy of errors worthy of the Spanish servant farce. The Provisional Government itself surreptitiously spread the report that these national ateliers were the discovery of Louis Blanc, and this seemed the more plausible because Louis Blanc, the prophet of the national ateliers, was a member of the Provisional Government. And in the half-naive, half-intentional confusion of the Paris bourgeoisie, in the artificially molded opinion of France, of Europe, these workhouses were the first realization of socialism, which was put in the pillory, with them.
In their appellation, though not in their content, the national ateliers were the embodied protest of the proletariat against bourgeois industry, bourgeois credit, and the bourgeois republic. The whole hate of the bourgeoisie was therefore turned upon them. It had found in them, simultaneously, the point against which it could direct the attack, as soon as it was strong enough to break openly with the February illusions. All the discontent, all the ill humor of the petty bourgeois too was directed against these national ateliers, the common target. With real fury they totted up the money the proletarian loafers swallowed up while their own situation was becoming daily more unbearable. A state pension for sham labor, so that's socialism! they grumbled to themselves. They sought the reason for their misery in the national ateliers, the declamations of the Luxembourg, the processions of the workers through Paris. And no one was more fanatic about the alleged machinations of the communists than the petty bourgeoisie, who hovered hopelessly on the brink of bankruptcy.
Thus in the approaching melee between bourgeoisie and proletariat, all the advantages, all the decisive posts, all the middle strata of society were in the hands of the bourgeoisie, at the same time as the waves of the February Revolution rose high over the whole Continent, and each new post brought a new bulletin of revolution, now from Italy, now from Germany, now from the remotest parts of southeastern Europe, and maintained the general ecstasy of the people, giving it constant testimony of a victory that it had already forfeited.
March 17 and April 16 were the first skirmishes in the big class struggle which the bourgeois republic hid under its wing.
March 17 revealed the proletariat's ambiguous situation, which permitted no decisive act. Its demonstration originally pursued the purpose of pushing the Provisional Government back onto the path of revolution, of effecting the exclusion of its bourgeois members, according to circumstances, and of compelling the postponement of the elections for the National Assembly and the National Guard. But on March 16 the bourgeoisie represented in the National Guard staged a hostile demonstration against the Provisional Government. With the cry À bas Ledru-Rollin [Down with Ledru-Rollin]! it surged to the Hôtel de Ville. And the people were forced, on March 17, to shout: Long live Ledru-Rollin! Long live the Provisional Government! They were forced to take sides against the bourgeoisie in support of the bourgeois republic, which seemed to them to be in danger. They strengthened the Provisional Government, instead of subordinating it to themselves. March 17 went off in a melodramatic scene, and whereas the Paris proletariat on this day once more displayed its giant body, the bourgeoisie both inside and outside the Provisional Government was all the more determined to smash it.
April 16 was a misunderstanding engineered by the Provisional Government in alliance with the bourgeoisie. The workers had gathered in great numbers in the Champ de Mars and in the Hippodrome to choose their nominees to the general staff of the National Guard. Suddenly throughout Paris, from one end to the other, a rumor spread as quick as lightning, to the effect that the workers had met armed in the Champ de Mars, under the leadership of Louis Blanc, Blanqui, Cabet, and Raspail, in order to march thence on the Hôtel de Ville, overthrow the Provisional Government, and proclaim a communist government. The general alarm is sounded – Ledru-Rollin, Marrast, and Lamartine later contended for the honor of having initiated this – and in an hour 100,000 men are under arms; the Hôtel de Ville is occupied at all points by the National Guard; the cry Down with the Communists! Down with Louis Blanc, with Blanqui, with Raspail, with Cabet! thunders throughout Paris. Innumerable deputations pay homage to the Provisional Government, all ready to save the fatherland and society. When the workers finally appear before the Hôtel de Ville, in order to hand over to the Provisional Government a patriotic collection they had made in the Champ de Mars, they learn to their amazement that bourgeois Paris has defeated their shadow in a very carefully calculated sham battle. The terrible attempt of April 16 furnished the excuse for recalling the army to Paris – the real purpose of the clumsily staged comedy and for the reactionary federalist demonstrations in the provinces.
On May 4 the National Assembly met the result of the direct general elections, convened. Universal suffrage did not possess the magic power which republicans of the old school had ascribed to it. They saw in the whole of France, at least in the majority of Frenchmen, citoyens [citizens] with the same interests, the same understanding, etc. This was their cult of the people. Instead of their imaginary people, the elections brought the real people to the light of day; that is, representatives of the different classes into which it falls. We have seen why peasants and petty bourgeois had to vote under the leadership of a bourgeoisie spoiling for a fight and of big landowners frantic for restoration. But if universal suffrage was not the miracle – working magic wand the republican worthies had taken it for, it possessed the incomparable higher merit of unchaining the class struggle, of letting the various middle strata of bourgeois society rapidly get over their illusions and disappointments, of tossing all the sections of the exploiting class at one throw to the apex of the state, and thus tearing from them their deceptive mask, whereas the monarchy with its property qualifications had let only certain factions of the bourgeoisie compromise themselves, allowing the others to lie hidden behind the scenes and surrounding them with the halo of a common opposition.
In the Constituent National Assembly, which met on May 4, the bourgeois republicans, the republicans of the National, had the upper hand. Even Legitimists and Orléanists at first dared to show themselves only under the mask of bourgeois republicanism. The fight against the proletariat could be undertaken only in the name of the republic.
The republic dates from May 4, not from February 25 – that is, the republic recognized by the French people; it is not the republic which the Paris proletariat thrust upon the Provisional Government, not the republic with social institutions, not the vision that hovered before the fighters on the barricades. The republic proclaimed by the National Assembly, the sole legitimate republic, is a republic which is no revolutionary weapon against the bourgeois order, but rather its political reconstitution, the political reconsolidation of bourgeois society; in a word, a bourgeois republic. This contention resounded from the tribune of the National Assembly, and in the entire republican and anti-republican bourgeois press it found its echo.
And we have seen how the February Republic in reality was not and could not be other than a bourgeois republic; how the Provisional Government, nevertheless, was forced by the immediate pressure of the proletariat to announce it as a republic with social institutions; how the Paris proletariat was still incapable of going beyond the bourgeois republic otherwise than in its fancy, in imagination; how even where the republic acted in the service of the bourgeoisie when it really came to action; how the promises made to it became an unbearable danger for the new republic; how the whole life process of the Provisional Government was comprised in a continuous fight against the demands of the proletariat.
In the National Assembly all France sat in judgment upon the Paris proletariat. The Assembly broke immediately with the social illusions of the February Revolution; it roundly proclaimed the bourgeois republic, nothing but the bourgeois republic. It at once excluded the representatives of the proletariat, Louis Blanc and Albert, from the Executive Commission it had appointed; it threw out the proposal of a special Labor Ministry and received with acclamation the statement of Minister Trélat: “The question now is merely one of bringing labor back to its old conditions.” [from Trélat's speech of 20 June 1848]
But all this was not enough. The February Republic was won by the workers with the passive support of the bourgeoisie. The proletarians rightly regarded themselves as the victors of February, and they made the arrogant claims of victors. They had to be vanquished in the streets, they had to be shown that they were worsted as soon as they did not fight with the bourgeoisie, but against the bourgeoisie. Just as the February Republic, with its socialist concessions, required a battle of the proletariat, united with the bourgeoisie, against the monarchy, so a second battle was necessary to sever the republic from socialist concessions, to officially work out the bourgeois republic as dominant. The bourgeoisie had to refute, arms in hand, the demands of the proletariat. And the real birthplace of the bourgeois republic is not the February victory; it is the June defeat.
The proletariat hastened the decision when, on the fifteenth of May, it pushed its way into the National Assembly sought in vain to recapture its revolutionary influence, and only delivered its energetic leaders to the jailers of the bourgeoisie. Il faut en finir! This situation must end! With this cry the National Assembly gave vent to its determination to force the proletariat into a decisive struggle. The Executive Commission issued a series of provocative decrees, such as that prohibiting congregations of people, etc. The workers were directly provoked, insulted, and derided from the tribune of the Constituent National Assembly. But the real point of the attack was, as we have seen, the national ateliers. The Constituent Assembly imperiously pointed these out to the Executive Commission, which waited only to hear its own plan proclaimed the command of the National Assembly.
The Executive Commission began by making admission to the national ateliers more difficult, by turning the day wage into a piece wage, by banishing workers not born in Paris to the Sologne, ostensibly for the construction of earthworks. These earthworks were only a rhetorical formula with which to embellish their exile, as the workers, returning disillusioned, announced to their comrades. Finally, on June 21, a decree appeared in the Moniteur which ordered the forcible expulsion of all unmarried workers from the national ateliers or their enrollment in the army.
The workers were left no choice; they had to starve or let fly. They answered on June 22 with the tremendous insurrection in which the first great battle was fought between the two classes that split modern society. It was a fight for the preservation or annihilation of the bourgeois order. The veil that shrouded the republic was torn asunder.
It is well known how the workers, with unexampled bravery and ingenuity, without leaders, without a common plan, without means and, for the most part, lacking weapons, held in check for five days the army, the Mobile Guard, the Paris National Guard, and the National Guard that streamed in from the provinces. It is well known how the bourgeoisie compensated itself for the mortal anguish it suffered by unheard–of brutality, massacring over 3000 prisoners. The official representatives of French democracy were steeped in republican ideology to such an extent that it was only some weeks later that they began to have an inkling of the significance of the June fight. They were stupefied by the gunpowder smoke in which their fantastic republic dissolved.
The immediate impression which the news of the June defeat made on us, the reader will allow us to describe in the words of the “Neue Rheinische Zeitung.” 
“The Executive Committee, that last official vestige of the February revolution, vanished like a ghost in the face of these grave events. Lamartine's fireworks have turned into the incendiary shells of Cavaignac.
“Fraternité, the brotherhood of antagonistic classes, one of which exploits the other, this fraternity which in February was proclaimed and inscribed in large letters on the facades of Paris, on every prison and every barracks – this fraternity found its true, unadulterated and prosaic expression in civil war, civil war in its most terrible aspect, the war of labor against capital. This brotherhood blazed in front of the windows of Paris on the evening of June 25, when the Paris of the bourgeoisie held illuminations while the Paris of the proletariat was burning, bleeding, groaning in the throes of death.
“This fraternité lasted only as long as there was a consanguinity of interests between the bourgeoisie and the proletariat. Pedants sticking to the old revolutionary tradition of 1793; socialist doctrinaires who begged alms for the people from the bourgeoisie and who were allowed to deliver lengthy sermons and compromise themselves so long as the proletarian lion had to be lulled to sleep; republicans who wanted to keep the old bourgeois order in toto, but without the crowned head; members of the Dynastic Opposition  on whom chance imposed the task of bringing about the downfall of a dynasty instead of a change of government; legitimists,  who did not want to cast off their livery but merely to change its style – these were the allies with whom the people had fought their February revolution. What the people instinctively hated in Louis Philip was not Louis Philip himself, but the crowned rule of a class, the capital on the throne. But magnanimous as always, the people thought they had destroyed their enemy when they had overthrown the enemy of their enemies, their common enemy.
“The February revolution was the nice revolution, the revolution of universal sympathies, because the contradictions which erupted in it against the monarchy were still undeveloped and peacefully dormant, because the social struggle which formed their background had only achieved an ephemeral existence, an existence in phrases, in words. The June revolution is the ugly revolution, the nasty revolution, because the phrases have given place to the real thing, because the republic has bared the head of the monster by knocking off the crown which shielded and concealed it.
“Order! was Guizot's war-cry. Order! shouted Sebastiani, the Guizotist, when Warsaw became Russian. Order! shouts Cavaignac, the brutal echo of the French National Assembly and of the republican bourgeoisie. Order! thundered his grape-shot as it tore into the body of the proletariat.
“None of the numerous revolutions of the French bourgeoisie since 1789 assailed the existing order, for they retained the class rule, the slavery of the workers, the bourgeois system, even though the political form of this rule and this slavery changed frequently. The June uprising did assail this system. Woe to the June uprising!”
Woe to that June! Re-echoes Europe.
The Paris proletariat was forced into the June insurrection by the bourgeoisie. This sufficed to mark its doom. Its immediate, avowed needs did not drive it to engage in a fight for the forcible overthrow of the bourgeoisie, nor was it equal to this task. The Moniteur had to inform it officially that the time was past when the republic saw any occasion to bow and scrape to its illusions, and only its defeat convinced it of the truth that the slightest improvement in its position remains a utopia within the bourgeois republic, a utopia that becomes a crime as soon as it wants to become a reality. In place of the demands, exuberant in form but still limited and even bourgeois in content, whose concession the proletariat wanted to wring from the February Republic, there appeared the bold slogan of revolutionary struggle: Overthrow of the bourgeoisie! Dictatorship of the Working class!
By making its burial place the birthplace of the bourgeois republic, the proletariat compelled the latter to come out forthwith in its pure form as the state whose admitted object it is to perpetuate the rule of capital, the slavery of labor. Having constantly before its eyes the scarred, irreconcilable, invincible enemy – invincible because its existence is the condition of its own life – bourgeois rule, freed from all fetters, was bound to turn immediately into bourgeois terrorism. With the proletariat removed for the time being from the stage and bourgeois dictatorship recognized officially, the middle strata of bourgeois society, the petty bourgeoisie and the peasant class, had to adhere more and more closely to the proletariat as their position became more unbearable and their antagonism to the bourgeoisie more acute. Just as earlier they had to find the cause of their distress in its upsurge, so now in its defeat.
If the June insurrection raised the self-assurance of the bourgeoisie all over the Continent, and caused it to league itself openly with the feudal monarchy against the people, who was the first victim of this alliances The continental bourgeoisie itself. The June defeat prevented it from consolidating its rule and from bringing the people, half satisfied and half out of humor, to a standstill at the lowest stage of the bourgeois revolution.
Finally, the defeat of June divulged to the despotic powers of Europe the secret that France must maintain peace abroad at any price in order to be able to wage civil war at home. Thus the people's who had begun the fight for their national independence were abandoned to the superior power of Russia, Austria, and Prussian, but at the same time the fate of these national revolutions was made subject to the fate of the proletarian revolution, and they were robbed of their apparent autonomy, their independence of the great social revolution. The Hungarian shall not be free, nor the Pole, nor the Italian, as long as the worker remains a slave!
Finally, with the victories of the Holy Alliance, Europe has taken on a form that makes every fresh proletarian upheaval in France directly coincide with a world war. The new French revolution is forced to leave its national soil forthwith and conquer the European terrain, on which alone the social revolution of the nineteenth century can be accomplished.
Thus only the June defeat has created all the conditions under which France can seize the initiative of the European revolution. Only after being dipped in the blood of the June insurgents did the tricolor become the flag of the European revolution – the red flag!
And we exclaim: The revolution is dead! Long live the revolution!
Part II. From June 1848 to June 13, 1849[edit source]
February 25, 1848, granted the republic to France, June 25 thrust the revolution upon her. And revolution, after June, meant: overthrow of bourgeois society, whereas before February it meant: overthrow of the form of government.
The June fight was led by the republican faction of the bourgeoisie; with victory political power necessarily fell to its share. The state of siege laid, gagged Paris, unresisting, at its feet, and in the provinces there prevailed a moral state of siege, the threatening, brutal arrogance of victorious bourgeoisie and the unleashed property fanaticism of the peasants. No danger, therefore, from below!
