Translation:Confessions of a Revolutionary/12
I resume my story at the point where I left it before that digression.
The insurrection defeated, the general dictator Cavaignac hurried to dispose the powers confided to him. The National Assembly maintained the state of siege, appointed the general president of the council and head of the executive power, and charged him with the task of forming a ministry. The socialist newspapers were suspended: the Représentant du Peuple was initially spared; but as, instead of shouting with the Brennus of the reaction, Woe to the vanquished! it determined to take up their defense, it soon was subjected to the same fate as its confreres. The councils of war seized the unfortunate who the fusillade had spared. Some men of the previous day, such as Bastide, Marie, Vaulabelle were retained. But the color of the government soon turned pale; the arrival to power of Messrs. Sénard, Vivien, Dufaure, announced that the republicans of the morrow had decidedly succeded the republicans of the previous day.
This was the logical, I would almost say legitimate, consequence of the victory of Order. The left nevertheless protested against this restoration of a policy that was believed to have been buried under the cobbles of February. Could the parties, therefore, not include more frankness in their strategy? To reproach an adversary for pursuing the fruit of his success is to forbid the victorious general from profiting from victory. Since, thanks to governmental fanaticism, civilization is like barbarism a state of war, there is no legislation, constitution, theory, experience which stands: as long as we fight for power, the victors will not lack pretexts for oppressing the vanquished: the statesmen will find reasons to renounce their principles, and everyone will always be right. — I am defeated, kill me, said Barbès to his judges, after the coup de main of 12 May 1839. This is all that the Mountain ought to have answered in August 1848, to Cavaignac, and in July 1849, to Louis Bonaparte. — We are defeated, done, use your fortune, and we do not dispute it. Remember only that there are reversals to all things of this world, and that on occasion we will do as you do!
It is against this brutal fatalism, which causes society to turn endlessly in a circle of deceptions and violence, which I was resolved to fight. The task was immense: what would be my plan of operations?
It is necessary, I say to myself, to turn the counter-revolution itself to the advantage of the Revolution, by pushing it to its paroxysm, and exhausting it by fear and fatigue.
It is necessary to teach the vanquishers of June that it has not finished, as they suppose; that nothing has even commenced, and that the only fruit which they have gained from their victory is an increase of difficulties.
It is necessary to raise the morale of the workers, to avenge the June insurrection of the calumnies of the reaction; to pose, with a redoubling of energy, with a sort of terrorism, the social question; to expand it, by making it traditional and European; to consolidate the Revolution, by forcing the conservatives to make themselves of democracy for the defense of their privileges, and by rejecting, by that means, monarchy on a secondary plane.
It is necessary to vanquish power, by not demanding anything of it; to prove the parasitism of capital, by supplying it with credit; to establish the liberty of individuals by organizing the initiative of the masses.
It is necessary, in a word, that there must be a deuteration of the revolutionary idea, a new manifestation of socialism.
God forbid that I wish to augment my role! I recount my dreams. I know how little the thought of one man weighs in the resolutions of society; I myself am a living proof of the slowness with which the idea penetrates the masses. But, in having followed the account of my socialist meditations with that of my political acts, I am merely continuing the same story, the story of a thinker drawn in spite of himself into the somnambulism of his nation. And besides, to pass from speculation to action is not to change roles: to act is always to think; to say is to do, dictum factum. There is no difference in my eyes between the author who meditates, the legislator who proposes, the journalist who writes, and the statesman who executes. It is for this reason that I request leave to speak of what I have done, as if I were still speaking of what I have written: my conduct and my ideas having as their obect only the Revolution, it will always speak of the Revolution.
Then consequently, I continued, that the State, by the nature of its principle, is counter-revolutionary; that the sole legitimate initiative is that of the citizen, and that the right of proposition belongs to all, let us propose something, not to the government, it would reject it; but to the National Assembly, but to the country. Let us reveal, if possible, to society, one of its latent ideas; let us show it, as in a mirror, something of its own consciousness. At first it will recoil with dread, it will renounce itself, curse itself: it is to be expected. Whenever society acquires a higher revelation of itself, it becomes horrified. That is to say that this horror, these maledictions of society, are not addressed to it, but to the revelators. What does it matter? If we were at leisure, we might have recourse to oratorical precautions, to draw out the idea in length, to solicit for it candid intelligences; we would conceal, we would disguise as best we could the awful paradox. But time is short: it must be finished! The raw truth is here the best, homeopathic medication the only rational. Scandal and hatred will produce the same effect as adoration and love: and what is hatred? still love. Apart from the person, what does consciousness or understanding do that these children take the one who speaks to them for the monster of perdition or for the angel of salvation, even if the result is the same?
