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The Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte

by Karl Marx

Translator's Preface

"The Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte" is one of Karl Marx' most
profound and most brilliant monographs. It may be considered the best
work extant on the philosophy of history, with an eye especially upon
the history of the Movement of the Proletariat, together with the
bourgeois and other manifestations that accompany the same, and the
tactics that such conditions dictate.

The recent populist uprising; the more recent "Debs Movement"; the
thousand and one utopian and chimerical notions that are flaring up; the
capitalist maneuvers; the hopeless, helpless grasping after straws, that
characterize the conduct of the bulk of the working class; all of these,
together with the empty-headed, ominous figures that are springing into
notoriety for a time and have their day, mark the present period of the
Labor Movement in the nation a critical one. The best information
acquirable, the best mental training obtainable are requisite to steer
through the existing chaos that the death-tainted social system of today
creates all around us. To aid in this needed information and mental
training, this instructive work is now made accessible to English
readers, and is commended to the serious study of the serious.

The teachings contained in this work are hung on an episode in recent
French history. With some this fact may detract of its value. A
pedantic, supercilious notion is extensively abroad among us that we are
an "Anglo Saxon" nation; and an equally pedantic, supercilious habit
causes many to look to England for inspiration, as from a racial
birthplace Nevertheless, for weal or for woe, there is no such thing
extant as "Anglo-Saxon"--of al nations, said to be "Anglo-Saxon," in the
United States least. What we still have from England, much as
appearances may seem to point the other way, is not of our
bone-and-marrow, so to speak, but rather partakes of the nature of
"importations. "We are no more English on account of them than we are
Chinese because we all drink tea.

Of all European nations, France is the on to which we come nearest.
Besides its republican form of government--the directness of its
history, the unity of its actions, the sharpness that marks its internal
development, are all characteristics that find their parallel her best,
and vice versa. In all essentials the study of modern French history,
particularly when sketched by such a master hand as Marx', is the most
valuable one for the acquisition of that historic, social and biologic
insight that our country stands particularly in need of, and that will
be inestimable during the approaching critical days.

For the assistance of those who, unfamiliar with the history of France,
may be confused by some of the terms used by Marx, the following
explanations may prove aidful:

On the 18th Brumaire (Nov. 9th), the post-revolutionary development of
affairs in France enabled the first Napoleon to take a step that led
with inevitable certainty to the imperial throne. The circumstance that
fifty and odd years later similar events aided his nephew, Louis
Bonaparte, to take a similar step with a similar result, gives the name
to this work--"The Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte."

As to the other terms and allusions that occur, the following sketch
will suffice:

Upon the overthrow of the first Napoleon came the restoration of the
Bourbon throne (Louis XVIII, succeeded by Charles X). In July, 1830, an
uprising of the upper tier of the bourgeoisie, or capitalist class--the
aristocracy of finance-- overthrew the Bourbon throne, or landed
aristocracy, and set up the throne of Orleans, a younger branch of the
house of Bourbon, with Louis Philippe as king. From the month in which
this revolution occurred, Louis Philippe's monarchy is called the "July
Monarchy. "In February, 1848, a revolt of a lower tier of the
capitalist class-the industrial bourgeoisie--, against the aristocracy
of finance, in turn dethroned Louis Philippe. The affair, also named
from the month in which it took place, is the "February Revolution.
"The "Eighteenth Brumaire" starts with that event

Despite the inapplicableness to our affairs of the political names and
political leadership herein described, both these names and leaderships
are to such an extent the products of an economic-social development
that has here too taken place with even greater sharpens, and they have
their present or threatened counterparts here so completely, that, by
the light of this work of Marx', we are best enabled to understand our
own history, to know whence we came, and whither we are going and how to
conduct ourselves.

D.D.L. New York, Sept. 12, 1897

The Eighteenth Brumaire Of Louis Bonaparte


Hegel says somewhere that that great historic facts and personages recur
twice. He forgot to add: "Once as tragedy, and again as farce.
"Caussidiere for Danton, Louis Blanc for Robespierre, the "Mountain" of
1848-51 for the "Mountain" of 1793-05, the Nephew for the Uncle. The
identical caricature marks also the conditions under which the second
edition of the eighteenth Brumaire is issued.

Man makes his own history, but he does not make it out of the whole
cloth; he does not make it out of conditions chosen by himself, but out
of such as he finds close at hand. The tradition of all past
generations weighs like an alp upon the brain of the living. At the
very time when men appear engaged in revolutionizing things and
themselves, in bringing about what never was before, at such very epochs
of revolutionary crisis do they anxiously conjure up into their service
the spirits of the past, assume their names, their battle cries, their
costumes to enact a new historic scene in such time-honored disguise and
with such borrowed language Thus did Luther masquerade as the Apostle
Paul; thus did the revolution of 1789-1814 drape itself alternately as
Roman Republic and as Roman Empire; nor did the revolution of 1818 know
what better to do than to parody at one time the year 1789, at another
the revolutionary traditions of 1793-95 Thus does the beginner, who has
acquired a new language, keep on translating it back into his own mother
tongue; only then has he grasped the spirit of the new language and is
able freely to express himself therewith when he moves in it without
recollections of the old, and has forgotten in its use his own
hereditary tongue.

When these historic configurations of the dead past are closely observed
a striking difference is forthwith noticeable. Camille Desmoulins,
Danton, Robespierre, St. Juste, Napoleon, the heroes as well as the
parties and the masses of the old French revolution, achieved in Roman
costumes and with Roman phrases the task of their time: the emancipation
and the establishment of modern bourgeois society. One set knocked to
pieces the old feudal groundwork and mowed down the feudal heads that
had grown upon it; Napoleon brought about, within France, the conditions
under which alone free competition could develop, the partitioned lands
be exploited the nation's unshackled powers of industrial production be
utilized; while, beyond the French frontier, he swept away everywhere
the establishments of feudality, so far as requisite, to furnish the
bourgeois social system of France with fit surroundings of the European
continent, and such as were in keeping with the times. Once the new
social establishment was set on foot, the antediluvian giants vanished,
and, along with them, the resuscitated Roman world--the Brutuses,
Gracchi, Publicolas, the Tribunes, the Senators, and Caesar himself. In
its sober reality, bourgeois society had produced its own true
interpretation in the Says, Cousins, Royer-Collards, Benjamin Constants
and Guizots; its real generals sat behind the office desks; and the
mutton-head of Louis XVIII was its political lead. Wholly absorbed in
the production of wealth and in the peaceful fight of competition, this
society could no longer understand that the ghosts of the days of Rome
had watched over its cradle. And yet, lacking in heroism as bourgeois
society is, it nevertheless had stood in need of heroism, of
self-sacrifice, of terror, of civil war, and of bloody battle fields to
bring it into the world. Its gladiators found in the stern classic
traditions of the Roman republic the ideals and the form, the
self-deceptions, that they needed in order to conceal from themselves
the narrow bourgeois substance of their own struggles, and to keep their
passion up to the height of a great historic tragedy. Thus, at another
stage of development a century before, did Cromwell and the English
people draw from the Old Testament the language, passions and illusions
for their own bourgeois revolution. When the real goal was reached,
when the remodeling of English society was accomplished, Locke
supplanted Habakuk.

Accordingly, the reviving of the dead in those revolutions served the
purpose of glorifying the new struggles, not of parodying the old; it
served the purpose of exaggerating to the imagination the given task,
not to recoil before its practical solution; it served the purpose of
rekindling the revolutionary spirit, not to trot out its ghost.

In 1848-51 only the ghost of the old revolution wandered about, from
Marrast the "Relpublicain en gaunts jaunes," [#1 Silk-stocking
republican] who disguised himself in old Bailly, down to the adventurer,
who hid his repulsively trivial features under the iron death mask of
Napoleon. A whole people, that imagines it has imparted to itself
accelerated powers of motion through a revolution, suddenly finds itself
transferred back to a dead epoch, and, lest there be any mistake
possible on this head, the old dates turn up again; the old calendars;
the old names; the old edicts, which long since had sunk to the level of
the antiquarian's learning; even the old bailiffs, who had long seemed
mouldering with decay. The nation takes on the appearance of that crazy
Englishman in Bedlam, who imagines he is living in the days of the
Pharaohs, and daily laments the hard work that he must do in the
Ethiopian mines as gold digger, immured in a subterranean prison, with a
dim lamp fastened on his head, behind him the slave overseer with a long
whip, and, at the mouths of the mine a mob of barbarous camp servants
who understand neither the convicts in the mines nor one another,
because they do not speak a common language. "And all this," cries the
crazy Englishman, "is demanded of me, the free-born Englishman, in order
to make gold for old Pharaoh." "In order to pay off the debts of the
Bonaparte family"--sobs the French nation. The Englishman, so long as
he was in his senses, could not rid himself of the rooted thought making
gold. The Frenchmen, so long as they were busy with a revolution, could
not rid then selves of the Napoleonic memory, as the election of
December 10th proved. They longed to escape from the dangers of
revolution back to the flesh pots of Egypt; the 2d of December, 1851 was
the answer. They have not merely the character of the old Napoleon, but
the old Napoleon himself-caricatured as he needs must appear in the
middle of the nineteenth century.

The social revolution of the nineteenth century can not draw its poetry
from the past, it can draw that only from the future. It cannot start
upon its work before it has stricken off all superstition concerning the
past. Former revolutions require historic reminiscences in order to
intoxicate themselves with their own issues. The revolution of the
nineteenth century must let the dead bury their dead in order to reach
its issue. With the former, the phrase surpasses the substance; with
this one, the substance surpasses the phrase.

The February revolution was a surprisal; old society was taken unawares;
and the people proclaimed this political stroke a great historic act
whereby the new era was opened. On the 2d of December, the February
revolution is jockeyed by the trick of a false player, and what is seer
to be overthrown is no longer the monarchy, but the liberal concessions
which had been wrung from it by centuries of struggles. Instead of
society itself having conquered a new point, only the State appears to
have returned to its oldest form, to the simply brazen rule of the sword
and the club. Thus, upon the "coup de main" of February, 1848, comes
the response of the "coup de tete" December, 1851. So won, so lost.
Meanwhile, the interval did not go by unutilized. During the years
1848-1851, French society retrieved in abbreviated, because
revolutionary, method the lessons and teachings, which--if it was to be
more than a disturbance of the surface-should have preceded the February
revolution, had it developed in regular order, by rule, so to say. Now
French society seems to have receded behind its point of departure; in
fact, however, it was compelled to first produce its own revolutionary
point of departure, the situation, circumstances, conditions, under
which alone the modern revolution is in earnest.

Bourgeois revolutions, like those of the eighteenth century, rush onward
rapidly from success to success, their stage effects outbid one another,
men and things seem to be set in flaming brilliants, ecstasy is the
prevailing spirit; but they are short-lived, they reach their climax
speedily, then society relapses into a long fit of nervous reaction
before it learns how to appropriate the fruits of its period of feverish
excitement. Proletarian revolutions, on the contrary, such as those of
the nineteenth century, criticize themselves constantly; constantly
interrupt themselves in their own course; come back to what seems to
have been accomplished, in order to start over anew; scorn with cruel
thoroughness the half measures, weaknesses and meannesses of their first
attempts; seem to throw down their adversary only in order to enable him
to draw fresh strength from the earth, and again, to rise up against
them in more gigantic stature; constantly recoil in fear before the
undefined monster magnitude of their own objects--until finally that
situation is created which renders all retreat impossible, and the
conditions themselves cry out:

"Hic Rhodus, hic salta !" [#2 Here is Rhodes, leap here! An allusion to
Aesop's Fables.]

Every observer of average intelligence; even if he failed to follow step
by step the course of French development, must have anticipated that an
unheard of fiasco was in store for the revolution. It was enough to
hear the self-satisfied yelpings of victory wherewith the Messieurs
Democrats mutually congratulated one another upon the pardons of May 2d,
1852. Indeed, May 2d had become a fixed idea in their heads; it had
become a dogma with them--something like the day on which Christ was to
reappear and the Millennium to begin had formed in the heads of the
Chiliasts. Weakness had, as it ever does, taken refuge in the
wonderful; it believed the enemy was overcome if, in its imagination, it
hocus-pocused him away; and it lost all sense of the present in the
imaginary apotheosis of the future, that was at hand, and of the deeds,
that it had "in petto," but which it did not yet want to bring to the
scratch. The heroes, who ever seek to refute their established
incompetence by mutually bestowing their sympathy upon one another and
by pulling together, had packed their satchels, taken their laurels in
advance payments and were just engaged in the work of getting discounted
"in partibus," on the stock exchange, the republics for which, in the
silence of their unassuming dispositions, they had carefully organized
the government personnel. The 2d of December struck them like a bolt
from a clear sky; and the 'peoples, who, in periods of timid
despondency, gladly allow their hidden fears to be drowned by the
loudest screamers, will perhaps have become convinced that the days are
gone by when the cackling of geese could save the Capitol.