The crash of the revolutionary might of the workers was simultaneously a crash of the political influence of the democratic republicans; that is, of the republicans in the sense of the petty bourgeoisie, represented in the Executive Commission by Ledru-Rollin, in the Constituent National Assembly by the part of the Montagne and in the press by the “Réforme.” Together with the bourgeois republicans, they had conspired on April 16 against the proletariat, together with them they had warred against it in the June days. Thus they themselves blasted the background against which their party stood out as a power, for the petty bourgeoisie can preserve a revolutionary attitude toward the bourgeoisie only as long as the proletariat stands behind it. The proletarians were dismissed. The sham alliance which the bourgeois republicans, reluctantly and with reservations, concluded with them during the epoch of the Provisional Government and the Executive Commission was openly broken by the bourgeois republicans. Spurned and repulsed as allies, they sank down to subordinate henchmen of the tricolor men, from whom they could not wring any concessions but whose domination they had to support whenever it, and with it the republic, seemed to be put in jeopardy by the anti-republican bourgeois factions. Lastly, these factions, the Orléanists and the Legitimists, were from the very beginning in a minority in the Constituent National Assembly. Before the June days they dared to react only under the mask of bourgeois republicanism – the June victory allowed for a moment the whole of bourgeois France to greet its savior in Cavaignac; and when, shortly after the June days, the anti-republican party regained independence, the military dictatorship and the state of siege in Paris permitted it to put out its antennae only very timidly and cautiously.
Since 1830 the bourgeois republican faction, in the person of its writers, its spokesmen, its men of talent and ambition, its deputies, generals, bankers, and lawyers, had grouped itself around a Parisian journal, the National. In the provinces this journal had its branch newspapers. The coterie of the National was the dynasty of the tricolor republic. It immediately took possession of all state offices – of the ministries, the prefecture of police, the post-office directorship, the prefectures, the higher army officer posts – which had now become vacant. At the head of the executive power stood its general, Cavaignac; its editor in chief, Marrast, became permanent president of the Constituent National Assembly. As master of ceremonies he at the same time did the honors, in his salons, of the respectable republic.
Even revolutionary French writers, awed, as it were, by the republican tradition, have strengthened the mistaken belief that the royalists dominated the Constituent National Assembly. On the contrary, after the June days, the Constituent Assembly remained the exclusive representative of bourgeois republicanism, and it emphasized this aspect all the more resolutely, the more the influence of the tricolor republicans collapsed outside the Assembly. If the question was one of maintaining the form of the bourgeois republic, then the Assembly had the votes of the democratic republicans at its disposal; if one of maintaining the content, then even its mode of speech no longer separated it from the royalist bourgeois factions, for it is the interests of the bourgeoisie, the material conditions of its class rule and class exploitation, that form the content of the bourgeois republic.
Thus it was not royalism but bourgeois republicanism that was realized in the life and work of this Constituent Assembly, which in the end did not die, nor was killed, but decayed.
For the entire duration of its rule, for as long as it gave its grand performance of state on the proscenium, an unbroken sacrificial feast was being staged in the background – the continual sentencing by courts–martial of the captured June insurgents or their deportation without trial. The Constituent Assembly had the tact to admit that in the June insurgents it was not judging criminals but wiping out enemies.
The first act of the Constituent National Assembly was to set up a commission of inquiry into the events of June and of May 15, and into the part played by the socialist and democratic party leaders during these days. The inquiry was directly aimed at Louis Blanc, Ledru-Rollin, and Caussidière. The bourgeois republicans burned with impatience to rid themselves of these rivals. They could have entrusted the venting of their spleen to no more suitable object than M. Odilon Barrot, the former chief of the dynastic opposition, the incarnation of liberalism, the nullité grave [self-important non-entity], the thoroughly shallow person who not only had a dynasty to revenge, but even had to settle accounts with the revolutionists for thwarting his premiership. A sure guarantee of his relentlessness. This Barrot was therefore appointed chairman of the commission of inquiry, and he constructed a complete legal process against the February Revolution which may be summarized thus: March 17, demonstration; April 16, conspiracy; May 15, attempt; June 23, civil war! Why did he not stretch his erudite criminologist’s researches as far back as February 24? The Journal des Débats inquired – that is, to the foundation of Rome. The origin of states gets lost in a myth that one may believe but may not discuss. Louis Blanc and Caussidière were handed over to the courts. The National Assembly completed the work of purging itself which it had begun on May 15.
The plan formed by the Provisional Government, and again taken up by Goudchaux, of taxing capital – in the form of a mortgage tax was rejected by the Constituent Assembly; the law that limited the working day to ten hours was repealed; imprisonment for debt was once more introduced; the large section of the French population that can neither read nor write was excluded from jury service. Why not from the franchise also? Journals again had to deposit caution money. The right of association was restricted.
No one had fought more fanatically in the June days for the salvation of property and the restoration of credit than the Parisian petty bourgeois – keepers of cafes and restaurants, marchands de vins [wine merchants], small traders, shopkeepers, handicraftsman, etc. The shopkeeper had pulled himself together and marched against the barricades in order to restore the traffic which leads from the streets into the shop. But behind the barricade stood the customers and the debtors; before it the creditors of the shop. And when the barricades were thrown down and the workers were crushed and the shopkeepers, drunk with victory, rushed back to their shops, they found the entrance barred by a savior of property, an official agent of credit, who presented them with threatening notices: Overdue promissory note! Overdue house rent! Overdue bond! Doomed shop! Doomed shopkeeper!
Salvation of property! But the house they lived in was not their property; the shop they kept was not their property; the commodities they dealt in were not their property. Neither their business, nor the plate they ate from, nor the bed they slept on belonged to them any longer. It was precisely from them that this property had to be saved – for the house-owner who let the house, for the banker who discounted the promissory note, for the capitalist who made the advances in cash, for the manufacturer who entrusted the sale of his commodities to these retailers, for the wholesale dealer who had credited the raw materials to these handicraftsman. Restoration of credit! But credit, having regained strength, proved itself a vigorous and jealous god; it turned the debtor who could not pay out of his four walls, together with wife and child, surrendered his sham property to capital, and threw the man himself into the debtors’ prison, which had once more reared its head threateningly over the corpses of the June insurgents.
The petty bourgeois saw with horror that by striking down the workers they had delivered themselves without resistance into the hands of their creditors. Their bankruptcy, which since February had been dragging on in chronic fashion and had apparently been ignored, was openly declared after June.
Their nominal property had been left unassailed as long as it was of consequence to drive them to the battlefield in the name of property. Now that the great issue with the proletariat had been settled, the small matter of the épicier could in turn be settled. In Paris the mass of overdue paper amounted to over 21,000,000 francs; in the provinces to over 1,000,000. The proprietors of more than 7,000 Paris firms had not paid their rent since February.
While the National Assembly had instituted an inquiry into political guilt, going as far back as the end of February, the petty bourgeois on their part now demanded an inquiry into civil debts up to February 24. They assembled en masse in the Bourse hall and threateningly demanded, on behalf of every businessman who could prove that his insolvency was due solely to the stagnation caused by the revolution and that his business had been in good condition on February 24, an extension of the term of payment by order of a commerce court and the compulsory liquidation of creditors claims in consideration of a moderate percentage payment. As a legislative proposal, this question was dealt with in the National Assembly in the form of concordats à l’amiable [amicable agreements]. The Assembly vacillated; then it suddenly learned that at the same time, at the Porte St. Denis, thousands of wives and children of the insurgents had prepared an amnesty petition.
In the presence of the resurrected specter of June, the petty bourgeoisie trembled and the National Assembly retrieved its implacability. The concordats à l’amiable, the amicable settlements between debtor and creditor, were rejected in their most essential points.
Thus long after the democratic representatives of the petty bourgeois had been repulsed within the National Assembly by the republican representatives of the bourgeoisie, this parliamentary breach received its civil, its real economic meaning by the petty bourgeois as debtors being handed over to the bourgeois as creditors. A large part of the former were completely ruined and the remainder were allowed to continue their businesses only under conditions which made them absolute serfs of capital. On August 22, 1848, the National Assembly rejected the concordats à l’amiable; on September 19, 1848, in the midst of the state of siege, Prince Louis Bonaparte and the prisoner of Vincennes, the Communist Raspail, were elected representatives of Paris. The bourgeoisie, however, elected the usurious moneychanger and Orléanist Fould. From all sides at once, therefore, open declaration of war against the Constituent National Assembly, against bourgeois republicanism, against Cavaignac.
It needs no argument to show how the mass bankruptcy of the Paris petty bourgeois was bound to produce aftereffects far transcending the circle of its immediate victims, and to convulse bourgeois commerce once more, while the state deficit was swollen anew by the costs of the June insurrection, and state revenues sank continuously through the hold-up of production, the restricted consumption, and the decreasing imports. Cavaignac and the National Assembly could have recourse to no other expedient than a new loan, which forced them still further under the yoke of the finance aristocracy.
While the petty bourgeois had harvested bankruptcy and liquidation by order of court as the fruit of the June victory, Cavaignac’s Janisseries, the Mobile Guards, found their reward in the soft arms of the courtesans, and as “the youthful saviors of society” they received all kinds of homage in the salons of Marrast, the knight of the tricolor, who served simultaneously as the Amphitryon and the troubadour of the respectable republic. Meantime, this social favoritism and the disproportionately higher pay of the Mobile Guard embittered the army, while all those national illusions with which bourgeois republicanism, through its journal, the National, had been able to attach to itself a part of the army and peasant class under Louis Philippe vanished at the same time. The role of mediator which Cavaignac and the National Assembly played in North Italy in order, together with England, to betray it to Austria – this one day of rule destroyed eighteen years of opposition on the part of the National. No government was less national than that of the National, none more dependent on England, and, under Louis Philippe, the National lived by paraphrasing daily Cato’s dictum: Carthaginem esse delendam [Carthage must be destroyed], none was more servile toward the Holy Alliance, and from a Guizot the National had demanded the tearing up of the Treaties of Vienna. The irony of history made Bastide, the ex-editor for foreign affairs of the National, Minister of Foreign Affairs of France, so that he might refute every one of his articles in every one of his dispatches.
For a moment, the army and the peasant class had believed that, simultaneously with the military dictatorship, war abroad and gloire had been placed on the order of the day in France. But Cavaignac was not the dictatorship of the saber over bourgeois society; he was the dictatorship of the bourgeoisie by the saber. And of the soldier they now required only the gendarme. Under the stern features of antique-republican resignation Cavaignac concealed humdrum submission to the humiliating conditions of his bourgeois office. L’argent n’a pas de maître! Money has no master! He, as well as the Constituent Assembly in general, idealized this old election cry of the Third Estate by translating it into political speech: The bourgeoisie has no king; the true form of its rule is the republic.
And the “great organic work” of the Constituent National Assembly consisted in working out this form, in producing a republican constitution. The rechristening of the Christian calendar as a republican one, of the saintly Bartholomew as the saintly Robespierre, made no more change in the wind and weather than this constitution made or was supposed to make in bourgeois society. Where it went beyond a change of costume, it put on record the existing facts. Thus it solemnly registered the fact of the republic, the fact of universal suffrage, the fact of a single sovereign National Assembly in place of two limited constitutional chambers. Thus it registered and regulated the fact of the dictatorship of Cavaignac by replacing the stationary, irresponsible hereditary monarchy with an ambulatory, responsible, elective monarchy, with a quadrennial presidency. Thus it elevated no less to an organic law the fact of the extraordinary powers with which the National Assembly, after the horrors of May 15 and June 25, had prudently invested its president in the interest of its own security. The remainder of the constitution was a work of terminology. The royalist labels were torn off the mechanism of the old monarchy and republican labels stuck on. Marrast, former editor in chief of the National, now editor in chief of the constitution, acquitted himself of this academic task not without talent.
The Constituent Assembly resembled the Chilean official who wanted to regulate property relations in land more firmly by a cadastral survey just at the moment when subterranean rumblings announced the volcanic eruption that was to hurl away the land from under his very feet. While in theory it accurately marked off the forms in which the rule of the bourgeoisie found republican expression, in reality it held its own only by the abolition of all formulas, by force sans phrase [without any exceptions], by the state of siege. Two days before it began its work on the constitution, it proclaimed an extension of the state of siege. Formerly constitutions had been made and adopted as soon as the social process of revolution had reached a point of rest, the newly formed class relationships had established themselves, and the contending factions of the ruling class had had recourse to a compromise which allowed them to continue the struggle among themselves and at the same time to keep the exhausted masses of the people out of it. This constitution, on the contrary, did not sanction any social revolution – it sanctioned the momentary victory of the old society over the revolution.
The first draft of the constitution, made before the June days, still contained the droit au travail, the right to work, the first clumsy formula wherein the revolutionary demands of the proletariat are summarized. It was transformed into the droit à l’assistance, the right to public relief, and what modern state does not feed its paupers in some form or other? The right to work is, in the bourgeois sense, an absurdity, a miserable, pious wish. But behind the right to work stands the power over capital; behind the power over capital, the appropriation of the means of production, their subjection to the associated working class, and therefore the abolition of wage labor, of capital, and of their mutual relations. Behind the “right to work” stood the June insurrection. The Constituent Assembly, which in fact put the revolutionary proletariat hors la loi, outside the law, had on principle to throw the proletariat’s formula out of the constitution, the law of laws; had to pronounce its anathema upon the “right to work.” But it did not stop there. As Plato banned the poets from his republic, so it banished forever from its republic the progressive tax. And the progressive tax is not only a bourgeois measure, which can be carried out within the existing relations of production to a greater or less degree, it was the only means of binding the middle strata of bourgeois society to the “respectable” republic, of reducing the state debt, of holding the anti-republican majority of the bourgeoisie in check.
In the matter of the concordats à l’amiable, the tricolor republicans had actually sacrificed the petty bourgeoisie to the big bourgeoisie. They elevated this isolated fact to a principle by the legal prohibition of a progressive tax. They put bourgeois reform on the same level as proletarian revolution. But what class then remained as the mainstay of their republic? The big bourgeoisie. And its mass was anti-republican. While it exploited the republicans of the National in order to consolidate again the old relations of economic life, it thought, on the other hand, of exploiting the once more consolidated social relations in order to restore the political forms that corresponded to them. As early as the beginning of October, Cavaignac felt compelled to make Dufaure and Vivien, previously ministers of Louis Philippe, ministers of the republic, however much the brainless puritans of his own party growled and blustered.
While the tricolor constitution rejected every compromise with the petty bourgeoisie and was unable to win the attachment of any new social element to the new form of government, it hastened, on the other hand, to restore its traditional inviolability to a body that constituted the most hard–bitten and fanatical defender of the old state. It raised the irremovability of judges, which had been questioned by the Provisional Government, to an organic law. The one king whom it had removed rose again, by the score, in these irremovable inquisitors of legality.
The French press has analyzed from numerous aspects the contradictions of M. Marrast’s constitution, for example, the coexistence of two sovereigns, the National Assembly and the President, etc., etc.
The comprehensive contradiction of this constitution, however, consists in the following: The classes whose social slavery the constitution is to perpetuate – proletariat, peasantry, petty bourgeoisie – it puts in possession of political power through universal suffrage. And from the class whose old social power it sanctions, the bourgeoisie, it withdraws the political guarantees of this power. It forces the political rule of the bourgeoisie into democratic conditions, which at every moment help the hostile classes to victory and jeopardize the very foundations of bourgeois society. From the first group it demands that they should not go forward from political to social emancipation; from the others that they should not go back from social to political restoration.