But when to propose? the opportunity was not long in coming.
Immediately after the June Days, the Représentant du Peuple began to tear the bloody veil in which the authors and provocateurs of the catastrophe sought to envelop themselves: it had taken up the cause of the murderers' victims; at the same time, it was throwing economic ideas here and there. In an article on the term, dated 11 July, an article which led to the suspension of the newspaper, it dared to say that the events since February constituted for the immense majority of tenants a case of force majeure, of which they could legitimately avail themselves in order to obtain a reduction and a postponement. The cause of force majeure, resulting from acts of State, was not an invention peculiar to the writer: it is found in all jurisconsults. But the point was made by a socialist: the conservatives saw it as an attack on property, and I was pointed out in the tribune as preaching spoliation and civil war.
It was no longer possible for me to remain silent: from an idea thrown into a newspaper, I made a financial proposal, which as referred, declared urgent, — one wanted to finish it! — to the Finance Committee.
What was the Finance Committee?
It was then remarked upon by Messrs. Thiers, Berryer, Duvergier de Hauranne, Léon Faucher, Bastiat, Goüin, Goudchaux, Duclerc, Garnier-Pagès, Ferdinand de Lasteyrie, etc. Pierre Leroux, who enrolled himself there at the same time as me, came there once, and never reappeared. — They are imbeciles! he told me. That was not fair as to the persons; but profoundly true as to the Committee.
That for which I reproach the Finance Committee is that it has never been able to do anything other than to point out the items in the budget; it is that with all their erudition, the honorable representatives who compose it do less for the development of public wealth than the clerks of the ministry.
The Finance Committee has never had any theory, either of taxation, of wages, of money, of foreign trade, of credit and circulation, of value, or of anything to do with the science of a finance committee. The Finance Committee was never able to manage to finish a project for the recasting of billon coinage. Judging from the discussions of the Committee on this subject, one would have to believe that the creation of this kind of money was a prodigy of economic genius, which could not have been accomplished without a supernatural influence. The Finance Committee is well aware of the possibility of increasing or diminishing taxes, and, to a certain extent, of varying specie: it will never pose the question of reducing taxes, which are the revenue of the State, to a single form. The unity of taxation, demanded by common sense, is for it the philosopher's stone. The Finance Committee is systematically opposed to any innovation in the field of public credit: every paper of circulation, however pledged, is invariably an assignat to it; as if the banknote, whose special pledge is money, as if the money itself was not assignat! It would suffice, in fact, to increase by tenfold or hundredfold the mass of currency, so that, the money being reduced, by its very abundance, to a tenth or a hundredth of its value, the banknotes would immediately lose credit. But it would not be the case with 50 billion notes hypothecated on a double or triple value of properties: the properties could keep their value, while the notes would have none. What then constitutes the paper of credit, and what distinguishes it from assignat? What makes money itself, accepted in all payments, the sign of all values? The Finance Committee is ignorant of that.
The Finance Committee knows only one thing: it opposes all innovation. For, as it knows no better the reason of what exists than the reason of what might be, it always seems to it that the world will collapse: it is like a man who would see through his body the play of his organs, and who would tremble at every instant to see them break. If the Finance Committee had lived in the time of Sesostris, it would have halted humanity from the Egyptian civilization. Not only does it do nothing; it does not allow others to think, it cannot stand discussing the status quo, even to conserve it. Mr Thiers is the philosopher of this immobilism, Mr. Léon Faucher is the fanatic. The former contented himself with denying the movement; the latter would burn, if he could, those who affirm it. Mr. Thiers, as mystified as Mr. Guizot by the February Revolution, perhaps regretting that he had not immediately rallied to the Republic, had his own vanity to avenge. Mr. Léon Faucher, fustigated by socialist verges, a renegade of socialism, has his apostasy to expiate, his hatreds to satisfy.
It was before this tribunal that I had to appear and develop my proposal. A strange proposal, it must be admitted, for a finance committee.
Credit, I told them, from the point of view of private relations, is simply a loan; from the point of view of social relations, it is a mutualism, an exchange.
From this exchange, circulation is born.