The constitution, the national assembly, the dynastic parties, the blue
and the red republicans, the heroes from Africa, the thunder from the
tribune, the flash-lightnings from the daily press, the whole
literature, the political names and the intellectual celebrities, the
civil and the criminal law, the "liberte', egalite', fraternite',"
together with the 2d of May 1852--all vanished like a phantasmagoria
before the ban of one man, whom his enemies themselves do not pronounce
an adept at witchcraft. Universal suffrage seems to have survived only
for a moment, to the end that, before the eyes of the whole world, it
should make its own testament with its own hands, and, in the name of
the people, declare: "All that exists deserves to perish."

It is not enough to say, as the Frenchmen do, that their nation was
taken by surprise. A nation, no more than a woman, is excused for the
unguarded hour when the first adventurer who comes along can do violence
to her. The riddle is not solved by such shifts, it is only formulated
in other words. There remains to be explained how a nation of
thirty-six millions can be surprised by three swindlers, and taken to
prison without resistance.

Let us recapitulate in general outlines the phases which the French
revolution of' February 24th, 1848, to December, 1851, ran through.

Three main periods are unmistakable:

First--The February period;

Second--The period of constituting the republic, or of the constitutive
national assembly (May 4, 1848, to May 29th, 1849);

Third--The period of the constitutional republic, or of the legislative
national assembly (May 29, 1849, to December 2, 1851).

The first period, from February 24, or the downfall of Louis Philippe,
to May 4, 1848, the date of the assembling of the constitutive
assembly--the February period proper--may be designated as the prologue
of the revolution. It officially expressed its' own character in this,
that the government which it improvised declared itself "provisional;"
and, like the government, everything that was broached, attempted, or
uttered, pronounced itself provisional. Nobody and nothing dared to
assume the right of permanent existence and of an actual fact. All the
elements that had prepared or determined the revolution--dynastic
opposition, republican bourgeoisie, democratic-republican small traders'
class, social-democratic labor element-all found "provisionally" their
place in the February government.

It could not be otherwise. The February days contemplated originally a
reform of the suffrage laws, whereby the area of the politically
privileged among the property-holding class was to be extended, while
the exclusive rule of the aristocracy of finance was to be overthrown.
When however, it came to a real conflict, when the people mounted the
barricades, when the National Guard stood passive, when the army offered
no serious resistance, and the kingdom ran away, then the republic
seemed self-understood. Each party interpreted it in its own sense.
Won, arms in hand, by the proletariat, they put upon it the stamp of
their own class, and proclaimed the social republic. Thus the general
purpose of modern revolutions was indicated, a purpose, however, that
stood in most singular contradiction to every thing that, with the
material at hand, with the stage of enlightenment that the masses had
reached, and under existing circumstances and conditions, could be
immediately used. On the other hand, the claims of all the other
elements, that had cooperated in the revolution of February, were
recognized by the lion's share that they received in the government.
Hence, in no period do we find a more motley mixture of high-sounding
phrases together with actual doubt and helplessness; of more
enthusiastic reform aspirations, together with a more slavish adherence
to the old routine; more seeming harmony permeating the whole of society
together with a deeper alienation of its several elements. While the
Parisian proletariat was still gloating over the sight of the great
perspective that had disclosed itself to their view, and was indulging
in seriously meant discussions over the social problems, the old powers
of society had groomed themselves, had gathered together, had
deliberated and found an unexpected support in the mass of the
nation--the peasants and small traders--all of whom threw themselves on
a sudden upon the political stage, after the barriers of the July
monarchy had fallen down.

The second period, from May 4, 1848, to the end of May, 1849, is the
period of the constitution, of the founding of the bourgeois republic
immediately after the February days, not only was the dynastic
opposition surprised by the republicans, and the republicans by the
Socialists, but all France was surprised by Paris. The national
assembly, that met on May 4, 1848, to frame a constitution, was the
outcome of the national elections; it represented the nation. It was a
living protest against the assumption of the February days, and it was
intended to bring the results of the revolution back to the bourgeois
measure. In vain did the proletariat of Paris, which forthwith
understood the character of this national assembly, endeavor, a few days
after its meeting; on May 15, to deny its existence by force, to
dissolve it, to disperse the organic apparition, in which the reacting
spirit of the nation was threatening them, and thus reduce it back to
its separate component parts. As is known, the 15th of May had no other
result than that of removing Blanqui and his associates, i.e. the real
leaders of the proletarian party, from the public scene for the whole
period of the cycle which we are here considering.

Upon the bourgeois monarchy of Louis Philippe, only the bourgeois
republic could follow; that is to say, a limited portion of the
bourgeoisie having ruled under the name of the king, now the whole
bourgeoisie was to rule under the name of the people. The demands of
the Parisian proletariat are utopian tom-fooleries that have to be done
away with. To this declaration of the constitutional national assembly,
the Paris proletariat answers with the June insurrection, the most
colossal event in the history of European civil wars. The bourgeois
republic won. On its side stood the aristocracy of finance, the
industrial bourgeoisie; the middle class; the small traders' class; the
army; the slums, organized as Guarde Mobile; the intellectual
celebrities, the parsons' class, and the rural population. On the side
of the Parisian proletariat stood none but itself. Over 3,000
insurgents were massacred, after the victory 15,000 were transported
without trial. With this defeat, the proletariat steps to the
background on the revolutionary stage. It always seeks to crowd
forward, so soon as the movement seems to acquire new impetus, but with
ever weaker effort and ever smaller results; So soon as any of the above
lying layers of society gets into revolutionary fermentation, it enters
into alliance therewith and thus shares all the defeats which the
several parties successively suffer. But these succeeding blows become
ever weaker the more generally they are distributed over the whole
surface of society. The more important leaders of the Proletariat, in
its councils, and the press, fall one after another victims of the
courts, and ever more questionable figures step to the front. It partly
throws itself it upon doctrinaire experiments, "co-operative banking"
and "labor exchange" schemes; in other words, movements, in which it
goes into movements in which it gives up the task of revolutionizing the
old world with its own large collective weapons and on the contrary,
seeks to bring about its emancipation, behind the back of society, in
private ways, within the narrow bounds of its own class conditions, and,
consequently, inevitably fails. The proletariat seems to be able
neither to find again the revolutionary magnitude within itself nor to
draw new energy from the newly formed alliances until all the classes,
with whom it contended in June, shall lie prostrate along with itself.
But in all these defeats, the proletariat succumbs at least with the
honor that attaches to great historic struggles; not France alone, all
Europe trembles before the June earthquake, while the successive defeats
inflicted upon the higher classes are bought so easily that they need
the brazen exaggeration of the victorious party itself to be at all able
to pass muster as an event; and these defeats become more disgraceful
the further removed the defeated party stands from the proletariat.

True enough, the defeat of the June insurgents prepared, leveled the
ground, upon which the bourgeois republic could be founded and erected;
but it, at the same time, showed that there are in Europe other issues
besides that of "Republic or Monarchy." It revealed the fact that here
the Bourgeois Republic meant the unbridled despotism of one class over
another. It proved that, with nations enjoying an older civilization,
having developed class distinctions, modern conditions of production, an
intellectual consciousness, wherein all traditions of old have been
dissolved through the work of centuries, that with such countries the
republic means only the political revolutionary form of bourgeois
society, not its conservative form of existence, as is the case in the
United States of America, where, true enough, the classes already exist,
but have not yet acquired permanent character, are in constant flux and
reflux, constantly changing their elements and yielding them up to one
another where the modern means of production, instead of coinciding with
a stagnant population, rather compensate for the relative scarcity of
heads and hands; and, finally, where the feverishly youthful life of
material production, which has to appropriate a new world to itself, has
so far left neither time nor opportunity to abolish the illusions of
old. [#3 This was written at the beginning of 1852.]

All classes and parties joined hands in the June days in a "Party of
Order" against the class of the proletariat, which was designated as the
"Party of Anarchy," of Socialism, of Communism. They claimed to have
"saved" society against the "enemies of society." They gave out the
slogans of the old social order--"Property, Family, Religion, Order"--as
the pass-words for their army, and cried out to the
counter-revolutionary crusaders: "In this sign thou wilt conquer!" From
that moment on, so soon as any of the numerous parties, which had
marshaled themselves under this sign against the June insurgents, tries,
in turn, to take the revolutionary field in the interest of its own
class, it goes down in its turn before the cry: "Property, Family,
Religion, Order." Thus it happens that "society is saved" as often as
the circle of its ruling class is narrowed, as often as a more exclusive
interest asserts itself over the general. Every demand for the most
simple bourgeois financial reform, for the most ordinary liberalism, for
the most commonplace republicanism, for the flattest democracy, is
forthwith punished as an "assault upon society," and is branded as
"Socialism." Finally the High Priests of "Religion and Order"
themselves are kicked off their tripods; are fetched out of their beds
in the dark; hurried into patrol wagons, thrust into jail or sent into
exile; their temple is razed to the ground, their mouths are sealed,
their pen is broken, their law torn to pieces in the name of Religion,
of Family, of Property, and of Order. Bourgeois, fanatic on the point
of "Order," are shot down on their own balconies by drunken soldiers,
forfeit their family property, and their houses are bombarded for
pastime--all in the name of Property, of Family, of Religion, and of
Order. Finally, the refuse of bourgeois society constitutes the "holy
phalanx of Order," and the hero Crapulinsky makes his entry into the
Tuileries as the "Savior of Society."


Let us resume the thread of events.

The history of the Constitutional National Assembly from the June days
on, is the history of the supremacy and dissolution of the republican
bourgeois party, the party which is known under several names of
"Tricolor Republican," "True Republican," "Political Republican,"
"Formal Republican," etc., etc. Under the bourgeois monarchy of Louis
Philippe, this party had constituted the Official Republican Opposition,
and consequently had been a recognized element in the then political
world. It had its representatives in the Chambers, and commanded
considerable influence in the press. Its Parisian organ, the
"National," passed, in its way, for as respectable a paper as the
"Journal des Debats." This position in the constitutional monarchy
corresponded to its character. The party was not a fraction of the
bourgeoisie, held together by great and common interests, and marked by
special business requirements. It was a coterie of bourgeois with
republican ideas-writers, lawyers, officers and civil employees, whose
influence rested upon the personal antipathies of the country for Louis
Philippe, upon reminiscences of the old Republic, upon the republican
faith of a number of enthusiasts, and, above all, upon the spirit of
French patriotism, whose hatred of the treaties of Vienna and of the
alliance with England kept them perpetually on the alert. The
"National" owed a large portion of its following under Louis Philippe to
this covert imperialism, that, later under the republic, could stand up
against it as a deadly competitor in the person of Louis Bonaparte. The
fought the aristocracy of finance just the same as did the rest of the
bourgeois opposition. The polemic against the budget, which in France,
was closely connected with the opposition to the aristocracy of finance,
furnished too cheap a popularity and too rich a material for Puritanical
leading articles, not to be exploited. The industrial bourgeoisie was
thankful to it for its servile defense of the French tariff system,
which, however, the paper had taken up , more out of patriotic than
economic reasons the whole bourgeois class was thankful to it for its
vicious denunciations of Communism and Socialism For the rest, the party
of the "National" was purely republican, i.e. it demanded a republican
instead of a monarchic form of bourgeois government; above all, it
demanded for the bourgeoisie the lion's share of the government. As to
how this transformation was to be accomplished, the party was far from
being clear. What, however, was clear as day to it and was openly
declared at the reform banquets during the last days of Louis Philippe's
reign, was its unpopularity with the democratic middle class, especially
with the revolutionary proletariat. These pure republicans, as pure
republicans go, were at first on the very point of contenting themselves
with the regency of the Duchess of Orleans, when the February revolution
broke out, and when it gave their best known representatives a place in
the provisional government. Of course, they enjoyed from the start the
confidence of the bourgeoisie and of the majority of the Constitutional
National Assembly. The Socialist elements of the Provisional Government
were promptly excluded from the Executive Committee which the Assembly
had elected upon its convening, and the party of the "National"
subsequently utilized the outbreak of the June insurrection to dismiss
this Executive Committee also, and thus rid itself of its nearest
rivals--the small traders' class or democratic republicans
(Ledru-Rollin, etc.). Cavaignac, the General of the bourgeois
republican party, who command at the battle of June, stepped into the
place of the Executive Committee with a sort of dictatorial power.
Marrast, former editor-in-chief of the "National", became permanent
President of the Constitutional National Assembly, and the Secretaryship
of State, together with all the other important posts, devolved upon the
pure republicans.