These contradictions perturbed the bourgeois republicans little. To the extent that they ceased to be indispensable – and they were indispensable only as the protagonists of the old society against the revolutionary proletariat – they fell, a few weeks after their victory, from the position of a party to that of a coterie. And they treated the constitution as a big intrigue. What was to be constituted in it was, above all, the rule of the coterie. The President was to be a protracted Cavaignac; the Legislative Assembly a protracted Constituent Assembly. They hoped to reduce the political power of the masses of the people to a semblance of power, and to be able to make sufficient play with this sham power itself to keep continually hanging over the majority of the bourgeoisie the dilemma of the June days: realm of the National or realm of anarchy.
The work on the constitution, which was begun on September 4, was finished on October 23. On September 2 the Constituent Assembly had decided not to dissolve until the organic laws supplementing the constitution were enacted. Nonetheless, it now decided to bring to life the creation that was most peculiarly its own, the President, on December 4, long before the circle of its own activity was closed. So sure was it of hailing, in the homunculus of the constitution, the son of his mother. As a precaution it was provided that if none of the candidates received two million votes, the election should pass over from the nation to the Constituent Assembly.
Futile provisions! The first day of the realization of the constitution was the last day of the rule of the Constituent Assembly. In the abyss of the ballot box lay its sentence of death. It sought the “son of his mother” and found the “nephew of his uncle”. Saul Cavaignac slew one million votes, but David Napoleon slew six million. Saul Cavaignac was beaten six times over.
December 10, 1848, was the day of the peasant insurrection. Only from this day does the February of the French peasants date. The symbol that expressed their entry into the revolutionary movement, clumsily cunning, knavishly naive, doltishly sublime, a calculated superstition, a pathetic burlesque, a cleverly stupid anachronism, a world-historic piece of buffoonery and an indecipherable hieroglyphic for the understanding of the civilized – this symbol bore the unmistakable physiognomy of the class that represents barbarism within civilization. The republic had announced itself to this class with the tax collector; it announced itself to the republic with the emperor. Napoleon was the only man who had exhaustively represented the interests and the imagination of the peasant class, newly created in 1789. By writing his name on the frontispiece of the republic, it declared war abroad and the enforcing of its class interests at home. Napoleon was to the peasants not a person but a program. With banners, with beat of drums and blare of trumpets, they marched to the polling booths shouting: Plus d’impôts, à bas les riches, à bas la république, vive l’Empereur! No more taxes, down with the rich, down with the republic, long live the emperor! Behind the emperor was hidden the peasant war. The republic that they voted down was the republic of the rich.
December 10 was the coup d’état of the peasants, which overthrew the existing government. And from that day on, when they had taken a government from France and given a government to her, their eyes were fixed steadily on Paris. For a moment active heroes of the revolutionary drama, they could no longer be forced back into the inactive and spineless role of the chorus.
The other classes helped to complete the election victory of the peasants. To the proletariat, the election of Napoleon meant the deposition of Cavaignac, the overthrow of the Constituent Assembly, the dismissal of bourgeois republicanism, the cessation of the June victory. To the petty bourgeoisie, Napoleon meant the rule of the debtor over the creditor. For the majority of the big bourgeoisie, the election of Napoleon meant an open breach with the faction of which it had had to make use, for a moment, against the revolution, but which became intolerable to it as soon as this faction sought to consolidate the position of the moment into a constitutional position. Napoleon in place of Cavaignac meant to this majority the monarch, in place of the republic, the beginning of the royalist restoration, a sly hint at Orléans, the fleur-de-lis hidden beneath the violets. Lastly, the army voted for Napoleon against the Mobile Guard, against the peace idyll, for war.
Thus it happened, as the Neue Rheinische Zeitung stated, that the most simple-minded man in France acquired the most multifarious significance. Just because he was nothing, he could signify everything save himself. Meanwhile, different as the meaning of the name Napoleon might be in the mouths of the different classes, with this name each wrote on his ballot: Down with the party of the National, down with Caivaignac, down with the Constituent Assembly, down with the bourgeois republic. Minister Dufaure publicly declared in the Constituent Assembly: December 10 is a second February 24.
Petty bourgeoisie and proletariat had voted en bloc for Napoleon, in order to vote against Cavaignac and, by pooling their votes, to wrest the final decision from the Constituent Assembly. The more advanced sections of the two classes, however, put forward their own candidates. Napoleon was the collective name of all parties in coalition against the bourgeois republic; Ledru-Rollin and Raspail were the proper names, the former of the democratic petty bourgeoisie, the latter of the revolutionary proletariat. The votes for Raspail – the proletarians and their socialist spokesmen declared it loudly – were to be merely a demonstration, so many protests against any presidency, that is, against the constitution itself, so many votes against Ledru-Rollin, the first act by which the proletariat, as an independent political party, declared its separation from the democratic party. This party, on the other hand – the democratic petty bourgeoisie and its parliamentary representative, the Montagne – treated the candidature of Ledru-Rollin with all the seriousness with which it is in the habit of solemnly duping itself. For the rest, this was its last attempt to set itself up as an independent party, as against the proletariat. Not only the republican bourgeois party, but also the democratic petty bourgeoisie and its Montagne were beaten on December 10.
France now possessed a Napoleon side by side with a Montagne, proof that both were only the lifeless caricatures of the great realities whose names they bore. Louis Napoleon, with the emperor’s hat and the eagle, parodied the old Napoleon no more miserably than the Montagne, with its phrases borrowed from 1793 and its demagogic poses, parodied the old Montagne. Thus the traditional 1793 superstition was stripped off at the same time as the traditional Napoleon superstition. The revolution had come into its own only when it had won its own, its original name, and it could do that only when the modern revolutionary class, the industrial proletariat, came dominatingly into its foreground. One can say that December 10 dumbfounded the Montagne and caused it to grow confused in its own mind, if for no other reason than because that day laughingly cut short with a contemptuous peasant jest the classical analogy to the old revolution.
On December 20 Cavaignac laid down his office and the Constituent Assembly proclaimed Louis Napoleon President of the Republic, On December 19, the last day of its sole rule, it rejected the proposal for amnesty for the June insurgents. Would revoking the decree of June 27, under which it had condemned 15,000 insurgents to deportation without judicial sentence, not have meant revoking the June battle itself.
Odilon Barrot, the last minister of Louis Philippe, became the first minister of Louis Napoleon. Just as Louis Napoleon dated his rule, not from December 10, but from a decree of the Senate of 1804, so he found a prime minister who did not date his ministry from December 20, but from a royal decree of February 24. As the legitimate heir of Louis Philippe, Louis Napoleon mollified the change of government by retaining the old ministry, which, moreover, had not had time to be worn out, since it had not found time to embark upon life.
The leaders of the royalist bourgeois factions advised him in this choice. The head of the old dynastic opposition, who had unconsciously constituted the transition to the republicans of the National, was still more fitted to constitute with full consciousness the transition from the bourgeois republic to the monarchy.
Odilon Barrot was the leader of the one old opposition party which, always fruitlessly struggling for ministerial portfolios, had not yet been used up. In rapid succession the revolution hurled all the old opposition parties to the top of the state, so that they would have to deny, to repudiate their old phrases not only in deeds but even in words, and might finally be flung all together, combined in a repulsive commixture, on the dung heap of history by the people. And no apostasy was spared this Barrot, this incarnation of bourgeois liberalism, who for eighteen years had hidden the rascally vacuity of his mind behind the serious demeanor of his body. If at certain moments the far too striking contrast between the thistles of the present and the laurels of the past startled the man himself, one glance in the mirror gave him back his ministerial composure and human self-admiration. What beamed at him from the mirror was Guizot, whom he had always envied, who had always mastered him, Guizot himself, but Guizot with the Olympian forehead of Odilon. What he overlooked were the ears of Midas.
The Barrot of February 24 first became manifest in the Barrot of December 20. Associated with him, the Orléanist and Voltairean, was the Legitimist and Jesuit Falloux, as Minister of Public Worship.
A few days later, the Ministry of Home Affairs was given to Léon Faucher, the Malthusian. Law, religion, and political economy! The ministry of Barrot contained all this and, in addition, a combination of Legitimists and Orléanists. Only the Bonapartist was lacking. Bonaparte still hid his longing to signify Napoleon, for Soulouque did not yet play Toussaint Louverture.
The party of the National was immediately relieved of all the higher posts, where it had entrenched itself. The prefecture of police, the post-office directorship, the procuratorship general, the mairie [mayor’s office] of Paris were all filled with old creatures of the monarchy. Changarnier, the Legitimist, received the unified supreme command of the National Guard of the Department of the Seine, of the Mobile Guard and the troops of the line of the first military division; Bugeaud, the Orléanist, was appointed commander in chief of the Alpine Army. This change of officials continued uninterrupted under the Barrot government. The first act of his ministry was the restoration of the old royalist administration. The official scene was at once transformed – scenery, costumes, speech, actors, supers, mutes, prompters, the position of the parties, the theme of the drama, the content of the conflict, the whole situation. Only the premundane Constituent Assembly remained in its place. But from the hour when the National Assembly had installed Bonaparte, Bonaparte Barrot, and Barrot Changarnier, France stepped out of the period of republican constitution into the period of the constituted republic. And what place was there for a Constituent Assembly in a constituted republic? After the earth had been created, there was nothing else for its creator to do but flee to heaven. The Constituent Assembly was determined not to follow his example; the National Assembly was the last asylum of the party of the bourgeois republicans. If all levers of executive power had been wrested from it, was there not left to it constituent omnipotence? Its first thought was to hold under all circumstances the position of sovereignty it occupied, and thence to reconquer the lost ground. Once the Barrot Ministry was displaced by a ministry of the National, the royalist personnel would have to vacate the palaces of the administration forthwith and the tricolor personnel would triumphantly move in again. The National Assembly resolved on the overthrow of the ministry and the ministry itself offered an opportunity for the attack, a better one than the Constituent Assembly itself could have invented.
It will be remembered that for the peasants Louis Bonaparte signified: No more taxes! Six days he sat in the President’s chair, and on the seventh, on December 27, his ministry proposed the retention of the salt tax, whose abolition the Provisional Government had decreed. The salt tax shares with the wine tax the privilege of being the scapegoat of the old French financial system, particularly in the eyes of the country folk. The Barrot Ministry could not have put into the mouth of the peasants’ choice a more mordant epigram on his electors than the words: Restoration of the salt tax! With the salt tax, Bonaparte lost his revolutionary salt – the Napoleon of the peasant insurrection dissolved like an apparition, and nothing remained but the great unknown of royalist bourgeois intrigue. And not without intention did the Barrot Ministry make this act of tactlessly rude disillusionment the first governmental act of the President.
The Constituent Assembly, for its part, eagerly seized the double opportunity of overthrowing the ministry and, as against the elected choice of the peasantry, setting itself up as the representative of peasant interests. It rejected the proposal of the finance minister, reduced the salt tax to a third of its former amount, thus increasing by sixty millions a state deficit of five hundred and sixty millions, and, after this vote of no confidence, calmly awaited the resignation of the ministry. So little did it comprehend the new world that surrounded it and its own changed position. Behind the ministry stood the President and behind the President stood six millions who had placed in the ballot box as many votes of no confidence in the Constituent Assembly. The Constituent Assembly gave the nation back its no-confidence vote. Absurd exchange! It forgot that its votes were no longer legal tender. The rejection of the salt tax only matured the decision of Bonaparte and his ministry to finish the Constituent Assembly. There began that long duel which lasted the entire latter half of the life of the Constituent Assembly. January 29, March 31, and May 8 are the journées, the great days of this crisis, just so many forerunners of June 13.
Frenchmen, for example Louis Blanc, have construed January 29 as the date of the emergence of a constitutional contradiction, the contradiction between a sovereign, indissoluble National Assembly born of universal suffrage and a President who, to go by the wording, was responsible to the Assembly, but who, to go by reality, was not only similarly sanctioned by universal suffrage and in addition united in his own person all the votes that were split up a hundred times and distributed among the individual members of the National Assembly, but who was also in full possession of the whole executive power, above which the National Assembly hovered as a merely moral force. This interpretation of January 29 confuses the language of the struggle on the platform, through the press, and in the clubs with its real content. Louis Bonaparte as against the Constituent National Assembly – that was not one unilateral constitutional power as against another; that was not the executive power as against the legislative. That was the constituted bourgeois republic itself as against the intrigues and ideological demands of the revolutionary faction of the bourgeoisie that had founded it and was now amazed to find that its constituted republic looked like a restored monarchy, and now desired forcibly to prolong the constituent period with its conditions, its illusions, its language, and its personages and to prevent the mature bourgeois republic from emerging in its complete and peculiar form. As the Constituent National Assembly represented Cavaignac, who had fallen back into its midst, so Bonaparte represented the Legislative National Assembly that had not yet been divorced from him, that is, the National Assembly of the constituted bourgeois republic.
The election of Bonaparte could become explicable only, by putting in the place of the one name its manifold meanings, by repeating itself in the election of the new National Assembly. The mandate of the old was annulled by December 10. Thus on January 29 it was not the President and the National Assembly of the same republic that were face to face; it was the National Assembly of the republic that was coming into being and the President of the republic that had come into being, two powers that embodied quite different periods in the life process of the republic; the one, the small republican faction of the bourgeoisie that alone could proclaim the republic, wrest it from the revolutionary proletariat by street fighting and a reign of terror, and draft its ideal basic features in the constitution; and the other, the whole royalist mass of the bourgeoisie that alone could rule in this constituted bourgeois republic, strip the constitution of its ideological trimmings, and realize by its legislation and administration the indispensable conditions for the subjugation of the proletariat.
The storm which broke on January 29 gathered its elements during the whole month of January. The Constituent Assembly wanted to drive the Barrot Ministry to resign by its no-confidence vote. The Barrot Ministry, on the other hand, proposed to the Constituent Assembly that it should give itself a definitive no-confidence vote, decide on suicide, and decree its own dissolution. On January 6, Rateau, one of the most obscure deputies, at the order of the ministry brought this motion before the Constituent Assembly that in August had determined not to dissolve until it had enacted a whole series of organic laws supplementing the constitution. Fould, the ministerialist, bluntly declared to it that its dissolution was necessary “for the restoration of the deranged credit.” And did it not derange credit when it prolonged the provisional stage and, with Barrot, again called Bonaparte in question, and, with Bonaparte, the constituted republic Barrot the Olympian became a raving Roland at the prospect of seeing the premiership he had finally pocketed, which the republicans had already withheld from him for ten months, again torn from him after scarcely two weeks’ enjoyment of it. Barrot, confronting this wretched Assembly, out–tyrannized the tyrant. His mildest words were, “No future is possible with it.” And actually it did represent only the past. “It is incapable,” he added ironically, “of providing the republic with the institutions which are necessary for its consolidation.” Incapable indeed! Its bourgeois energy was broken simultaneously with its exceptional antagonism to the proletariat, and with its antagonism to the royalists its republican exuberance lived anew. Thus it was doubly incapable of consolidating the bourgeois republic, which it no longer comprehended, by means of the corresponding institutions.
