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The Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte

by Karl Marx

June, 1998 [Etext #1346]

Project Gutenberg Etext of Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte
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The Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte

by Karl Marx

Translator's Preface

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Eighteenth Brumaire Of Louis Bonaparte


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Three main periods are unmistakable:

First--The February period;

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Let us resume the thread of events.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

We wish it a happy journey.


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

As in the year 1849, the party of Order had during this year's vacation,
dissolved into its two separate factions, each occupied with its own
restoration intrigues, which had received new impetus from the death of
Louis Philippe. The Legitimist King, Henry V, had even appointed a
regular Ministry, that resided in Paris, and in which sat members of the
Permanent Committee. Hence, Bonaparte was, on his part, justified in
making tours through the French Departments, and--according to the
disposition of the towns that he happened to be gladdening with his
presence--some times covertly, other times more openly blabbing out his
own restoration plans, and gaining votes for himself On these
excursions, which the large official "Moniteur" and the small private
"Moniteurs" of Bonaparte were, of course, bound to celebrate as
triumphal marches, he was constantly accompanied by affiliated members
of the "Society of December 10" This society dated from the year 1849.
Under the pretext of founding a benevolent association, the
slum-proletariat of Paris was organized into secret sections, each
section led by Bonapartist agents, with a Bonapartist General at the
head of all. Along with ruined roues of questionable means of support
and questionable antecedents, along with the foul and adventures-seeking
dregs of the bourgeoisie, there were vagabonds, dismissed soldiers,
discharged convicts, runaway galley slaves, sharpers, jugglers,
lazzaroni, pickpockets, sleight-of-hand performers, gamblers, procurers,
keepers of disorderly houses, porters, literati, organ grinders, rag
pickers, scissors grinders, tinkers, beggars--in short, that whole
undefined, dissolute, kicked-about mass that the Frenchmen style "la
Boheme" With this kindred element, Bonaparte formed the stock of the
"Society of December 10," a "benevolent association" in so far as, like
Bonaparte himself, all its members felt the need of being benevolent to
themselves at the expense of the toiling nation. The Bonaparte, who
here constitutes himself Chief of the Slum-Proletariat; who only here
finds again in plenteous form the interests which he personally pursues;
who, in this refuse, offal and wreck of all classes, recognizes the only
class upon which he can depend unconditionally;--this is the real
Bonaparte, the Bonaparte without qualification. An old and crafty roue,
he looks upon the historic life of nations, upon their great and public
acts, as comedies in the ordinary sense, as a carnival, where the great
costumes, words and postures serve only as masks for the pettiest
chicaneries. So, on the occasion of his expedition against Strassburg
when a trained Swiss vulture impersonated the Napoleonic eagle; so,
again, on the occasion of his raid upon Boulogne, when he struck a few
London lackeys into French uniform: they impersonated the army; [#1
Under the reign of Louis Philippe, Bonaparte made two attempts to
restore the throne of Napoleon: one in October, 1836, in an expedition
from Switzerland upon Strassburg and one in August, 1840, in an
expedition from England upon Boulogne.] and so now, in his "Society of
December 10," he collects 10,000 loafers who are to impersonate the
people as Snug the Joiner does the lion. At a period when the
bourgeoisie itself is playing the sheerest comedy, but in the most
solemn manner in the world, without doing violence to any of the
pedantic requirements of French dramatic etiquette, and is itself partly
deceived by, partly convinced of, the solemnity of its own public acts,
the adventurer, who took the comedy for simple comedy, was bound to win.
Only after he has removed his solemn opponent, when he himself takes
seriously his own role of emperor, and, with the Napoleonic mask on,
imagines he impersonates the real Napoleon, only then does he become the
victim of his own peculiar conception of history--the serious clown, who
no longer takes history for a comedy, but a comedy for history. What
the national work-shops were to the socialist workingmen, what the
"Gardes mobiles" were to the bourgeois republicans, that was to
Bonaparte the "Society of December 10,"--a force for partisan warfare
peculiar to himself. On his journeys, the divisions of the Society,
packed away on the railroads, improvised an audience for him, performed
public enthusiasm, shouted "vive l'Empereur," insulted and clubbed the
republicans,--all, of course, under the protection of the police. On
his return stages to Paris, this rabble constituted his vanguard, it
forestalled or dispersed counter-demonstrations. The "Society of
December 10" belonged to him, it was his own handiwork, his own thought.
Whatever else he appropriates, the power of circumstances places in his
hands; whatever else he does, either circumstances do for him, or he is
content to copy from the deeds of others, but he posing before the
citizens with the official phrases about "Order," "Religion," "Family,"
"Property," and, behind him, the secret society of skipjacks and
picaroons, the society of disorder, of prostitution, and of theft,--that
is Bonaparte himself as the original author; and the history of the
"Society of December 10" is his own history. Now, then, it happened
that Representatives belonging to the party of order occasionally got
under the clubs of the Decembrists. Nay, more. Police Commissioner
Yon, who bad been assigned to the National Assembly, and was charged
with the guardianship of its safety, reported to the Permanent Committee
upon the testimony of one Alais, that a Section of the Decembrists had
decided on the murder of General Changarnier and of Dupin, the President
of the National Assembly, and had already settled upon the men to
execute the decree. One can imagine the fright of Mr. Dupin. A
parliamentary inquest over the "Society of December 10," i. e., the
profanation of the Bonapartist secret world now seemed inevitable. Just
before the reconvening of the National Assembly, Bonaparte circumspectly
dissolved his Society, of course, on paper only. As late as the end of
1851, Police Prefect Carlier vainly sought, in an exhaustive memorial,
to move him to the real dissolution of the Decembrists.

The "Society of December 10" was to remain the private army of Bonaparte
until he should have succeeded in converting the public Army into a
"Society of December 10." Bonaparte made the first attempt in this
direction shortly after the adjournment of the National Assembly, and he
did so with the money which he had just wrung from it. As a fatalist,
he lives devoted to the conviction that there are certain Higher Powers,
whom man, particularly the soldier, cannot resist. First among these
Powers he numbers cigars and champagne, cold poultry and garlic-sausage.
Accordingly, in the apartments of the Elysee, he treated first the
officers and under-officers to cigars and champagne, to cold poultry and
garlic-sausage. On October 3, he repeats this manoeuvre with the rank
and file of the troops by the review of St. Maur; and, on October 10,
the same manoeuvre again, upon a larger scale, at the army parade of
Satory. The Uncle bore in remembrance the campaigns of Alexander in
Asia: the Nephew bore in remembrance the triumphal marches of Bacchus in
the same country. Alexander was, indeed, a demigod; but Bacchus was a
full-fledged god, and the patron deity, at that, of the "Society of
December 10."

After the review of October 3, the Permanent Committee summoned the
Minister of War, d'Hautpoul, before it. He promised that such breaches
of discipline should not recur. We have seen how, on October 10th,
Bonaparte kept d'Hautpoul's word. At both reviews Changarnier had
commanded as Commander-in-chief of the Army of Paris. He, at once
member of the Permanent Committee, Chief of the National Guard, the
"Savior" of January 29, and June 13, the "Bulwark of Society," candidate
of the Party of Order for the office of President, the suspected Monk of
two monarchies,--he had never acknowledged his subordination to the
Minister of War, had ever openly scoffed at the republican Constitution,
and had pursued Bonaparte with a protection that was ambiguously
distinguished. Now he became zealous for the discipline in opposition
to Bonaparte. While, on October 10, a part of the cavalry cried: "Vive
Napoleon! Vivent les saucissons;" [#2 Long live Napoleon! Long live the
sausages!] Changarnier saw to it that at least the infantry, which filed
by under the command of his friend Neumeyer, should observe an icy
silence. In punishment, the Minister of War, at the instigation of
Bonaparte, deposed General Neumeyer from his post in Paris, under the
pretext of providing for him as Commander-in-chief of the Fourteenth and
Fifteenth Military Divisions. Neumeyer declined the exchange, and had,
in consequence, to give his resignation. On his part, Changarnier
published on November 2, an order, wherein he forbade the troops to
indulge, while under arms, in any sort of political cries or
demonstrations. The papers devoted to the Elysee interests attacked
Changarnier; the papers of the party of Order attacked Bonaparte; the
Permanent Committee held frequent secret sessions, at which it was
repeatedly proposed to declare the fatherland in danger; the Army seemed
divided into two hostile camps, with two hostile staffs; one at the
Elysee, where Bonaparte, the other at the Tuileries, where Changarnier
resided. All that seemed wanting for the signal of battle to sound was
the convening of the National Assembly. The French public looked upon
the friction between Bonaparte and Changarnier in the light of the
English journalist, who characterized it in these words: "The political
servant girls of France are mopping away the glowing lava of the
revolution with old mops, and they scold each other while doing their

Meanwhile, Bonaparte hastened to depose the Minister of War, d'Hautpoul;
to expedite him heels over head to Algiers; and to appoint in his place
General Schramm as Minister of War. On November 12, he sent to the
National Assembly a message of American excursiveness, overloaded with
details, redolent of order, athirst for conciliation, resignful to the
Constitution, dealing with all and everything, only not with the burning
questions of the moment. As if in passing he dropped the words that
according to the express provisions of the Constitution, the President
alone disposes over the Army. The message closed with the following
high-sounding protestations:

"France demands, above all things, peace . . . Alone bound by an oath, I
shall keep myself within the narrow bounds marked out by it to me
. . . As to me, elected by the people, and owing my power to it alone, I
shall always submit to its lawfully expressed will. Should you at this
session decide upon the revision of the Constitution, a Constitutional
Convention will regulate the position of the Executive power. If you do
not, then, the people will, in 1852, solemnly announce its decision.
But, whatever the solution may be that the future has in store, let us
arrive at an understanding to the end that never may passion, surprise
or violence decide over the fate of a great nation. . . . That which,
above all, bespeaks my attention is, not who will, in 1852, rule over
France, but to so devote the time at my disposal that the interval may
pass by with-out agitation and disturbance. I have straightforwardly
opened my heart to you, you will answer my frankness with your
confidence, my good efforts with your co-operation. God will do the

The honnete, hypocritically temperate, commonplace-virtuous language of
the bourgeoisie reveals its deep meaning in the mouth of the
self-appointed ruler of the "Society of December 10," and of the
picnic-hero of St. Maur and Satory.

The burgraves of the party of Order did not for a moment deceive
themselves on the confidence that this unbosoming deserved. They were
long blase on oaths; they numbered among themselves veterans and
virtuosi of perjury. The passage about the army did not, however,
escape them. They observed with annoyance that the message, despite its
prolix enumeration of the lately enacted laws, passed, with affected
silence, over the most important of all, the election law, and,
moreover, in case no revision of the Constitution was held, left the
choice of the President, in 1852, with the people. The election law was
the ball-and-chain to the feet of the party of Order, that hindered them
from walking, and now assuredly from storming. Furthermore, by the
official disbandment of the "Society of December 10," and the dismissal
of the Minister of War, d'Hautpoul, Bonaparte had, with his own hands,
sacrificed the scapegoats on the altar of the fatherland. He had turned
off the expected collision. Finally, the party of Order itself
anxiously sought to avoid every decisive conflict with the Executive, to
weaken and to blur it over. Fearing to lose its conquests over the
revolution, it let its rival gather the fruits thereof. "France
demands, above all things, peace," with this language had the party of
Order been apostrophizing the revolution, since February; with this
language did Bonaparte's message now apostrophize the party of Order:
"France demands, above all things, peace." Bonaparte committed acts
that aimed at usurpation, but the party of Order committed a
"disturbance of the peace," if it raised the hue and cry, and explained
them hypochrondriacally. The sausages of Satory were mouse-still when
nobody talked about them;--France demands, above all things, peace."
Accordingly, Bonaparte demanded that he be let alone; and the
parliamentary party was lamed with a double fear: the fear of
re-conjuring up the revolutionary disturbance of the peace, and the fear
of itself appearing as the disturber of the peace in the eyes of its own
class, of the bourgeosie. Seeing that, above all things, France
demanded peace, the party of Order did not dare, after Bonaparte had
said "peace" in his message, to answer "war." The public, who had
promised to itself the pleasure of seeing great scenes of scandal at the
opening of the National Assembly, was cheated out of its expectations.
The opposition deputies, who demanded the submission of the minutes of
the Permanent Committee over the October occurrences, were outvoted.
All debate that might excite was fled from on principle. The labors of
the National Assembly during November and December, 1850, were without

Finally, toward the end of December, began a guerilla warfare about
certain prerogatives of the parliament. The movement sank into the mire
of petty chicaneries on the prerogative of the two powers, since, with
the abolition of universal suffrage, the bourgeoisie had done away with
the class struggle.

