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Translation:Confessions of a Revolutionary/1

Translation:Confessions of a Revolutionary, to serve as a History of the February Revolution by Pierre-Joseph Proudhon, translated by Wikisource
I. Confiteor

As the kings coalesce from one end of Europe to the other against the nations;

As the vicar of Jesus Christ launches an anathema to liberty;

As the republicans fall crushed beneath the walls of their cities:

The Republic remains the ideal of societies, and liberty outraged reappears almost as the sun after an eclipse.

Yes, we are defeated and humiliated; yes, thanks to our indiscipline, our revolutionary incapacity, we are all dispersed, imprisoned, disarmed, mute. The fate of European democracy has fallen from our civic hands as from those of the praetorians.

But the war in Rome, is it more just and constitutional?

But Italy, Hungary, Poland, because they protest in silence, are deleted from the catalog of nations?

But socialist-democrats, have we ceased to be the party of the future, the party which currently includes half of France?

But you, sorry bourgeois, who do not cease to irritate against us, and of whom our disaster will consume the ruin, are you more dynastic, more Jesuit, more Cossack?...

For four months, I have watched them in their triumph, these charlatans of family and property; I am of the eye in titubations of their euphoria; and, with every gesture, with every word that escapes them, I say: They are lost!

Do not doubt it, friends: if the Revolution has since February been incessantly adjourned, it is because the education of our young democracy required it. We were not ready for liberty: we looked where it is not, where it can never be. Let us understand it now, and, by the fact of our intelligence, it will exist.

Republicans, do you wish to shorten your ordeal, take the helm, soon become again the arbiters of the world? I am asking you to make every effort not to touch, until further notice, upon the Revolution. You do not know it: study it. Leave it alone to Providence: ever, through the council of mortals, it was not the best way. Remain still, no matter what happens; collect yourself in your faith, and watch, with the smile of a soldier assured of victory, your great victors.

Fools! They cry what they have done in thirty years for liberty! They ask forgiveness from God and the men who have for eighteen years fought corruption! We have seen the Chief of State exclaim, striking his chest: Peccavi! Let him abdicate, if he has so much regret for the five and a half million votes that won him the Republic!... Does he not know that satisfaction, as well as firm intent, is an essential part of penance?

Because everyone confesses, and by breaking our presses we did not put the seal on our inkhorns, I will, too, speak to my fellow citizens in the bitterness of my soul. Hear the revelation of a man who was mistaken sometimes, but who was always faithful. My voice came to you, like the confession of a condemned man, like the conscience of the prison.

France has been set as an example to the nations. In abasement as in glory, she is still the queen of the world. If she rises, the people rise with her; if she falls, they fall. No liberty can be conquered without her; no conspiracy of despotism would prevail against her. Let us study the causes of our grandeur and of our decadence, that we may be strong, in the future, in our resolutions, and that the people, sure of our support, form together with us, without fear, the holy alliance of Liberty and Equality.

I shall seek the causes that have brought us democracy's misfortune, and that prevent us from achieving the promises that we made for her. And since the citizen is necessarily always the expression more or less completely of the thought of the parties, since the circumstances have made me, meager and obscure, one of the originals of the Democratic and Social Revolution, I will not hide what ideas directed my conduct, what hopes have supported my courage. In making my confession, I will do that for all democracy. The intriguers, enemies of every society who fail to pay of their vices, of any religion that condemns their debauchery, have accused us of anarchy and atheism; others, their hands full of plunder, have said that we preach theft. I will put our faith, the democratic and social faith, in comparison to that of these men of God; and we will see which side is the true spirit of order and religion, which side of hypocrisy and revolt. I will recall what we have tried to do for the emancipation of the workers, and it will be seen on which side are parasites and plunderers. I will tell, for what concerns me, the reasons behind the policy I have preferred, if it were given to me to promote a vision; I will explain the reasons for my actions; I will confess my faults: and, if any living word, if some audacious thought eludes my burning pen, forgive me, my brother, as a humble sinner. Herein I neither exhort nor advise: I am laying before you my examination of conscience. May it give you, as it did myself the secret of your miseries, and hope for a better future!