The republican bourgeois party, which since long had looked upon itself
as the legitimate heir of the July monarchy, thus found itself surpassed
in its own ideal; but it cam to power, not as it had dreamed under Louis
Philippe, through a liberal revolt of the bourgeoisie against the
throne, but through a grape-shot-and-canistered mutiny of the
proletariat against Capital. That which it imagined to be the most
revolutionary, came about as the most counter-revolutionary event. The
fruit fell into its lap, but it fell from the Tree of Knowledge, not
from the Tree of life.

The exclusive power of the bourgeois republic lasted only from June 24
to the 10th of December, 1848. It is summed up in the framing of a
republican constitution and in the state of siege of Paris.

The new Constitution was in substance only a republicanized edition of
the constitutional charter of 1830. The limited suffrage of the July
monarchy, which excluded even a large portion of the bourgeoisie from
political power, was irreconcilable with the existence of the bourgeois
republic. The February revolution had forthwith proclaimed direct and
universal suffrage in place of the old law. The bourgeois republic
could not annul this act. They had to content themselves with tacking
to it the limitation a six months' residence. The old organization of
the administrative law, of municipal government, of court procedures of
the army, etc., remained untouched, or, where the constitution did
change them, the change affected their index, not their subject; their
name, not their substance.

The inevitable "General Staff" of the "freedoms" of 1848--personal
freedom, freedom of the press, of speech, of association and of
assemblage, freedom of instruction, of religion, etc.--received a
constitutional uniform that rendered them invulnerable. Each of these
freedoms is proclaimed the absolute right of the French citizen, but
always with the gloss that it is unlimited in so far only as it be not
curtailed by the "equal rights of others," and by the "public safety,"
or by the "laws," which are intended to effect this harmony. For

"Citizens have the right of association, of peaceful and unarmed
assemblage, of petitioning, and of expressing their opinions through the
press or otherwise. The enjoyment of these rights has no limitation
other than the equal rights of others and the public safety."
(Chap. II. of the French Constitution, Section 8.)

"Education is free. The freedom of education shall be enjoyed under the
conditions provided by law, and under the supervision of the State."
(Section 9.)

"The domicile of the citizen is inviolable, except under the forms
prescribed by law." (Chap. I., Section 3), etc., etc.

The Constitution, it will be noticed, constantly alludes to future
organic laws, that are to carry out the glosses, and are intended to
regulate the enjoyment of these unabridged freedoms, to the end that
they collide neither with one another nor with the public safety. Later
on, the organic laws are called into existence by the "Friends of
Order," and all the above named freedoms are so regulated that, in their
enjoyment, the bourgeoisie encounter no opposition from the like rights
of the other classes. Wherever the bourgeoisie wholly interdicted these
rights to "others," or allowed them their enjoyment under conditions
that were but so many police snares, it was always done only in the
interest of the "public safety," i. e., of the bourgeoisie, as required
by the Constitution.

Hence it comes that both sides-the "Friends of Order," who abolished all
those freedoms, as, well as the democrats, who had demanded them
all--appeal with full right to the Constitution: Each paragraph of the
Constitution contains its own antithesis, its own Upper and Lower
House-freedom as a generalization, the abolition of freedom as a
specification. Accordingly, so long as the name of freedom was
respected, and only its real enforcement was prevented in a legal way,
of course the constitutional existence of freedom remained uninjured,
untouched, however completely its common existence might be

This Constitution, so ingeniously made invulnerable, was, however, like
Achilles, vulnerable at one point: not in its heel, but in its head, or
rather, in the two heads into which it ran out-the Legislative Assembly,
on the one hand, and the President on the other. Run through the
Constitution and it will be found that only those paragraphs wherein the
relation of the President to the Legislative Assembly is defined, are
absolute, positive, uncontradictory, undistortable.

Here the bourgeois republicans were concerned in securing their own
position. Articles 45-70 of the Constitution are so framed that the
National Assembly can constitutionally remove the President, but the
President can set aside the National Assembly only unconstitutionally,
he can set it aside only by setting aside the Constitution itself.
Accordingly, by these provisions, the National Assembly challenges its
own violent destruction. It not only consecrates, like the character of
1830, the division of powers, but it extends this feature to an
unbearably contradictory extreme. The "play of constitutional powers,"
as Guizot styled the clapper-clawings between the legislative and the
executive powers, plays permanent "vabanque" in the Constitution of
1848. On the one side, 750 representatives of the people, elected and
qualified for re-election by universal suffrage, who constitute an
uncontrollable, indissoluble, indivisible National Assembly, a National
Assembly that enjoys legislative omnipotence, that decides in the last
instance over war, peace and commercial treaties, that alone has the
power to grant amnesties, and that, through its perpetuity, continually
maintains the foreground on the stage; on the other, a President, clad
with all the attributes of royalty, with the right to appoint and remove
his ministers independently from the national assembly, holding in his
hands all the means of executive power, the dispenser of all posts, and
thereby the arbiter of at least one and a half million existences in
France, so many being dependent upon the 500,000 civil employees and
upon the officers of all grades. He has the whole armed power behind
him. He enjoys the privilege of granting pardons to individual
criminals; suspending the National Guards; of removing with the consent
of the Council of State the general, cantonal and municipal Councilmen,
elected by the citizens themselves. The initiative and direction of all
negotiations with foreign countries are reserved to him. While the
Assembly itself is constantly acting upon the stage, and is exposed to
the critically vulgar light of day, he leads a hidden life in the
Elysian fields, only with Article 45 of the Constitution before his eyes
and in his heart daily calling out to him, "Frere, il faut mourir!" [#1
Brother, you must die!] Your power expires on the second Sunday of the
beautiful month of May, in the fourth year after your election! The
glory is then at an end; the play is not performed twice; and, if you
have any debts, see to it betimes that you pay them off with the 600,000
francs that the Constitution has set aside for you, unless, perchance,
you should prefer traveling to Clichy [#2 The debtors' prison.] on the
second Monday of the beautiful month of May."

While the Constitution thus clothes the President with actual power, it
seeks to secure the moral power to the National Assembly. Apart from
the circumstance that it is impossible to create a moral power through
legislative paragraphs, the Constitution again neutralizes itself in
that it causes the President to be chosen by all the Frenchmen through
direct suffrage. While the votes of France are splintered to pieces
upon the 750 members of the National Assembly they are here, on the
contrary, concentrated upon one individual. While each separate
Representative represents only this or that party, this or that city,
this or that dunghill, or possibly only the necessity of electing some
one Seven-hundred-and-fiftieth or other, with whom neither the issue nor
the man is closely considered, that one, the President, on the contrary,
is the elect of the nation, and the act of his election is the trump
card, that, the sovereign people plays out once every four years. The
elected National Assembly stands in a metaphysical, but the elected
President in a personal, relation to the nation. True enough, the
National Assembly presents in its several Representatives the various
sides of the national spirit, but, in the President, this spirit is
incarnated. As against the National Assembly, the President possesses a
sort of divine right, he is by the grace of the people.

Thetis, the sea-goddess, had prophesied to Achilles that he would die in
the bloom of youth. The Constitution, which had its weak spot, like
Achilles, had also, like Achilles, the presentiment that it would depart
by premature death. It was enough for the pure republicans, engaged at
the work of framing a constitution, to cast a glance from the misty
heights of their ideal republic down upon the profane world in order to
realize how the arrogance of the royalists, of the Bonapartists, of the
democrats, of the Communists, rose daily, together with their own
discredit, and in the same measure as they approached the completion of
their legislative work of art, without Thetis having for this purpose to
leave the sea and impart the secret to them. They ought to outwit fate
by means of constitutional artifice, through Section 111 of the
Constitution, according to which every motion to revise the Constitution
had to be discussed three successive times between each of which a full
month was to elapse and required at least a three-fourths majority, with
the additional proviso that not less than 500 members of the National
Assembly voted. They thereby only made the impotent attempt, still to
exercise as a parliamentary minority, to which in their mind's eye they
prophetically saw themselves reduced, a power, that, at this very time,
when they still disposed over the parliamentary majority and over all
the machinery of government, was daily slipping from their weak hands.

Finally, the Constitution entrusts itself for safe keeping, in a
melodramatic paragraph, "to the watchfulness and patriotism of the whole
French people, and of each individual Frenchman," after having just
before, in another paragraph entrusted the "watchful" and the
"patriotic" themselves to the tender, inquisitorial attention of the
High Court, instituted by itself.

That was the Constitution of 1848, which on, the 2d of December, 1851,
was not overthrown by one head, but tumbled down at the touch of a mere
hat; though, true enough, that hat was a three-cornered Napoleon hat.

While the bourgeois' republicans were engaged in the Assembly with the
work of splicing this Constitution, of discussing and voting, Cavaignac,
on the outside, maintained the state of siege of Paris. The state of
siege of Paris was the midwife of the constitutional assembly, during
its republican pains of travail. When the Constitution is later on
swept off the earth by the bayonet,

it should not be forgotten that it was by the bayonet, likewise--and the
bayonet turned against the people, at that--that it had to be protected
in its mother's womb, and that by the bayonet it had to be planted on
earth. The ancestors of these "honest republicans" had caused their
symbol, the tricolor, to make the tour of Europe. These, in their turn
also made a discovery, which all of itself, found its way over the whole
continent, but, with ever renewed love, came back to France, until, by
this time, if had acquired the right of citizenship in one-half of her
Departments--the state of siege. A wondrous discovery this was,
periodically applied at each succeeding crisis in the course of the
French revolution. But the barrack and the bivouac, thus periodically
laid on the head of French society, to compress her brain and reduce her
to quiet; the sabre and the musket, periodically made to perform the
functions of judges and of administrators, of guardians and of censors,
of police officers and of watchmen; the military moustache and the
soldier's jacket, periodically heralded as the highest wisdom and
guiding stars of society;--were not all of these, the barrack and the
bivouac, the sabre and the musket, the moustache and the soldier's
jacket bound, in the end, to hit upon the idea that they might as well
save, society once for all, by proclaiming their own regime as supreme,
and relieve bourgeois society wholly of the care of ruling itself? The
barrack and the bivouac, the sabre and the musket, the moustache and the
soldier's jacket were all the more bound to hit upon this idea, seeing
that they could then also expect better cash payment for their increased
deserts, while at the merely periodic states of siege and the transitory
savings of society at the behest of this or that bourgeois faction, very
little solid matter fell to them except some dead and wounded, besides
some friendly bourgeois grimaces. Should not the military, finally, in
and for its own interest, play the game of "state of siege," and
simultaneously besiege the bourgeois exchanges? Moreover, it must not
be forgotten, and be it observed in passing, that Col. Bernard, the same
President of the Military Committee, who, under Cavaignac, helped to
deport 15,000 insurgents without trial, moves at this period again at
the head of the Military Committees now active in Paris.

Although the honest, the pure republicans built with the state of siege
the nursery in which the Praetorian guards of December 2, 1851, were to
be reared, they, on the other hand, deserve praise in that, instead of
exaggerating the feeling of patriotism, as under Louis Philippe, now;
they themselves are in command of the national power, they crawl before
foreign powers; instead of making Italy free, they allow her to be
reconquered by Austrians and Neapolitans. The election of Louis
Bonaparte for President on December 10, 1848, put an end to the
dictatorship of Cavaignac and to the constitutional assembly.