A judgment for debt had been secured against Mauguin, one of the
Representatives. Upon inquiry by the President of the Court, the
Minister of Justice, Rouher, declared that an order of arrest should be
made out without delay. Manguin was, accordingly, cast into the
debtors' prison. The National Assembly bristled up when it heard of the
"attentat." It not only ordered his immediate release, but had him
forcibly taken out of Clichy the same evening by its own greffier. In
order, nevertheless, to shield its belief in the "sacredness of private
property," and also with the ulterior thought of opening, in case of
need, an asylum for troublesome Mountainers, it declared the
imprisonment of a Representative for debt to be permissible upon its
previous consent. It forgot to decree that the President also could be
locked up for debt. By its act, it wiped out the last semblance of
inviolability that surrounded the members of its own body.

It will be remembered that, upon the testimony of one Allais, Police
Commissioner Yon had charged a Section of Decembrists with a plan to
murder Dupin and Changarnier. With an eye upon that, the questors
proposed at the very first session, that the parliament organize a
police force of its own, paid for out of the private budget of the
National Assembly itself, and wholly independent of the Police Prefects.
The Minister of the Interior, Baroche, protested against this trespass
on his preserves. A miserable compromise followed, according to which
the Police Commissioner of the Assembly was to be paid out of its own
private budget and was to be subject to the appointment and dismissal of
its own questors, but only upon previous agreement with the Minister of
the Interior. In the meantime Allais had been prosecuted by the
Government. It was an easy thing in Court, to present his testimony in
the light of a mystification, and, through the mouth of the Public
Prosecutor, to throw Dupin, Changarnier, Yon, together with the whole
National Assembly, into a ridiculous light. Thereupon, on December 29,
Minister Baroche writes a letter to Dupin, in which he demands the
dismissal of Yon. The Committee of the National Assembly decides to
keep Yon in office; nevertheless, the National Assembly, frightened by
its own violence in the affair of Mauguin, and accustomed, every time it
has shied a blow at the Executive, to receive back from it two in
exchange, does not sanction this decision. It dismisses Yon in reward
for his zeal in office, and robs itself of a parliamentary prerogative,
indispensable against a person who does not decide by night to execute
by day, but decides by day and executes by night.

We have seen how, during the months of November and December, under
great and severe provocations, the National Assembly evaded and refused
the combat with the Executive power. Now we see it compelled to accept
it on the smallest occasions. In the affair of Mauguin, it confirms in
principle the liability of a Representative to imprisonment for debt,
but to itself reserves the power of allowing the principle to be applied
only to the Representatives whom it dislikes,-and for this infamous
privilege we see it wrangling with the Minister of Justice. Instead of
utilizing the alleged murder plan to the end of fastening an inquest
upon the "Society of December 10," and of exposing Bonaparte beyond
redemption before France and his true figure, as the head of the
slum-proletariat of Paris, it allows the collision to sink to a point
where the only issue between itself and the Minister of the Interior is.
Who has jurisdiction over the appointment and dismissal of a Police
Commissioner? Thus we see the party of Order, during this whole period,
compelled by its ambiguous position to wear out and fritter away its
conflict with the Executive power in small quarrels about jurisdiction,
in chicaneries, in pettifogging, in boundary disputes, and to turn the
stalest questions of form into the very substance of its activity. It
dares not accept the collision at the moment when it involves a
principle, when the Executive power has really given itself a blank, and
when the cause of the National Assembly would be the cause of the
nation. It would thereby have issued to the nation an order of march;
and it feared nothing so much as that the nation should move. Hence, on
these occasions, it rejects the motions of the Mountain, and proceeds to
the order of the day. After the issue has in this way lost all
magnitude, the Executive power quietly awaits the moment when it can
take it up again upon small and insignificant occasions; when, so to
say, the issue offers only a parliamentary local interest. Then does
the repressed valor of the party of Order break forth, then it tears
away the curtain from the scene, then it denounces the President, then
it declares the republic to be in danger,--but then all its pathos
appears stale, and the occasion for the quarrel a hypocritical pretext,
or not at all worth the effort. The parliamentary tempest becomes a
tempest in a tea-pot, the struggle an intrigue, the collision a scandal.
While the revolutionary classes gloat with sardonic laughter over the
humiliation of the National Assembly--they, of course, being as
enthusiastic for the prerogatives of the parliament as that body is for
public freedom--the bourgeoisie, outside of the parliament, does not
understand how the bourgeoisie, inside of the parliament, can squander
its time with such petty bickerings, and can endanger peace by such
wretched rivalries with the President. It is puzzled at a strategy that
makes peace the very moment when everybody expects battles, and that
attacks the very moment everybody believes peace has been concluded.

On December 20, Pascal Duprat interpellated the Minister of the Interior
on the "Goldbar Lottery." This lottery was a "Daughter from Elysium";
Bonaparte, together with his faithful, had given her birth; and Police
Prefect Carlier had placed her under his official protection, although
the French law forbade all lotteries, with the exception of games for
benevolent purposes. Seven million tickets, a franc a piece, and the
profit ostensibly destined to the shipping of Parisian vagabonds to
California. Golden dreams were to displace the Socialist dreams of the
Parisian proletariat; the tempting prospect of a prize was to displace
the doctrinal right to labor. Of course, the workingmen of Paris did
not recognize in the lustre of the California gold bars the lack-lustre
francs that had been wheedled out of their pockets. In the main,
however, the scheme was an unmitigated swindle. The vagabonds, who
meant to open California gold mines without taking the pains to leave
Paris, were Bonaparte himself and his Round Table of desperate
insolvents. The three millions granted by the National Assembly were
rioted away; the Treasury had to be refilled somehow or another. In
vain did Bonaparte open a national subscription, at the head of which he
himself figured with a large sum, for the establishment of so-called
"cites ouvrieres." [#3 Work cities.] The hard-hearted bourgeois waited,
distrustful, for the payment of his own shares; and, as this, of course,
never took place, the speculation in Socialist castles in the air fell
flat. The gold bars drew better. Bonaparte and his associates did not
content themselves with putting into their own pockets part of the
surplus of the seven millions over and above the bars that were to be
drawn; they manufactured false tickets; they sold, of Number 10 alone,
fifteen to twenty lots--a financial operation fully in the spirit of the
"Society of December 10"! The National Assembly did not here have before
it the fictitious President of the Republic, but Bonaparte himself in
flesh and blood. Here it could catch him in the act, not in conflict
with the Constitution, but with the penal code. When, upon Duprat's
interpellation, the National Assembly went over to the order of the day,
this did not happen simply because Girardin's motion to declare itself
"satisfied" reminded the party of Order of its own systematic
corruption: the bourgeois, above all the bourgeois who has been inflated
into a statesman, supplements his practical meanness with theoretical
pompousness. As statesman, he becomes, like the Government facing him,
a superior being, who can be fought only in a higher, more exalted

Bonaparte-who, for the very reason of his being a "bohemian," a princely
slum-proletarian, had over the scampish bourgeois the advantage that he
could carry on the fight after the Assembly itself had carried him with
its own hands over the slippery ground of the military banquets, of the
reviews, of the "Society of December 10," and, finally, of the penal
code-now saw that the moment had arrived when he could move from the
seemingly defensive to the offensive. He was but little troubled by the
intermediate and trifling defeats of the Minister of Justice, of the
Minister of War, of the Minister of the Navy, of the Minister of
Finance, whereby the National Assembly indicated its growling
displeasure. Not only did he prevent the Ministers from resigning, and
thus recognizing the subordination of the executive power to the
Parliament; he could now accomplish what during the vacation of the
National Assembly be had commenced, the separation of the military power
from the Assembly--the deposition of Changarnier.

An Elysee paper published an order, issued during the month of May,
ostensibly to the First Military Division, and, hence, proceeding from
Changarnier, wherein the officers were recommended, in case of an
uprising, to give no quarter to the traitors in their own ranks, to
shoot them down on the spot, and to refuse troops to the National
Assembly, should it make a requisition for such. On January 3, 1851,
the Cabinet was interpellated on this order. The Cabinet demands for
the examination of the affair at first three months, then one week,
finally only twenty-four hours' time. The Assembly orders an immediate
explanation Changarnier rises and declares that this order never
existed; he adds that he would ever hasten to respond to the calls of
the National Assembly, and that, in case of a collision, they could
count upon him. The Assembly receives his utterances with inexpressible
applause, and decrees a vote of confidence to him. It thereby resign
its own powers; it decrees its own impotence and the omnipotence of the
Army by committing itself to the private protection of a general. But
the general, in turn, deceives himself when he places at the Assembly's
disposal and against Bonaparte a power that he holds only as a fief from
that same Bonaparte, and when, on his part, he expects protection from
this Parliament, from his protege', itself needful of protection. But
Changarnier has faith in the mysterious power with which since January,
1849, he had been clad by the bourgeoisie. He takes himself for the
Third Power, standing beside the other Powers of Government. He shares
the faith of all the other heroes, or rather saints, of this epoch,
whose greatness consists but in the interested good opinion that their
own party holds of them, and who shrink into every-day figures so soon
as circumstances invite them to perform miracles. Infidelity is,
indeed, the deadly enemy of these supposed heroes and real saints.
Hence their virtuously proud indignation at the unenthusiastic wits and

That same evening the Ministers were summoned to the Elysee; Bonaparte
presses the removal of Changarnier; five Ministers refuse to sign the
order; the "Moniteur" announces a Ministerial crisis; and the party of
Order threatens the formation of a Parliamentary army under the command
of Changarnier. The party of Order had the constitutional power hereto.
It needed only to elect Changarnier President of the National Assembly
in order to make a requisition for whatever military forces it needed
for its own safety. It could do this all the more safely, seeing that
Changarnier still stood at the head of the Army and of the Parisian
National Guard, and only lay in wait to be summoned, together with the
Army. The Bonaprtist press did not even dare to question the right of
the National Assembly to issue a direct requisition for troops;--a legal
scruple, that, under the given circumstances, did not promise success.
That the Army would have obeyed the orders of the National Assembly is
probable, when it is considered that Bonaparte had to look eight days
all over Paris to find two generals--Baraguay d'Hilliers and St. Jean
d'Angley--who declared themselves ready to countersign the order
cashiering Changamier. That, however, the party of Order would have
found in its own ranks and in the parliament the requisite vote for such
a decision is more than doubtful, when it is considered that, eight days
later, 286 votes pulled away from it, and that, as late as December,
1851, at the last decisive hour, the Mountain rejected a similar
proposition. Nevertheless, the burgraves might still have succeeded in
driving the mass of their party to an act of heroism, consisting in
feeling safe behind a forest of bayonets, and in accepting the services
of the Army, which found itself deserted in its camp. Instead of this,
the Messieurs Burgraves betook themselves to the Elysee on the evening
of January 6, with the view of inducing Bonaparte, by means of politic
words and considerations, to drop the removal of Changarnier. Him whom
we must convince we recognize as the master of the situation.
Bonaparte, made to feel secure by this step, appoints on January 12 a
new Ministry, in which the leaders of the old, Fould and Baroche, are
retained. St Jean d'Angley becomes Minister of War; the "Moniteur"
announces the decree cashiering Changarnier; his command is divided up
between Baraguay d'Hilliers, who receives the First Division, and
Perrot, who is placed over the National Guard. The "Bulwark of Society"
is turned down; and, although no dog barks over the event, in the
Bourses the stock quotations rise.

