The Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte by Karl Marx

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
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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 instance:

“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 extinguished.

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 period.

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 bourgeoisie.

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 proletariat.

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 needle.

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 Changarnier.

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 it.

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 sovereignty.

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 restoration.

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 adversaries.

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 inevitable.

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