In Article 44 of the Constitution it is said "The President of the
French Republic must never have lost his status as a French citizen."
The first President of the French Republic, L. N. Bonaparte, had not
only lost his status as a French citizen, had not only been an English
special constable, but was even a naturalized Swiss citizen.

In the previous chapter I have explained the meaning of the election of
December 10. I shall not here return to it. Suffice it here to say
that it was a reaction of the farmers' class, who had been expected to
pay the costs of the February revolution, against the other classes of
the nation: it was a reaction of the country against the city. It met
with great favor among the soldiers, to whom the republicans of the
"National" had brought neither fame nor funds; among the great
bourgeoisie, who hailed Bonaparte as a bridge to the monarchy; and among
the proletarians and small traders, who hailed him as a scourge to
Cavaignac. I shall later have occasion to enter closer into the
relation of the farmers to the French revolution.

The epoch between December 20, 1848, and the dissolution of the
constitutional assembly in May, 1849, embraces the history of the
downfall of the bourgeois republicans. After they had founded a
republic for the bourgeoisie, had driven the revolutionary proletariat
from the field and had meanwhile silenced the democratic middle class,
they are themselves shoved aside by the mass of the bourgeoisie who
justly appropriate this republic as their property. This bourgeois mass
was Royalist, however. A part thereof, the large landed proprietors,
had ruled under the restoration, hence, was Legitimist; the other part,
the aristocrats of finance and the large industrial capitalists, had
ruled under the July monarchy, hence, was Orleanist. The high
functionaries of the Army, of the University, of the Church, in the
civil service, of the Academy and of the press, divided themselves on
both sides, although in unequal parts. Here, in the bourgeois republic,
that bore neither the name of Bourbon, nor of Orleans, but the name of
Capital, they had found the form of government under which they could
all rule in common. Already the June insurrection had united them all
into a "Party of Order." The next thing to do was to remove the
bourgeois republicans who still held the seats in the National Assembly.
As brutally as these pure republicans had abused their own physical
power against the people, so cowardly, low-spirited, disheartened,
broken, powerless did they yield, now when the issue was the maintenance
of their own republicanism and their own legislative rights against the
Executive power and the royalists I need not here narrate the shameful
history of their dissolution. It was not a downfall, it was extinction.
Their history is at an end for all time. In the period that follows,
they figure, whether within or without the Assembly, only as
memories--memories that seem again to come to life so soon as the
question is again only the word "Republic," and as often as the
revolutionary conflict threatens to sink down to the lowest level. In
passing, I might observe that the journal which gave to this party its
name, the "National," goes over to Socialism during the following

Before we close this period, we must look back upon the two powers, one
of destroys the other on December 2, 1851, while, from December 20,
1848, down to the departure of the constitutional assembly, they live
marital relations. We mean Louis Bonaparte, on the-one hand, on the
other, the party of the allied royalists; of Order, and of the large

At the inauguration of his presidency, Bonaparte forthwith framed a
ministry out of the party of Order, at whose head he placed Odillon
Barrot, be it noted, the old leader of the liberal wing of the
parliamentary bourgeoisie. Mr. Barrot had finally hunted down a seat in
the ministry, the spook of which had been pursuing him since 1830; and
what is more, he had the chairmanship in this ministry, although not, as
he had imagined under Louis Philippe, the promoted leader of the
parliamentary opposition, but with the commission to kill a parliament,
and, moreover, as an ally of all his arch enemies, the Jesuits and the
Legitimists. Finally he leads the bride home, but only after she has
been prostituted. As to Bonaparte, he seemed to eclipse himself
completely. The party of Order acted for him.

Immediately at the first session of the ministry the expedition to Rome
was decided upon, which it was there agreed, was to be carried out
behind I the back of the National Assembly, and the funds for which, it
was equally agreed, were to be wrung from the Assembly under false
pretences. Thus the start was made with a swindle on the National
Assembly, together with a secret conspiracy with the absolute foreign
powers against the revolutionary Roman republic. In the same way, and
with a similar maneuver, did Bonaparte prepare his stroke of December 2
against the royalist legislature and its constitutional republic. Let
it not be forgotten that the same party, which, on December 20, 1848,
constituted Bonaparte's ministry, constituted also, on December 2, 1851,
the majority of the legislative National Assembly.

In August the constitutive assembly decided not to dissolve until it had
prepared and promulgated a whole series of organic laws, intended to
supplement the Constitution. The party of Order proposed to the
assembly, through Representative Rateau, on January 6, 1849, to let the
Organic laws go, and rather to order its own dissolution. Not the
ministry alone, with Mr. Odillon Barrot at its head, but all the
royalist members of the National Assembly were also at this time
hectoring to it that its dissolution was necessary for the restoration
of the public credit, for the consolidation of order, to put an end to
the existing uncertain and provisional, and establish a definite state
of things; they claimed that its continued existence hindered the
effectiveness of the new Government, that it sought to prolong its life
out of pure malice, and that the country was tired of it. Bonaparte
took notice of all these invectives hurled at the legislative power, he
learned them by heart, and, on December 21, 1851, he showed the
parliamentary royalists that he had learned from them. He repeated
their own slogans against themselves.

The Barrot ministry and the party of Order went further. They called
all over France for petitions to the National Assembly in which that
body was politely requested to disappear. Thus they led the people's
unorganic masses to the fray against the National Assembly, i.e., the
constitutionally organized expression of people itself. They taught
Bonaparte, to appeal from the parliamentary body to the people.
Finally, on January 29, 1849, the day arrived when the constitutional
assembly was to decide about its own dissolution. On that day the body
found its building occupied by the military; Changarnier, the General of
the party of Order, in whose hands was joined the supreme command of
both the National Guards and the regulars, held that day a great
military review, as though a battle were imminent; and the coalized
royalists declared threateningly to the constitutional assembly that
force would be applied if it did not act willingly. It was willing, and
chaffered only for a very short respite. What else was the 29th of
January, 1849, than the "coup d'etat" of December 2, 1851, only executed
by the royalists with Napoleon's aid against the republican National
Assembly? These gentlemen did not notice, or did not want to notice,
that Napoleon utilized the 29th of January, 1849, to cause a part of the
troops to file before him in front of the Tuileries, and that he seized
with avidity this very first open exercise of the military against the
parliamentary power in order to hint at Caligula. The allied royalists
saw only their own Changarnier.

Another reason that particularly moved the party of Order forcibly to
shorten the term of the constitutional assembly were the organic laws,
the laws that were to supplement the Constitution, as, for instance, the
laws on education, on religion, etc. The allied royalists had every
interest in framing these laws themselves, and not allowing them to be
framed by the already suspicious republicans. Among these organic laws,
there was, however, one on the responsibility of the President of the
republic. In 1851 the Legislature was just engaged in framing such a
law when Bonaparte forestalled that political stroke by his own of
December 2. What all would not the coalized royalists have given in
their winter parliamentary campaign of 1851, had they but found this
"Responsibility law" ready made, and framed at that, by the suspicious,
the vicious republican Assembly!

After, on January 29, 1849, the constitutive assembly had itself broken
its last weapon, the Barrot ministry and the "Friends of Order" harassed
it to death, left nothing undone to humiliate it, and wrung from its
weakness, despairing of itself, laws that cost it the last vestige of
respect with the public. Bonaparte, occupied with his own fixed
Napoleonic idea, was audacious enough openly to exploit this degradation
of the parliamentary power: When the National Assembly, on May 8, 1849,
passed a vote of censure upon the Ministry on account of the occupation
of Civita-Vecchia by Oudinot, and ordered that the Roman expedition be
brought back to its alleged purpose, Bonaparte published that same
evening in the "Moniteur" a letter to Oudinot, in which he congratulated
him on his heroic feats, and already, in contrast with the quill-pushing
parliamentarians, posed as the generous protector of the Army. The
royalists smiled at this. They took him simply for their dupe.
Finally, as Marrast, the President of the constitutional assembly,
believed on a certain occasion the safety of the body to be in danger,
and, resting on the Constitution, made a requisition upon a Colonel,
together with his regiment, the Colonel refused obedience, took refuge
behind the "discipline," and referred Marrast to Changarnier, who
scornfully sent him off with the remark that he did not like "bayonettes
intelligentes." [#1 Intelligent bayonets] In November, 1851, as the
coalized royalists wanted to begin the decisive struggle with Bonaparte,
they sought, by means of their notorious "Questors Bill," to enforce the
principle of the right of the President of the National Assembly to
issue direct requisitions for troops. One of their Generals, Leflo,
supported the motion. In vain did Changarnier vote for it, or did
Thiers render homage to the cautious wisdom of the late constitutional
assembly. The Minister of War, St. Arnaud, answered him as Changarnier
had answered Marrast--and he did so amidst the plaudits of the Mountain.

Thus did the party of Order itself, when as yet it was not the National
Assembly, when as yet it was only a Ministry, brand the parliamentary
regime. And yet this party objects vociferously when the 2d of
December, 1851, banishes that regime from France!

We wish it a happy journey.


On May 29, 1849, the legislative National Assembly convened. On
December 2, 1851, it was broken up. This period embraces the term of
the Constitutional or Parliamentary public.

In the first French revolution, upon the reign of the Constitutionalists
succeeds that of the Girondins; and upon the reign of the Girondins
follows that of the Jacobins. Each of these parties in succession rests
upon its more advanced element. So soon as it has carried the
revolution far enough not to be able to keep pace with, much less march
ahead of it, it is shoved aside by its more daring allies, who stand
behind it, and it is sent to the guillotine. Thus the revolution moves
along an upward line.

Just the reverse in 1848. The proletarian party appears as an appendage
to the small traders' or democratic party; it is betrayed by the latter
and allowed to fall on April 16, May 15, and in the June days. In its
turn, the democratic party leans upon the shoulders of the bourgeois
republicans; barely do the bourgeois republicans believe themselves
firmly in power, than they shake off these troublesome associates for
the purpose of themselves leaning upon the shoulders of the party of
Order. The party of Order draws in its shoulders, lets the bourgeois
republicans tumble down heels over head, and throws itself upon the
shoulders of the armed power. Finally, still of the mind that it is
sustained by the shoulders of the armed power, the party of Order
notices one fine morning that these shoulders have turned into bayonets.
Each party kicks backward at those that are pushing forward, and leans
forward upon those that are crowding backward; no wonder that, in this
ludicrous posture, each loses its balance, and, after having cut the
unavoidable grimaces, breaks down amid singular somersaults.
Accordingly, the revolution moves along a downward line. It finds
itself in this retreating motion before the last February-barricade is
cleared away, and the first governmental authority of the revolution has
been constituted.

The period we now have before us embraces the motliest jumble of crying
contradictions: constitutionalists, who openly conspire against the
Constitution; revolutionists, who admittedly are constitutional; a
National Assembly that wishes to be omnipotent yet remains
parliamentary; a Mountain, that finds its occupation in submission, that
parries its present defeats with prophecies of future victories;
royalists, who constitute the "patres conscripti" of the republic, and
are compelled by the situation to uphold abroad the hostile monarchic
houses, whose adherents they are, while in France they support the
republic that they hate; an Executive power that finds its strength in
its very weakness, and its dignity in the contempt that it inspires; a
republic, that is nothing else than the combined infamy of two
monarchies--the Restoration and the July Monarchy--with an imperial
label; unions, whose first clause is disunion; struggles, whose first
law is in-decision; in the name of peace, barren and hollow agitation;
in the name of the revolution, solemn sermonizings on peace; passions
without truth; truths without passion; heroes without heroism; history
without events; development, whose only moving force seems to be the
calendar, and tiresome by the constant reiteration of the same tensions
and relaxes; contrasts, that seem to intensify themselves periodically,
only in order to wear themselves off and collapse without a solution;
pretentious efforts made for show, and bourgeois frights at the danger
of the destruction of the world, simultaneous with the carrying on of
the pettiest intrigues and the performance of court comedies by the
world's saviours, who, in their "laisser aller," recall the Day of
Judgment not so much as the days of the Fronde; the official collective
genius of France brought to shame by the artful stupidity of a single
individual; the collective will of the nation, as often as it speaks
through the general suffrage, seeking its true expression in the
prescriptive enemies of the public interests until it finally finds it
in the arbitrary will of a filibuster. If ever a slice from history is
drawn black upon black, it is this. Men and events appear as reversed
"Schlemihls," [#1 The hero In Chamisso's "Peter Schiemihi," who loses
his own shadow.] as shadows, the bodies of which have been lost. The
revolution itself paralyzes its own apostles, and equips only its
adversaries with passionate violence. When the "Red Spectre,"
constantly conjured up and exorcised by the counter-revolutionists
finally does appear, it does not appear with the Anarchist Phrygian cap
on its head, but in the uniform of Order, in the Red Breeches of the
French Soldier.