By repelling the Army, that, in Changarnier's person, put itself at its
disposal, and thus irrevocably stood up against the President, the party
of Order declares that the bourgeoisie has lost its vocation to reign.
Already there was no parliamentary Ministry. By losing, furthermore,
the handle to the Army and to the National Guard, what instrument of
force was there left to the National Assembly in order to maintain both
the usurped power of the parliament over the people, and its
constitutional power over the President? None. All that was left to it
was the appeal to peaceful principles, that itself had always explained
as "general rules" merely, to be prescribed to third parties, and only
in order to enable itself to move all the more freely. With the removal
of Changarnier, with the transfer of the military power to Bonaparte,
closes the first part of the period that we are considering, the period
of the struggle between the party of Order and the Executive power. The
war between the two powers is now openly declared; it is conducted
openly; but only after the party of Order has lost both arms and
soldier. With-out a Ministry, without any army, without a people,
without the support of public opinion; since its election law of May 31,
no longer the representative of the sovereign nation sans eyes, sans
ears, sans teeth, sans everything, the National Assembly had gradually
converted itself into a French Parliament of olden days, that must leave
all action to the Government, and content itself with growling
remonstrances "post festum." [#4 After the act is done; after the

The party of Order receives the new Ministry with a storm of
indignation. General Bedeau calls to mind the mildness of the Permanent
Committee during the vacation, and the excessive prudence with which it
had renounced the privilege of disclosing its minutes. Now, the
Minister of the Interior himself insists upon the disclosure of these
minutes, that have now, of course, become dull as stagnant waters,
reveal no new facts, and fall without making the slightest effect upon
the blase public. Upon Remusat's proposition, the National Assembly
retreats into its Committees, and appoints a "Committee on Extraordinary
Measures." Paris steps all the less out of the ruts of its daily
routine, seeing that business is prosperous at the time, the
manufactories busy, the prices of cereals low, provisions abundant, the
savings banks receiving daily new deposits. The "extraordinary
measures," that the parliament so noisily announced fizzle out on
January 18 in a vote of lack of confidence against the Ministry, without
General Changarnier's name being even mentioned. The party of Order was
forced to frame its motion in that way so as to secure the votes of the
republicans, because, of all the acts of the Ministry, Changarnier's
dismissal only was the very one they approved, while the party of Order
cannot in fact, condemn the other Ministerial acts which it had itself
dictated. The January 18 vote of lack of confidence was decided by 415
ayes against 286 nays. It was, accordingly put through by a coalition
of the uncompromising Legitimists and Orleanists with the pure
republicans and the Mountain. Thus it revealed the fact that, in its
conflicts with Bonaparte, not only the Ministry, not only the Army, but
also its independent parliamentary majority; that a troop of
Representatives had deserted its camp out of a fanatic zeal for harmony,
out of fear of fight, out of lassitude, out of family considerations for
the salaries of relatives in office, out of speculations on vacancies in
the Ministry (Odillon Barrot), or out of that unmitigated selfishness
that causes the average bourgeois to be ever inclined to sacrifice the
interests of his class to this or that private motive. The Bonapartist
Representatives belonged from the start to the party of Order only in
the struggle against the revolution. The leader of the Catholic party,
Montalembert, already then threw his influence in the scale of
Bonaparte, since he despaired of the vitality of the parliamentary
party. Finally, the leaders of this party itself, Thiers and
Berryer--the Orleanist and the Legitimist--were compelled to proclaim
themselves openly as republicans ; to admit that their heart favored
royalty, but their head the republic; that their parliamentary republic
was the only possible form for the rule of the bourgeoisie Thus were
they compelled to brand, before the eyes of the bourgeois class itself,
as an intrigue--as dangerous as it was senseless--the restoration plans,
which they continued to pursue indefatigably behind the back of the

The January 18 vote of lack of confidence struck the Ministers, not the
President. But it was not the Ministry, it was the President who had
deposed Changarnier. Should the party of Order place Bonaparte himself
under charges? On account of his restoration hankerings? These only
supplemented their own. On account of his conspiracy at the military
reviews and of the "Society of December 10"? They had long since buried
these subjects under simple orders of business. On account of the
discharge of the hero of January 29 and June 13, of the man who, in May,
1850, threatened, in case of riot, to set Paris on fire at all its four
corners? Their allies of the Mountain and Cavaignac did not even allow
them to console the fallen "Bulwark of Society" with an official
testimony of their sympathy. They themselves could not deny the
constitutional right of the President to remove a General. They stormed
only because he made an unparliamentary use of his constitutional right.
Had they not themselves constantly made an unconstitutional use of their
parliamentary prerogative, notably by the abolition of universal
suffrage? Consequently they were reminded to move exclusively within
parliamentary bounds. Indeed, it required that peculiar disease, a
disease that, since 1848, has raged over the whole continent,
"Parliamentary Idiocy,"--that fetters those whom it infects to an
imaginary world, and robs them of all sense, all remembrance, all
understanding of the rude outside world;--it required this
"Parliamentary Idiocy" in order that the party of Order, which had, with
its own hands, destroyed all the conditions for parliamentary power,
and, in its struggle with the other classes, was obliged to destroy
them, still should consider its parliamentary victories as victories,
and imagine it hit the President by striking his Ministers. They only
afforded him an opportunity to humble the National Assembly anew in the
eyes of the nation. On January 20, the "Moniteur" announced that the
whole the dismissal of the whole Ministry was accepted. Under the
pretext that none of the parliamentary parties had any longer the
majority--as proved by the January 18 vote, that fruit of the coalition
between mountain and royalists--, and, in order to await the
re-formation of a majority, Bonaparte appointed a so-called transition
Ministry, of whom no member belonged to the parliament-altogether wholly
unknown and insignificant individuals; a Ministry of mere clerks and
secretaries. The party of Order could now wear itself out in the game
with these puppets; the Executive power no longer considered it worth
the while to be seriously represented in the National Assembly. By this
act Bonaparte concentrated the whole executive power all the more
securely in his own person; he had all the freer elbow-room to exploit
the same to his own ends, the more his Ministers became mere

The party of Order, now allied with the Mountain, revenged itself by
rejecting the Presidential endowment project of 1,800.000 francs, which
the chief of the "Society of December 10" had compelled his Ministerial
clerks to present to the Assembly. This time a majority of only 102
votes carried the day accordingly since January 18, 27 more votes had
fallen off: the dissolution of the party of Order was making progress.
Lest any one might for a moment be deceived touching the meaning of its
coalition with the Mountain, the party of Order simultaneously scorned
even to consider a motion, signed by 189 members of the Mountain, for a
general amnesty to political criminals. It was enough that the Minister
of the Interior, one Baisse, declared that the national tranquility was
only in appearance, in secret there reigned deep agitation, in secret,
ubiquitous societies were organized, the democratic papers were
preparing to reappear, the reports from the Departments were
unfavorable, the fugitives of Geneva conducted a conspiracy via Lyons
through the whole of southern France, France stood on the verge of an
industrial and commercial crisis, the manufacturers of Roubaix were
working shorter hours, the prisoners of Belle Isle had mutinied;--it was
enough that even a mere Baisse should conjure up the "Red Spectre" for
the party of Order to reject without discussion a motion that would have
gained for the National Assembly a tremendous popularity, and thrown
Bonaparte back into its arms. Instead of allowing itself to be
intimidated by the Executive power with the perspective of fresh
disturbances, the party of Order should rather have allowed a little
elbow-room to the class struggle, in order to secure the dependence of
the Executive upon itself. But it did not feel itself equal to the task
of playing with fire.

Meanwhile, the so-called transition Ministry vegetated along until the
middle of April. Bonaparte tired out and fooled the National Assembly
with constantly new Ministerial combinations. Now he seemed to intend
constructing a republican Ministry with Lamartine and Billault; then, a
parliamentary one with the inevitable Odillon Barrot, whose name must
never be absent when a dupe is needed; then again, a Legitimist, with
Batismenil and Lenoist d'Azy; and yet again, an Orleansist, with
Malleville. While thus throwing the several factions of the party of
Order into strained relations with one another, and alarming them all
with the prospect of a republican Ministry, together with the there-upon
inevitable restoration of universal suffrage, Bonaparte simultaneously
raises in the bourgeoisie the conviction that his sincere efforts for a
parliamentary Ministry are wrecked upon the irreconcilable antagonism of
the royalist factions. All the while the bourgeoisie was clamoring
louder and louder for a "strong Government," and was finding it less and
less pardonable to leave France "without an administration," in
proportion as a general commercial crisis seemed to be under way and
making recruits for Socialism in the cities, as did the ruinously low
price of grain in the rural districts. Trade became daily duller; the
unemployed hands increased perceptibly; in Paris, at least 10,000
workingmen were without bread ; in Rouen, Muehlhausen, Lyons, Roubaix,
Tourcoign, St. Etienue, Elbeuf, etc., numerous factories stood idle.
Under these circumstances Bonaparte could venture to restore, on April
11, the Ministry of January 18; Messieurs Rouher, Fould, Baroche, etc.,
reinforced by Mr. Leon Faucher, whom the constitutive assembly had,
during its last days, unanimously, with the exception of five
Ministerial votes, branded with a vote of censure for circulating false
telegraphic dispatches. Accordingly, the National Assembly had won a
victory on January 18 over the Ministry, it had, for the period of three
months, been battling with Bonaparte, and all this merely to the end
that, on April 11, Fould and Baroche should be able to take up the
Puritan Faucher as third in their ministerial league.

In November, 1849, Bonaparte had satisfied himself with an
Unparliamentary, in January, 1851, with an Extra-Parliamentary, on April
11, he felt strong enough to form an Anti-Parliamentary Ministry, that
harmoniously combined within itself the votes of lack of confidence of
both assemblies-the constitutive and the legislative, the republican and
the royalist. This ministerial progression was a thermometer by which
the parliament could measure the ebbing temperature of its own life.
This had sunk so low by the end of April that, at a personal interview,
Persigny could invite Changarnier to go over to the camp of the
President. Bonaparte, he assured Changarnier, considered the influence
of the National Assembly to be wholly annihilated, and already the
proclamation was ready, that was to be published after the steadily
contemplated, but again accidentally postponed "coup d'etat."
Changarnier communicated this announcement of its death to the leaders
of the party of Order; but who was there to believe a bed-bug bite could
kill? The parliament, however beaten, however dissolved, however
death-tainted it was, could not persuade itself to see, in the duel with
the grotesque chief of the "Society of December 10," anything but a duel
with a bed-bug. But Bonaparte answered the party of Order as Agesilaus
did King Agis: "I seem to you an ant; but shall one day be a lion."


The coalition with the Mountain and the pure republicans, to which the
party of Order found itself condemned in its fruitless efforts to keep
possession of the military and to reconquer supreme control over the
Executive power, proved conclusively that it had forfeited its
independent parliamentary majority. The calendar and clock merely gave,
on May 29, the signal for its complete dissolution. With May 29
commenced the last year of the life of the National Assembly. It now
had to decide for the unchanged continuance or the revision of the
Constitution. But a revision of the Constitution meant not only the
definitive supremacy of either the bourgeoisie of the small traders'
democracy, of either democracy or proletarian anarchy, of either a
parliamentary republic or Bonaparte, it meant also either Orleans or
Bourbon! Thus fell into the very midst of the parliament the apple of
discord, around which the conflict of interests, that cut up the party
of Order into hostile factions, was to kindle into an open
conflagration. The party of Order was a combination of heterogeneous
social substances. The question of revision raised a political
temperature, in which the product was reduced to its original

The interest of the Bonapartists in the revision was simple: they were
above all concerned in the abolition of Article 45, which forbade
Bonaparte's reelection and the prolongation of his term. Not less
simple seemed to be the position of the republicans; they rejected all
revision, seeing in that only a general conspiracy against the republic;
as they disposed over more than one-fourth of the votes in the National
Assembly, and, according to the Constitution, a three-fourths majority
was requisite to revise and to call a revisory convention, they needed
only to count their own votes to be certain of victory. Indeed, they
were certain of it.

Over and against these clear-cut positions, the party of Order found
itself tangled in inextricable contradictions. If it voted against the
revision, it endangered the "status quo," by leaving to Bonaparte only
one expedient--that of violence and handing France over, on May 2, 1852,
at the very time of election, a prey to revolutionary anarchy, with a
President whose authority was at an end; with a parliament that the
party had long ceased to own, and with a people that it meant to
re-conquer. If it voted constitutionally for a revision, it knew that
it voted in vain and would constitutionally have to go under before the
veto of the republicans. If, unconstitutionally, it pronounced a simple
majority binding, it could hope to control the revolution only in case
it surrendered unconditionally to the domination of the Executive power:
it then made Bonaparte master of the Constitution, of the revision and
of itself. A merely partial revision, prolonging the term of the
President, opened the way to imperial usurpation; a general revision,
shortening the existence of the republic, threw the dynastic claims into
an inevitable conflict: the conditions for a Bourbon and those for an
Orleanist restoration were not only different, they mutually excluded
each other.

The parliamentary republic was more than a neutral ground on which the
two factions of the French bourgeoisie--Legitimists and Orleanists,
large landed property and manufacture--could lodge together with equal
rights. It was the indispensable condition for their common reign, the
only form of government in which their common class interest could
dominate both the claims of their separate factions and all the other
classes of society. As royalists, they relapsed into their old
antagonism into the struggle for the overlordship of either landed
property or of money; and the highest expression of this antagonism, its
personification, were the two kings themselves, their dynasties. Hence
the resistance of the party of Order to the recall of the Bourbons.