When we consider society as a whole, we see that circulation is reduced to the following operation: A certain number of citizens make to society, represented by the farmers, the advance of the land: that is the proprietors; — another class of citizens makes to the same society, represented by merchants and industrialists, the advance of capital and money: that is the bankers and capitalists; — a third make to society, represented by the State, the advance or deposit of its savings, which constitutes the public debt: that is the rentiers; — the greater number, in the absence of land, houses, capital or savings, makes to society represented by all citizens, the advance of its services: that is all the workers.
It is understood that the creditors of society, proprietors, capitalists, workers, are, as well as farmers, merchants and the State, representatives of society.
But it is evident that the society that receives is the same moral being as the society that lends: whence it follows that what the proprietor calls leasing, the banker discount, the capitalist sponsorship, the usurer loan, etc., brought back to a general formula, is an exchange, or as the theologians say mutuum, mutuality. The same operation, considered from the point of view of the private interest and the social interest, takes on a different character in turn: here it is the loan, distinguished according to specie; there it is reciprocity, credit.
The movement or transport of values, of the citizens to each other, which results from this exchange, is therefore circulation, the great economic function of society. The special conditions which give rise to this exchange create for each species of creditor and debtor a particular system of relations, the science of which, according to the point of view in which it is envisaged, constitutes the domestic economy or the social economy. From the point of view of the domestic economy, the proprietor lends his land by means of rent; the capitalist, his funds, by means of rente; the banker makes the discount, deducted from interest; the merchant takes a profit; the broker, a commission, etc. From the point of view of the social economy, the services of the citizens are merely exchanged for one another, according to a rule of proportion, which constitutes their relative value; deduction does not exist.
Does circulation stop?
This would mean that the rentier, for whatever reason, refuses to advance his funds to the State, and even sells his debts at a loss; — that the banker refuses to discount the values of dealers; — the capitalist, to sponsor the industrialist and to lend to the laborer; — the merchant, to take charge of goods, without guarantee of a market; — the manufacturer, to produce without orders; — that the proprietor, uncertain of his return, can no longer sustain his expenses, and that the worker without work no longer consumes.
What does it take to restore this suspended circulation? a very simple thing: that everyone, by common accord, and by public convention, do what he previously did with tacit consent, and without realizing it.
Now, this voluntary and reasoned resumption of economic relations can be effected in a thousand ways, all of which will lead to the same result. The July government, after the Revolution of 1830, provided an example; the Commission on National Workshops, the project of which I reported on the occasion of the June insurrection, furnished another. Here is a third which has the merit of generalizing them all, by supplanting ordinary transactions with an equivalent.
That the creditor of the State, instead of granting a new loan, which the State does not require of it, abandon, by way of relief or contributions, 1 per cent on his rente; — that the proprietor, instead of supplying the agricultural population with new and better lands, which is not in his power, grant a discount on some of the rent due; — that the banker, instead of receiving discount values of which he is wary, which would be too imprudent, reduce his commission and interest; — that the worker, in order to contribute to the general effort, instead of working half an hour more per day, which would perhaps exceed the measure of his strength, leave the entrepreneur one-twentieth of his salary: it is clear that in all these cases the result obtained by the second mode of credit will be the same as that which would have been obtained by the first. Circulation will increase from all for which each debtor shall have obtained a discharge from the creditor.
As the measure, to arrive at the highest degree of efficiency and justice, must reach all citizens, rentiers, capitalists, proprietors, functionaries, merchants, industrialists, workers, etc., without exception, it follows:
1. That, by the generality of the credit given and received, a compensation is established for everyone, and that, each contributing to the sacrifice, no one loses anything;
2. That on the contrary, the more credit increases, in other words, the more the rent or wages, both of the capitalists, proprietors and entrepreneurs and of the workers, diminish, the more society, and therefore the individual, becomes enriched. — Lower wages for the same quantity of labor, or an augmentation of labor for the same wage, is the same thing. Since, the figure of wages is the expression of the dividend accruing to each citizen on the totality of products, and this totality, as has just been said, being increased, the result is that a general decline in wages equals for each an augmentation of wealth.
Let us add that the proposed system demanding the concurrence and participation of all, implies by this very fact general conciliation. Citizens learn to act collectively, rather than to make laws and to exploit. Class hatred is extinguished in this initiative of the masses, instead of being exalted by the dispute of power. Tyranny is unlearned; one strengthens oneself, by a fruitful transaction, in liberty.
Such were the principles on which the proposition that I had to develop was conceived. As to the details and application, it was possible to modify them at the convenience of the interests. The measure of transitions was abandoned to the wisdom of the Assembly.