We saw that the Ministry, which Bonaparte installed on December 20,
1849, the day of his "Ascension," was a ministry of the party of Order,
of the Legitimist and Orleanist coalition. The Barrot-Falloux ministry
had weathered the republican constitutive convention, whose term of life
it had shortened with more or less violence, and found itself still at
the helm. Changamier, the General of the allied royalists continued to
unite in his person the command-in-chief of the First Military Division
and of the Parisian National Guard. Finally, the general elections had
secured the large majority in the National Assembly to the party of
Order. Here the Deputies and Peers of Louis Phillipe met a saintly
crowd of Legitimists, for whose benefit numerous ballots of the nation
had been converted into admission tickets to the political stage. The
Bonapartist representatives were too thinly sowed to be able to build an
independent parliamentary party. They appeared only as "mauvaise queue"
[#2 Practical joke] played upon the party of Order. Thus the party of
Order was in possession of the Government, of the Army, and of the
legislative body, in short, of the total power of the State, morally
strengthened by the general elections, that caused their sovereignty to
appear as the will of the people, and by the simultaneous victory of the
counter-revolution on the whole continent of Europe.

Never did party open its campaign with larger means at its disposal and
under more favorable auspices.

The shipwrecked pure republicans found themselves in the legislative
National Assembly melted down to a clique of fifty men, with the African
Generals Cavaignac, Lamorciere and Bedeau at its head. The great
Opposition party was, however, formed by the Mountain. This
parliamentary baptismal name was given to itself by the Social
Democratic party. It disposed of more than two hundred votes out of the
seven hundred and fifty in the National Assembly, and, hence, was at
least just as powerful as any one of the three factions of the party of
Order. Its relative minority to the total royalist coalition seemed
counterbalanced by special circumstances. Not only did the Departmental
election returns show that it had gained a considerable following among
the rural population, but, furthermore, it numbered almost all the Paris
Deputies in its camp; the Army had, by the election of three
under-officers, made a confession of democratic faith; and the leader of
the Mountain, Ledru-Rollin had in contrast to all the representatives of
the party of Order, been raised to the rank of the "parliamentary
nobility" by five Departments, who combined their suffrages upon him.
Accordingly, in view of the inevitable collisions of the royalists among
themselves, on the one hand, and of the whole party of Order with
Bonaparte, on the other, the Mountain seemed on May 29,1849, to have
before it all the elements of success. A fortnight later, it had lost
everything, its honor included.

Before we follow this parliamentary history any further, a few
observations are necessary, in order to avoid certain common deceptions
concerning the whole character of the epoch that lies before us.
According to the view of the democrats, the issue, during the period of
the legislative National Assembly, was, the same as during the period of
the constitutive assembly, simply the struggle between republicans and
royalists; the movement itself was summed up by them in the catch-word
Reaction--night, in which all cats are grey, and allows them to drawl
out their drowsy commonplaces. Indeed, at first sight, the party of
Order presents the appearance of a tangle of royalist factions, that,
not only intrigue against each other, each aiming to raise its own
Pretender to the throne, and exclude the Pretender of the Opposite
party, but also are all united in a common hatred for and common attacks
against the "Republic." On its side, the Mountain appears, in
counter-distinction to the royalist conspiracy, as the representative of
the "Republic." The party of Order seems constantly engaged in a
"Reaction," which, neither more nor less than in Prussia, is directed
against the press, the right of association and the like, and is
enforced by brutal police interventions on the part of the bureaucracy,
the police and the public prosecutor--just as in Prussia; the Mountain
on the contrary, is engaged with equal assiduity in parrying these
attacks, and thus in defending the "eternal rights of man"--as every
so-called people's party has more or less done for the last hundred and
fifty years. At a closer inspection, however, of the situation and of
the parties, this superficial appearance, which veils the Class
Struggle, together with the peculiar physiognomy of this period,
vanishes wholly.

Legitimists and Orleanists constituted, as said before, the two large
factions of the party of Order. What held these two factions to their
respective Pretenders, and inversely kept them apart from each other,
what else was it but the lily and the tricolor, the House of Bourbon and
the house of Orleans, different shades of royalty? Under the Bourbons,
Large Landed Property ruled together with its parsons and lackeys; under
the Orleanist, it was the high finance, large industry, large commerce,
i.e., Capital, with its retinue of lawyers, professors and orators. The
Legitimate kingdom was but the political expression for the hereditary
rule of the landlords, as the July monarchy was bur the political
expression for the usurped rule of the bourgeois upstarts. What,
accordingly, kept these two factions apart was no so-called set of
principles, it was their material conditions for life--two different
sorts of property--; it was the old antagonism of the City and the
Country, the rivalry between Capital and Landed property. That
simultaneously old recollections; personal animosities, fears and hopes;
prejudices and illusions; sympathies and antipathies; convictions, faith
and principles bound these factions to one House or the other, who
denies it? Upon the several forms of property, upon the social
conditions of existence, a whole superstructure is reared of various and
peculiarly shaped feelings, illusions, habits of thought and conceptions
of life. The whole class produces and shapes these out of its material
foundation and out of the corresponding social conditions. The
individual unit to whom they flow through tradition and education, may
fancy that they constitute the true reasons for and premises of his
conduct. Although Orleanists and Legitimists, each of these factions,
sought to make itself and the other believe that what kept the two apart
was the attachment of each to its respective royal House; nevertheless,
facts proved later that it rather was their divided interest that
forbade the union of the two royal Houses. As, in private life, the
distinction is made between what a man thinks of himself and says, and
that which he really is and does, so, all the more, must the phrases and
notions of parties in historic struggles be distinguished from the real
organism, and their real interests, their notions and their reality.
Orleanists and Legitimists found themselves in the republic beside each
other with equal claims. Each side wishing, in opposition to the other,
to carry out the restoration of its own royal House, meant nothing else
than that each of the two great Interests into which the bourgeoisie is
divided--Land and Capital--sought to restore its own supremacy and the
subordinacy of the other. We speak of two bourgeois interests because
large landed property, despite its feudal coquetry and pride of race,
has become completely bourgeois through the development of modern
society. Thus did the Tories of England long fancy that they were
enthusiastic for the Kingdom, the Church and the beauties of the old
English Constitution, until the day of danger wrung from them the
admission that their enthusiasm was only for Ground Rent.

The coalized royalists carried on their intrigues against each other in
the press, in Ems, in Clarmont--outside of the parliament. Behind the
scenes, they don again their old Orleanist and Legitimist liveries, and
conduct their old tourneys; on the public stage, however, in their
public acts, as a great parliamentary party, they dispose of their
respective royal houses with mere courtesies, adjourn "in infinitum" the
restoration of the monarchy. Their real business is transacted as Party
of Order, i. e., under a Social, not a Political title; as
representatives of the bourgeois social system; not as knights of
traveling princesses, but as the bourgeois class against the other
classes; not as royalists against republicans. Indeed, as party of
Order they exercised a more unlimited and harder dominion over the other
classes of society than ever before either under the restoration or the
July monarchy-a thing possible only under the form of a parliamentary
republic, because under this form alone could the two large divisions of
the French bourgeoisie be united; in other words, only under this form
could they place on the order of business the sovereignty of their
class, in lieu of the regime of a privileged faction of the same. If,
this notwithstanding, they are seen as the party of Order to insult the
republic and express their antipathy for it, it happened not out of
royalist traditions only: Instinct taught them that while, indeed, the
republic completes their authority, it at the same time undermined their
social foundation, in that, without intermediary, without the mask of
the crown, without being able to turn aside the national interest by
means of its subordinate struggles among its own conflicting elements
and with the crown, the republic is compelled to stand up sharp against
the subjugated classes, and wrestle with them. It was a sense of
weakness that caused them to recoil before the unqualified demands of
their own class rule, and to retreat to the less complete, less
developed, and, for that very reason, less dangerous forms of the same.
As often, on the contrary, as the allied royalists come into conflict
with the Pretender who stands before them--with Bonaparte--, as often as
they believe their parliamentary omnipotence to be endangered by the
Executive, in other words, as often as they must trot out the political
title of their authority, they step up as Republicans, not as
Royalists--and this is done from the Orleanist Thiers, who warns the
National Assembly that the republic divides them least, down to
Legitimist Berryer, who, on December 2, 1851, the scarf of the tricolor
around him, harangues the people assembled before the Mayor's building
of the Tenth Arrondissement, as a tribune in the name of the Republic;
the echo, however, derisively answering back to him: "Henry V.! Henry
V!" [#3 The candidate of the Bourbons, or Legitimists, for the throne.]

However, against the allied bourgeois, a coalition was made between the
small traders and the workingmen--the so-called Social Democratic party.
The small traders found themselves ill rewarded after the June days of
1848; they saw their material interests endangered, and the democratic
guarantees, that were to uphold their interests, made doubtful. Hence,
they drew closer to the workingmen. On the other hand, their
parliamentary representatives--the Mountain--, after being shoved aside
during the dictatorship of the bourgeois republicans, had, during the
last half of the term of the constitutive convention, regained their
lost popularity through the struggle with Bonaparte and the royalist
ministers. They had made an alliance with the Socialist leaders.
During February, 1849, reconciliation banquets were held. A common
program was drafted, joint election committees were empanelled, and
fusion candidates were set up. The revolutionary point was thereby
broken off from the social demands of the proletariat and a democratic
turn given to them; while, from the democratic claims of the small
traders' class, the mere political form was rubbed off and the Socialist
point was pushed forward. Thus came the Social Democracy about. The
new Mountain, the result of this combination, contained, with the
exception of some figures from the working class and some Socialist
sectarians, the identical elements of the old Mountain, only numerically
stronger. In the course of events it had, however, changed, together
with the class that it represented. The peculiar character of the
Social Democracy is summed up in this that democratic-republican
institutions are demanded as the means, not to remove the two
extremes--Capital and Wage-slavery--, but in order to weaken their
antagonism and transform them into a harmonious whole. However
different the methods may be that are proposed for the accomplishment of
this object, however much the object itself may be festooned with more
or less revolutionary fancies, the substance remains the same. This
substance is the transformation of society upon democratic lines, but a
transformation within the boundaries of the small traders' class. No
one must run away with the narrow notion that the small traders' class
means on principle to enforce a selfish class interest. It believes
rather that the special conditions for its own emancipation are the
general conditions under which alone modern society can be saved and the
class struggle avoided. Likewise must we avoid running away with the
notion that the Democratic Representatives are all "shopkeepers," or
enthuse for these. They may--by education and individual standing--be
as distant from them as heaven is from earth. That which makes them
representatives of the small traders' class is that they do not
intellectually leap the bounds which that class itself does not leap in
practical life; that, consequently, they are theoretically driven to the
same problems and solutions, to which material interests and social
standing practically drive the latter. Such, in fact, is at all times
the relation of the "political" and the "literary" representatives of a
class to the class they represent.

After the foregoing explanations, it goes with-out saying that, while
the Mountain is constantly wrestling for the republic and the so-called
"rights of man," neither the republic nor the "rights of man" is its
real goal, as little as an army, whose weapons it is sought to deprive
it of and that defends itself, steps on the field of battle simply in
order to remain in possession of implements of warfare.

The party of Order provoked the Mountain immediately upon the convening
of the assembly. The bourgeoisie now felt the necessity of disposing of
the democratic small traders' class, just as a year before it had
understood the necessity of putting an end to the revolutionary

But the position of the foe had changed. The strength of the
proletarian party was on the streets ; that of the small traders' class
was in the National Assembly itself. The point was, accordingly, to
wheedle them out of the National Assembly into the street, and to have
them break their parliamentary power themselves, before I time and
opportunity could consolidate them. The Mountain jumped with loose
reins into the trap.