The Orleanist Representative Creton moved periodically in 1849, 1850 and
1851 the repeal of the decree of banishment against the royal families;
as periodically did the parliament present the spectacle of an Assembly
of royalists who stubbornly shut to their banished kings the door
through which they could return home. Richard III murdered Henry VI,
with the remark that he was too good for this world, and belonged in
heaven. They declared France too bad to have her kings back again.
Forced by the power of circumstances, they had become republicans, and
repeatedly sanctioned the popular mandate that exiled their kings from

The revision of the Constitution, and circumstances compelled its
consideration, at once made uncertain not only the republic itself, but
also the joint reign of the two bourgeois factions; and it revived, with
the possibility of the monarchy, both the rivalry of interests which
these two factions had alternately allowed to preponderate, and the
struggle for the supremacy of the one over the other. The diplomats of
the party of Order believed they could allay the struggle by a
combination of the two dynasties through a so-called fusion of the
royalist parties and their respective royal houses. The true fusion of
the restoration and the July monarchy was, however, the parliamentary
republic, in which the Orleanist and Legitimist colors were dissolved,
and the bourgeois species vanished in the plain bourgeois, in the
bourgeois genus. Now however, the plan was to turn the Orleanist
Legitimist and the Legitimist Orleanist. The kingship, in which their
antagonism was personified, was to incarnate their unity, the expression
of their exclusive faction interests was to become the expression of
their common class interest; the monarchy was to accomplish what only
the abolition of two monarchies--the republic could and did accomplish.
This was the philosopher's stone, for the finding of which the doctors
of the party of Order were breaking their heads. As though the
Legitimate monarchy ever could be the monarchy of the industrial
bourgeoisie, or the bourgeois monarchy the monarchy of the hereditary
landed aristocracy! As though landed property and industry could
fraternize under one crown, where the crown could fall only upon one
head, the head of the older or the younger brother! As though industry
could at all deal upon a footing of equality with landed property, so
long as landed property did not decide itself to become industrial. If
Henry V were to die tomorrow, the Count of Paris would not, therefore,
become the king of the Legitimists, unless he ceased to be the King of
the Orleanists. Nevertheless, the fusion philosophers, who became
louder in the measure that the question of revision stepped to the fore,
who had provided themselves with a daily organ in the "Assemblee
Nationale," who, even at this very moment (February, 1852) are again at
work, explained the whole difficulty by the opposition and rivalries of
the two dynasties. The attempts to reconcile the family of Orleans with
Henry V., begun since the death of Louis Philippe, but, as all these
dynastic intrigues carried on only during the vacation of the National
Assembly, between acts, behind the scenes, more as a sentimental
coquetry with the old superstition than as a serious affair, were now
raised by the party of Order to the dignity of a great State question,
and were conducted upon the public stage, instead of, as heretofore in
the amateurs' theater. Couriers flew from Paris to Venice, from Venice
to Claremont, from Claremont to Paris. The Duke of Chambord issues a
manifesto in which he announces not his own, but the "national"
restoration, "with the aid of all the members of his family." The
Oleanist Salvandy throws himself at the feet of Henry V. The Legitimist
leaders Berryer, Benoit d'Azy, St. Priest travel to Claremont, to
persuade the Orleans; but in vain. The fusionists learn too late that
the interests of the two bourgeois factions neither lose in
exclusiveness nor gain in pliancy where they sharpen to a point in the
form of family interests, of the interests of the two royal houses.
When Henry V. recognized the Count of Paris as his successor--the only
success that the fusion could at best score--the house of Orleans
acquired no claim that the childlessness of Henry V. had not already
secured to it; but, on the other hand, it lost all the claims that it
had conquered by the July revolution. It renounced its original claims,
all the title, that, during a struggle nearly one hundred years long, it
had wrested from the older branch of the Bourbons; it bartered away its
historic prerogative, the prerogative of its family-tree. Fusion,
accordingly, amounted to nothing else than the resignation of the house
of Orleans, its Legitimist resignation, a repentful return from the
Protestant State Church into the Catholic;--a return, at that, that did
not even place it on the throne that it had lost, but on the steps of
the throne on which it was born. The old Orleanist Ministers Guizot,
Duchatel, etc., who likewise hastened to Claremont, to advocate the
fusion, represented in fact only the nervous reaction of the July
monarchy; despair, both in the citizen kingdom and the kingdom of
citizens; the superstitious belief in legitimacy as the last amulet
against anarchy. Mediators, in their imagination, between Orleans and
Bourbon, they were in reality but apostate Orleanists, and as such were
they received by the Prince of Joinville. The virile, bellicose part of
the Orleanists, on the contrary--Thiers, Baze, etc.--, persuaded the
family of Louis Philippe all the easier that, seeing every plan for the
immediate restoration of the monarchy presupposed the fusion of the two
dynasties, and every plan for fusion the resignation of the house of
Orleans, it corresponded, on the contrary, wholly with the tradition of
its ancestors to recognize the republic for the time being, and to wait
until circumstances permitted I the conversion of the Presidential chair
into a throne. Joinville's candidacy was set afloat as a rumor, public
curiosity was held in suspense, and a few months later, after the
revision was rejected, openly proclaimed in September.

Accordingly, the essay of a royalist fusion between Orleanists and
Legitimists did not miscarry only, it broke up their parliamentary
fusion, the republican form that they had adopted in common, and it
decomposed the party of Order into its original components. But the
wider the breach became between Venice and Claremont, the further they
drifted away from each I other, and the greater the progress made by the
Joinville agitation, all the more active and earnest became the
negotiations between Faucher, the Minister of Bonaparte, and the

The dissolution of the party of Order went beyond its original elements.
Each of the two large factions fell in turn into new fragments. It was
as if all the old political shades, that formerly fought and crowded one
another within each of the two circles--be it that of the Legitimists or
that of the Orleanists--, had been thawed out like dried infusoria by
contact with water; as if they had recovered enough vitality to build
their own groups and assert their own antagonisms. The Legitimists
dreamed they were back amidst the quarrels between the Tuileries and the
pavilion Marsan, between Villele and Polignac; the Orleanists lived anew
through the golden period of the tourneys between Guizot, Mole, Broglie,
Thiers, and Odillon Barrot.

That portion of the party of Order--eager for a revision of the
Constitution but disagreed upon the extent of revision--made up of the
Legitimists under Berryer and Falloux and of those under Laroche
Jacquelein, together with the tired-out Orleanists under Mole, Broglie,
Montalembert and Odillon Barrot, united with the Bonapartist
Representatives in the following indefinite and loosely drawn motion:

"The undersigned Representatives, with the end in view of restoring to
the nation the full exercise of her sovereignty, move that the
Constitution be revised."

At the same time, however, they unanimously declared through their
spokesman, Tocqueville, that the National Assembly had not the right to
move the abolition of the republic, that right being vested only in a
Constitutional Convention. For the rest, the Constitution could be
revised only in a "legal" way, that is to say, only in case a
three-fourths majority decided in favor of revision, as prescribed by
the Constitution. After a six days' stormy debate, the revision was
rejected on July 19, as was to be foreseen. In its favor 446 votes were
cast, against it 278. The resolute Oleanists, Thiers, Changarnier,
etc., voted with the republicans and the Mountain.

Thus the majority of the parliament pronounced itself against the
Constitution, while the Constitution itself pronounced itself for the
minority, and its decision binding. But had not the party of Order on
May 31, 1850, had it not on June 13, 1849, subordinated the Constitution
to the parliamentary majority? Did not the whole republic they had been
hitherto having rest upon the subordination of the Constitutional
clauses to the majority decisions of the parliament? Had they not left
to the democrats the Old Testament superstitious belief in the letter of
the law, and had they not chastised the democrats therefor? At this
moment, however, revision meant nothing else than the continuance of the
Presidential power, as the continuance of the Constitution meant nothing
else than the deposition of Bonaparte. The parliament had pronounced
itself for him, but the Constitution pronounced itself against the
parliament. Accordingly, he acted both in the sense of the parliament
when he tore up the Constitution, and in the sense of the Constitution
when he chased away the parliament.

The parliament pronounced the Constitution, and, thereby, also, its own
reign, "outside of the pale of the majority"; by its decision, it
repealed the Constitution, and continued the Presidential power, and it
at once declared that neither could the one live nor the other die so
long as itself existed. The feet of those who were to bury it stood at
the door. While it was debating the subject of revision, Bonaparte
removed General Baraguay d'Hilliers, who showed himself irresolute, from
the command of the First Military Division, and appointed in his place
General Magnan, the conqueror of Lyon; the hero of the December days,
one of his own creatures, who already under Louis Philippe, on the
occasion of the Boulogne expedition, had somewhat compromised himself in
his favor.

By its decision on the revision, the party of Order proved that it knew
neither how to rule nor how to obey; neither how to live nor how to die;
neither how to bear with the republic nor how to overthrow it; neither
how to maintain the Constitution nor how to throw it overboard; neither
how to co-operate with the President nor how to break with him. From
what quarter did it then, look to for the solution of all the existing
perplexities? From the calendar, from the course of events. It ceased
to assume the control of events. It, accordingly, invited events to don
its authority and also the power to which in its struggle with the
people, it had yielded one attribute after another until it finally
stood powerless before the same. To the end that the Executive be able
all the more freely to formulate his plan of campaign against it,
strengthen his means of attack, choose his tools, fortify his positions,
the party of Order decided, in the very midst of this critical moment,
to step off the stage, and adjourn for three months, from August 10 to
November 4.

Not only was the parliamentary party dissolved into its two great
factions, not only was each of these dissolved within itself, but the
party of Order, inside of the parliament, was at odds with the party of
Order, outside of the parliament. The learned speakers and writers of
the bourgeoisie, their tribunes and their press, in short, the
ideologists of the bourgeoisie and the bourgeoisie itself, the
representatives and the represented, stood estranged from, and no longer
understood one another.

The Legitimists in the provinces, with their cramped horizon and their
boundless enthusiasm, charged their parliamentary leaders Berryer and
Falloux with desertion to the Bonapartist camp, and with apostacy from
Henry V. Their lilymind [#1 An allusion to the lilies of the Bourbon
coat-of-arms] believed in the fall of man, but not in diplomacy.

More fatal and completer, though different, was the breach between the
commercial bourgeoisie and its politicians. It twitted them, not as the
Legitimists did theirs, with having apostatized from their principle,
but, on the contrary, with adhering to principles that had become

I have already indicated that, since the entry of Fould in the Ministry,
that portion of the commercial bourgeoisie that had enjoyed the lion's
share in Louis Philippe's reign, to-wit, the aristocracy of finance, had
become Bonapartist. Fould not only represented Bonaparte's interests at
the Bourse, he represented also the interests of the Bourse with
Bonaparte. A passage from the London "Economist," the European organ of
the aristocracy of finance, described most strikingly the attitude of
this class. In its issue of February 1, 1851, its Paris correspondent
writes: "Now we have it stated from numerous quarters that France wishes
above all things for repose. The President declares it in his message
to the Legislative Assembly; it is echoed from the tribune; it is
asserted in the journals; it is announced from the pulpit; it is
demonstrated by the sensitiveness of the public funds at the least
prospect of disturbance, and their firmness the instant it is made
manifest that the Executive is far superior in wisdom and power to the
factious ex-officials of all former governments."

In its issue of November 29, 1851, the "Economist" declares editorially:
"The President is now recognized as the guardian of order on every Stock
Exchange of Europe." Accordingly, the Aristocracy of Finance condemned
the parliamentary strife of the party of Order with the Executive as a
"disturbance of order," and hailed every victory of the President over
its reputed representatives as a "victory of order." Under "aristocracy
of finance" must not, however, be understood merely the large bond
negotiators and speculators in government securities, of whom it may be
readily understood that their interests and the interests of the
Government coincide. The whole modern money trade, the whole banking
industry, is most intimately interwoven with the public credit. Part of
their business capital requires to be invested in interest-bearing
government securities that are promptly convertible into money; their
deposits, i. e., the capital placed at their disposal and by them
distributed among merchants and industrial establishments, flow partly
out of the dividends on government securities. The whole money market,
together with the priests of this market, is part and parcel of this
"aristocracy of finance" at every epoch when the stability of the
government is to them synonymous with "Moses and his prophets." This is
so even before things have reached the present stage when every deluge
threatens to carry away the old governments themselves.

But the industrial Bourgeoisie also, in its fanaticism for order, was
annoyed at the quarrels of the Parliamentary party of Order with the
Executive. Thiers, Anglas, Sainte Beuve, etc., received, after their
vote of January 18, on the occasion of the discharge of Changarnier,
public reprimands from their constituencies, located in the industrial
districts, branding their coalition with the Mountain as an act of high
treason to the cause of order. Although, true enough, the boastful,
vexatious and petty intrigues, through which the struggle of the party
of Order with the President manifested itself, deserved no better
reception, yet notwithstanding, this bourgeois party, that expects of
its representatives to allow the military power to pass without
resistance out of the hands of their own Parliament into those of an
adventurous Pretender, is not worth even the intrigues that were wasted
in its behalf. It showed that the struggle for the maintenance of their
public interests, of their class interests, of their political power
only incommoded and displeased them, as a disturbance of their private

The bourgeois dignitaries of the provincial towns, the magistrates,
commercial judges, etc., with hardly any exception, received Bonaparte
everywhere on his excursions in the most servile manner, even when, as
in Dijon, he attacked the National Assembly and especially the party of
Order without reserve.