It was impossible for the financial economists of the Committee to understand it. They persisted in judging the affairs of society on the appearances of private relations, not conceiving that economic phenomena, seen from the top down, are exactly the opposite of what they seem, seen from the bottom up. — You will never make us understand, said Mr. Thiers, how the more of his income the proprietor gives up, the more he earns, and how the more of his wages the worker loses, the more rich he becomes! — No doubt, I replied; as long as you refuse to balance between what he pays with one hand and what he has to receive with the other! — They were determined to deny it, and they denied it. The squabbled over figures, they quibbled over the third and the fourth, as if, in a proposal of this nature, which was intended to introduce into the public economy a new principle, to give society a consciousness of its own operations, instead of passively abandoning it to its patriarchal routine, figures had not been the least essential thing. In vain did I say that this was neither a tax on income, nor a progressive tax; that in my eyes, the tax on income was wither a lie or a chimera, and that it was for the sake of escaping it that I proposed an exceptional law, by which each was to make, for three years, a small sacrifice on his wages or income, the general situation being saved and the public fortune increased, it would be easy to conceive for the future. I was accused of preaching theft, and it was said that I wished to take from property a third of its income. In short, my proposal was declared scandalous, immoral, absurd, detrimental to religion, the family and property. And still today, whenever there is a question of imposing a tax on income, which has never entered my head, against which I have never ceased to protest vigorously, and which I refer to the responsibility of Messrs. Garnier-Pagès, Léon Faucher, Goudchaux, Passy and other economists: it is not unheard of for it to be said that this draft tax is a renewal of my proposal.
So much bad faith or cretinism would have filled a saint with indignation. I resolved to break the ice, and since Mr. Thiers was making pasquinade, I would be fascinated. Ah! yes: instead of seriously discussing an economic proposition, you ask the author to account for his beliefs; you flatter yourself to crush him under his own confession; you pretend, at one stroke, to extirpate socialism, by showing it to France as it is! Gentlemen, here is your man. I will give you a good game: and if you finish, as you say, I hold you to be the greatest politicians in the world.
Nature has refused me the gift of speaking well: what did I need? My hammered speech only produced more effect. The laughter did not last long. It was to whom the indignation would manifest the highest. To Charenton! cried one. — To the menagerie! said the other. Sixty years ago, you were called Marat! — He should have went, on 26 June, to the barricades! — He is too cowardly! — A part of the Mountain, ashamed and frightened, but not wishing to condemn a coreligionist, fled. Louis Blanc voted, with the conservative majority, for the motivated agenda. The socialists reproached him for it: they were wrong. His vote was the most conscientious of the Assembly. Louis Blanc represents governmental socialism, revolution by power, as I represent democratic socialism, revolution by the people. An abyss exists between us. What was there in my speech, under these new formulas of gratuitous and reciprocal credit, the suppression of interest, the continual increase of well-being by the progressive reduction of wages and income, social liquidation, etc., etc.? There was this: without a capitalist aristocracy, no more authority; and without authority, no more government. Labor emancipated from the suzerainty of capital, the people cannot wait for the initiative of the government: all these proposals are homologous and solidary. Socialism, as I profess it, is the reverse of the socialism of Louis Blanc. This opposition is fatal; and if I insist so much on it, it is not for the pleasure of contradicting a head of a school, it is because I believe it necessary for the education of the people.
Flocon said to me one day about my speech on 31 July: It was you who killed the right to work! — Say rather, I replied, that I have slain capital. All my misgiving, moreover, had been that the motivated agenda should not pass. The absurd blame inflicted upon my proposition was the act of abdication of the bankocratic routine.
My speech ended with these words, which menaced only the expression: Capital will not return; socialism has its eyes on it.
Which meant: The social question has been posed, and you will resolve it, or you will not last out!