The bombardment of Rome by the French troops was the bait thrown at the
Mountain. It violated Article V. of the Constitution, which forbade the
French republic to use its forces against the liberties of other
nations; besides, Article IV. forbade all declaration of war by the
Executive without the consent of the National Assembly; furthermore, the
constitutive assembly had censured the Roman expedition by its
resolution of May 8. Upon these grounds, Ledru-Rollin submitted on June
11, 1849, a motion impeaching Bonaparte and his Ministers. Instigated
by the wasp-stings of Thiers, he even allowed himself to be carried away
to the point of threatening to defend the Constitution by all means,
even arms in hand. The Mountain rose as one man, and repeated the
challenge. On June 12, the National Assembly rejected the notion to
impeach, and the Mountain left the parliament. The events of June 13
are known: the proclamation by a part of the Mountain pronouncing
Napoleon and his Ministers "outside the pale of the Constitution"; the
street parades of the democratic National Guards, who, unarmed as they
were, flew apart at contact with the troops of Changarnier; etc., etc.
Part of the Mountain fled abroad, another part was assigned to the High
Court of Bourges, and a parliamentary regulation placed the rest under
the school-master supervision of the President of the National Assembly.
Paris was again put under a state of siege; and the democratic portion
of the National Guards was disbanded. Thus the influence of the
Mountain in parliament was broken, together with the power; of the small
traders' class in Paris.

Lyons, where the 13th of June had given the signal to a bloody labor
uprising, was, together with the five surrounding Departments, likewise
pronounced in state of siege, a condition that continues down to this
moment. [#4 January, 1852]

The bulk of the Mountain had left its vanguard in the lurch by refusing
their signatures to the proclamation; the press had deserted: only two
papers dared to publish the pronunciamento; the small traders had
betrayed their Representatives: the National Guards stayed away, or,
where they did turn up, hindered the raising of barricades; the
Representatives had duped the small traders: nowhere were the alleged
affiliated members from the Army to be seen; finally, instead of
gathering strength from them, the democratic party had infected the
proletariat with its own weakness, and, as usual with democratic feats,
the leaders had the satisfaction of charging "their people" with
desertion, and the people had the satisfaction of charging their leaders
with fraud.

Seldom was an act announced with greater noise than the campaign
contemplated by the Mountain; seldom was an event trumpeted ahead with
more certainty and longer beforehand than tile "inevitable victory of
the democracy." This is evident: the democrats believe in the trombones
before whose blasts the walls of Jericho fall together; as often as they
stand before the walls of despotism, they seek to imitate the miracle.
If the Mountain wished to win in parliament, it should not appeal to
arms; if it called to arms in parliament, it should not conduct itself
parliamentarily on the street; if the friendly demonstration was meant
seriously, it was silly not to foresee that it would meet with a warlike
reception; if it was intended for actual war, it was rather original to
lay aside the weapons with which war had to be conducted. But the
revolutionary threats of the middle class and of their democratic
representatives are mere attempts to frighten an adversary; when they
have run themselves into a blind alley, when they have sufficiently
compromised themselves and are compelled to execute their threats, the
thing is done in a hesitating manner that avoids nothing so much as the
means to the end, and catches at pretexts to succumb. The bray of the
overture, that announces the fray, is lost in a timid growl so soon as
this is to start; the actors cease to take themselves seriously, and the
performance falls flat like an inflated balloon that is pricked with a

No party exaggerates to itself the means at its disposal more than the
democratic, none deceives itself with greater heedlessness on the
situation. A part of the Army voted for it, thereupon the Mountain is
of the opinion that the Army would revolt in its favor. And by what
occasion? By an occasion, that, from the standpoint of the troops,
meant nothing else than that the revolutionary soldiers should take the
part of the soldiers of Rome against French soldiers. On the other
hand, the memory of June, 1848, was still too fresh not to keep alive a
deep aversion on the part of the proletariat towards the National Guard,
and a strong feeling of mistrust on the part of the leaders of the
secret societies for the democratic leaders. In order to balance these
differences, great common interests at stake were needed. The violation
of an abstract constitutional paragraph could not supply such interests.
Had not the constitution been repeatedly violated, according to the
assurances of the democrats themselves? Had not the most popular papers
branded them as a counter-revolutionary artifice? But the democrat--by
reason of his representing the middle class, that is to say, a
Transition Class, in which the interests of two other classes are
mutually dulled--, imagines himself above all class contrast. The
democrats grant that opposed to them stands a privileged class, but
they, together with the whole remaining mass of the nation, constitute
the "PEOPLE." What they represent is the "people's rights"; their
interests are the "people's interests." Hence, they do not consider
that, at an impending struggle, they need to examine the interests and
attitude of the different classes. They need not too seriously weigh
their own means. All they have to do is to give the signal in order to
have the "people" fall upon the "oppressors with all its inexhaustible
resources. If, thereupon, in the execution, their interests turn out to
be uninteresting, and their power to be impotence, it is ascribed either
to depraved sophists, who split up the "undivisible people" into several
hostile camps; or to the army being too far brutalized and blinded to
appreciate the pure aims of the democracy as its own best; or to some
detail in the execution that wrecks the whole plan; or, finally, to an
unforeseen accident that spoiled the game this time. At all events, the
democrat comes out of the disgraceful defeat as immaculate as he went
innocently into it, and with the refreshed conviction that he must win;
not that he himself and his party must give up their old standpoint, but
that, on the contrary, conditions must come to his aid.

For all this, one must not picture to himself the decimated, broken,
and, by the new parliamentary regulation, humbled Mountain altogether
too unhappy. If June 13 removed its leaders, it, on the other hand,
made room for new ones of inferior capacity, who are flattered by their
new position. If their impotence in parliament could no longer be
doubted, they were now justified to limit their activity to outbursts of
moral indignation. If the party of Order pretended to see in them, as
the last official representatives of the revolution, all the horrors of
anarchy incarnated, they were free to appear all the more flat and
modest in reality. Over June 13 they consoled themselves with the
profound expression: "If they but dare to assail universal suffrage
. . . then . . . then we will show who we are!" Nous verrons. [#5 We
shall see.]

As to the "Mountaineers," who had fled abroad, it suffices here to say
that Ledru-Rollin--he having accomplished the feat of hopelessly
ruining, in barely a fortnight, the powerful party at whose head he
stood--, found himself called upon to build up a French government "in
partibus;" that his figure, at a distance, removed from the field of
action, seemed to gain in size in the measure that the level of the
revolution sank and the official prominences of official France became
more and more dwarfish; that he could figure as republican Pretender for
1852, and periodically issued to the Wallachians and other peoples
circulars in which "despot of the continent" is threatened with the
feats that he and his allies had in contemplation. Was Proudhon wholly
wrong when he cried out to these gentlemen: "Vous n'etes que des
blaqueurs"? [#6 You are nothing but fakirs.]

The party of Order had, on June 13, not only broken up the Mountain, it
had also established the Subordination of the Constitution to the
Majority Decisions of the National Assembly. So, indeed, did the
republic understand it, to--wit, that the bourgeois ruled here in
parliamentary form, without, as in the monarchy, finding a check in the
veto of the Executive power, or the liability of parliament to
dissolution. It was a "parliamentary republic," as Thiers styled it.
But if, on June 13, the bourgeoisie secured its omnipotence within the
parliament building, did it not also strike the parliament itself, as
against the Executive and the people, with incurable weakness by
excluding its most popular part? By giving up numerous Deputies,
without further ceremony to the mercies of the public prosecutor, it
abolished its own parliamentary inviolability. The humiliating
regulation, that it subjected the Mountain to, raised the President of
the republic in the same measure that it lowered the individual
Representatives of the people. By branding an insurrection in defense
of the Constitution as anarchy, and as a deed looking to the overthrow
of society, it interdicted to itself all appeal to insurrection whenever
the Executive should violate the Constitution against it. And, indeed,
the irony of history wills it that the very General, who by order of
Bonaparte bombarded Rome, and thus gave the immediate occasion to the
constitutional riot of June 13, that Oudinot, on December 22, 1851, is
the one imploringly and vainly to be offered to the people by the party
of Order as the General of the Constitution. Another hero of June 13,
Vieyra, who earned praise from the tribune of the National Assembly for
the brutalities that he had committed in the democratic newspaper
offices at the head of a gang of National Guards in the hire of the high
finance--this identical Vieyra was initiated in the conspiracy of
Bonaparte, and contributed materially in cutting off all protection that
could come to the National Assembly, in the hour of its agony, from the
side of the National Guard.

June 13 had still another meaning. The Mountain had wanted to place
Bonaparte under charges. Their defeat was, accordingly, a direct
victory of Bonaparte; it was his personal triumph over his democratic
enemies. The party of Order fought for the victory, Bonaparte needed
only to pocket it. He did so. On June 14, a proclamation was to be
read on the walls of Paris wherein the President, as it were, without
his connivance, against his will, driven by the mere force of
circumstances, steps forward from his cloisterly seclusion like
misjudged virtue, complains of the calumnies of his antagonists, and,
while seeming to identify his own person with the cause of order, rather
identifies the cause of order with his own person. Besides this, the
National Assembly had subsequently approved the expedition against Rome;
Bonaparte, however, had taken the initiative in the affair. After he
had led the High Priest Samuel back into the Vatican, he could hope as
King David to occupy the Tuileries. He had won the parson-interests
over to himself.

The riot of June 13 limited itself, as we have seen, to a peaceful
street procession. There were, consequently, no laurels to be won from
it. Nevertheless, in these days, poor in heroes and events, the party
of Order converted this bloodless battle into a second Austerlitz.
Tribune and press lauded the army as the power of order against the
popular multitude, and the impotence of anarchy; and Changarnier as the
"bulwark of society"--a mystification that he finally believed in
himself. Underhand, however, the corps that seemed doubtful were
removed from Paris; the regiments whose suffrage had turned out most
democratic were banished from France to Algiers the restless heads among
the troops were consigned to pennal quarters; finally, the shutting out
of the press from the barracks, and of the barracks from contact with
the citizens was systematically carried out.

We stand here at the critical turning point in the history of the French
National Guard. In 1830, it had decided the downfall of the
restoration. Under Louis Philippe, every riot failed, at

which the National Guard stood on the side of the troops. When, in the
February days of 1848, it showed itself passive against the uprising and
doubtful toward Louis Philippe himself, he gave himself up for lost.
Thus the conviction cast root that a revolution could not win without,
nor the Army against the National Guard. This was the superstitious
faith of the Army in bourgeois omnipotence. The June days of 1548, when
the whole National Guard, jointly with the regular troops, threw down
the insurrection, had confirmed the superstition. After the
inauguration of Bonaparte's administration, the position of the National
Guard sank somewhat through the unconstitutional joining of their
command with the command of the First Military Division in the person of

As the command of the National Guard appeared here merely an attribute
of the military commander-in-chief, so did the Guard itself appear only
as an appendage of the regular troops. Finally, on June 13, the
National Guard was broken up, not through its partial dissolution only,
that from that date forward was periodically repeated at all points of
France, leaving only wrecks of its former self behind. The
demonstration of June 13 was, above all, a demonstration of the National
Guards. True, they had not carried their arms, but they had carried
their uniforms against the Army--and the talisman lay just in these
uniforms. The Army then learned that this uniform was but a woolen rag,
like any other. The spell was broken. In the June days of 1848,
bourgeoisie and small traders were united as National Guard with the
Army against the proletariat; on June 13, 1849, the bourgeoisie had the
small traders' National Guard broken up; on December 2, 1851, the
National Guard of the bourgeoisie itself vanished, and Bonaparte
attested the fact when he subsequently signed the decree for its
disbandment. Thus the bourgeoisie had itself broken its last weapon
against the army, from the moment when the small traders' class no
longer stood as a vassal behind, but as a rebel before it; indeed, it
was bound to do so, as it was bound to destroy with its own hand all its
means of defence against absolutism, so soon as itself was absolute.