Business being brisk, as still at the beginning of 1851, the commercial
bourgeoisie stormed against every Parliamentary strife, lest business be
put out of temper. Business being dull, as from the end of February,
1851, on, the bourgeoisie accused the Parliamentary strifes as the cause
of the stand-still, and clamored for quiet in order that business may
revive. The debates on revision fell just in the bad times. Seeing the
question now was the to be or not to be of the existing form of
government, the bourgeoisie felt itself all the more justified in
demanding of its Representatives that they put an end to this tormenting
provisional status, and preserve the "status quo." This was no
contradiction. By putting an end to the provisional status, it
understood its continuance, the indefinite putting off of the moment
when a final decision had to be arrived at. The "status quo" could be
preserved in only one of two ways: either by the prolongation of
Bonaparte's term of office or by his constitutional withdrawal and the
election of Cavaignac. A part of the bourgeoisie preferred the latter
solution, and knew no better advice to give their Representatives than
to be silent, to avoid the burning point. If their Representatives did
not speak, so argued they, Bonaparte would not act. They desired an
ostrich Parliament that would hide its head, in order not to be seen.
Another part of the bourgeoisie preferred that Bonaparte, being once in
the Presidential chair, be left in the Presidential chair, in order that
everything might continue to run in the old ruts. They felt indignant
that their Parliament did not openly break the Constitution and resign
without further ado. The General Councils of the Departments, these
provisional representative bodies of the large bourgeoisie, who had
adjourned during the vacation of the National Assembly since August 25,
pronounced almost unanimously for revision, that is to say, against the
Parliament and for Bonaparte.

Still more unequivocally than in its falling out with its Parliamentary
Representatives, did the bourgeoisie exhibit its wrath at its literary
Representatives, its own press. The verdicts of the bourgeois juries,
inflicting excessive fines and shameless sentences of imprisonment for
every attack of the bourgeois press upon the usurping aspirations of
Bonaparte, for every attempt of the press to defend the political rights
of the bourgeoisie against the Executive power, threw, not France alone,
but all Europe into amazement.

While on the one hand, as I have indicated, the Parliamentary party of
Order ordered itself to keep the peace by screaming for peace; and while
it pronounced the political rule of the bourgeoisie irreconcilable with
the safety and the existence of the bourgeoisie, by destroying with its
own hands in its struggle with the other classes of society all the
conditions for its own, the Parliamentary regime; on the other hand, the
mass of the bourgeoisie, outside of the Parliament, urged Bonaparte--by
its servility towards the President, by its insults to the Parliament,
by the brutal treatment of its own press--to suppress and annihilate its
speaking and writing organs, its politicians and its literati, its
orators' tribune and its press, to the end that, under the protection of
a strong and unhampered Government, it might ply its own private
pursuits in safety. It declared unmistakably that it longed to be rid
of its own political rule, in order to escape the troubles and dangers
of ruling.

And this bourgeoisie, that had rebelled against even the Parliamentary
and literary contest for the supremacy of its own class, that had
betrayed its leaders in this contest, it now has the effrontery to blame
the proletariat for not having risen in its defence in a bloody
struggle, in a struggle for life! Those bourgeois, who at every turn
sacrificed their, common class interests to narrow and dirty private
interests, and who demanded a similar sacrifice from their own
Representatives, now whine that the proletariat has sacrificed their
idea-political to its own material interests! This bourgeois class now
strikes the attitude of a pure soul, misunderstood and abandoned, at a
critical moment, by the proletariat, that has been misled by the
Socialists. And its cry finds a general echo in the bourgeois world.
Of course, I do not refer to German crossroad politicians and kindred
blockheads. I refer, for instance, to the "Economist," which, as late
as November 29, 1851, that is to say, four days before the "coup d'etat"
pronounced Bonaparte the "Guardian of Order" and Thiers and Berryer
"Anarchists," and as early as December 27, 1851, after Bonaparte had
silenced those very Anarchists, cries out about the treason committed by
"the ignorant, untrained and stupid proletaires against the skill,
knowledge, discipline, mental influence, intellectual resources an moral
weight of the middle and upper ranks." The stupid, ignorant and
contemptible mass was none other than the bourgeoisie itself.

France had, indeed; experienced a sort of commercial crisis in 1851. At
the end of February, there was a falling off of exports as compared with
1850; in March, business languished and factories shut down; in April,
the condition of the industrial departments seemed as desperate as after
the February days; in May, business did not yet pick up; as late as June
28, the reports of the Bank of France revealed through a tremendous
increase of deposits and an equal decrease of loans on exchange notes,
the standstill of production; not until the middle of October did a
steady improvement of business set in. The French bourgeoisie accounted
for this stagnation of business with purely political reasons; it
imputed the dull times to the strife between the Parliament and the
Executive power, to the uncertainty of a provisional form of government,
to the alarming prospects of May 2, 1852. I shall not deny that all
these causes did depress some branches of industry in Paris and in the
Departments. At any rate, this effect of political circumstances was
only local and trifling. Is there any other proof needed than that the
improvement in business set in at the very time when the political
situation was growing worse, when the political horizon was growing
darker, and when at every moment a stroke of lightning was expected out
of the Elysee--in the middle of October? The French bourgeois, whose
"skill, knowledge, mental influence and intellectual resources," reach
no further than his nose, could, moreover, during the whole period of
the Industrial Exposition in London, have struck with his nose the cause
of his own business misery. At the same time that, in France, the
factories were being closed, commercial failures broke out in England.
While the industrial panic reached its height during April and May in
France, in England the commercial panic reached its height in April and
May. The same as the French, the English woolen industries suffered,
and, as the French, so did the English silk manufacture. Though the
English cotton factories went on working, it, nevertheless, was not with
the same old profit of 1849 and 1850. The only difference was this:
that in France, the crisis was an industrial, in England it was a
commercial one; that while in France the factories stood still, they
spread themselves in England, but under less favorable circumstances
than they had done the years just previous; that, in France, the export,
in England, the import trade suffered the heaviest blows. The common
cause, which, as a matter of fact, is not to be looked for with-in the
bounds of the French political horizon, was obvious. The years 1849 and
1850 were years of the greatest material prosperity, and of an
overproduction that did not manifest itself until 1851. This was
especially promoted at the beginning of 1851 by the prospect of the
Industrial Exposition; and, as special causes, there were added, first,
the failure of the cotton crop of 1850 and 1851; second, the certainty
of a larger cotton crop than was expected: first, the rise, then the
sudden drop; in short, the oscillations of the cotton market. The crop
of raw silk in France had been below the average. Finally, the
manufacture of woolen goods had received such an increment since 1849,
that the production of wool could not keep step with it, and the price
of the raw material rose greatly out of proportion to the price of the
manufactured goods. Accordingly, we have here in the raw material of
three staple articles a threefold material for a commercial crisis.
Apart from these special circumstances, the seeming crisis of the year
1851 was, after all, nothing but the halt that overproduction and
overspeculation make regularly in the course of the industrial cycle,
before pulling all their forces together in order to rush feverishly
over the last stretch, and arrive again at their point of departure--the
General Commercial Crisis. At such intervals in the history of trade,
commercial failures break out in England, while, in France, industry
itself is stopped, partly because it is compelled to retreat through the
competition of the English, that, at such times becomes resistless in
all markets, and partly because, as an industry of luxuries, it is
affected with preference by every stoppage of trade. Thus, besides the
general crisis, France experiences her own national crises, which,
how-ever, are determined by and conditioned upon the general state of
the world's market much more than by local French influences. It will
not be devoid of interest to contrast the prejudgment of the French
bourgeois with the judgment of the English bourgeois. One of the
largest Liverpool firms writes in its yearly report of trade for 1851:
"Few years have more completely disappointed the expectations
entertained at their beginning than the year that has just passed;
instead of the great prosperity, that was unanimously looked forward to,
it proved itself one of the most discouraging years during the last
quarter of a century. This applies, of course, only to the mercantile,
not to the industrial classes. And yet, surely there were grounds at
the beginning of the year from which to draw a contrary conclusion; the
stock of products was scanty, capital was abundant, provisions cheap, a
rich autumn was assured, there was uninterrupted peace on the continent
and no political and financial disturbances at home; indeed, never were
the wings of trade more unshackled. . . . What is this unfavorable
result to be ascribed to? We believe to excessive trade in imports as
well as exports. If our merchants do not themselves rein in their
activity, nothing can keep us going, except a panic every three years."

Imagine now the French bourgeois, in the midst of this business panic,
having his trade-sick brain tortured, buzzed at and deafened with rumors
of a "coup d'etat" and the restoration of universal suffrage; with the
struggle between the Legislature and the Executive; with the Fronde
warfare between Orleanists and Legitimists; with communistic
conspiracies in southern France; with alleged Jacqueries [#2 Peasant
revolts] in the Departments of Nievre and Cher; with the advertisements
of the several candidates for President; with "social solutions"
huckstered about by the journals; with the threats of the republicans to
uphold, arms in hand, the Constitution and universal suffrage; with the
gospels, according to the emigrant heroes "in partibus," who announced
the destruction of the world for May 2,--imagine that, and one can
understand how the bourgeois, in this unspeakable and noisy confusion of
fusion, revision, prorogation, constitution, conspiracy, coalition,
emigration, usurpation and revolution, blurts out at his parliamentary
republic: "Rather an End With Fright, Than a Fright Without End."

Bonaparte understood this cry. His perspicacity was sharpened by the
growing anxiety of the creditors' class, who, with every sunset, that
brought nearer the day of payment, the 2d of May, 1852, saw in the
motion of the stars a protest against their earthly drafts. They had
become regular astrologers The National Assembly had cut off Bonaparte's
hope of a constitutional prolongation of his term; the candidature of
the Prince of Joinville tolerated no further vacillation.

If ever an event cast its shadow before it long before its occurrence,
it was Bonaparte's "coup d'etat." Already on January 29, 1849, barely a
month after his election, he had made to Changarnier a proposition to
that effect. His own Prime Minister. Odillon Barrot, had covertly, in
1849, and Thiers openly in the winter of 1850, revealed the scheme of
the "coup d'etat." In May, 1851, Persigny had again sought to win
Changarnier over to the "coup," and the "Miessager de l'Assemblee"
newspaper had published this conversation. At every parliamentary
storm, the Bonapartist papers threatened a "coup," and the nearer the
crisis approached, all the louder grew their tone. At the orgies, that
Bonaparte celebrated every night with a swell mob of males and females,
every time the hour of midnight drew nigh and plenteous libations had
loosened the tongues and heated the minds of the revelers, the "coup"
was resolved upon for the next morning. Swords were then drawn, glasses
clinked, the Representatives were thrown out at the windows, the
imperial mantle fell upon the shoulders of Bonaparte, until the next
morning again drove away the spook, and astonished Paris learned, from
not very reserved Vestals and indiscreet Paladins, the danger it had
once more escaped. During the months of September and October, the
rumors of a "coup d'etat" tumbled close upon one another's heels. At
the same time the shadow gathered color, like a confused daguerreotype.
Follow the issues of the European daily press for the months of
September and October, and items like this will be found literally:

"Rumors of a 'coup' fill Paris. The capital, it is said, is to be
filled with troops by night and the next morning decrees are to be
issued dissolving the National Assembly, placing the Department of the
Seine in state of siege restoring universal suffrage, and appealing to
the people. Bonaparte is rumored to be looking for Ministers to execute
these illegal decrees."

The newspaper correspondence that brought this news always close
ominously with "postponed." The "coup" was ever the fixed idea of
Bonaparte. With this idea he had stepped again upon French soil. It
had such full possession of him that he was constantly betraying and
blabbing it out. He was so weak that he was as constantly giving it up
again. The shadow of the "coup" had become so familiar a spectre to the
Parisians, that they refused to believe it when it finally did appear in
flesh and blood. Consequently, it was neither the reticent backwardness
of the chief of the "Society of December 10," nor an unthought of
surprise of the National Assembly that caused the success of the "coup."
When it succeeded, it did so despite his indiscretion and with its
anticipation--a necessary, unavoidable result of the development that
had preceded.