Simultaneously with Rateau’s motion the ministry evoked a storm of petitions throughout the land, and from all corners of France came flying daily at the head of the Constituent Assembly bundles of billets-doux [love-letters] in which it was more or less categorically requested to dissolve and make its will. The Constituent Assembly, on its side, called forth counter-petitions in which it caused itself to be requested to remain alive. The election struggle between Bonaparte and Cavaignac was renewed as a petition struggle for and against the dissolution of the National Assembly; the petitions were to be belated commentaries on December 10. This agitation continued during the whole of January.
In the conflict between the Constituent Assembly and the President, the former could not refer back to the general election as its origin, for the appeal was from the Assembly to universal suffrage. It could base itself on no regularly constituted power, for the issue was the struggle against the legal power. It could not overthrow the ministry by no-confidence votes, as it again essayed to do on January 6 and 26, for the ministry did not ask for its confidence. Only one possibility was left to it, that of insurrection. The fighting forces of the insurrection were the republican part of the National Guard, the Mobile Guard, and the centers of the revolutionary proletariat, the clubs. The Mobile Guard, those heroes of the June days, in December formed the organized fighting force of the republican faction of the bourgeoisie, just as before June the national ateliers had formed the organized fighting force of the revolutionary proletariat. As the Executive Commission of the Constituent Assembly directed its brutal attack on the national ateliers, when it had to put an end to the now unbearable pretensions of the proletariat, so the ministry of Bonaparte directed its attack on the Mobile Guard, when it had to put an end to the now unbearable pretensions of the republican faction of the bourgeoisie. It ordered the disbanding of the Mobile Guard. One half of it was dismissed and thrown on the street, the other was organized on monarchist instead of democratic lines, and its pay was reduced to the usual pay of troops of the line. The Mobile Guard found itself in the position of the June insurgents and every day the press carried public confessions in which it admitted its blame for June and implored the proletariat to forgive it.
And the clubs? From the moment when the Constituent Assembly in the person of Barrot called in question the President, and in the person of the President the constituted bourgeois republic, and in the person of the constituted bourgeois republic the bourgeois republic in general, all the constituent elements of the February Republic necessarily ranged themselves around it – all the parties that wished to overthrow the existing republic and by a violent retrograde process to transform it into a republic of their class interests and principles. The scrambled eggs were unscrambled, the crystallisations of the revolutionary movement had again become fluid, the republic that was being fought for was again the indefinite republic of the February days, the defining of which each party reserved to itself. For a moment the parties again took up their old February positions, without sharing the illusions of February. The tricolor republicans on the National again leaned on the democratic republicans of the Réforme and pushed them as protagonists into the foreground of the parliamentary struggle. The democratic republicans again leaned on the socialist republicans – on January 27 a public manifesto announced their reconciliation and union – and prepared their insurrectional background in the clubs. The ministerial press rightly treated the tricolor republicans of the National as the resurrected insurgents of June. In order to maintain themselves at the head of the bourgeois republic, they called in question the bourgeois republic itself. On January 26 Minister Faucher proposed a law on the right of association, the first paragraph of which read: “Clubs are forbidden.” He moved that this bill immediately be discussed as urgent. The Constituent Assembly rejected the motion of urgency, and on January 27 Ledru-Rollin put forward a proposition, with 230 signatures appended to it, to impeach the ministry for violation of the constitution. The impeachment of the ministry at times when such an act was a tactless disclosure of the impotence of the judge, to wit, the majority of the Chamber, or an impotent protest of the accuser against this majority itself – that was the great revolutionary trump that the latter-day Montagne played from now on at each high spot of the crisis. Poor Montagne! crushed by the weight of its own name!
On May 15 Blanqui, Barbès, Raspall, etc., had attempted to break up the Constituent Assembly by forcing an entrance into its hall at the head of the Paris proletariat. Barrot prepared a moral May 15 for the same Assembly when he wanted to dictate its self-dissolution and close the hall. The same Assembly had commissioned Barrot to make the inquiry against the May accused, and now, at the moment when he appeared before it like a royalist Blanqui, when it sought for allies against him in the clubs, among the revolutionary proletarians, in the party of Blanqui – at this moment the relentless Barrot tormented it with the proposal to withdraw the May prisoners from the Court of Assizes with its jury and hand them over to the High Court, the haute cour devised by the party of the National. Remarkable how wild fear for a ministerial portfolio could pound out of the head of a Barrot points worthy of a Beaumarchais! After much vacillation the National Assembly accepted his proposal. As against the makers of the May attempt, it reverted to its normal character.
If the Constituent Assembly, as against the President and the ministers, was driven to insurrection, the President and the ministers, as against the Constituent Assembly, were driven to a coup d’etat, for they had no legal means of dissolving it. But the Constituent Assembly was the mother of the constitution and the constitution was the mother of the President. With the coup d’etat the President tore up the constitution and extinguished his republican legal title. He was then forced to pull out his imperial legal title, but the imperial legal title woke up the Orléanist legal title and both paled before the Legitimist legal title. The downfall of the legal republic could shoot to the top only its extreme antipode, the Legitimist monarchy, at a moment when the Orléanist party was still only the vanquished of February and Bonaparte was still only the victor of December 10, when both could oppose to republican usurpation only their likewise usurped monarchist titles. The Legitimists were aware of the propitiousness of the moment; they conspired openly. They could hope to find their Monk in General Changarnier. The imminence of the white monarchy was as openly announced in their clubs as was that of the red republic in the proletarian clubs.
The ministry would have escaped all difficulties by a happily suppressed rising. “Legality is the death of us,” cried Odilon Barrot. A rising would have allowed it, under the pretext of salut public [public safety], to dissolve the Constituent Assembly, to violate the constitution in the interests of the constitution itself. The brutal behavior of Odilon Barrot in the National Assembly, the motion for the dissolution of the clubs, the tumultuous removal of fifty tricolor prefects and their replacement by royalists, the dissolution of the Mobile Guard, the ill treatment of their chiefs by Changarnier, the reinstatement of Lerminier, the professor who was impossible even under Guizot, the toleration of the Legitimist braggadocio – all these were just so many provocations to mutiny. But the mutiny remained mute. It expected its signal from the Constituent Assembly and not from the ministry.
Finally came January 29, the day the decision was to be taken on the motion of Mathieu (de la Drôme) for unconditional rejection of Rateau’s motion. Legitimists, Orléanists, Bonapartists, Mobile Guard, Montagne, clubs – all conspired on this day, each just as much against the ostensible enemy as against the ostensible ally. Bonaparte, on horseback, mustered a part of the troops on the Place de la Concorde; Changarnier play-acted with a display of strategic maneuvers; the Constituent Assembly found its building occupied by the military. This Assembly, the center of all the conflicting hopes, fears, expectations, ferments, tensions, and conspiracies, this lionhearted Assembly did not falter for a moment when it came nearer to the Weltgeist [world spirit] than ever. It was like the fighter who not only feared to make use of his own weapons but also felt himself obliged to maintain the weapons of his opponent unimpaired. Scorning death, it signed its own death warrant and rejected the unconditional rejection of the Rateau motion. Itself in a state of siege, it set limits to a constituent activity whose necessary frame had been the state of siege of Paris. It revenged itself worthily when on the following day it instituted an inquiry into the fright that the ministry had given it on January 29. In this great comedy of intrigues the Montagne showed its lack of revolutionary energy and political understanding by allowing itself to be used by the party of the National as the crier in the contest. The party of the National had made its last attempt to continue to maintain, in the constituted republic, the monopoly of rule it had possessed during the inchoate period of the bourgeois republic. It was shipwrecked.
While in the January crisis it was a question of the existence of the Constituent Assembly, in the crisis of March 21 it was a question of the existence of the constitution – there of the personnel of the National party, here of its ideal. There is no need to point out that the respectable republicans surrendered the exaltation of their ideology more cheaply than the worldly enjoyment of governmental power.
On March 21 Faucher’s bill against the right of association: the suppression of the clubs was on the order of the day in the National Assembly. Article 8 of the constitution guarantees to all Frenchmen the right to associate. The prohibition of the clubs was therefore an unequivocal violation of the constitution, and the Constituent Assembly itself was to canonize the profanation of its holy of holies. But the clubs – these were the gathering points, the conspiratorial seats of the revolutionary proletariat. The National Assembly had itself forbidden the coalition of the workers against its bourgeois. And the clubs – what were they but a coalition of the whole working class against the whole bourgeois class, the formation of a workers’ state against the bourgeois state? Were they not just so many constituent assemblies of the proletariat and just so many military detachments of revolt in fighting trim – what the constitution was to constitute above all else was the rule of the bourgeoisie. By the right of association the constitution, therefore, could manifestly mean only associations that harmonized with the rule of the bourgeoisie, that is, with bourgeois order. If for reasons of theoretical propriety it expressed itself in general terms, were not the government and the National Assembly there to interpret and apply it in a special case? And if in the primeval epoch of the republic the clubs actually were forbidden by the state of siege, had they not to be forbidden in the ordered, constituted republic by the law? The tri-color republicans had nothing to oppose to this prosaic interpretation of the constitution but the high-flown phraseology of the constitution. A section of them, Pagnerre, Duclerc, etc., voted for the ministry and thereby gave it a majority. The others, with the archangel Cavaignac and the father of the church Marrast at their head, retired, after the article on the prohibition of the clubs had gone through, to a special committee room, jointly with Ledru-Rollin and the Montagne – “and held a council.” The National Assembly was paralyzed; it no longer had a quorum. At the right time, M. Crémieux remembered in the committee room that the way from here led directly to the street and that it was no longer February, 1848, but March, 1849. The party of the National, suddenly enlightened, returned to the National Assembly’s hall of session, behind it the Montagne, duped once more. The latter, constantly tormented by revolutionary longings, just as constantly clutched at constitutional possibilities, and still felt itself more in place behind the bourgeois republicans than in front of the revolutionary proletariat. Thus the comedy was played. And the Constituent Assembly itself had decreed that the violation of the letter of the constitution was the only appropriate realization of its spirit.
There was only one point left to settle, the relation of the constituted republic to the European revolution, its foreign policy. On May 8, 1849, unwonted excitement prevailed in the Constituent Assembly, whose term of life was due to end in a few days. The attack of the French army on Rome, its repulse by the Romans, its political infamy and military disgrace, the foul assassination of the Roman republic by the French republic – the first Italian campaign of the second Bonaparte – was on the order of the day. The Montagne had once more played its great trump; Ledru-Rollin had laid on the President’s table the inevitable bill of impeachment against the ministry, and this time also against Bonaparte, for violation of the constitution.
The motive of May 8 was repeated later as the motive of June 13. Let us get clear about the expedition to Rome.
As early as the middle of November, 1848, Cavaignac had sent a battle fleet to Civita Vecchia in order to protect the Pope, to take him on board and ship him over to France. The Pope was to consecrate the respectable republic, and to insure the election of Cavaignac as President. With the Pope, Cavaignac wanted to angle for the priests, with the priests for the peasants, and with the peasants for the presidency. The expedition of Cavaignac, an election advertisement in its immediate purpose, was at the same time a protest and a threat against the Roman revolution. It contained in embryo France’s intervention in favor of the Pope.
This intervention on behalf of the Pope, in association with Austria and Naples against the Roman republic, was decided at the first meeting of Bonaparte’s ministerial council, on December 23. Falloux in the ministry – that meant the Pope in Rome – and in the Rome of the Pope. Bonaparte no longer needed the Pope in order to become the President of the peasants; but he needed the conservation of the Pope in order to conserve the peasants of the President. Their credulity had made him President. With faith they would lose credulity, and with the Pope, faith. And the Orléanists and Legitimists in coalition, who ruled in Bonaparte’s name! Before the king was restored, the power that consecrates kings had to be restored. Apart from their royalism: without the old Rome, subject to his temporal rule, no Pope; without the Pope, no Catholicism; without Catholicism, no French religion, and without religion, what would become of the old French society? The mortgage the peasant has on heavenly possessions guarantees the mortgage the bourgeois has on peasant possessions. The Roman revolution was therefore an attack on property, on the bourgeois order, dreadful as the June Revolution. Reestablished bourgeois rule in France required the restoration of papal rule in Rome. Finally, to smite the Roman revolutionists was to smite the allies of the French revolutionists; the alliance of the counterrevolutionary classes in the constituted French republic was necessarily supplemented by the alliance of the French republic with the Holy Alliance, with Naples and Austria.
The decision of the ministerial council on December 23 was no secret to the Constituent Assembly. On January 8 Ledru-Rollin had interpellated the ministry about it; the ministry had denied it and the National Assembly had proceeded to the order of the day. Did it trust the word of the ministry? We know it spent the whole month of January giving the ministry no-confidence votes. But if it was part of the ministry’s role to lie, it was part of the National Assembly’s role to feign belief in its lie and thereby save republican dehors [face].
Meanwhile Piedmont was beaten, Charles-Albert had abdicated, and the Austrian army knocked at the gates of France. Ledru-Rollin vehemently interpellated. The ministry proved that it had only continued in North Italy the policy of Cavaignac and Cavaignac only the policy of the Provisional Government, that is, of Ledru-Rollin. This time it even reaped a vote of confidence from the National Assembly and was authorized to occupy temporarily a suitable point in Upper Italy to give support to peaceful negotiations with Austria concerning the integrity of Sardinian territory and the question of Rome. It is known that the fate of Italy is decided on the battlefields of North Italy. Hence Rome would fall with Lombardy and Piedmont, or France would have to declare war on Austria and thereby on the European counterrevolution. Did the National Assembly suddenly take the Barrot Ministry for the old Committee of Public Safety? Or itself for the Convention? Why, then, the military occupation of a point in Upper Italy? This transparent veil covered the expedition against Rome.
On April 14, 14,000 men sailed under Oudinot for Civita Vecchia; on April 16 the National Assembly voted the ministry a credit Of 1,200,000 francs for the maintenance of a fleet of intervention in the Mediterranean Sea for three months. Thus it gave the ministry every means of intervening against Rome, while it adopted the pose of letting it intervene against Austria. It did not see what the ministry did; it only heard what it said. Such faith was not found in Israel; the Constituent Assembly had fallen into the position of not daring to know what the constituted republic had to do.
Finally, on May 8, the last scene of the comedy was played; the Constituent Assembly urged the ministry to take swift measures to bring the Italian expedition back to the aim set for it. Bonaparte that same evening inserted a letter in the Moniteur in which he lavished the greatest appreciation on Oudinot. On May 11 the National Assembly rejected the bill of impeachment against this same Bonaparte and his ministry. And the Montagne, which instead of tearing this web of deceit to pieces took the parliamentary comedy tragically in order to play in it the role of Fouquier-Tinville, did not betray its natural petty bourgeois calf’s hide under the borrowed lion’s skin of the Convention!
The latter half of the life of the Constituent Assembly is summarized thus: on January 29 it admits that the royalist bourgeois factions are the natural superiors of the republic constituted by it; on March 21, that the violation of the constitution is its realization; and on May 11, that the bombastically proclaimed passive alliance of the French republic with the struggling peoples means its active alliance with the European counterrevolution.
This miserable Assembly left the stage after it had given itself the satisfaction, two days before its first birthday, May 4, of rejecting the motion of amnesty for the June insurgents. Its power shattered, held in deadly hatred by the people, repulsed, maltreated, contemptuously thrown aside by the bourgeoisie, whose tool it was, forced in the second half of its life to disavow the first, robbed of its republican illusions, without having created anything great in the past, without hope in the future, and with its living body dying bit by bit, it was able to galvanize its own corpse into life only by continually recalling and living through the June victory over and over again, affirming itself by constantly repeated damnation of the damned. A vampire living on the blood of the June insurgents!