Fourteen months ago. Well! Mr. Thiers, is it finished? Have you killed socialism? Will capital return with the same privileges as before? Have the proprietors, who for twenty months have seen their rents and fermages vanish, have they gained much by your rigorism? You have had the state of siege twice, the law against clubs twice, the laws against the press twice; you have had the complacence of Cavaignac and the foolproof docility of Louis Bonaparte; after vanquishing 17 March, 16 April, 15 May, 26 June, you vanquished again in September, in December, on 13 May, on 13 June, on 8 July; you made the Constitution pretty much as you wished; you have murdered democracy in Rome, in Germany, in Hungary, throughout Europe; we are gagged, muzzled, in flight or in prison. You have all that power gives fanaticism, prejudice, egoism, guile, brutal force. When is the end of socialism? when is the return of capital? We were in France, before February, half a dozen utopians: at present, he is a conservative who does not have his system. The revolution blows you away. It is already that you are obliged to rely on the Constitution, that you are making opposition to the pope, that you cover yourself, but by turning over the mantle, with the policy of the montagnards! You would even vote, and heartily, if you thought you were getting away with so little, for the income tax. Ah! you do not want reciprocal credit! Dare then, since you are at best with the powers, return to their homes your 500,000 bayonets!...
From 31 July onward, the February Revolution became irrevocable: the social question had finally received a positive significance. Under the menace of a social upheaval, the monarchy felt its impotence, and took the invalids: the socialized people escaped it without reversion. In 89, the fear of imaginary brigands, who were said to have traveled the countryside, to destroy the wheat, had the whole nation at arms, and the revolution was made. In 1848, the fear of socialism, which, it was asserted, would take all properties, forced everybody to reflect on the conditions of labor and property, and the revolution was made. Pretenders may come, majorities attempt coups d'état: nothing will have been done, order will be compromised more and more in the towns and the countrysides, until the question of the worker has been answered. For, in the capitalist system, which is both a system of individualism and subalternization, incompatible with the data of an egalitarian democracy, there is no other way of ending socialism than grape-shot, poison and drowning. If we continue to remain in the old state of things, or to reckon with the working class, that is to say, to vote on its budget, to take exclusively from income, from the purest of property; it is necessary to create for it an entire administration, to do its part in the State, to recognize it as a new power in the Constitution; or to organize, according to the law of Malthus, the suppression of inutile mouths. There is no middle ground: universal suffrage, henceforth indestructible, is a contradiction to the subordination of labor to capital. According to the mutualist principle of revolution by the co-operation and solidarity of the citizens, you have, under an ineluctable democracy, no other alternative than this: the taxation of the proletariat or the murder of the poor; the partition of income, or jacquerie.
As of 31 July, I became, according to the expression of a journalist, l'homme-terreur. I don't think there has ever been an example of such an outburst. I was lectured, played, satirized in song, placarded, biographed, caricatured, blamed, insulted, cursed; I was mentioned in contempt and hatred, delivered to justice by my colleagues, accused, judged, condemned by those who had given me a mandate, doubted by my political friends, spied on by my collaborators, denounced by my adherents, denied by my correligionists. Devotees have threatened me, in anonymous letters, with the wrath of God; pious women have sent me blessed medals; prostitutes and convicts have addressed me with felicitations whose obscene irony testified to the aberrations of opinion. Petitions have been submitted to the National Assembly to demand my expulsion as unfit. When God permitted Satan to torment the holy man Job, he said to him: I forsake him to you in his body and soul, but I forbid you to touch his life. Life is thought. I was more ill-treated than Job: my thoughts have been disgracefully distorted. I was, for a time, the theoretician of theft, the panegyrist of prostitution, the personal enemy of God, the Antichrist, an unnamed being. What I had foreseen happened: as the sinner, by receiving the body of Jesus Christ, eats and drinks his condemnation, society, by slandering the socialists, condemned itself; it swallowed its judgment.
It was given to me, by the effects of circumstances which I had not provoked, to stir to a profundity hitherto unknown the conscience of a whole people, and to proffer to society an experience the likes of which may never be given to a philosopher to attempt a second. Does this race, I thought, so skeptical, so libertine, so corrupt, believe in its God and its soul? does it have any idea of the moral law? what does it think of the family and marriage? What does this sensualist, greedy world say, in its heart, of utilitarian theory? Are these Malthusians, who neither want to deprive themselves of pleasure, nor to accept the products, disciples of Fourier or Saint-Simon? in what do they believe the most, passion or free will? Are these Voltairians as firm as they appear in their incredulity, these shopkeepers as ferocious in their selfishness?... Alas! while they execrated in my person the so-called apostle of their abominations, I applied to them with happiness the word of Louis XIV on the Duke of Orleans: They are fanfarons of vices! Yes, this licentious and sacrilegious society trembles at the idea of another life; it dares not to laugh at God, it believes that we must believe in Something! These adulterers revolt at the idea of communitarian polygamy; these public thieves are the glorifiers of labor. Catholicism has died in all these hearts: the religious sentiment is more alive than ever. Continence afflicts them: they adore chastity. Not a hand that is pure for the good of others: all hate the doctrine of self-interest. Courage, my soul, France is not lost; the powers of humanity throb under this cadaver; it will be reborn from its ashes: I swear it on my head, vowed to the infernal gods!...