On October 10, Bonaparte announced to his Ministers his decision to
restore universal suffrage; on the 16th day they handed in their
resignations; on the 26th Paris learned of the formation of the Thorigny
Ministry. The Prefect of Police, Carlier, was simultaneously replaced
by Maupas; and the chief of the First Military Division Magnan,
concentrated the most reliable regiments in the capital. On November 4,
the National Assembly re-opened its sessions. There was nothing left
for it to do but to repeat, in short recapitulation, the course it had
traversed, and to prove that it had been buried only after it had
expired. The first post that it had forfeited in the struggle with the
Executive was the Ministry. It had solemnly to admit this loss by
accepting as genuine the Thorigny Ministry, which was but a pretence.
The permanent Committee had received Mr. Giraud with laughter when he
introduced himself in the name of the new Ministers. So weak a Ministry
for so strong a measure as the restoration of universal suffrage! The
question, however, then was to do nothing in, everything against the

On the very day of its re-opening, the National Assembly received the
message from Bonaparte demanding the restoration of universal suffrage
and the repeal of the law of May 31, 1850. On the same day, his
Ministers introduced a decree to that effect. The Assembly promptly
rejected the motion of urgency made by the Ministers, but repealed the
law itself, on November 13, by a vote of 355 against 348. Thus it once
more tore to pieces its own mandate, once more certified to the fact
that it had transformed itself from a freely chosen representative body
of the nation into the usurpatory parliament of a class; it once more
admitted that it had itself severed the muscles that connected the
parliamentary head with the body of the nation.

While the Executive power appealed from the National Assembly to the
people by its motion for the restoration of universal suffrage, the
Legislative power appealed from the people to the Army by its "Questors'
Bill." This bill was to establish its right to immediate requisitions
for troops, to build up a parliamentary army. By thus appointing the
Army umpire between itself and the people, between itself and Bonaparte;
by thus recognizing the Army as the decisive power in the State, the
National Assembly was constrained to admit that it had long given up all
claim to supremacy. By debating the right to make requisitions for
troops, instead of forthwith collecting them, it betrayed its own doubts
touching its own power. By thus subsequently rejecting the "Questors'
Bill," it publicly confessed it impotence. The bill fell through with a
minority of 108 votes; the Mountain had, accordingly, thrown the casting
vote It now found itself in the predicament of Buridan's donkey, not,
indeed, between two sacks of hay, forced to decide which of the two was
the more attractive, but between two showers of blows, forced to decide
which of the two was the harder; fear of Changarnier, on one side, fear
of Bonaparte, on the other. It must be admitted the position was not a
heroic one.

On November 18, an amendment was moved to the Act, passed by the party
of Order, on municipal elections to the effect that, instead of three
years, a domicile of one year should suffice. The amendment was lost by
a single vote--but this vote, it soon transpired, was a mistake. Owing
to the divisions within its own hostile factions, the party of Order had
long since forfeited its independent parliamentary majority. It was now
plain that there was no longer any majority in the parliament. The
National Assembly had become impotent even to decide. Its atomic parts
were no longer held together by any cohesive power; it had expended its
last breath, it was dead.

Finally, the mass of the bourgeoisie outside of the parliament was once
more solemnly to confirm its rupture with the bourgeoisie inside of the
parliament a few days before the catastrophe. Thiers, as a
parliamentary hero conspicuously smitten by that incurable
disease--Parliamentary Idiocy--, had hatched out jointly with the
Council of State, after the death of the parliament, a new parliamentary
intrigue in the shape of a "Responsibility Law," that was intended to
lock up the President within the walls of the Constitution. The same
as, on September 15, Bonaparte bewitched the fishwives, like a second
Massaniello, on the occasion of laying the corner-stone for the Market
of Paris,--though, it must be admitted, one fishwife was equal to
seventeen Burgraves in real power--; the same as, after the introduction
of the "Questors' Bill," he enthused the lieutenants, who were being
treated at the Elysee;--so, likewise, did he now, on November 25, carry
away with him the industrial bourgeoisie, assembled at the Circus, to
receive from his hands the prize-medals that had been awarded at the
London Industrial Exposition. I here reproduce the typical part of his
speech, from the "Journal des Debats":

"With such unhoped for successes, I am justified to repeat how great the
French republic would be if she were only allowed to pursue her real
interests, and reform her institutions, instead of being constantly
disturbed in this by demagogues, on one side, and, on the other, by
monarchic hallucinations. (Loud, stormy and continued applause from all
parts of the amphitheater). The monarchic hallucinations hamper all
progress and all serious departments of industry. Instead of progress,
we have struggle only. Men, formerly the most zealous supporters of
royal authority and prerogative, become the partisans of a convention
that has no purpose other than to weaken an authority that is born of
universal suffrage. (Loud and prolonged applause). We see men, who
have suffered most from the revolution and complained bitterest of it,
provoking a new one for the sole purpose of putting fetters on the will
of the nation. . . . I promise you peace for the future." (Bravo!
Bravo! Stormy bravos.)

Thus the industrial bourgeoisie shouts its servile "Bravo!" to the "coup
d'etat" of December 2, to the destruction of the parliament, to the
downfall of their own reign, to the dictatorship of Bonaparte. The rear
of the applause of November 25 was responded to by the roar of cannon on
December 4, and the house of Mr. Sallandrouze, who had been loudest in
applauding, was the one demolished by most of the bombs.

Cromwell, when he dissolved the Long Parliament, walked alone into its
midst, pulled out his watch in order that the body should not continue
to exist one minute beyond the term fixed for it by him, and drove out
each individual member with gay and humorous invectives. Napoleon,
smaller than his prototype, at least went on the 18th Brumaire into the
legislative body, and, though in a tremulous voice, read to it its
sentence of death. The second Bonaparte, who, moreover, found himself
in possession of an executive power very different from that of either
Cromwell or Napoleon, did not look for his model in the annals of
universal history, but in the annals of the "Society of December 10," in
the annals of criminal jurisprudence. He robs the Bank of France of
twenty-five million francs; buys General Magnan with one million and the
soldiers with fifteen francs and a drink to each; comes secretly
together with his accomplices like a thief by night; has the houses of
the most dangerous leaders in the parliament broken into; Cavalignac,
Lamorciere, Leflo, Changarnier, Charras, Thiers, Baze, etc., taken out
of their beds; the principal places of Paris, the building of the
parliament included, occupied with troops; and, early the next morning,
loud-sounding placards posted on all the walls proclaiming the
dissolution of the National Assembly and of the Council of State, the
restoration of universal suffrage, and the placing of the Department of
the Seine under the state of siege. In the same way he shortly after
sneaked into the "Moniateur" a false document, according to which
influential parliamentary names had grouped themselves round him in a
Committee of the Nation.

Amidst cries of "Long live the Republic!", the rump-parliament,
assembled at the Mayor's building of the Tenth Arrondissement, and
composed mainly of Legitimists and Orleanists, resolves to depose
Bonaparte; it harangues in vain the gaping mass gathered before the
building, and is finally dragged first, under the escort of African
sharpshooters, to the barracks of Orsay, and then bundled into convicts'
wagons and transported to the prisons of Mazas, Ham and Vincennes. Thus
ended the party of Order, the Legislative Assembly and the February

Before hastening to the end, let us sum up shortly the plan of its

I.--First Period. From February 24 to May 4, 1848. February period.
Prologue. Universal fraternity swindle.

II.--Second Period. Period in which the republic is constituted, and of
the Constitutive National Assembly.

1. May 4 to June 25, 1848. Struggle of all the classes against the house
of Mr. proletariat. Defeat of the proletariat in the June days.

2. June 25 to December 10, 1848. Dictatorship of the pure bourgeois
republicans. Drafting of the Constitution. The state of siege hangs
over Paris. The Bourgeois dictatorship set aside on December 10 by the
election of Bonaparte as President.

3. December 20, 1848, to May 20, 1849. Struggle of the Constitutive
Assembly with Bonaparte and with the united party of Order. Death of
the Constitutive Assembly. Downfall of the republican bourgeoisie.

III.--Third Period. Period of the constitutional republic and of the
Legislative National Assembly.

1. May 29 to June 13, 1849. Struggle of the small traders', middle
class with the bourgeoisie and with Bonaparte. Defeat of the small
traders' democracy.

2. June 13, 1849, to May, 1850. Parliamentary dictatorship of the party
of Order. Completes its reign by the abolition of universal suffrage,
but loses the parliamentary Ministry.

3. May 31, 1850, to December 2, 1851. Struggle between the
parliamentary bourgeoisie and Bonaparte.

a. May 31, 1850, to January 12, 1851. The parliament loses the supreme
command over the Army.

b. January 12 to April 11, 1851. The parliament succumbs in the
attempts to regain possession of the administrative power. The party of
Order loses its independent parliamentary majority. Its coalition with
the republicans and the Mountain.

c. April 11 to October 9, 1851. Attempts at revision, fusion and
prorogation. The party of Order dissolves into its component parts. The
breach between the bourgeois parliament and the bourgeois press, on the
one hand, and the bourgeois mass, on the other, becomes permanent.

d. October 9 to December 2, 1851. Open breach between the parliament and
the executive power. It draws up its own decree of death, and goes
under, left in the lurch by its own class, by the Army, and by all the
other classes. Downfall of the parliamentary regime and of the reign of
the bourgeoisie. Bonaparte's triumph. Parody of the imperialist


The Social Republic appeared as a mere phrase, as a prophecy on the
threshold of the February Revolution; it was smothered in the blood of
the Parisian proletariat during the days of 1848 but it stalks about as
a spectre throughout the following acts of the drama. The Democratic
Republic next makes its bow; it goes out in a fizzle on June 13, 1849,
with its runaway small traders; but, on fleeing, it scatters behind it
all the more bragging announcements of what it means do to. The
Parliamentary Republic, together with the bourgeoisie, then appropriates
the whole stage; it lives its life to the full extent of its being; but
the 2d of December, 1851, buries it under the terror-stricken cry of the
allied royalists: "Long live the Republic!"

The French bourgeoisie reared up against the reign of the working
proletariat;--it brought to power the slum-proletariat, with the chief
of the "Society of December 10" at its head. It kept France in
breathless fear over the prospective terror of "red anarchy;"--Bonaparte
discounted the prospect when, on December 4, he had the leading citizens
of the Boulevard Montmartre and the Boulevard des Italiens shot down
from their windows by the grog-inspired "Army of Order." It made the
apotheosis of the sabre; now the sabre rules it. It destroyed the
revolutionary press;--now its own press is annihilated. It placed
public meetings under police surveillance;--now its own salons are
subject to police inspection. It disbanded the democratic National
Guards;--now its own National Guard is disbanded. It instituted the
state of siege;--now itself is made subject thereto. It supplanted the
jury by military commissions;--now military commissions supplant its own
juries. It subjected the education of the people to the parsons'
interests;--the parsons' interests now subject it to their own systems.
It ordered transportations without trial;--now itself is transported
without trial. It suppressed every movement of society with physical
force;--now every movement of its own class is suppressed by physical
force. Out of enthusiasm for the gold bag, it rebelled against its own
political leaders and writers;--now, its political leaders and writers
are set aside, but the gold hag is plundered, after the mouth of the
bourgeoisie has been gagged and its pen broken. The bourgeoisie
tirelessly shouted to the revolution, in the language of St. Orsenius to
the Christians: "Fuge, Tace, Quiesce!"--flee, be silent, submit!--;
Bonaparte shouts to the bourgeoisie: "Fuge, Tace, Oniesce!"--flee, be
silent, submit!

The French bourgeoisie had long since solved Napoleon's dilemma: "Dans
cinquante ans l'Europe sera republicaine ou cosaque." [#1 Within fifty
years Europe will be either republican or Cossack.] It found the
solution in the "republique cosaque." [#2 Cossack republic.] No Circe
distorted with wicked charms the work of art of the bourgeois republic
into a monstrosity. That republic lost nothing but the appearance of
decency. The France of to-day was ready-made within the womb of the
Parliamentary republic. All that was wanted was a bayonet thrust, in
order that the bubble burst, and the monster leap forth to sight.

Why did not the Parisian proletariat rise after the 2d of December?

The downfall of the bourgeoisie was as yet merely decreed; the decree
was not yet executed. Any earnest uprising of the proletariat would
have forthwith revived this bourgeoisie, would have brought on its
reconciliation with the army, and would have insured a second June rout
to the workingmen.

On December 4, the proletariat was incited to fight by Messrs. Bourgeois
& Small-Trader. On the evening of that day, several legions of the
National Guard promised to appear armed and uniformed on the place of
battle. This arose from the circumstance that Messrs. Bourgeois &
Small-Trader had got wind that, in one of his decrees of December 2,
Bonaparte abolished the secret ballot, and ordered them to enter the
words "Yes" and "No" after their names in the official register.
Bonaparte took alarm at the stand taken on December 4. During the night
he caused placards to be posted on all the street corners of Paris,
announcing the restoration of the secret ballot. Messrs. Bourgeois &
Small-Trader believed they had gained their point. The absentees, the
next morning, were Messieurs. Bourgeois & Small-Trader.