It left behind a state deficit increased by the costs of the June insurrection, by the loss of the salt tax, by the compensation it paid the plantation owners for abolishing Negro slavery, by the costs of the Roman expedition, by the loss of the wine tax, whose abolition it resolved upon when already at its last gasp – a malicious old man, happy to impose on his laughing heir a compromising debt of honor.
With the beginning of March the agitation for the election of the Legislative National Assembly had commenced. Two main groups opposed each other, the party of Order and the democratic socialist, or Red, party; between the two stood the Friends of the Constitution, under which name the tricolor republicans of the National sought to put forward a party. The party of Order was formed directly after the June days; only after December 10 had allowed it to cast off the coterie of the National, of the bourgeois republicans, was the secret of its existence, the coalition of Orléanists and Legitimists into one party, disclosed. The bourgeois class fell apart into two big factions which alternately – the big landed proprietors under the restored monarchy and the finance aristocracy and the industrial bourgeoisie under the July Monarchy – had maintained a monopoly of power. Bourbon was the royal name for the predominant influence of the interests of the one faction, Orléans the royal name for the predominant influence of the interests of the other faction – the nameless realm of the republic was the only one in which both factions could maintain with equal power the common class interest without giving up their mutual rivalry. If the bourgeois republic could not be anything but the perfected and clearly expressed rule of the whole bourgeois class, could it be anything but the rule of the Orléanists supplemented by the Legitimists, and of the Legitimists supplemented by the Orléanists, the synthesis of the Restoration and the July Monarchy. The bourgeois republicans of the National did not represent any large faction of their class resting on economic foundations. They possessed only the importance and the historical claim of having asserted, under the monarchy, as against the two bourgeois factions that understood only their particular regime, the general regime of the bourgeois class, the nameless realm of the republic, which they idealized and embellished with antique arabesques, but in which above all they hailed the rule of their coterie. If the party of the National grew confused in its own mind when it descried the royalists in coalition at the top of the republic founded by it, these royalists deceived themselves no less concerning the fact of their united rule. They did not comprehend that if each of their factions, regarded separately, by itself, was royalist, the product of their chemical combination had necessarily to be republican, that the white and the blue monarchy had to neutralize each other in the tricolor republic. Forced by antagonism to the revolutionary proletariat and the transition classes thronging more and more around it as their center to summon their united strength and to conserve the organization of this united strength, each faction of the party of Order had to assert, as against the desire for restoration and the overweening presumption of the other, their joint rule, that is, the republican form of bourgeois rule. Thus we find these royalists in the beginning believing in an immediate restoration, later preserving the republican form with foaming rage and deadly invective against it on their lips, and finally confessing that they can endure each other only in the republic and postponing the restoration indefinitely. The enjoyment of the united rule itself strengthened each of the two factions, and made each of them still more unable and unwilling to subordinate itself to the other, that is, to restore the monarchy.
The party of Order directly proclaimed in its election program the rule of the bourgeois class, that is, the preservation of the life conditions of its rule: property, family, religion, order! Naturally it represented its class rule and the conditions of its class rule as the rule of civilization and as the necessary conditions of material production as well as of the relations of social intercourse arising from it. The party of Order had enormous money and resources at its command; it organized its branches throughout France – it had all the ideologists of the old society in its pay – it had the influence of the existing governmental power at its disposal; it possessed an army of unpaid vassals in the whole mass of petty bourgeois and peasants, who, still removed from the revolutionary movement, found in the high dignitaries of property the natural representatives of their petty prejudices. This party, represented throughout the country by countless petty kings, could punish the rejection of their candidates as insurrection, dismiss the rebellious workers, the recalcitrant farm hands, domestic servants, clerks, railway officials, copyists, all the functionaries civilly subordinate to it. Finally, here and there it could maintain the delusion that the republican Constituent Assembly had prevented the Bonaparte of December 10 from manifesting his wonderworking powers. We have not mentioned the Bonapartists in connection with the party of Order. They were not a serious faction of the bourgeois class, but a collection of old, superstitious invalids and young, unbelieving soldiers of fortune. The party of Order was victorious in the elections; it sent a large majority to the Legislative Assembly.
As against the coalesced counterrevolutionary bourgeois class, the sections of the petty bourgeoisie and peasant class already revolutionized naturally had to ally themselves with the high dignitary of revolutionary interests, the revolutionary proletariat. We have seen how the democratic spokesmen of the petty bourgeoisie in parliament, that is, the Montagne, were driven by parliamentary defeats to the socialist spokesmen of the proletariat, and how the actual petty bourgeoisie, outside of parliament, was driven by the concordats à l’amiable [friendly agreements], by the brutal enforcement of bourgeois interests, and by bankruptcy to the actual proletarians. On January 27 Montagne and the socialists had celebrated their reconciliation; at the great banquet of February, 1849, they repeated their act of union. The social and the democratic party, the party of the workers and that of the petty bourgeois, united to form the Social-Democratic party, that is, the Red party.
Paralyzed for a moment by the agony that followed the June days, the French republic had lived through a continuous series of feverish excitements since the raising of the state of siege, since October 14. First the struggle for the presidency, then the struggle between the President and the Constituent Assembly; the struggle for the clubs; the trial of Bourges which, in contrast with the petty figures of the President, the coalesced royalists, the respectable republicans, the democratic Montagne, and the socialist doctrines of the proletariat, caused the proletariat’s real revolutionists to appear as primordial monsters such as only a deluge leaves behind on the surface of society, or such as could only precede a social deluge; the election agitation; the execution of the Bréa murderers; the continual proceedings against the press; the violent interference of the government with the banquets by police action; the insolent royalist provocations; the exhibition of the portraits of Louis Blanc and Caussidière on the pillory; the unbroken struggle between the constituted republic and the Constituent Assembly, which each moment drove the revolution back to its starting point, which each moment made the victors the vanquished and the vanquished the victors and in an instant changed around the positions of the parties and the classes, their separations and connections; the rapid march of the European counterrevolution; the glorious Hungarian fight; the armed uprisings in Germany; the Roman expedition; the ignominious defeat of the French army before Rome – in this vortex of the movement, in this torment of historical unrest, in this dramatic ebb and flow of revolutionary passions, hopes, and disappointments, the different classes of French society had to count their epochs of development in weeks when they had previously counted them in half-centuries. A considerable part of the peasants and of the provinces was revolutionized. Not only were they disappointed in Napoleon, but the Red party offered them, instead of the name, the content, instead of illusory freedom from taxation, repayment of the milliard paid to the Legitimists, the adjustment of mortgages, and the abolition of usury.
The army itself was infected with the revolutionary fever. In voting for Bonaparte it had voted for victory, and he gave it defeat. In him it had voted for the Little Corporal [Napoleon] behind whom the great revolutionary general is concealed, and he once more gave it the great generals behind whom the pipe-clay corporal shelters himself. There was no doubt that the Red party, that is, the coalesced democratic party, was bound to celebrate, if not victory, still, great triumphs; that Paris, the army, and a great part of the provinces would vote for it. Ledru-Rollin, the leader of the Montagne, was elected by five departments; no leader of the party of Order carried off such a victory, no candidate belonging to the proletarian party proper. This election reveals to us the secret of the democratic-socialist party. If, on the one hand, the Montagne, the parliamentary champion of the democratic petty bourgeoisie, was forced to unite with the socialist doctrinaires of the proletariat – the proletariat, forced by the terrible material defeat of June to raise itself up again through intellectual victories and not yet enabled through the development of the remaining classes to seize the revolutionary dictatorship, had to throw itself into the arms of the doctrinaires of its emancipation, the founders of socialist sects – the revolutionary peasants, the army, and the provinces, on the other hand, ranged themselves behind the Montagne, which thus became lord and master in the revolutionary army camp and through the understanding with the socialists eliminated every antagonism in the revolutionary party. In the latter half of the life of the Constituent Assembly it represented the Assembly’s republican fervor and caused to be buried in oblivion its sins during the Provisional Government, during the Executive Commission, during the June days. In the same measure as the party of the National, in accordance with its half-and-half nature, had allowed itself to be put down by the royalist ministry, the party of the Mountain, which had been brushed aside during the omnipotence of the National, rose and asserted itself as the parliamentary representative of the revolution. In fact, the party of the National had nothing to oppose to the other, royalist factions but ambitious personalities and idealistic humbug. The party of the Mountain, on the contrary, represented a mass hovering between the bourgeoisie and the proletariat, a mass whose material interests demanded democratic institutions. In comparison with the Cavaignacs and the Marrasts, Ledru-Rollin and the Montagne, therefore, represented the true revolution, and from the consciousness of this important situation they drew the greater courage the more the expression of revolutionary energy limited itself to parliamentary attacks, bringing in bills of impeachment, threats, raised voices, thundering speeches, and extremes which were pushed only as far as phrases. The peasants were in about the same position as the petty bourgeoisie; they had more or less the same social demands to put forward. All the middle strata of society, so far as they were driven into the revolutionary movement, were therefore bound to find their hero in Ledru-Rollin. Ledru-Rollin was the personage of the democratic petty bourgeoisie. As against the party of Order, the half-conservative, half-revolutionary, and wholly utopian reformers of this order had first to be pushed to the forefront.
The party of the National, “the Friends of the Constitution quand même [as is],” the républicains purs et simples [republicans pure and simple], were completely defeated in the elections. A tiny minority of them was sent into the Legislative Chamber; their most noted leaders vanished from the stage, even Marrast, the editor in chief and the Orpheus of the respectable republic.
On May 28 the Legislative Assembly convened; on June 11 the collision of May 8 was renewed and, in the name of the Montagne, Ledru-Rollin brought in a bill of impeachment against the President and the ministry for violation of the constitution, for the bombardment of Rome. On June 12 the Legislative Assembly rejected the bill of impeachment, just as the Constituent Assembly had rejected it on May 11, but the proletariat this time drove the Montagne onto the streets – not to a street battle, however, but only to a street procession. It is enough to say that the Montagne was at the head of this movement to know that the movement was defeated, and that June, 1849, was a caricature, as ridiculous as it was vile, of June, 1848. The great retreat of June 13 was eclipsed only by the still greater battle report of Changarnier, the great man that the party of Order improvised. Every social epoch needs its great men, and when it does not find them, it invents them, as Helvétius says.
On December 20 only one half of the constituted bourgeois republic was in existence: the President; on May 28 it was completed by the other half, the Legislative Assembly. In June, 1848, the constituent bourgeois republic, by an unspeakable battle against the proletariat, and in June, 1849, the constituted bourgeois republic, by an unutterable comedy with the petty bourgeoisie, engraved their names in the birth register of history. June, 1849, was the nemesis of June, 1848. In June, 1849, it was not the workers that were vanquished; it was the petty bourgeois, who stood between them and the revolution, that were felled. June, I849, was not a bloody tragedy between wage labor and capital, but a prison-filling and lamentable play of debtors and creditors. The party of Order had won, it was all-powerful; it had now to show what it was.
Part III. Consequences of June 13, 1849[edit source]
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!
The continuation of the three foregoing chapters is found in the Revue in the fifth and sixth double issue of the Neue Rheinische Zeitung, the last to appear. Here, after the great commercial crisis that broke out in England in 1847 had first been described and the coming to a head of the political complications on the European continent in the revolutions of February and March, 1848, had been explained by its reactions there, it is then shown how the prosperity of trade and industry that again set in during the course of 1848 and increased still further in 1849 paralyzed the revolutionary upsurge and made possible the simultaneous victories of the reaction. With special reference to France, it is then said: — Written by Engels for the 1895 edition, as an introductory paragraph to Section IV.
Part IV. The Abolition of Universal Suffrage in 1850[edit source]
The same symptoms have shown themselves in France since 1849, and particularly since the beginning of 1850. The Parisian industries are abundantly employed and the cotton factories of Rouen and Mulhouse are also doing pretty well, although here, as in England, the high prices of the raw material have exercised a retarding influence. The development of prosperity in France was, in addition, especially promoted by the comprehensive tariff reform in Spain and by the reduction of the duties on various luxury articles in Mexico; the export of French commodities to both markets has considerably increased. The growth of capital in France led to a series of speculations, for which the exploitation of the California gold mines on a large scale served as a pretext. A swarm of companies have sprung up; the low denomination of their shares and their socialist-colored prospectuses appeal directly to the purses of the petty bourgeois and the workers, but all and sundry result in that sheer swindling which is characteristic of the French and Chinese alone. One of these companies is even patronized directly by the government. The import duties in France during the first nine months of 1848 amounted to 63,000,000 francs, of 1849 to 95,000,000 francs, and of 1850 to 93,000,000 francs. Moreover, in the month of September, 1850, they again rose by more than a million compared with the same month of 1849. Exports also rose in 1849, and still more in 1850.
The most striking proof of restored prosperity is the Bank's reintroduction of specie payment by the law of August 6, 1850. On March 15, 1848, the Bank had been authorized to suspend specie payment. Its note circulation, including that of the provincial banks, amounted at that time to 373,000,000 francs (14,920,000 pounds). On November 2, 1849, this circulation amounted to 482,000,000 francs, or 19,280,000, an increase of 4,360,000 pounds, and on September 2, 1850, to 496,000,000 francs, or 19,840,000 pounds, an increase of about 5,000,000 pounds. This was not accompanied by any depreciation of the notes; on the contrary , the increased circulation of the notes was accompanied by the steadily increasing accumulation of gold and silver in the vaults of the Bank, so that in the summer of 1850 its metallic reserve amounted to about 141,000,000 pounds, an unprecedented sum in France. That the Bank was thus placed in a position to increase its circulation and therewith its active capital by 123,000,000 francs, or 5,000,000 pounds, is striking proof of the correctness of our assertion in an earlier issue that the finance aristocracy has not only not been overthrown by the revolution, but has even been strengthened. This result becomes still more evident from the following survey of French bank legislation during the last few years. On June 10, 1847, the Bank was authorized to issue notes of 200 francs; hitherto the smallest denomination had been 500 francs. A decree of March 15, 1848, declared the notes of the Bank of France legal tender and relieved it of the obligation of redeeming them in specie. Its note issue was limited to 350,000,000 francs. It was simultaneously authorized to issue notes of 100 francs. A decree of April 27 prescribed the merging of the departmental banks in the Bank of France; another decree, of May 2, 1848, increased the latter's note issue to 442,000,000 francs. A decree of December 22, 1849, raised the maximum of the note issue to 525,000,000 francs. Finally, the law of August 6, 1850, reestablished the exchangeability of notes for specie. These facts, the continual increase in the circulation, the concentration of the whole of French credit in the hands of the Bank, and the accumulation of all French gold and silver in the Bank's vaults led M. Proudhon to the conclusion that the Bank must now shed its old snakeskin and metamorphose itself into a Proudhonist people's bank. He did not even need to know the history of the English bank restriction from 1797 to 1819; he only needed to direct his glance across the Channel to see that this fact, for him unprecedented in the history of bourgeois society, was nothing more than a very normal bourgeois event, which only now occurred in France for the first time. One sees that the allegedly revolutionary theoreticians who, after the Provisional Government, talked big in Paris were just as ignorant of the nature and the results of the measures taken as the gentlemen of the Provisional Government themselves.