In the meantime, the party of Order celebrated the recovery of a power
that seemed lost in 1848 only in order that, freed from its trammels in
1849, it be found again through invectives against the republic and the
Constitution; through the malediction of all future, present and past
revolutions, that one included which its own leaders had made; and,
finally, in laws by which the press was gagged, the right of association
destroyed, and the stage of siege regulated as an organic institution.
The National Assembly then adjourned from the middle of August to the
middle of October, after it had appointed a Permanent Committee for the
period of its absence. During these vacations, the Legitimists
intrigued with Ems; the Orleanists with Claremont; Bonaparte through
princely excursions; the Departmental Councilmen in conferences over the
revision of the Constitution;--occurrences, all of which recurred
regularly at the periodical vacations of the National Assembly, and upon
which I shall not enter until they have matured into events. Be it here
only observed that the National Assembly was impolitic in vanishing from
the stage for long intervals, and leaving in view, at the head of the
republic, only one, however sorry, figure--Louis Bonaparte's--, while,
to the public scandal, the party of Order broke up into its own royalist
component parts, that pursued their conflicting aspirations after the
restoration. As often as, during these vacations the confusing noise of
the parliament was hushed, and its body was dissolved in the nation, it
was unmistakably shown that only one thing was still wanting to complete
the true figure of the republic: to make the vacation of the National
Assembly permanent, and substitute its inscription--="Liberty, Equality,
Fraternity"--by the unequivocal words, "Infantry, Cavalry, Artillery


The National Assembly reconvened in the middle of October. On November
1, Bonaparte surprised it with a message, in which he announced the
dismissal of the Barrot-Falloux Ministry, and the framing of a new.
Never have lackeys been chased from service with less ceremony than
Bonaparte did his ministers. The kicks, that were eventually destined
for the National Assembly, Barrot & Company received in the meantime.

The Barrot Ministry was, as we have seen, composed of Legitimists and
Orleanists; it was a Ministry of the party of Order. Bonaparte needed
that Ministry in order to dissolve the republican constituent assembly,
to effect the expedition against Rome, and to break up the democratic
party. He had seemingly eclipsed himself behind this Ministry, yielded
the reins to the hands of the party of Order, and assumed the modest
mask, which, under Louis Philippe, had been worn by the responsible
overseer of the newspapers--the mask of "homme de paille." [#1 Man of
straw] Now he threw off the mask, it being no longer the light curtain
behind which he could conceal, but the Iron Mask, which prevented him
from revealing his own physiognomy. He had instituted the Barrot
Ministry in order to break up the republican National Assembly in the
name of the party of Order; he now dismissed it in order to declare his
own name independent of the parliament of the party of Order.

There was no want of plausible pretexts for this dismissal. The Barrot
Ministry had neglected even the forms of decency that would have allowed
the president of the republic to appear as a power along with the
National Assembly. For instance, during the vacation of the National
Assembly, Bonaparte published a letter to Edgar Ney, in which he seemed
to disapprove the liberal attitude of the Pope, just as, in opposition
to the constitutive assembly, he had published a letter, in which he
praised Oudinot for his attack upon the Roman republic; when the
National Assembly came to vote on the budget for the Roman expedition,
Victor Hugo, out of pretended liberalism, brought up that letter for
discussion; the party of Order drowned this notion of Bonaparte's under
exclamations of contempt and incredulity as though notions of Bonaparte
could not possibly have any political weight;--and none of the Ministers
took up the gauntlet for him. On another occasion, Barrot, with his
well-known hollow pathos, dropped, from the speakers' tribune in the
Assembly, words of indignation upon the "abominable machinations,"
which, according to him, went on in the immediate vicinity of the
President. Finally, while the Ministry obtained from the National
Assembly a widow's pension for the Duchess of Orleans, it denied every
motion to raise the Presidential civil list;--and, in Bonaparte, be it
always remembered, the Imperial Pretender was so closely blended with
the impecunious adventurer, that the great idea of his being destined to
restore the Empire was ever supplemented by that other, to-wit, that the
French people was destined to pay his debts.

The Barrot-Falloux Ministry was the first and last parliamentary
Ministry that Bonaparte called into life. Its dismissal marks,
accordingly, a decisive period. With the Ministry, the party of Order
lost, never to regain, an indispensable post to the maintenance of the
parliamentary regime,--the handle to the Executive power. It is readily
understood that, in a country like France, where the Executive disposes
over an army of more than half a million office-holders, and,
consequently, keeps permanently a large mass of interests and existences
in the completest dependence upon itself; where the Government
surrounds, controls, regulates, supervises and guards society, from its
mightiest acts of national life, down to its most insignificant motions;
from its common life, down to the private life of each individual;
where, due to such extraordinary centralization, this body of parasites
acquires a ubiquity and omniscience, a quickened capacity for motion and
rapidity that finds an analogue only in the helpless lack of
self-reliance, in the unstrung weakness of the body social itself;--that
in such a country the National Assembly lost, with the control of the
ministerial posts, all real influence; unless it simultaneously
simplified the administration; if possible, reduced the army of
office-holders; and, finally, allowed society and public opinion to
establish its own organs, independent of government censorship. But the
Material Interest of the French bourgeoisie is most intimately bound up
in maintenance of just such a large and extensively ramified
governmental machine. There the bourgeoisie provides for its own
superfluous membership; and supplies, in the shape of government
salaries, what it can not pocket in the form of profit, interest, rent
and fees. On the other hand, its Political Interests daily compel it to
increase the power of repression, i.e., the means and the personnel of
the government; it is at the same time forced to conduct an
uninterrupted warfare against public opinion, and, full of suspicion, to
hamstring and lame the independent organs of society--whenever it does
not succeed in amputating them wholly. Thus the bourgeoisie of France
was forced by its own class attitude, on the one hand, to destroy the
conditions for all parliamentary power, its own included, and, on the
other, to render irresistible the Executive power that stood hostile to

The new Ministry was called the d'Hautpoul Ministry. Not that General
d'Hautpoul had gained the rank of Ministerial President. Along with
Barrot, Bonaparte abolished this dignity, which, it must be granted,
condemned the President of the republic to the legal nothingness of a
constitutional kind, of a constitutional king at that, without throne
and crown, without sceptre and without sword, without irresponsibility,
without the imperishable possession of the highest dignity in the State,
and, what was most untoward of all--without a civil list. The
d'Hautpoul Ministry numbered only one man of parliamentary reputation,
the Jew Fould, one of the most notorious members of the high finance.
To him fell the portfolio of finance. Turn to the Paris stock
quotations, and it will he found that from November 1, 1849, French
stocks fall and rise with the falling and rising of the Bonapartist
shares. While Bonaparte had thus found his ally in the Bourse, he at
the same time took possession of the Police through the appointment of
Carlier as Prefect of Police.

But the consequences of the change of Ministry could reveal themselves
only in the course of events. So far, Bonaparte had taken only one step
forward, to be all the more glaringly driven back. Upon his harsh
message, followed the most servile declarations of submissiveness to the
National Assembly. As often as the Ministers made timid attempts to
introduce his own personal hobbies as bills, they themselves seemed
unwilling and compelled only by their position to run the comic errands,
of whose futility they were convinced in advance. As often as Bonaparte
blabbed out his plans behind the backs of his Ministers, and sported his
"idees napoleoniennes," [#2 Napoleonic ideas.] his own Ministers
disavowed him from the speakers' tribune in the National Assembly. His
aspirations after usurpation seemed to become audible only to the end
that the ironical laughter of his adversaries should not die out. He
deported himself like an unappreciated genius, whom the world takes for
a simpleton. Never did lie enjoy in fuller measure the contempt of all
classes than at this period. Never did the bourgeoisie rule more
absolutely; never did it more boastfully display the insignia of

It is not here my purpose to write the history of its legislative
activity, which is summed up in two laws passed during this period: the
law reestablishing the duty on wine, and the laws on education, to
suppress infidelity. While the drinking of wine was made difficult to
the Frenchmen, all the more bounteously was the water of pure life
poured out to them. Although in the law on the duty on wine the
bourgeoisie declares the old hated French tariff system to be
inviolable, it sought, by means of the laws on education, to secure the
old good will of the masses that made the former bearable. One wonders
to see the Orleanists, the liberal bourgeois, these old apostles of
Voltarianism and of eclectic philosophy, entrusting the supervision of
the French intellect to their hereditary enemies, the Jesuits. But,
while Orleanists and Legitimists could part company on the question of
the Pretender to the crown, they understood full well that their joint
reign dictated the joining of the means of oppression of two distinct
epochs; that the means of subjugation of the July monarchy had to be
supplemented with and strengthened by the means of subjugation of the

The farmers, deceived in all their expectations, more than ever ground
down by the law scale of the price of corn, on the one hand, and, on the
other, by the growing load of taxation and mortgages, began to stir in
the Departments. They were answered by the systematic baiting of the
school masters, whom the Government subjected to the clergy; by the
systematic baiting of the Mayors, whom it subjected to the Prefects; and
by a system of espionage to which all were subjected. In Paris and the
large towns, the reaction itself carries the physiognomy of its own
epoch ; it irritates more than it cows ; in the country, it becomes low,
moan, petty, tiresome, vexatious,--in a word, it becomes "gensdarme."
It is easily understood how three years of the gensdarme regime,
sanctified by the regime of the clergyman, was bound to demoralize
unripe masses.

Whatever the mass of passion and declamation, that the party of Order
expended from the speakers' tribune in the National Assembly against the
minority, its speech remained monosyllabic, like that of the Christian,
whose speech was to be "Aye, aye; nay, nay." It was monosyllabic,
whether from the tribune or the press ; dull as a conundrum, whose
solution is known beforehand. Whether the question was the right of
petition or the duty on wine, the liberty of the press or free trade,
clubs or municipal laws, protection of individual freedom or the
regulation of national economy, the slogan returns ever again, the theme
is monotonously the same, the verdict is ever ready and unchanged:
Socialism! Even bourgeois liberalism is pronounced socialistic;
socialistic, alike, is pronounced popular education; and, likewise,
socialistic national financial reform. It was socialistic to build a
railroad where already a canal was; and it was socialistic to defend
oneself with a stick when attacked with a sword.

This was not a mere form of speech, a fashion, nor yet party tactics.
The bourgeoisie perceives correctly that all the weapons, which it
forged against feudalism, turn their edges against itself; that all the
means of education, which it brought forth, rebel against its own
civilization; that all the gods, which it made, have fallen away from
it. It understands that all its so-called citizens' rights and
progressive organs assail and menace its class rule, both in its social
foundation and its political superstructure--consequently, have become
"socialistic." It justly scents in this menace and assault the secret
of Socialism, whose meaning and tendency it estimates more correctly
than the spurious, so-called Socialism, is capable of estimating itself,
and which, consequently, is unable to understand how it is that the
bourgeoisie obdurately shuts up its ears to it, alike whether it
sentimentally whines about the sufferings of humanity; or announces in
Christian style the millennium and universal brotherhood; or twaddles
humanistically about the soul, culture and freedom; or doctrinally
matches out a system of harmony and wellbeing for all classes. What,
however, the bourgeoisie does not understand is the consequence that its
own parliamentary regime, its own political reign, is also of necessity
bound to fall under the general ban of "socialistic." So long as the
rule of the bourgeoisie is not fully organized, has not acquired its
purely political character, the contrast with the other classes cannot
come into view in all its sharpness; and, where it does come into view,
it cannot take that dangerous turn that converts every conflict with the
Government into a conflict with Capital. When, however, the French
bourgeoisie began to realize in every pulsation of society a menace to
"peace," how could it, at the head of society, pretend to uphold the
regime of unrest, its own regime, the parliamentary regime, which,
according to the expression of one of its own orators, lives in
struggle, and through struggle? The parliamentary regime lives on
discussion,--how can it forbid discussion? Every single interest, every
single social institution is there converted into general thoughts, is
treated as a thought,--how could any interest or institution claim to be
above thought, and impose itself as an article of faith? The orators'
conflict in the tribune calls forth the conflict of the rowdies in the
press the debating club in parliament is necessarily supplemented by
debating clubs in the salons and the barrooms; the representatives, who
are constantly appealing to popular opinion, justify popular opinion in
expressing its real opinion in petitions. The parliamentary regime
leaves everything to the decision of majorities,--how can the large
majorities beyond parliament be expected not to wish to decide? If,
from above, they hear the fiddle screeching, what else is to be expected
than that those below should dance?