During the night of December 1 and 2, the Parisian proletariat was
robbed of its leaders and chiefs of barricades by a raid of Bonaparte's.
An army without officers, disinclined by the recollections of June, 1848
and 1849, and May, 1850, to fight under the banner of the Montagnards,
it left to its vanguard, the secret societies, the work of saving the
insurrectionary honor of Paris, which the bourgeoisie had yielded to the
soldiery so submissively that Bonaparte was later justified in disarming
the National Guard upon the scornful ground that he feared their arms
would be used against themselves by the Anarchists!

"C'est Ic triomphe complet et definitif du Socialism!"' Thus did Guizot
characterize the 2d of December. But, although the downfall of the
parliamentary republic carries with it the germ of the triumph of the
proletarian revolution, its immediate and tangible result was the
triumph of Bonaparte over parliament, of the Executive over the
Legislative power, of force without phrases over the force of phrases.
In the parliament, the nation raised its collective will to the dignity
of law, i.e., it raised the law of the ruling class to the dignity of
its collective will. Before the Executive power, the nation abdicates
all will of its own, and submits to the orders of an outsider of
Authority. In contrast with the Legislative, the Executive power
expresses the heteronomy of the nation in contrast with its autonomy.
Accordingly, France seems to have escaped the despotism of a class only
in order to fall under the despotism of an individual, under the
authority, at that of an individual without authority The struggle seems
to settle down to the point where all classes drop down on their knees,
equally impotent and equally dumb

All the same, the revolution is thoroughgoing. It still is on its
passage through purgatory. It does its work methodically: Down to
December 2, 1851, it had fulfilled one-half of its programme, it now
fulfils the other half. It first ripens the power of the Legislature
into fullest maturity in order to be able to overthrow it. Now that it
has accomplished that, the revolution proceeds to ripen the power of the
Executive into equal maturity; it reduces this power to its purest
expression; isolates it; places it before itself as the sole subject for
reproof in order to concentrate against it all the revolutionary forces
of destruction. When the revolution shall have accomplished this second
part of its preliminary programme, Europe will jump up from her seat to
exclaim: "Well hast thou grubbed, old mole!"

The Executive power, with its tremendous bureaucratic and military
organization; with its wide-spreading and artificial machinery of
government--an army of office-holders, half a million strong, together
with a military force of another million men--; this fearful body of
parasites, that coils itself like a snake around French society,
stopping all its pores, originated at the time of the absolute monarchy,
along with the decline of feudalism, which it helped to hasten. The
princely privileges of the landed proprietors and cities were
transformed into so many at-tributes of the Executive power; the feudal
dignitaries into paid office-holders; and the confusing design of
conflicting medieval seigniories, into the well regulated plan of a
government, work is subdivided and centralized as in the factory. The
first French revolution, having as a mission to sweep away all local,
territorial, urban and provincial special privileges, with the object of
establishing the civic unity of the nation, was hound to develop what
the absolute monarchy had begun--the work of centralization, together
with the range, the attributes and the menials of government. Napoleon
completed this governmental machinery. The Legitimist and the July
Monarchy contribute nothing thereto, except a greater subdivision of
labor, that grew in the same measure as the division and subdivision of
labor within bourgeois society raised new groups and interests, i.e.,
new material for the administration of government. Each Common interest
was in turn forthwith removed from society, set up against it as a
higher Collective interest, wrested from the individual activity of the
members of society, and turned into a subject for governmental
administration, from the bridges, the school house and the communal
property of a village community, up to the railroads, the national
wealth and the national University of France. Finally, the
parliamentary republic found itself, in its struggle against the
revolution, compelled, with its repressive measures, to strengthen the
means and the centralization of the government. Each overturn, instead
of breaking up, carried this machine to higher perfection. The parties,
that alternately wrestled for supremacy, looked upon the possession of
this tremendous governmental structure as the principal spoils of their

Nevertheless, under the absolute monarchy, was only the means whereby
the first revolution, and under Napoleon, to prepare the class rule of
the bourgeoisie; under the restoration, under Louis Philippe, and under
the parliamentary republic, it was the instrument of the ruling class,
however eagerly this class strained after autocracy. Not before the
advent of the second Bonaparte does the government seem to have made
itself fully independent. The machinery of government has by this time
so thoroughly fortified itself against society, that the chief of the
"Society of December 10" is thought good enough to be at its head; a
fortune-hunter, run in from abroad, is raised on its shield by a drunken
soldiery, bought by himself with liquor and sausages, and whom he is
forced ever again to throw sops to. Hence the timid despair, the sense
of crushing humiliation and degradation that oppresses the breast of
France and makes her to choke. She feels dishonored.

And yet the French Government does not float in the air. Bonaparte
represents an economic class, and that the most numerous in the
commonweal of France--the Allotment Farmer. [#4 The first French
Revolution distributed the bulk of the territory of France, held at the
time by the feudal lords, in small patches among the cultivators of the
soil. This allotment of lands created the French farmer class.]

As the Bourbons are the dynasty of large landed property, as the Orleans
are the dynasty of money, so are the Bonapartes the dynasty of the
farmer, i.e. of the French masses. Not the Bonaparte, who threw himself
at the feet of the bourgeois parliament, but the Bonaparte, who swept
away the bourgeois parliament, is the elect of this farmer class. For
three years the cities had succeeded in falsifying the meaning of the
election of December 10, and in cheating the farmer out of the
restoration of the Empire. The election of December 10, 1848, is not
carried out until the "coup d'etat" of December 2, 1851.

The allotment farmers are an immense mass, whose individual members live
in identical conditions, without, however, entering into manifold
relations with one another. Their method of production isolates them
from one another, instead of drawing them into mutual intercourse. This
isolation is promoted by the poor means of communication in France,
together with the poverty of the farmers themselves. Their field of
production, the small allotment of land that each cultivates, allows no
room for a division of labor, and no opportunity for the application of
science; in other words, it shuts out manifoldness of development,
diversity of talent, and the luxury of social relations. Every single
farmer family is almost self-sufficient; itself produces directly the
greater part of what it consumes; and it earns its livelihood more by
means of an interchange with nature than by intercourse with society.
We have the allotted patch of land, the farmer and his family; alongside
of that another allotted patch of land, another farmer and another
family. A bunch of these makes up a village; a bunch of villages makes
up a Department. Thus the large mass of the French nation is
constituted by the simple addition of equal magnitudes--much as a bag
with potatoes constitutes a potato-bag. In so far as millions of
families live under economic conditions that separate their mode of
life, their interests and their culture from those of the other classes,
and that place them in an attitude hostile toward the latter, they
constitute a class ; in so far as there exists only a local connection
among these farmers, a connection which the individuality and
exclusiveness of their interests prevent from generating among them any
unity of interest, national connections, and political organization,
they do not constitute a class. Consequently, they are unable to assert
their class interests in their own name, be it by a parliament or by
convention. They can not represent one another, they must themselves be
represented. Their representative must at the same time appear as their
master, as an authority over them, as an unlimited governmental power,
that protects them from above, bestows rain and sunshine upon them.
Accordingly, the political influence of the allotment farmer finds its
ultimate expression in an Executive power that subjugates the commonweal
to its own autocratic will.

Historic tradition has given birth to the superstition among the French
farmers that a man named Napoleon would restore to them all manner of
glory. Now, then, an individual turns I up, who gives himself out as
that man because, obedient to the "Code Napoleon," which provides that
"La recherche de la paternite est interdite," [#5 The inquiry into
paternity is forbidden.] he carries the name of Napoleon. [#6
L. N. Bonaparte is said to have been an illegitimate son.] After a
vagabondage of twenty years, and a series of grotesque adventures, the
myth is verified, and that man becomes the Emperor of the French. The
rooted thought of the Nephew becomes a reality because it coincided with
the rooted thought of the most numerous class among the French.

"But," I shall be objected to, "what about the farmers' uprisings over
half France, the raids of the Army upon the farmers, the wholesale
imprisonment and transportation of farmers?"

Indeed, since Louis XIV., France has not experienced such persecutions
of the farmer on the ground of his demagogic machinations.

But this should be well understood: The Bonaparte dynasty does not
represent the revolutionary, it represents the conservative farmer; it
does not represent the farmer, who presses beyond his own economic
conditions, his little allotment of land it represents him rather who
would confirm these conditions; it does not represent the rural
population, that, thanks to its own inherent energy, wishes, jointly
with the cities to overthrow the old order, it represents, on the
contrary, the rural population that, hide-bound in the old order, seeks
to see itself, together with its allotments, saved and favored by the
ghost of the Empire; it represents, not the intelligence, but the
superstition of the farmer; not his judgment, but his bias; not his
future, but his past; not his modern Cevennes; [#7 The Cevennes were the
theater of the most numerous revolutionary uprisings of the farmer
class.] but his modern Vendee. [#8 La Vendee was the theater of
protracted reactionary uprisings of the farmer class under the first

The three years' severe rule of the parliamentary republic had freed a
part of the French farmers from the Napoleonic illusion, and, though
even only superficially; had revolutionized them The bourgeoisie threw
them, however, violently back every time that they set themselves in
motion. Under the parliamentary republic, the modern wrestled with the
traditional consciousness of the French farmer. The process went on in
the form of a continuous struggle between the school teachers and the
parsons;--the bourgeoisie knocked the school teachers down. For the
first time, the farmer made an effort to take an independent stand in
the government of the country; this manifested itself in the prolonged
conflicts of the Mayors with the Prefects;--the bourgeoisie deposed the
Mayors. Finally, during period of the parliamentary republic, the
farmers of several localities rose against their own product, the
Army;--the bourgeoisie punished them with states of siege and
executions. And this is the identical bourgeoisie, that now howls over
the "stupidity of the masses," over the "vile multitude," which, it
claims, betrayed it to Bonaparte. Itself has violently fortified the
imperialism of the farmer class; it firmly maintained the conditions
that Constitute the birth-place of this farmer-religion. Indeed, the
bourgeoisie has every reason to fear the stupidity of the masses--so
long as they remain conservative; and their intelligence--so soon as
they become revolutionary.

In the revolts that took place after the "coup d'etat" a part of the
French farmers protested, arms in hand, against their own vote of
December 10, 1848. The school house had, since 1848, sharpened their
wits. But they had bound themselves over to the nether world of
history, and history kept them to their word. Moreover, the majority of
this population was still so full of prejudices that, just in the
"reddest" Departments, it voted openly for Bonaparte. The National
Assembly prevented, as it thought, this population from walking; the
farmers now snapped the fetters which the cities had struck upon the
will of the country districts. In some places they even indulged the
grotesque hallucination of a "Convention together with a Napoleon."

After the first revolution had converted the serf farmers into
freeholders, Napoleon fixed and regulated the conditions under which,
unmolested, they could exploit the soil of France, that had just fallen
into their hands, and expiate the youthful passion for property. But
that which now bears the French farmer down is that very allotment of
land, it is the partition of the soil, the form of ownership, which
Napoleon had consolidated. These are the material condition that turned
French feudal peasant into a small or allotment farmer, and Napoleon
into an Emperor. Two generations have sufficed to produce the
inevitable result the progressive deterioration of agriculture, and the
progressive encumbering of the agriculturist The "Napoleonic" form of
ownership, which, at the beginning of the nineteenth century was the
condition for the emancipation and enrichment of the French rural
population, has, in the course of the century, developed into the law of
their enslavement and pauperism. Now, then, this very law is the first
of the "idees Napoleoniennes," which the second Bonaparte must uphold.
If he still shares with the farmers the illusion of seeking, not in the
system of the small allotment itself, but outside of that system, in the
influence of secondary conditions, the cause of their ruin, his
experiments are bound to burst like soap-bubbles against the modern
system of production.

The economic development of the allotment system has turned bottom
upward the relation of the farmer to the other classes of society.
Under Napoleon, the parceling out of the agricultural lands into small
allotments supplemented in the country the free competition and the
incipient large production of the cities. The farmer class was the
ubiquitous protest against the aristocracy of land, just then
overthrown. The roots that the system of small allotments cast into the
soil of France, deprived feudalism of all nutriment. Its boundary-posts
constituted the natural buttress of the bourgeoisie against every stroke
of the old overlords. But in the course of the nineteenth century, the
City Usurer stepped into the shoes of the Feudal Lord, the Mortgage
substituted the Feudal Duties formerly yielded by the soil, bourgeois
Capital took the place of the aristocracy of Landed Property. The
former allotments are now only a pretext that allows the capitalist
class to draw profit, interest and rent from agricultural lands, and to
leave to the farmer himself the task of seeing to it that he knock out
his wages. The mortgage indebtedness that burdens the soil of France
imposes upon the French farmer class they payment of an interest as
great as the annual interest on the whole British national debt. In
this slavery of capital, whither its development drives it irresistibly,
the allotment system has transformed the mass of the French nation into
troglodytes. Sixteen million farmers (women and children included),
house in hovels most of which have only one opening, some two, and the
few most favored ones three. Windows are to a house what the five
senses are to the head. The bourgeois social order, which, at the
beginning of the century, placed the State as a sentinel before the
newly instituted allotment, and that manured this with laurels, has
become a vampire that sucks out its heart-blood and its very brain, and
throws it into the alchemist's pot of capital. The "Code Napoleon" is
now but the codex of execution, of sheriff's sales and of intensified
taxation. To the four million (children, etc., included) official
paupers, vagabonds, criminals and prostitutes, that France numbers, must
be added five million souls who hover over the precipice of life, and
either sojourn in the country itself, or float with their rags and their
children from the country to the cities, and from the cities back to the
country. Accordingly, the interests of the farmers are no longer, as
under Napoleon, in harmony but in conflict with the interests of the
bourgeoisie, i.e., with capital; they find their natural allies and
leaders among the urban proletariat, whose mission is the overthrow of
the bourgeois social order. But the "strong and unlimited
government"--and this is the second of the "idees Napoleoniennes," which
the second Napoleon has to carried out--, has for its mission the
forcible defence of this very "material" social order, a "material
order" that furnishes the slogan in Bonaparte's proclamations against
the farmers in revolt.