In spite of the industrial and commercial prosperity that France momentarily enjoys, the mass of the people, the twenty-five million peasants, suffer from a great depression. The good harvests of the past few years have forced the prices of corn much lower even than in England, and the position of the peasants under such circumstances, in debt, sucked dry by usury and crushed by taxes, must be anything but splendid. The history of the past three years has, however, provided sufficient proof that this class of the population is absolutely incapable of any revolutionary initiative.
Just as the period of crisis began later on the Continent than in England, so also did prosperity. The process originated in England, which is the demiurge of the bourgeois cosmos. On the Continent the various phases of the cycle repeatedly experienced by bourgeois society assume a secondary and tertiary form. First, the Continent exports to England disproportionately more than to any other country. This export to England, however, depends on the latter's position, especially in regard to the overseas market. England exports disproportionately more to overseas countries than to the whole Continent, so that the quantity of continental exports to those countries is always dependent on England's foreign trade. Hence when crises on the Continent produce revolutions there first, the bases for them are always laid in England. Violent outbreaks naturally erupt sooner at the extremities of the bourgeois body than in its heart, because in the latter the possibilities of accommodation are greater than in the former. On the other hand, the degree to which continental revolutions affect England is at the same time the thermometer that indicates to what extent these revolutions really put into question bourgeois life conditions, and to what extent they touch only their political formations.
Given this general prosperity, wherein the productive forces of bourgeois society are developing as luxuriantly as it is possible for them to do within bourgeois relationships, a real revolution is out of the question. Such a revolution is possible only in periods when both of these factors — the modern forces of production and the bourgeois forms of production — come into opposition with each other. The various bickerings in which representatives of the individual factions of the continental party of Order presently engage and compromise each other, far from providing an occasion for revolution, are, on the contrary, possible only because the bases of relationships are momentarily so secure and — what the reactionaries do not know — so bourgeois. On this all the reactionary attempts to hold back bourgeois development will rebound just as much as will all the ethical indignation and all the enraptured proclamations of the democrats. A new revolution is only a consequence of a new crisis. The one, however, is as sure to come as the other.
Let us now turn to France.
The victory that the people, in conjunction with the petty bourgeois, had won in the elections of March 10 was annulled by the people itself when it provoked the new election of April 28. Vidal was elected not only in Paris, but also in the Lower Rhine. The Paris Committee, in which the Montagne and the petty bourgeoisie were strongly represented, induced him to accept for the Lower Rhine. The victory of March 10 ceased to be a decisive one; the date of the decision was once more postponed; the tension of the people was relaxed; it became accustomed to legal triumphs instead of revolutionary ones. The revolutionary meaning of March 10, the rehabilitation of the June insurrection, was finally completely annihilated by the candidature of Eugene Sue, the sentimental petty-bourgeois social-fantast, which the proletariat could at best accept as a joke to please the grisettes. As against this well-meaning candidature, the party of Order, emboldened by the vacillating policy of its opponents, put up a candidate who was to represent the June victory. This comic candidate was the Spartan paterfamilias Leclerc, from whose person, however, the heroic armor was torn piece by piece by the press, and who experienced a brilliant defeat in the election. The new election victory on April 28 put the Montagne and the petty bourgeoisie in high feather. They already exulted in the thought of being able to arrive at the goal of their wishes in a purely legal way and without again pushing the proletariat into the foreground through a new revolution; they reckoned positively on bringing Ledru-Rollin into the presidential chair and a majority of Montagnards into the Assembly through universal suffrage in the new elections of 1852. The party of Order, rendered perfectly certain by the prospective elections, by Sue's candidature, and by the mood of the Montagne and the petty bourgeoisie, that the latter were resolved to remain quiet no matter what happened, answered the two election victories with an election law which abolished universal suffrage.
The government took good care not to make this legislative proposal on its own responsibility. It made an apparent concession to the majority by entrusting the working out of the bill to the high dignitaries of this majority, the seventeen burgraves. Thus it was not the government that proposed the repeal of universal suffrage to the Assembly; the majority of the Assembly proposed it to itself.
On May 8 the project was brought into the Chamber. The entire Social-Democratic press rose as one man in order to preach to the people dignified bearing, calme majestueux, passivity, and trust in its representatives. Every article of these journals was a confession that a revolution would, above all, annihilate the so-called revolutionary press, and that therefore it was now a question of its self-preservation. The allegedly revolutionary press betrayed its whole secret. It signed its own death warrant.
On May 21 the Montagne put the preliminary question to debate and moved the rejection of the whole project on the ground that it violated the constitution. The party of Order answered that the constitution would be violated if it were necessary; there was, however, no need for this at present, because the constitution was capable of every interpretation, and because the majority alone was competent to decide on the correct interpretation. To the unbridled, savage attacks of Thiers and Montalembert the Montagne opposed a decorous and refined humanism. It took its stand on the ground of law; the party of Order referred it to the ground on which the law grows, to bourgeois property. The Montagne whimpered: Did they really want, then, to conjure up revolutions by main force? The party of Order replied: One would await them.
On May 22 the preliminary question was settled by 462 votes to 227. The same men who had proved with such solemn profundity that the National Assembly and every individual deputy would be renouncing his mandate if he renounced the people, his mandatory, now stuck to their seats and suddenly sought to let the country act, through petitions at that, instead of acting themselves, and still sat there unmoved when, on May 31, the law went through in splendid fashion. They sought to revenge themselves by a protest in which they recorded their innocence of the rape of the constitution, a protest which they did not even submit openly, but smuggled into the President's pocket from the rear.
An army of 150,000 men in Paris, the long deferment of the decision, the appeasing attitude of the press, the pusillanimity of the Montagne and of the newly elected representatives, the majestic calm of the petty bourgeois, but above all, the commercial and industrial prosperity, prevented any attempt at revolution on the part of the proletariat.
Universal suffrage had fulfilled its mission. The majority of the people had passed through the school of development, which is all that universal suffrage can serve for in a revolutionary period. It had to be set aside by a revolution or by the reaction.
The Montagne developed a still greater display of energy on an occasion that arose soon afterward. From the tribune War Minister Hautpoul had termed the February Revolution a baneful catastrophe. The orators of the Montagne, who, as always, distinguished themselves by their morally indignant bluster, were not allowed by the President, Dupin, to speak. Girardin proposed to the Montagne that it should walk out at once en masse. Result: The Montagne remained seated, but Girardin was cast out from its midst as unworthy.
The election law still needed one thing to complete it, a new press law. This was not long in coming. A proposal of the government, made many times more drastic by amendments of the party of Order, increased the caution money, put an extra stamp on feuilleton fiction (answer to the election of Eugène Sue), taxed all publications appearing weekly or monthly up to a certain number of sheets, and finally provided that every article of a journal must bear the signature of the author. The provisions concerning the caution money killed the so-called revolutionary press; the people regarded its extinction as satisfaction for the abolition of universal suffrage. However, neither the tendency nor the effect of the new law extended only to this section of the press. As long as the newspaper press was anonymous, it appeared as the organ of a numberless and nameless public opinion; it was the third power in the state. Through the signature of every article, a newspaper became a mere collection of literary contributions from more or less known individuals. Every article sank to the level of an advertisement. Hitherto the newspapers had circulated as the paper money of public opinion; now they were resolved into more or less bad solo bills, whose worth and circulation depended on the credit not only of the drawer but also of the endorser. The press of the party of Order had incited not only for the repeal of universal suffrage but also for the most extreme measures against the bad press. However, in its sinister anonymity even the good press was irksome to the party of Order and still more to its individual provincial representatives. As for itself, it demanded only the paid writer, with name, address, and description. In vain the good press bemoaned the ingratitude with which its services were rewarded. The law went through; the provision about the giving of names hit it hardest of all. The names of republican journalists were rather well known; but the respectable firms of the "Journal des Débats", the “Assemblée Nationale", the "Constitutionnel", etc., etc., cut a sorry figure in their high protestations of state wisdom when the mysterious company all at once disintegrated into purchasable penny-a-liners of long practice, who had defended all possible causes for cash, like Granier de Cassagnac, or into old milksops who called themselves statesmen, like Capefigue, or into coquettish fops, like M. Lemoinne of the Débats.
In the debate on the press law the Montagne had already sunk to such a level of moral degeneracy that it had to confine itself to applauding the brilliant tirades of an old notable of Louis Philippe's time, M. Victor Hugo.
With the election law and the press law the revolutionary and democratic party exits from the official stage. Before their departure home, shortly after the end of the session, the two factions of the Montagne, the socialist democrats and the democratic socialists, issued two manifestoes, two testimonia paupertatis [certificates of pauperism] in which they proved that while power and success were never on their side, they nonetheless had ever been on the side of eternal justice and all the other eternal truths.
Let us now consider the party of Order. The “Neue Rheinische Zeitung” had said: “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, 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.... And Thiers spoke more truly than he suspects when he said: ‘We, the royalists, are the true pillars of the constitutional republic’.”
This comedy of the républicains malgré eux [republicans in spite of themselves], the antipathy to the status quo and the constant consolidation of it; the incessant friction between Bonaparte and the National Assembly; the ever renewed threat of the party of Order to split into its separate component parts, and the ever repeated conjugation of its factions; the attempt of each faction to transform each victory over the common foe into a defeat for its temporary allies; the mutual petty jealousy, chicanery, harassment, the tireless drawing of swords that ever and again ends with a baiser Lamourette — this whole unedifying comedy of errors never developed more classically than during the past six months.
The party of Order regarded the election law at the same time as a victory over Bonaparte. Had not the government abdicated when it handed over the editing of and responsibility for its own proposal to the Commission of Seventeen? And did not the chief strength of Bonaparte as against the Assembly lie in the fact that he was the chosen of six millions? Bonaparte, on his part, treated the election law as a concession to the Assembly, with which he claimed to have purchased harmony between the legislative and executive powers. As reward, the vulgar adventurer demanded an increase of three millions in his civil list. Dared the National Assembly enter into a conflict with the executive at a moment when it had excommunicated the great majority of Frenchmen? It was roused to anger; it appeared to want to go to extremes; its commission rejected the motion; the Bonapartist press threatened, and referred to the disinherited people, deprived of its franchise; numerous noisy attempts at an arrangement took place, and the Assembly finally gave way in fact, but at the same time revenged itself in principle. Instead of increasing the civil list in principle by three millions per annum, it granted Bonaparte an accommodation of 2,160,000 francs. Not satisfied with this, it made even this concession only after it had been supported by Changarnier, the general of the party of Order and the protector thrust upon Bonaparte. Therefore it really granted the two millions not to Bonaparte, but to Changarnier.
This sop, thrown to him de mauvaise grâce [with bad grace], was accepted by Bonaparte quite in the spirit of the donor. The Bonapartist press blustered anew against the National Assembly. When in the debate on the press law the amendment was made on the signing of names — which, in turn, was directed especially against the less important papers — the representatives of the private interests of Bonaparte, the principal Bonapartist paper, the Pouvoir, published an open and vehement attack on the National Assembly. The ministers had to disavow the paper before the Assembly; the girant [manager] of the Pouvoir was summoned before the bar of the National Assembly and sentenced to pay the highest fine, 5,000 francs. Next day the Pouvoir published a still more insolent article against the Assembly, and as the revenge of the government, the public prosecutor promptly prosecuted a number of Legitimist journals for violating the constitution.
Finally there came the question of proroguing the Assembly. Bonaparte desired this in order to be able to operate unhindered by the Assembly. The party of Order desired it partly for the purpose of carrying on its factional intrigues, partly for the pursuit of the private interests of the individual deputies. Both needed it in order to consolidate and push further the victories of reaction in the provinces. The Assembly therefore adjourned from August 11 until November 11. Since, however, Bonaparte in no way concealed that his only concern was to get rid of the irksome surveillance of the National Assembly, the Assembly imprinted on the vote of confidence itself the stamp of lack of confidence in the President. All Bonapartists were kept off the permanent commission of twenty-eight members who stayed on during the recess as guardians of the virtue of the republic. In their stead, even some republicans of the Siècle and the National were elected to it, in order to prove to the President the attachment of the majority to the constitutional republic.
Shortly before, and especially immediately after the recess, the two big factions of the party of Order, the Orléanists and the Legitimists, appeared to want to be reconciled, and this by a fusion of the two royal houses under whose flags they were fighting. The papers were full of reconciliation proposals that were said to have been discussed at the sickbed of Louis Philippe at St. Leonards, when the death of Louis Philippe suddenly simplified the situation. Louis Philippe was the usurper, Henry V the dispossessed; the Count of Paris, on the other hand, owing to the childlessness of Henry V, was his lawful heir to the throne. Every pretext for objecting to a fusion of the two dynastic interests was now removed. But precisely now the two factions of the bourgeoisie first discovered that it was not zeal for a definite royal house that divided them, but that it was rather their divided class interests that kept the two dynasties apart. The Legitimists, who had made a pilgrimage to the residence of Henry V at Wiesbaden just as their competitors had to St. Leonards, received there the news of Louis Philippe's death. Forthwith they formed a ministry in partibus infidelium, which consisted mostly of members of that commission of guardians of the virtue of the republic and which on the occasion of a squabble in the bosom of the party came out with the most outspoken proclamation of right by the grace of God. The Orléanists rejoiced over the compromising scandal that this manifesto called forth in the press, and did not conceal for a moment their open enmity to the Legitimists.
During the adjournment of the National Assembly, the Councils of the departments met. The majority of them declared for a more or less qualified revision of the constitution; that is, they declared for a not definitely specified monarchist restoration, for a "solution", and confessed at the same time that they were too incompetent and too cowardly to find this solution. The Bonapartist faction at once construed this desire for revision in the sense of a prolongation of Bonaparte's presidency.
The constitutional solution, the retirement of Bonaparte in May, 1852, the simultaneous election of a new President by all the electors of the land, the revision of the constitution by a Chamber of Revision during the first months of the new presidency, is utterly inadmissible for the ruling class. The day of the new presidential election would be the day of rendezvous for all the hostile parties, the Legitimists, the Orléanists, the bourgeois republicans, the revolutionists. It would have to come to a violent decision between the different factions. Even if the party of Order should succeed in uniting around the candidature of a neutral person outside the dynastic families, he would still be opposed by Bonaparte. In its struggle with the people, the party of Order is compelled constantly to increase the power of the executive. Every increase of the executive's power increases the power of its bearer, Bonaparte. In the same measure, therefore, as the party of Order strengthens its joint might, it strengthens the fighting resources of Bonaparte's dynastic pretensions, it strengthens his chance of frustrating a constitutional solution by force on the day of the decision. He will then have, as against the party of Order, no more scruples about the one pillar of the constitution than that party had, as against the people, about the other pillar in the matter of the election law. He would, seemingly even against the Assembly, appeal to universal suffrage. In a word, the constitutional solution questions the entire political status quo and behind the jeopardizing of the status quo the bourgeois sees chaos, anarchy, civil war. He sees his purchases and sales, his promissory notes, his marriages, his agreements duly acknowledged before a notary, his mortgages, his ground rents, house rents, profits, all his contracts and sources of income called in question on the first Sunday in May, 1852, and he cannot expose himself to this risk. Behind the jeopardizing of the political status quo lurks the danger of the collapse of the entire bourgeois society. The only possible solution in the framework of the bourgeoisie is the postponement of the solution. It can save the constitutional republic only by a violation of the constitution, by the prolongation of the power of the President. This is also the last word of the press of Order, after the protracted and profound debates on the “solutions” in which it indulged after the session of the general councils. The high and mighty party of Order thus finds itself, to its shame, compelled to take seriously the ridiculous, commonplace, and, to it, odious person of the pseudo Bonaparte.