Charged, as scapegoat, with the iniquities of Israel, I had acquired a stoicism which did not suit my temperament: it was by this that the proprietary vendetta was to reach me. Besides, the kind of dictatorship which I had arrogated to myself by violating public opinion could not go without chastisement. On 31 July, pushing the nation into socialism in spite of itself, I had undertaken a more serious resolution than that of Huber, pronouncing, on 15 May, by his sole authority, the dissolution of the National Assembly. Did I have the right? Is it in these instants, in the life of the people, where a citizen can legitimately think and act for all, to dispose sovereignly of their conscience and their reason? I cannot admit it; and I would bear against myself an irremissible condemnation, if I thought that I was entirely free, when, from the same rostrum from which Huber had pronounced, but without success, the dissolution of the Assembly, I pronounced, with an absolute certainty, the dissolution of society. My excuse is in this answer that I gave without reflection to one of my interrupters: When I say we, I identify with the proletariat; and when I say you, I identify you with the bourgeois class. It was no longer I who spoke from the rostrum, it was all the workers.
In any case, in the course of August 1848, came the demand for authorization to prosecute Louis Blanc and Caussidière. Paris was in a state of siege, the councils of war proceeded with the summary judgment of 14,000 defendants. Thousands of families departed for Algeria; they were sent, driven by distress, ignorant of the climate, to fatten for future possessors the African soil of their bodies. But this was not enough: it was necessary to overtake socialist democracy in its representatives; the retroactive justice of the doctrinaires began. Louis Blanc and Caussidière, accused of having taken part in the attack of 15 of May, and more, having prepared the June Days, were handed over to the public prosecutor's office. General Cavaignac freely made himself the minister of these grudges, and himself presented the request for authorization. They were reserving something worse for me. As the charges did not appear sufficient to include me in the trial, the commission of inquiry tried to kill me by defamation. Quentin Bauchart represented to me, in his report, coldly admiring, on 26 June, in the Place de la Bastille, the sublime horror of the cannonade.
When I heard from my place the distortion of my words, I fainted for an instant, and could not restrain my cry of horror. “I disagree with the report;” these words escaped from my indignant breast. But I calmed down quickly, and shut myself up more than ever in my silence. The stroke was launched: hatred was about to take possession of it, to peddle it, to comment on it: every protest became useless. Se non è vero, è ben trovato: a year later, Montalembert, making his famous declaration of war on ideas, repeated it again. A national guardsman, who had seen me shed tears at the moment when I accompanied, at the Hôtel-de-Ville, General Négrier's corps, struck down by a bullet a few steps from me, came to open me up to laying aside my sensibility. I thanked this brave man, and made the same response to the spontaneous testimony of some of my colleagues, who had been able to judge of my countenance during the insurrection. Why protest? What do we thus prove, in this century of comedians, an energetic gesture, a passionate glance, an emotional voice? Was it necessary for me to descend from my dignity of calumny, to take the role of the absolved? And when the insurgents of June were treated as brigands and incendiaries, could I not endure being taken for the Nero of the band? Jesuits do your business: between you and us is war to the death. Were you thirty-six million, we would not forgive you.
Louis Blanc and Caussidiere made a long defense: in their place I would have defied the Assembly. I do not need to say that I voted with the Mountain on all questions: but God is a witness to me that I have not listened to a word of the two pleas. Have there been any political offenses in France since 22 February 1848? Are not all the principles, all the rights, all the notions of power and liberty, today, confused? Did neither Louis Blanc and Caussidiere, nor their fanatical accusers, ever know what they were doing?
Say that Raspail and Blanqui were discontented; Barbès, Sobrier, Huber, stunned; Louis Blanc a utopian full of inconsistency; say that the insurgents of June were wrong to give to a frightful provocation: at the right time! Add that the Provisional Government showed itself in all things of a rare imbecility, the Executive Commission of a stupid blindness, the reactionary party of an infernal egoism, the National Assembly of a despairing softness: I pass condemnation. But of conspirators! of men culpable of political attack! in France ! since the Revolution!... Old relapses! Therefore begin by demanding against yourself; you have deserved twenty times the pontoons and the bagne.