Accordingly, by now persecuting as Socialist what formerly it had
celebrated as Liberal, the bourgeoisie admits that its own interest
orders it to raise itself above the danger of self government; that, in
order to restore rest to the land, it own bourgeois parliament must,
before all, be brought to rest; that, in order to preserve its social
power unhurt, its political power must be broken; that the private
bourgeois can continue to exploit the other classes and rejoice in
"property," "family," "religion" and "order" only under the condition
that his own class be condemned to the same political nullity of the
other classes, that, in order to save their purse, the crown must be
knocked off their heads, and the sword that was to shield them, must at
the same time be hung over their heads as a sword of Damocles.

In the domain of general bourgeois interests, the National Assembly
proved itself so barren, that, for instance, the discussion over the
Paris-Avignon railroad, opened in the winter of 1850, was not yet ripe
for a vote on December 2, 1851. Wherever it did not oppress or was
reactionary, the bourgeoisie was smitten with incurable barrenness.

While Bonaparte's Ministry either sought to take the initiative of laws
in the spirit of the party of Order, or even exaggerated their severity
in their enforcement and administration, he, on his part, sought to win
popularity by means of childishly silly propositions, to exhibit the
contrast between himself and the National Assembly, and to hint at a
secret plan, held in reserve and only through circumstances temporarily
prevented from disclosing its hidden treasures to the French people. Of
this nature was the proposition to decree a daily extra pay of four sous
to the under-officers; so, likewise, the proposition for a "word of
honor" loan bank for working-men. To have money given and money
borrowed--that was the perspective that he hoped to cajole the masses
with. Presents and loans--to that was limited the financial wisdom of
the slums, the high as well as the low; to that were limited the springs
which Bonaparte knew how to set in motion. Never did Pretender
speculate more dully upon the dullness of the masses.

Again and again did the National Assembly fly into a passion at these
unmistakable attempts to win popularity at its expense, and at the
growing danger that this adventurer, lashed on by debts and unrestrained
by reputation, might venture upon some desperate act. The strained
relations between the party of Order and the President had taken on a
threatening aspect, when an unforeseen event threw him back, rueful into
its arms. We mean the supplementary elections of March, 1850. These
elections took place to fill the vacancies created in the National
Assembly, after June 13, by imprisonment and exile. Paris elected only
Social-Democratic candidates; it even united the largest vote upon one
of the insurgents of June, 1848,--Deflotte. In this way the small
traders' world of Paris, now allied with the proletariat, revenged
itself for the defeat of June 13, 1849. It seemed to have disappeared
from the field of battle at the hour of danger only to step on it again
at a more favorable opportunity, with increased forces for the fray, and
with a bolder war cry. A circumstance seemed to heighten the danger of
this electoral victory. The Army voted in Paris for a June insurgent
against Lahitte, a Minister of Bonaparte's, and, in the Departments,
mostly for the candidates of the Mountain, who, there also, although not
as decisively as in Paris, maintained the upper hand over their

Bonaparte suddenly saw himself again face to face with the revolution.
As on January 29, 1849, as on June 13, 1849, on May 10, 1850, he
vanished again behind the party of Order. He bent low; he timidly
apologized; he offered to appoint any Ministry whatever at the behest of
the parliamentary majority ; he even implored the Orleanist and
Legitimist party leaders--the Thiers, Berryers, Broglies, Moles, in
short, the so-called burgraves--to take hold of the helm of State in
person. The party of Order did not know how to utilize this
opportunity, that was never to return. Instead of boldly taking
possession of the proffered power, it did not even force Bonaparte to
restore the Ministry dismissed on November 1; it contented itself with
humiliating him with its pardon, and with affiliating Mr. Baroche to the
d'Hautpoul Ministry. This Baroche had, as Public Prosecutor, stormed
before the High Court at Bourges, once against the revolutionists of May
15, another time against the Democrats of June 13, both times on the
charge of "attentats" against the National Assembly. None of
Bonaparte's Ministers contributed later more towards the degradation of
the National Assembly; and, after December 2, 1851, we meet him again as
the comfortably stalled and dearly paid Vice-President of the Senate.
He had spat into the soup of the revolutionists for Bonaparte to eat it.

On its part, the Social Democratic party seemed only to look for
pretexts in order to make its own victory doubtful, and to dull its
edge. Vidal, one of the newly elected Paris representatives, was
returned for Strassburg also. He was induced to decline the seat for
Paris and accept the one for Strassburg. Thus, instead of giving a
definite character to their victory at the hustings, and thereby
compelling the party of Order forthwith to contest it in parliament;
instead of thus driving the foe to battle at the season of popular
enthusiasm and of a favorable temper in the Army, the democratic party
tired out Paris with a new campaign during the months of March and
April; it allowed the excited popular passions to wear themselves out in
this second provisional electoral play it allowed the revolutionary
vigor to satiate itself with constitutional successes, and lose its
breath in petty intrigues, hollow declamation and sham moves; it gave
the bourgeoisie time to collect itself and make its preparations
finally, it allowed the significance of the March elections to find a
sentimentally weakening commentary at the subsequent April election in
the victory of Eugene Sue. In one word, it turned the 10th of March
into an April Fool.

The parliamentary majority perceived the weakness of its adversary. Its
seventeen burgraves--Bonaparte had left to it the direction of and
responsibility for the attack--, framed a new election law, the moving
of which was entrusted to Mr. Faucher, who had applied for the honor.
On May 8, he introduced the new law whereby universal suffrage was
abolished; a three years residence in the election district imposed as a
condition for voting; and, finally, the proof of this residence made
dependent, for the working-man, upon the testimony of his employer.

As revolutionarily as the democrats had agitated and stormed during the
constitutional struggles, so constitutionally did they, now, when it was
imperative to attest, arms in hand, the earnestness of their late
electoral victories, preach order, "majestic calmness," lawful conduct,
i. e., blind submission to the will of the counter-revolution, which
revealed itself as law. During the debate, the Mountain put the party
of Order to shame by maintaining the passionless attitude of the
law-abiding burger, who upholds the principle of law against
revolutionary passions; and by twitting the party of Order with the
fearful reproach of proceeding in a revolutionary manner. Even the
newly elected deputies took pains to prove by their decent and
thoughtful deportment what an act of misjudgment it was to decry them as
anarchists, or explain their election as a victory of the revolution.
The new election law was passed on May 31. The Mountain contented
itself with smuggling a protest into the pockets of tile President of
the Assembly. To the election law followed a new press law, whereby the
revolutionary press was completely done away with. It had deserved its
fate. The "National" and the "Presse," two bourgeois organs, remained
after this deluge the extreme outposts of the revolution.

We have seen how, during March and April, the democratic leaders did
everything to involve the people of Paris in a sham battle, and how,
after May 8, they did everything to keep it away from a real battle. We
may not here forget that the year 1850 was one of the most brilliant
years of industrial and commercial prosperity; consequently, that the
Parisian proletariat was completely employed. But the election law of
May 31, 1850 excluded them from all participation in political power; it
cut the field of battle itself from under them; it threw the workingmen
back into the state of pariahs, which they had occupied before the
February revolution. In allowing themselves, in sight of such an
occurrence, to be led by the democrats, and in forgetting the
revolutionary interests of their class through temporary comfort, the
workingmen abdicated the honor of being a conquering power; they
submitted to their fate; they proved that the defeat of June, 1848, had
incapacitated them from resistance for many a year to come finally, that
the historic process must again, for the time being, proceed over their
heads. As to the small traders' democracy, which, on June 13, had cried
out: "If they but dare to assail universal suffrage . . . then
. . . then we will show who we are!"--they now consoled themselves with
the thought that the counter-revolutionary blow, which had struck them,
was no blow at all, and that the law of May 31 was no law. On May 2,
1852, according to them, every Frenchman would appear at the hustings,
in one hand the ballot, in the other the sword. With this prophecy they
set their hearts at ease. Finally, the Army was punished by its
superiors for the elections of May and April, 1850, as it was punished
for the election of May 29, 1849. This time, however, it said to itself
determinately: "The revolution shall not cheat us a third time."

The law of May 31, 1850, was the "coup d'etat" of the bourgeoisie. All
its previous conquests over the revolution had only a temporary
character: they became uncertain the moment the National Assembly
stepped off the stage; they depended upon the accident of general
elections, and the history of the elections since 1848 proved
irrefutably that, in the same measure as the actual reign of the
bourgeoisie gathered strength, its moral reign over the masses wore off.
Universal suffrage pronounced itself on May 10 pointedly against the
reign of the bourgeoisie; the bourgeoisie answered with the banishment
of universal suffrage. The law of May 31 was, accordingly, one of the
necessities of the class struggle. On the other hand, the constitution
required a minimum of two million votes for the valid ejection of the
President of the republic. If none of the Presidential candidates
polled this minimum, then the National Assembly was to elect the
President out of the three candidates polling the highest votes. At the
time that the constitutive body made this law, ten million voters were
registered on the election rolls. In its opinion, accordingly,
one-fifth of the qualified voters sufficed to make a choice for
President valid. The law of May 31 struck at least three million voters
off the rolls, reduced the number of qualified voters to seven millions,
and yet, not withstanding, it kept the lawful minimum at two millions
for the election of a President. Accordingly, it raised the lawful
minimum from a fifth to almost a third of the qualified voters, i.e., it
did all it could to smuggle the Presidential election out of the hands
of the people into those of the National Assembly. Thus, by the
election law of May 31, the party of Order seemed to have doubly secured
its empire, in that it placed the election of both the National Assembly
and the President of the republic in the keeping of the stable portion
of society.


The strife immediately broke out again between the National Assembly and
Bonaparte, so soon as the revolutionary crisis was weathered, and
universal suffrage was abolished.

The Constitution had fixed the salary of Bonaparte at 600,000 francs.
Barely half a year after his installation, he succeeded in raising this
sum to its double: Odillon Barrot had wrung from the constitutive
assembly a yearly allowance of 600,000 francs for so-called
representation expenses. After June 13, Bonaparte hinted at similar
solicitations, to which, however, Barrot then turned a deaf ear. Now,
after May 31, he forthwith utilized the favorable moment, and caused his
ministers to move a civil list of three millions in the National
Assembly. A long adventurous, vagabond career had gifted him with the
best developed antennae for feeling out the weak moments when he could
venture upon squeezing money from his bourgeois. He carried on regular
blackmail. The National Assembly had maimed the sovereignty of the
people with his aid and his knowledge: he now threatened to denounce its
crime to the tribunal of the people, if it did not pull out its purse
and buy his silence with three millions annually. It had robbed three
million Frenchmen of the suffrage: for every Frenchman thrown "out of
circulation," he demanded a franc "in circulation." He, the elect of
six million, demanded indemnity for the votes he had been subsequently
cheated of. The Committee of the National Assembly turned the
importunate fellow away. The Bonapartist press threatened: Could the
National Assembly break with the President of the republic at a time
when it had broken definitely and on principle with the mass of the
nation? It rejected the annual civil list, but granted, for this once,
an allowance of 2,160,000 francs. Thus it made itself guilty of the
double weakness of granting the money, and, at the same time, showing by
its anger that it did so only unwillingly. We shall presently see to
what use Bonaparte put the money. After this aggravating after-play,
that followed upon the heels of the abolition of universal suffrage, and
in which Bonaparte exchanged his humble attitude of the days of the
crisis of March and April for one of defiant impudence towards the
usurping parliament, the National Assembly adjourned for three months,
from August 11, to November 11. It left behind in its place a Permanent
Committee of 18 members that contained no Bonapartist, but did contain a
few moderate republicans. The Permanent Committee of the year 1849 had
numbered only men of order and Bonapartists. At that time, however, the
party of Order declared itself in permanence against the revolution; now
the parliamentary republic declared itself in permanence against the
President. After the law of May 31, only this rival still confronted
the party of Order.

When the National Assembly reconvened in November, 1850, instead of its
former petty skirmishes with the President, a great headlong struggle, a
struggle for life between the two powers, seemed to have become

As in the year 1849, the party of Order had during this year's vacation,
dissolved into its two separate factions, each occupied with its own
restoration intrigues, which had received new impetus from the death of
Louis Philippe. The Legitimist King, Henry V, had even appointed a
regular Ministry, that resided in Paris, and in which sat members of the
Permanent Committee. Hence, Bonaparte was, on his part, justified in
making tours through the French Departments, and--according to the
disposition of the towns that he happened to be gladdening with his
presence--some times covertly, other times more openly blabbing out his
own restoration plans, and gaining votes for himself On these

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