This dirty figure likewise deceived himself about the causes that clothed him more and more with the character of the indispensable man. While his party had sufficient insight to ascribe the growing importance of Bonaparte to circumstances, he believed that he owed it solely to the magic power of his name and his continual caricaturing of Napoleon. He became more enterprising every day. To offset the pilgrimages to St. Leonards and Wiesbaden, he made his round trips through France. The Bonapartists had so little faith in the magic effect of his personality that they sent with him everywhere as claquers people from the Society of December 10, that organization of the Paris lumpen proletariat, packed en masse into railway trains and post chaises. They put speeches into the mouth of their marionette which, according to the reception in the different towns, proclaimed republican resignation or perennial tenacity as the keynote of the President's policy. In spite of all maneuvers these journeys were anything but triumphal processions.
When Bonaparte believed he had thus made the people enthusiastic, he set out to win the army. He caused great reviews to be held on the plain of Satory, near Versailles, at which he sought to buy the soldiers with garlic sausages, champagne, and cigars. Whereas the genuine Napoleon, amid the hardships of his campaigns of conquest, knew how to cheer up his weary soldiers with outbursts of patriarchal familiarity, the pseudo Napoleon believed it was in gratitude that the troops shouted: Vive Napoleon, vive le saucisson! [Long live Napoleon, long live the sausage!] that is, Hurrah for the Wurst [sausage], hurrah for the Hanswurst [buffoon]!
These reviews led to the outbreak of the long suppressed dissension between Bonaparte and his War Minister Hautpoul, on the one hand, and Changarnier, on the other. In Changarnier the party of Order had found its real neutral man, in whose case there could be no question of his own dynastic claims. It had designated him Bonaparte's successor. In addition, Changarnier had become the great general of the party of Order through his conduct on January 29 and June 13, 1849, the modern Alexander whose brutal intervention had, in the eyes of the timid bourgeois, cut the Gordian knot of the revolution. At bottom just as ridiculous as Bonaparte, he had thus become a power in the very cheapest manner and was set up by the National Assembly to watch the President. He himself coquetted, for example, in the matter of the salary grant, with the protection that he gave Bonaparte, and rose up ever more overpoweringly against him and the ministers. When, on the occasion of the election law, an insurrection was expected, he forbade his officers to take any orders whatever from the War Minister or the President. The press was also instrumental in magnifying the figure of Changarnier. With the complete absence of great personalities, the party of Order naturally found itself compelled to endow a single individual with the strength lacking in its class as a whole and so puff up this individual to a prodigy. Thus arose the myth of Changarnier, the “bulwark of society.” The arrogant charlatanry, the secretive air of importance with which Changarnier condescended to carry the world on his shoulders, forms the most ridiculous contrast to the events during and after the [last] Satory review, which irrefutably proved that it needed only a stroke of the pen by Bonaparte, the infinitely little, to bring this fantastic offspring of bourgeois fear, the colossus Changarnier, back to the dimensions of mediocrity and transform him, society's heroic savior, into a pensioned general.
Bonaparte had for some time been revenging himself on Changarnier by provoking the War Minister to disputes in matters of discipline with the irksome protector. The last review at Satory finally brought the old animosity to a climax. The constitutional indignation of Changarnier knew no bounds when he saw the cavalry regiments file past with the unconstitutional cry: Vive l'Empereur! [Long live the Emperor!] In order to forestall any unpleasant debate on this cry in the coming session of the Chamber, Bonaparte removed War Minister Hautpoul by appointing him governor of Algiers. In his place he put a reliable old general of the time of the Empire, one who was fully a match for Changarnier in brutality. But so that the dismissal of Hautpoul might not appear as a concession to Changarnier, he simultaneously transferred General Neumayer, the right hand of the great savior of society, from Paris to Nantes. It was Neumayer who at the last review had induced the whole of the infantry to file past the successor of Napoleon in icy silence. Changarnier, himself attacked in the person of Neumayer, protested and threatened. To no purpose. After two days' negotiations, the decree transferring Neumayer appeared in the Moniteur, and there was nothing left for the hero of Order but to submit to discipline or resign.
Bonaparte's struggle with Changarnier is the continuation of his struggle with the party of Order. The reopening of the National Assembly on November 11 will therefore take place under threatening auspices. It will be a storm in a teacup. In essence the old game must go on. Meanwhile the majority of the party of Order will, despite the clamor of the sticklers for principle in its different factions, be compelled to prolong the power of the President. Similarly, Bonaparte, already humbled by lack of money, will, despite all preliminary protestations, accept this prolongation of power from the hands of the National Assembly as simply delegated to him. Thus the solution is postponed; the status quo continued; one faction of the party of Order compromised, weakened, made unworkable by the other; the repression of the common enemy, the mass of the nation, extended and exhausted — until the economic relations themselves have again reached the point of development where a new explosion blows into the air all these squabbling parties with their constitutional republic.
For the peace of mind of the bourgeois it must be said, however, that the scandal between Bonaparte and the party of Order has the result of ruining a multitude of small capitalists on the Bourse and putting their assets into the pockets of the big wolves of the Bourse.
- When publishing Marx’s work The Class Struggles in France as a separate edition in 1895, Engels included in it (as the first three chapters) Marx’s articles from the series “1848 to 1849” originally carried by the Neue Rheinische Zeitung. Politisch-ökonomische Revue, Nos 1 and 2, 1850 (Engels is referring to them here), and (as the fourth article or chapter) Marx’s section on France from the “Review, May to October ” compiled in collaboration with Engels for the double, fifth-sixth issue of the journal for 1850. The passage quoted by Engels has been borrowed from the section figuring in the edition of Marx’s work as the fourth chapter
- Sachsenwald, an estate near Hamburg, which Emperor William I gave to Bismarck in 1871
- A reference to the monarchist parties of the Legitimists and the Orleanists
- Appraising tsarist Russia’s policy towards Poland in the 18th century, Engels uses the term “Principle of Nationalities” advanced by Napoleon III and widely used by the ruling quarters of the Second Empire as an ideological smokescreen for predatory designs and political adventures abroad. Casting himself in the thoroughly hypocritical role of “protector of nationalities” Napoleon III sought to exploit the national interests of the oppressed people as a means to consolidate the positions of France in her competition with other great powers and to expand the country’s frontiers. Marx exposed the “Principle of Nationalities” in his pamphlet Herr Vogt and Engels did the same in his work “What Have the Working Classes to Do with Poland?
- A reference to the so-called constitutional conflict, promulgated in Prussia following a revision of the constitution granted by Frederick William IV on December 5, 1848 in the wake of the counter-revolutionary putsch and the dissolution of the Prussian National Assembly. In April 1849, the king dissolved the chamber of representatives, and on May 30 passed a new electoral law establishing a three-class electoral system based on property qualifications and unequal representation of the various strata. The majority in the new chamber, elected on the basis of the new law, approved a new and more reactionary constitution proposed by the king. Prussia retained the upper chamber consisting mainly of the feudal nobility; the powers of the Landtag were severely curtailed and it was deprived of the right to initiate legislation. Ministers were to be appointed by the king and made accountable to him alone. The constitution granted the government the right to set up special courts to deal with cases of high treason. The 1850 constitution remained in force in Prussia even after the formation of the German Empire in 1871. The so-called constitutional conflict arose in the early 1860s between the Prussian government and the bourgeois-liberal majority in the Landtag. In February 1860, the majority refused to approve a plan for reorganising the army submitted by War Minister von Roon. However, the government soon managed to secure allocations for “maintenance of the army’s combat readiness and enhancement of its firepower”, which meant, to all intents and purposes, that the reorganisation could proceed. When in March 1862 the liberal majority refused to approve the military budget and demanded that the war ministry be made accountable to the Landtag, the government dissolved the latter and called new elections. In late September 1862 an administration was formed under Bismarck, which again dissolved the Landtag that October and embarked on the military reform without it approving the necessary funds. The conflict was not resolved until 1866, when, following the Prussian victory over Austria, the Prussian bourgeoisie capitulated before Bismarck. The Constitution of the German Empire promulgated on April 16, 1871 was based on the constitution of the North German Confederation approved on April 17, 1867, with the changes introduced into it in November 1870 by the treaties on the entry of South German states (Baden, Hesse, Bavaria and Württemberg) into the Confederation. The Constitution of 1871 consolidated Prussian supremacy in Germany and the reactionary foundations of the German Empire’s state structure. The Reichstag’s legislative powers were substantially curtailed, and the laws passed by it made subject to approval by the Federal Council and the Emperor. The prerogatives of the latter, and of the Chancellor, who enjoyed independence from the Reichstag, were very broad. The constitution perpetuated the vestiges of particularism and the privileges of some small German states
- This refers to the Anti-Socialist Law passed by the Reichstag on October 21, 1878 for the purpose of suppressing the socialist and the working-class movement. It banned all party organisations, mass workers’ associations and the socialist and labour press, and authorised repressive actions against Social Democrats. However, the Social-Democratic Party, supported by Marx and Engels, had managed to strike a balance between underground work and legal activities, and to consolidate and expand its influence even in the years when the Anti-Socialist Law was in force. The Law’s validity was extended in 1881, 1884, 1886 and 1888, and it was repealed on October 1, 1890. Engels gave an assessment of it in his essay “Bismarck and the German Working Men’s Party
- Engels quotes the theoretical Preamble to the French Workers’ Party’s programme adopted at the 1880 congress in Le Havre. The Preamble was written by Marx
- *“hardly” omitted in MECW.
- At the Battle of Wagram on July 5-6, 1809, Napoleon I defeated the Austrian army commanded by Archduke Charles. In the Battle at Waterloo (Belgium) on June 18, 1815, Napoleon’s army was routed by the Anglo-Dutch and Prussian armies under Wellington and Blucher, an event that decided the final victory of the anti-French coalition
- Engels is referring to the campaign for universal suffrage that developed in Belgium in 1890-93. On April 18, 1893, mass action and strikes led by the Workers’ Party compelled the Chamber of Deputies to pass a law on universal suffrage which was approved by the Senate on April 29. The law introduced voting rights for all men of over 25 years of age, who had a term of residence of not less than 12 months. It further granted one or two additional votes to certain categories of people, depending on their property status, educational standard and employment in the civil service
- Zemsky Sobor, the central representative bodies in Russia between the mid-16th and 17th centuries. Engels obviously refers to local self-government bodies (zemstvos) which appeared in 1864
- Engels is referring to the prolonged struggle between the princes and the nobility in the duchies of Mecklenburg-Schwerin and Mecklenburg-Strelitz, which ended in the constitutional agreement on hereditary rights signed in 1755 in Rostock. Under the agreement, the Mecklenburg nobility had its former freedoms and privileges confirmed and consolidated its leading position in the Landtags and their standing bodies
- Engels quotes Odilon Barrot, a conservative politician of the Second Republic in France, who said: “Legality is the death of us” (“la légalité nous tue”) when repressions were instituted against democratic organisations in late 1848-early 1849
- An allusion to the incorporation into Prussia of the Kingdom of Hanover, the electorate of Hesse-Cassel and the Grand Duchy of Nassau in 1866 as a result of Prussia’s victory in the war against Austria in 1866
- The Paris uprising of June 5 and 6, 1832, was prepared by the Left republicans and by secret revolutionary societies including the Society of the Friends of the People. The uprising flared up during the funeral of General Lamarque, an opponent of Louis Philippe’s Government. The insurgent workers threw up barricades and defended them with great courage; the red flag was hoisted over them for the first time The uprising of Lyons workers in April 1834, directed by the secret republican Society of the Rights of Man and the Citizen, was one of the first mass actions by the French proletariat. The uprising, supported by republicans in several other towns including Paris, was brutally suppressed. The Paris uprising of May 12, 1839, in which the revolutionary workers played a leading part, was prepared by the secret republican socialist Society of the Seasons led by Auguste Blanqui and Armand Barbès; it was suppressed by troops and the National Guard,
- Robert Macaire – a character portraying a clever swindler, created by the famous French actor Frederick Lemaître and immortalised in the caricatures of Honoré Daumier. The figure of Robert Macaire was a biting satire on the domination of the financial aristocracy under the July monarchy
- A term applied to cafes of dubious reputation
- The reference is to the repercussions of the suppression of the uprising in the free city of Cracow (the Cracow Republic) which, by decision of the Congress of Vienna, came under the joint control of Austria, Prussia and Russia, who had partitioned Poland at the end of the eighteenth century. The insurgents succeeded in seizing power in Cracow on February 22, 1846, established a National Government of the Polish Republic and issued a manifesto abolishing feudal services. The Cracow uprising was suppressed at the beginning of March; in November 1846, Austria, Prussia and Russia signed a treaty incorporating Cracow into the Austrian Empire
- In the spring of 1847 at Buzaruçais (department of the Indre) the starving workers and the inhabitants of neighbouring villages looted storehouses belonging to profiteers, which led to a clash between the population and troops. Four of those who took part were executed and many others sentenced to hard labour
- Le National, a liberal Paris daily produced by A. Marrast and L. A. Garnier-Pagès
- The dynastic opposition – an opposition group in the French Chamber of Deputies during the July monarchy (1830-48). The group, headed by Odilon Barrot, expressed the sentiments of the liberal industrial and commercial bourgeoisie and favoured a moderate electoral reform, which they regarded as a means to prevent revolution and preserve the Orleans dynasty
- During the first days of the revolution, the workers of Paris demanded that the French Republic’s flag should be red, the colour of that hoisted in the workers’ suburbs of Paris during the June uprising of 1832. Bourgeois representatives insisted on the tricolour (blue-white-and-red) which had been the national standard during the French Revolution and under Napoleon I. It had been the emblem of the bourgeois republicans grouped around the newspaper National even before 1848. In the end, the tricolour was accepted as the national standard with a red rosette fixed to the flagstaff; later, the rosette was removed
- In 1848 Le Moniteur universel printed reports on the sittings of the Luxembourg Commission alongside official documents
- The reference is to the sum assigned by the King in 1825 as compensation for aristocrats whose property had been confiscated during the French Revolution,
- The Mobile Guards, set up by a decree of the Provisional Government on February 25, 1848, with the secret aim of fighting the revolutionary masses, were used to crush the June uprising of the Paris workers. Later they were disbanded on the insistence of Bonapartist circles, who feared that if a conflict arose between Louis Bonaparte and the republicans, the Mobile Guards would side with the latter
- Lazzaroni – a contemptuous nickname for declassed proletarians, primarily in the Kingdom of Naples, who were repeatedly used in the struggle against the liberal and democratic movement
- The Poor Law adopted in England in 1834 provided for only one form of relief for the able-bodied poor: workhouses with a prison-like regime in which the workers were engaged in unproductive, monotonous and exhausting labour. The people called these workhouses “Bastilles for the poor.” Here and later Marx uses the English word “workhouses
- The reference is to the elections to the National Guard and the Constituent Assembly which were to be held on March 18 and April 9, 1848, respectively. Paris workers, grouped around Blanqui, Dézamy and others, insisted on a postponement of the elections arguing that they should be prepared by thorough explanatory work among the population. As a result of the popular demonstration on March 17 in Paris, regular troops were withdrawn from the capital (after the events of April 16 they were brought back), and elections to the National Guard were postponed till April 5 and to the Constituent Assembly till April 23
- The Constituent National Assembly, in power from May 4 1848 to May 1849
- Commission du pouvoir executif (the Executive Commission) – the Government of the French Republic set up by the Constituent Assembly on May 10, 1848, to replace the Provisional Government which had resigned. It existed until June 24, 1848, when Cavaignac’s dictatorship was established during the June proletarian uprising. Moderate republicans predominated on the Commission; Ledru-Rollin was the sole representative of the Left
- Under the decree prohibiting congregations of people adopted by the Constituent Assembly on June 7, 1848, the organisation of gatherings and meetings in the open was punishable by imprisonment of up to ten years
- On June 22, 1848, Le Moniteur universel No. 174 in the section ‘’Partie non officielle” reported an order of the Executive Commission of June 21 on the expulsion of workers between the ages of 17 and 25 from the national workshops and their compulsory enrolment in the army. On July 3, 1848, after the suppression of the June insurrection of the Paris workers, the government passed a decree dissolving the national workshops
- Marx's article, in the Neue Rheinische Zeitung of June 29, 1848, from which he quotes here, appears on pages 147-150
- The Executive Committee (the Commission of the Executive Government) — the Government of the French Republic set up by the Constituent Assembly on May 10, 1848, to replace the Provisional Government which had resigned. It survived until June 24, 1848, when Cavaignac’s dictatorship was established
- The dynastic opposition — an oppositional group in the French Chamber of Deputies during the July monarchy (1830-48). The group headed by Odilon Barrot represented the views of the liberal industrial and commercial bourgeoisie, and favoured a moderate electoral reform, which they regarded as a means of preventing revolution and preserving the Orléans dynasty
- The legitimists were supporters of the Bourbon dynasty, which was overthrown in 1830. They upheld the interests of the big hereditary landowners
- In the German original, the term Haupt- und Staatsaktion (“principal and spectacular action,” “main and state action”) is used, which has a double meaning. First, in the seventeenth and the first half of the eighteenth century, it denoted plays performed by German touring companies. The plays were rather formless historical tragedies, bombastic and at the same time coarse and farcical Second, this term can denote major political events. It was used in this sense by a trend in German historical science known as “objective historiography.” Leopold Ranke was one of its chief representatives. He regarded Haupt- und Staatsaktion as the main subject-matter.
