Page:Jean Jaurès socialist and humanitarian 1917.djvu/99

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been quite extraordinary in the Haute Armée. It was known that another Catholic order, the Assumptionists, had gained great influence by means of their cheap newspapers, in which they did not scruple to attack the Republic with violence. That the enormous power of these orders was a real danger to the democratic Republic became plain as soon as the matter was discussed.

The individualism of the French Revolution, and very likely the necessities of that time, had caused it to object to the existence of all societies and associations of whatever kind, and right up to the end of the nineteenth century no society of more than twenty persons could exist in France without government permission. This permission was not in practice refused to ordinary associations, but very few of the religious orders had been able to obtain authorization. That did not, however, check them. They existed in an unauthorized state, liable in theory to be suppressed at any time, but nevertheless ever growing in membership and in the number of orders. They owned property to the value of £40,000,000, and the catalogue of their possessions filled two White Books of 2000 pages, which were presented to the Chamber in December, 1900.

The Waldeck-Rousseau cabinet passed a bill making all associations quite free except "illicit" associations. The religious congregations, however, were excepted and could not be formed