Along with the mortgage, imposed by capital upon the farmer's allotment,
this is burdened by taxation. Taxation is the fountain of life to the
bureaucracy, the Army, the parsons and the court, in short to the whole
apparatus of the Executive power. A strong government, and heavy taxes
are identical. The system of ownership, involved in the system of
allotments lends itself by nature for the groundwork of a powerful and
numerous bureaucracy: it produces an even level of conditions and of
persons over the whole surface of the country; it, therefore, allows the
exercise of an even influence upon all parts of this even mass from a
high central point downwards: it annihilates the aristocratic gradations
between the popular masses and the Government; it, consequently, calls
from all sides for the direct intervention of the Government and for the
intervention of the latter's immediate organs; and, finally, it produces
an unemployed excess of population, that finds no room either in the
country or in the cities, that, consequently, snatches after public
office as a sort of dignified alms, and provokes the creation of further
offices. With the new markets, which he opened at the point of the
bayonet, and with the plunder of the continent, Napoleon returned to the
farmer class with interest the taxes wrung from them. These taxes were
then a goad to the industry of the farmer, while now, on the contrary,
they rob his industry of its last source of support, and completely sap
his power to resist poverty. Indeed, an enormous bureaucracy, richly
gallooned and well fed is that "idee Napoleonienne" that above all
others suits the requirements of the second Bonaparte. How else should
it be, seeing he is forced to raise alongside of the actual classes of
society, an artificial class, to which the maintenance of his own regime
must be a knife-and-fork question? One of his first financial
operations was, accordingly, the raising of the salaries of the
government employees to their former standard and the creation of new

Another "idee Napoleonienne" is the rule of the parsons as an instrument
of government. But while the new-born allotment, in harmony with
society, in its dependence upon the powers of nature, and in its
subordination to the authority that protected it from above, was
naturally religious, the debt-broken allotment, on the contrary, at odds
with society and authority, and driven beyond its own narrow bounds,
becomes as naturally irreligious. Heaven was quite a pretty gift thrown
in with the narrow strip of land that had just been won, all the more as
it makes the weather; it, however, becomes an insult from the moment it
is forced upon the farmer as a substitute for his allotment. Then the
parson appears merely as the anointed blood-hound of the earthly
police,--yet another "idee Napoleonienne." The expedition against Rome
will next time take place in France, but in a reverse sense from that of
M. de Montalembert.

Finally, the culminating point of the "idees Napoleoniennes" is the
preponderance of the Army. The Army was the "point of honor" with the
allotment farmers: it was themselves turned into masters, defending
abroad their newly established property, glorifying their recently
conquered nationality, plundering and revolutionizing the world. The
uniform was their State costume; war was their poetry; the allotment,
expanded and rounded up in their phantasy, was the fatherland; and
patriotism became the ideal form of property. But the foe, against whom
the French farmer must now defend his property, are not the Cossacks,
they are the sheriffs and the tax collectors. The allotment no longer
lies in the so-called fatherland, but in the register of mortgages. The
Army itself no longer is the flower of the youth of the farmers, it is
the swamp-blossom of the slum-proletariat of the farmer class. It
consists of "remplacants," substitutes, just as the second Bonaparte
himself is but a remplacant," a substitute, for Napoleon. Its feats of
heroism are now performed in raids instituted against farmers and in the
service of the police;--and when the internal contradictions of his own
system shall drive the chief of the "Society of December 10" across the
French frontier, that Army will, after a few bandit-raids, gather no
laurels but only hard knocks.

It is evident that all the "idees Napoleoniennes" are the ideas of the
undeveloped and youthfully fresh allotment; they are an absurdity for
the allotment that now survives. They are only the hallucinations of
its death struggle; words turned to hollow phrases, spirits turned to
spooks. But this parody of the Empire was requisite in order to free
the mass of the French nation from the weight of tradition, and to
elaborate sharply the contrast between Government and Society. Along
with the progressive decay of the allotment, the governmental structure,
reared upon it, breaks down. The centralization of Government, required
by modern society, rises only upon the ruins of the military and
bureaucratic governmental machinery that was forged in contrast to

The conditions of the French farmers' class solve to us the riddle of
the general elections of December 20 and 21, that led the second
Bonaparte to the top of Sinai, not to receive, but to decree laws.

The bourgeoisie had now, manifestly, no choice but to elect Bonaparte.
When at the Council of Constance, the puritans complained of the sinful
life of the Popes, and moaned about the need of a reform in morals,
Cardinal d'Ailly thundered into their faces: "Only the devil in his Own
person can now save the Catholic Church, and you demand angels." So,
likewise, did the French bourgeoisie cry out after the "coup d'etat":
"Only the chief of the 'Society of December 10' can now save bourgeois
society, only theft can save property, only perjury religion, only
bastardy the family, only disorder order!"

Bonaparte, as autocratic Executive power, fulfills his mission to secure
"bourgeois order." But the strength of this bourgeois order lies in the
middle class. He feels himself the representative of the middle class,
and issues his decrees in that sense. Nevertheless, he is something
only because he has broken the political power of this class, and daily
breaks it anew. Hence he feels himself the adversary of the political
and the literary power of the middle class. But, by protecting their
material, he nourishes anew their political power. Consequently, the
cause must be kept alive, but the result, wherever it manifests itself,
swept out of existence. But this procedure is impossible without slight
mistakings of causes and effects, seeing that both, in their mutual
action and reaction, lose their distinctive marks. Thereupon, new
decrees, that blur the line of distinction. Bonaparte, furthermore,
feels himself, as against the bourgeoisie, the representative of the
farmer and the people in general, who, within bourgeois society, is to
render the lower classes of society happy. To this end, new decrees,
intended to exploit the "true Socialists," together with their
governmental wisdom. But, above all, Bonaparte feels himself the chief
of the "Society of December 10," the representative of the
slum-proletariat, to which he himself, his immediate surroundings, his
Government, and his army alike belong, the main object with all of whom
is to be good to themselves, and draw Californian tickets out of the
national treasury. An he affirms his chieftainship of the "Society of
December 10" with decrees, without decrees, and despite decrees.

This contradictory mission of the man explains the contradictions of his
own Government, and that confused groping about, that now seeks to win,
then to humiliate now this class and then that, and finishes by arraying
against itself all the classes; whose actual insecurity constitutes a
highly comical contrast with the imperious, categoric style of the
Government acts, copied closely from the Uncle.

Industry and commerce, i.e., the business of the middle class, are to be
made to blossom in hot-house style under the "strong Government." Loans
for a number of railroad grants. But the Bonapartist slum-proletariat
is to enrich itself. Peculation is carried on with railroad concessions
on the Bourse by the initiated; but no capital is forthcoming for the
railroads. The bank then pledges itself to make advances upon railroad
stock; but the bank is itself to be exploited; hence, it must be
cajoled; it is released of the obligation to publish its reports weekly.
Then follows a leonine treaty between the bank and the Government. The
people are to be occupied: public works are ordered; but the public
works raise the tax rates upon the people; thereupon the taxes are
reduced by an attack upon the national bond-holders through the
conversion of the five per cent "rentes" [#9 The name of the French
national bonds.] into four-and-halves. Yet the middle class must again
be tipped: to this end, the tax on wine is doubled for the people, who
buy it at retail, and is reduced to one-half for the middle class, that
drink it at wholesale. Genuine labor organizations are dissolved, but
promises are made of future wonders to accrue from organization. The
farmers are to be helped: mortgage-banks are set up that must promote
the indebtedness; of the farmer and the concentration of property but
again, these banks are to be utilized especially to the end of squeezing
money out of the confiscated estates of the House of Orleans; no
capitalist will listen to this scheme, which, moreover, is not mentioned
in the decree; the mortgage bank remains a mere decree, etc., etc.

Bonaparte would like to appear as the patriarchal benefactor of all
classes; but he can give to none without taking from the others. As was
said of the Duke of Guise, at the time of the Fronde, that he was the
most obliging man in France because he had converted all his estates
into bonds upon himself for his Parisians, so would Napoleon like to be
the most obliging man in France and convert all property and all labor
of France into a personal bond upon himself. He would like to steal the
whole of France to make a present thereof to France, or rather to be
able to purchase France back again with French money;--as chief of the
"Society of December 10," he must purchase that which is to be his. All
the State institutions, the Senate, the Council of State, the
Legislature, the Legion of Honor, the Soldiers' decorations, the public
baths, the public buildings, the railroads, the General Staff of the
National Guard, exclusive of the rank and file, the confiscated estates
of the House of Orleans,--all are converted into institutions for
purchase and sale. Every place in the Army and the machinery of
Government becomes a purchasing power. The most important thing,
however, in this process, whereby France is taken to be given back to
herself, are the percentages that, in the transfer, drop into the hands
of the chief and the members of the "Society of December 10." The
witticisms with which the Countess of L., the mistress of de Morny,
characterized the confiscations of the Orleanist estates: "C'est le
premier vol de l'aigle," [#10 "It is the first flight of the eagle" The
French word "vol" means theft as well as flight.] fits every fight of
the eagle that is rather a crow. He himself and his followers daily
call out to themselves, like the Italian Carthusian monk in the legend
does to the miser, who displayfully counted the goods on which he could
live for many years to come: "Tu fai conto sopra i beni, bisogna prima
far il conto sopra gli anni." [#11 "You count your property you should
rather count the years left to you."] In order not to make a mistake in
the years, they count by minutes. A crowd of fellows, of the best among
whom all that can be said is that one knows not whence he comes--a
noisy, restless "Boheme," greedy after plunder, that crawls about in
gallooned frocks with the same grotesque dignity as Soulonque's [#12
Soulonque was the negro Emperor of the short-lived negro Empire of
Hayti.] Imperial dignitaries--, thronged the court crowded the
ministries, and pressed upon the head of the Government and of the Army.
One can picture to himself this upper crust of the "Society of December
10" by considering that Veron Crevel [#13 Crevel is a character of
Balzac, drawn after Dr. Veron, the proprietor of the "Constitutional"
newspaper, as a type of the dissolute Parisian Philistine.] is their
preacher of morality, and Granier de Cassagnac their thinker. When
Guizot, at the time he was Minister, employed this Granier on an obscure
sheet against the dynastic opposition, he used to praise him with the
term: "C'est le roi des droles." [#14 "He Is the king of the clowns."]
It were a mistake to recall the days of the Regency or of Louis XV. by
the court and the kit of Louis Bonaparte's: "Often did France have a
mistress-administration, but never yet an administration of kept men."
[#15 Madame de Girardin.]

Harassed by the contradictory demands of his situation, and compelled,
like a sleight-of-hands performer, to keep, by means of constant
surprises, the eyes of the public riveted upon himself as the substitute
of Napoleon, compelled, consequently, everyday to accomplish a sort of
"coup" on a small scale, Bonaparte throws the whole bourgeois social
system into disorder; he broaches everything that seemed unbroachable by
the revolution of 1848; he makes one set people patient under the
revolution and another anxious for it; he produces anarchy itself in the
name of order by rubbing off from the whole machinery of Government the
veneer of sanctity, by profanting it, by rendering it at once nauseating
and laughable. He rehearses in Paris the cult of the sacred coat of
Trier with the cult of the Napoleonic Imperial mantle. But when the
Imperial Mantle shall have finally fallen upon the shoulders of Louis
Bonaparte, then will also the iron statue of Napoleon drop down from the
top of the Vendome column. [#16 A prophecy that a few years later,
after Bonaparte's coronation as Emperor, was literally fulfilled. By
order of Emperor Louis Napoleon, the military statue of the Napoleon
that originally surmounted the Vendome was taken down and replaced by
one of first Napoleon in imperial robes.]

End Project Gutenberg Etext of Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte

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