- The reference is to the by-elections to the Constituent Assembly in Paris on September 17, 1848 (to replace former deputies, including those who were deprived of their powers after the June insurrection was suppressed). Among the newly elected was the revolutionary socialist Francois Raspail, imprisoned after the events of May 15, 1848
- This refers to a system of general treaties set up by the Congress of Vienna (September 1814-June 1815), embracing the whole of Europe, apart from Turkey. The Congress decisions helped to restore feudal order, perpetuated the political fragmentation of Germany and Italy, sanctioned the incorporation of Belgium into Holland and the partition of Poland, and outlined measures to combat the revolutionary movement
- The Projet de constitution présenté à l’Assemblée nationale drafted by the commission was submitted to the National Assembly by Marrast on June 19, 1848. The draft was published in Le Moniteur universel No. 172, June 20, 1848. A German translation of the draft was published in the supplement to No. 24 of the Neue Rheinische Zeitung on June 24, 1848. After the June insurrection, this draft was thoroughly revised by its authors in a conservative spirit. The Constitution of the French Republic was finally adopted on November 4, 1848
- The lily – a heraldic emblem of the Bourbon dynasty; the violet – a Bonapartist emblem
- The Jacobins, who sat in the “Montagne,” or raised seats at the back, in the French National Convention, which met in Paris in September, 1792
- By a decree of the Senate (Senatus consult) of May 18, 1804, Napoleon I, the founder of the Bonaparte dynasty, was proclaimed Emperor of the French During the February uprising of 1848, King Louis Philippe and the monarchist circles were compelled to make Guizot and other unpopular ministers tender their resignations, and tried to form a government of moderate liberals to save the monarchy. On the morning of February 24 Odilon Barrot was authorised to head the Cabinet, but Louis Philippe was compelled to abdicate and flee by the victory of the popular revolution. The Barrot Ministry survived till that afternoon.
- On January 26, 1849, the Minister of Public Works Leon Faucher submitted and demanded urgent discussion of a Bill on the right of association, prohibiting clubs. The Constituent Assembly, however, refused to discuss the Bill as an urgent matter. In spite of opposition from the Left deputies, who demanded the Ministry’s resignation, accusing it of a breach of the Constitution, the first clause of the Bill (better known as the Bill on Clubs) was adopted by the National Assembly by a monarchist and moderate republican vote on March 21, 1849. This decision dealt a serious blow at the freedom of assembly and association, primarily at the workers’ associations
- An allusion to the similarity between the schemes for restoring the monarchy in December 1848, when Changarnier assumed command of the National Guard and the Paris garrison, and the part General Monk played in restoring the Stuarts in 1660
- In April 1849, President Louis Bonaparte and the French Government sent an expeditionary corps to Italy under General Oudinot to intervene against the Roman Republic proclaimed on February 9, 1849, and to restore the secular power of the Pope. On April 30, 1849, the French troops were driven back from Rome. The main blow was dealt by Garibaldi’s volunteer corps. Oudinot violated the terms of the armistice signed by the French, however, and on June 3 started a new offensive against the Roman Republic, which had just completed a military campaign against Neapolitan troops in the south and was engaged in rebuffing the Austrians in the north. After a month of heroic defence, Rome was captured by the interventionists and the Roman Republic ceased to exist
- The reference is to the defeat of the Piedmontese army during the second stage of the Austro-Italian war which broke out on March 25, 1848, as a result of the national liberation uprising in Lombardy and Venice against Austrian rule. However, the Piedmontese were compelled by military setbacks, particularly the defeat at Custozza on July 25 and 26, 1848, and the capture of Milan by the Austrians, to conclude an onerous armistice with Austria on August 9, 1848. On March 12, 1849, under public pressure, Charles Albert, King of Sardinia, cancelled the armistice and on March 20 hostilities were resumed. Despite national enthusiasm in Austrian-occupied Lombardy and throughout Italy, the Piedmontese army was defeated at Novara on March 23. Charles Albert abdicated. Victor Emmanuel II, the new King, concluded an armistice with the Austrians on March 26, and on August 6 a peace treaty was signed restoring Austrian rule in Northern Italy and the Austrian protectorate over a number of states of Central Italy (Parma, Tuscany, etc.) Engels gives a detailed account of the Austro-Italian war of 1848-49 in his articles in the Neue Rheinische Zeitung.
- Le Comité de saint public (the Committee of Public Safety) established by the Convention on April 6, 1793; during the Jacobin dictatorship (June 2, 1793-July 27, 1794) it was the leading body of the revolutionary government in France. It lasted until October 26, 1795
- General Brea, who commanded some of the troops that suppressed the June insurrection of the Paris proletariat, was killed by the insurgents at the gates of Fontainebleau on June 25, 1848, for which two of the insurgents were executed
- The reference is to the revolutionary events in Hungary and Germany in the spring and summer of 1849. A counter-offensive by the Hungarian revolutionary army, which routed the Austrian troops and almost cleared the Austrian invaders from the whole country, began in April. Hungary declared its independence on April 14, the Habsburg dynasty was officially dethroned and Kossuth elected head of state. However, a change unfavourable to the revolutionary movement shortly took place in the Hungarian campaign. In mid-June 1849 the Tsarist army entered Hungary to assist the Austrian counter-revolution. The Tsarist intervention was in effect approved by the ruling circles of France and England. The combined forces of the Habsburgs and the Tsar suppressed the Hungarian revolution Almost simultaneously with the counter-offensive by the Hungarians, popular uprisings broke out in Saxony, Rhenish Prussia, the Palatinate and Baden in defence of the Imperial Constitution drafted by the Frankfurt National Assembly but rejected by the King of Prussia and other German princes. On the development of these uprisings see Engels’ essays The Campaign for the German Imperial Constitution.
- Article V belongs to the introductory part of the Constitution. The articles of the principal part of the Constitution are numbered in Arabic figures
- The meeting of the Montagne leaders was held on the premises of the Fourierists’ daily La Démocratie pacifique on the evening of June 12, 1849. (Using the expression friedfertige [pacific] Demokratie, Marx plays on the title of the newspaper and its trend.) The participants refused to resort to arms and decided to confine themselves to a peaceful demonstration
- In the manifesto published in Le Peuple No. 206, June 13, 1849, the Democratic Association of the Friends of the Constitution – an organisation of moderate bourgeois republicans formed by the National party members during the Legislative Assembly election campaign – called upon the citizens of Paris to participate in a peaceful demonstration to protest against the “presumptuous pretensions” of the executive authorities
- The Declaration of the Montagne was published in La Réforme and in La Démocratie pacifique and also in Proudhon’s newspaper Le Peuple No. 206,June 13, 1849
- The events in Paris sparked off an armed uprising of Lyons workers and craftsmen on June 15, 1849. The insurgents occupied the Croix-Rousse quarter and erected barricades, but were suppressed by troops after several hours of staunch struggle
- On August 10, 1849, the Legislative Assembly adopted a law under which “instigators and supporters of the conspiracy and the attempt of June 13” were liable to trial by the Supreme Court. Thirty-four deputies of the Mountain (Ledru-Rollin, Felix Pyat and Victor Considerant among them) were deprived of their mandates and put on trial (some of them, those who emigrated, were tried by default). On June 13, the editorial offices of democratic and socialist newspapers were raided and the main of these papers were banned. Repressions were extended to emigrants residing in France, including Marx, who was ordered to leave Paris for the department of Morbihan, a remote swampy area in Brittany (on this see MECW, Vol. 9, p. 527). At the end of August 1849 Marx left France for England, not wishing to submit to the arbitrary police decision
- The reference is to the Municipal Guard of Paris formed after the July 1830 revolution and subordinated to the Prefect of Police. It was used to suppress popular uprisings and was disbanded after the February 1848 revolution
- In the battle of Waterloo(June 18, 1815) Napoleon’s army was defeated by British and Prussian troops commanded by Wellington and Blücher
- The reference is to the commission of three cardinals (who traditionally wore scarlet mantles) which, after the suppression of the Roman Republic by the French army and relying on support from the interventionists, restored the reactionary clerical regime in the papal states
- How great the change since then (Virgil, Aeneid)
- Either Caesar or Clichy. Clichy was a debtors' prison in Paris
- Motu proprio” (of his own motion) – initial words of a special kind of papal encyclical adopted without the preliminary approval of the cardinals and usually concerning the internal political and administrative affairs of the papal states Here this refers to the statement of Pope Pius IX “To My Beloved Subjects” of September 12, 1849 (the French text was published in Le Moniteur universel No. 271, September 28, 1849).
- From Georg Herwegh, “Aus den Bergen” (“From the Mountains”)
- The proposition that the proletarian revolution could only be victorious in several advanced capitalist countries simultaneously and not in a single country alone was most clearly formulated by Engels in his work Principles of Communism (1847) (see MECW, Vol. 6, pp. 351-52). By developing further the Marxist theory and drawing on the law of uneven economic and political development of capitalism in the era of imperialism, in 1915 Lenin came to the conclusion that under the new historical conditions, the victory of the socialist revolution would be possible initially in a few or even in a single country
- 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
- The figures do not tally: the text reads 538,000,000 instead of 578,178,000, apparently a misprint. This does not, however, affect the general conclusion, for the net per capita income is less than 25 francs in both cases
- 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
- Lagarde, a supporter of the Mountain party, was elected to the Legislative Assembly in the by-elections held in the department of the Gironde on October 14, 1849, to replace the deceased Right-wing deputy Ravez
- in his message of November 10, 1849, Carlier, the newly appointed Paris Police Prefect, called for a “social anti-socialist league” to be set up for the protection of “religion, labour, family, property and loyalty.” The message was published in Le Moniteur universel No. 315, November 11, 1849
- The July column erected in Paris on Bastille Square in 1840 in memory of those who fell in the July revolution of 1830 has been decorated with wreaths of immortelles ever since the February revolution of 1848
- Note by Engels to the 1895 edition: A play on words: Greeks, but also professional cheats
- May 4, 1848 – the Constituent Assembly was convened; December 20, 1848 – Louis Bonaparte became President; May 13, 1849 – elections were held to the Legislative Assembly; July 8, 1849 – by-elections took place in Paris as a result of which the party of Order strengthened its position in the Legislative Assembly
- Coblenz was the center of the counterrevolutionary emigres during the French Revolution
- Words attributed to Louis XV
- The reference is to the discovery of gold in California in 1848. Along with the discovery of rich deposits of gold in Australia in 1851, the Californian discovery added to the industrial and stock-exchange agitation in capitalist countries
- Proudhon expressed this point of view in his polemics against the bourgeois economist Frederic Bastiat, published in La Voix du peuple from November 1849 to February 1850 and reproduced in a separate edition which appeared in Paris in 1850 under the title Gratuite du credit. Discussion entre M. Fr. Bastiat et M. Proudhon.
- In 1797 the British Government issued a special Bank Restriction Act making bank-notes legal tender and suspending the payment of gold for them Convertibility was reintroduced only in 1821 in conformity with a law passed in 1819.
- The reference is to the commission of 17 Orleanists and Legitimists - deputies to the Legislative Assembly – appointed by the Minister of the Interior on May 1, 1850, to draft a new electoral law. Its members were nicknamed burgraves, a name borrowed from the title of Victor Hugo’s historical drama as an allusion to their unwarranted claims to power and their reactionary aspirations. The drama is set in medieval Germany where the Burggraf was governor of a Burg (city) or a district, appointed by the Emperor
- Lamourette's kiss. On July 7, 1792, Bishop Adrien Lamourette, a deputy in the Legislative Assembly, proposed that party dissensions be ended with a fraternal kiss. The deputies enthusiastically embraced each other then, but the fraternal embrace was soon forgotten. French wits came to use the expression to denote a trivial love affair
- The reference is to a new ministry to be appointed if the Bourbon dynasty was restored in the person of the Legitimist pretender to the throne, Count Chambord. It was to consist of de Levis, de Saint-Priest, Berryer, de Pastoret and d’Escars
- In the realms of the unbelievers; referring to the non-Christian dioceses to which Catholic bishops were assigned by the Early Church
- The reference is to the so-called Wiesbaden Manifesto – a circular drawn up in Wiesbaden on August 30, 1850, by de Barthélemy, secretary of the Legitimist faction in the Legislative Assembly, on the instruction of Count Chambord (de Barthélemy, La conspiration légitimiste avouée, in Le Peuple de 1850 No. 24, September 22, 1850). The circular was the Legitimists’ policy statement in case they came to power. Count Chambord declared that he “officially and categorically rejects any appeal to the people, because it will signify a negation of the great national principle of hereditary monarchy.” This statement evoked protests among the Legitimists themselves, notably from a group headed by La Rochejaquelein, and polemics in the press
- An allusion to the expiration of Louis Bonaparte’s presidential powers. In the text the date is not exact. According to the Constitution of the French Republic, presidential elections were to be held every four years on the second Sunday in May, on which day the powers of the incumbent President expired.
- The Society of December 10 (Dix Decembre) – a Bonapartist organisation founded in 1849 and consisting mainly of declassed elements, political adventurists, the reactionary military. Many of its members helped to elect Louis Bonaparte as President of the Republic on December 10, 1848, hence its name. This organisation played an active part in the Bonapartist coup d’état on December 2, 1851. Marx describes the society in his The Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte