Solution of the Social Problem

22nd and 26th March 1848

Translator: Nathalie Colibert (Chapter I) and Ian Harvey (Chapter II)



1.      The Revolution of 24th of February is legitimate, although it was illegal.

2.      The Provisional Government did not understand the revolution.

Paris, 22nd March 1848


The Revolution, one cannot deny it, has been made by the red flag:[1] the provisional Government, however, has decided to keep the tricolour. To explain this repudiation M. de Lamartine made speeches, Le National made dissertations. Red, they say, in the old days was the colour of royalty; red is the colour of the atrocious Bourbon, tyrant of the Deux-Siciles.[2] Red cannot be the colour of France.

One is not saying red is the colour of justice, [or] the colour of sovereignty. And since all men like red, would it not mean that red is the symbol of human fraternity? To deny the red flag, the crimson! — but it is the social question you are getting rid of. Every time the People, defeated by suffering, wanted to express its wishes and its complaints outside the law that kills it, it has walked under a red banner. It is true that the red flag has not gone around the world like its happy rival the tricolour. Justice, as M. de Lamartine clearly stated, did not go any further than the Champ-de-Mars.[3] It is so terrible, justice, that one would not know how to hide it enough. Poor red flag. Everyone is abandoning you! Me, I embrace you; I clutch you to my breast. Long live fraternity!

Let us keep, if you wish, the tricolour, symbol of our nationality. But remember that the red flag is the sign of a revolution that will be the last. The red flag! It is the federal standard of humanity.




1. Problem of the people’s sovereignty; conditions for the solution.

2. Whether universal suffrage expresses the people’s sovereignty.

3. Whether social reform must come out of political reform or political reform out of social reform; the difference between democracy and republic.

Paris, 26th March 1848

Listen, heavens! Earth, lend an ear! The Lord has spoken!

Thus cried the prophets when, with sparkling eyes and foaming mouths, they announced to the liars and apostates the punishment for their crimes. Thus spoke the Church of the Middle Ages, and Earth, bowing in fear, crossed herself at the voice of the pontiff, at the pastorals of his bishops. Thus came Moses, Elijah, John the Baptist, Mohammed and Luther in turn, all the founders and reformers of religions, each new modification of the dogma proclaimed as emanating from divine authority. And still we see the human masses bowing down in the name of the Most High and submissively receiving the revealers’ discipline.

But after all, as a philosopher once said, if God has spoken, why have I not heard anything?

These words are enough to shake up the Church, cancel the Scriptures, wipe out faith and hasten the reign of the Antichrist!

I do not want, following [David] Hume’s example, to prejudge the reality or possibility of a revelation: how could we make an a priori argument about a supernatural fact, a manifestation of the Supreme Being? For me, the question is entirely one of experiencing revelations, and I reduce the religious controversy to that one point — the authenticity of the divine word. Prove that authenticity, and I will be a Christian. Who would then dare to argue with God if he were sure that it was God who was speaking to him?

It is the same with the People as it is with divinity: vox populi, vox Dei.[4]

Since the world began, since human tribes started forming monarchies and republics, vacillating from one idea to another like wandering planets, mixing and combining the most diverse elements to organise themselves into societies, overturning courts and thrones as children do to a house of cards, we have seen, at each political shake-up, the leaders of the movement invoking, with varying degrees of explicitness, the sovereignty of the People.

Brutus and Caesar, Cicero and Catalina all availed themselves of popular suffrage in turn. If we must believe the partisans of the deposed system, the Charter of 1830 was the expression of national sovereignty at least as much as the Constitution of Year III, and Louis-Philippe, like Charles X, Napoléon and the Directorate, was the elected representative of the nation. Why not, if the Charter of 1830 was only an amendment to the Constitutions of Year III, Year IV and 1814?

The most advanced organ of the legitimist party would still tell us, if it dared, that the law results from the People’s consent and the king’s decree: Lex fit consensu populi et constitutione regis. The sovereignty of the nation is the first principle of both monarchists and democrats. Listen to the echo that reaches us from the North: on the one hand, there is a despotic king who invokes national traditions, that is, the will of the People expressed and confirmed over the centuries. On the other hand, there are subjects in revolt who maintain that the People no longer think what they formerly did and who ask that the People be consulted. Who then shows here a better understanding of the People? The monarchs who believe that their thinking is immutable, or the citizens who suppose them to be versatile? And when you say the contradiction is resolved by progress, meaning that the People go through various phases before arriving at the same idea, you only avoid the problem: who will decide what is progress and what is regression?

Therefore, I ask as Rousseau did: if the People have spoken, why have I heard nothing?

You point out this astonishing revolution to me, a revolution in which I, too, have participated, the legitimacy of which I alone have proven, the idea I have raised. And you say to me: there is the People!

But in the first place, I have seen only a tumultuous crowd without awareness of the thought that made it act, without any comprehension of the revolution it brought about with its own hands. Then what I have called the logic of the People might well be nothing but the reason of events, all the more so because, once they are over and everyone agrees on their significance, opinions are divided again on the consequences. Now the revolution has been carried out, the People say nothing [La révolution faite, le Peuple se tait]! What then? Does popular sovereignty exist only for things in the past, which no longer interest us, and not at all for those in the future, which alone can be the objects of the People’s decrees?

Oh, all you enemies of despotism and its corruption, anarchy and its thievery, who never cease invoking the People, you who speak frankly of the People’s sovereign reason, irresistible strength and formidable voice, I command you to tell me: where and when have you heard the People? Through what mouths, in what language, do they express themselves? How is this astonishing revelation accomplished? What authentic, conclusive examples do you cite? What guarantee do you have of the sincerity of these laws you say issue from the People? What sanction of them? By what claims, by what signs, will I distinguish those whom the People have elected from the apostates who take advantage of its trust and usurp its authority? In short, how do you establish the legitimacy of the popular Word?

I believe in the existence of the People as I do in the existence of God.

I bow before their holy will; I submit to all their orders; the People’s word is my law, my strength and my hope. But, following St. Paul’s precept, to be worthy, my obedience must be rational, and what a misfortune for me, what ignominy, if, while believing myself to be submitting only to the People’s authority, I am a despicable charlatan’s plaything! How then, I beg of you, among so many rival apostles, contradictory opinions and obstinate partisans, am I to recognise the voice, the true voice, of the People?

The problem of the People’s sovereignty is the fundamental problem of liberty, equality and fraternity, the first principle of social organisation. Governments and peoples have had no other goal, through all the storms of revolutions and diversions of politics, than to constitute this sovereignty. Each time they have been diverted from this goal, they have fallen into servitude and shame. With that in mind, the provisional government has convened a National Assembly named by all citizens, without distinction of wealth and capacity: universal suffrage seems to them to be the closest approach to expressing the People’s sovereignty.

Thus, it is supposed first that the People can be consulted, second, that it can respond, third, that its will can be truly observed and finally, that government founded upon the manifest will of the People is the only legitimate government.

In particular, such is the pretension of DEMOCRACY, which presents itself as the form of government that best expresses the People’s sovereignty.

However, if I prove that democracy is, as is the case with monarchy, only a symbol of sovereignty, that it does not answer any of the questions raised by that idea, that it cannot, for example, either establish the authenticity of the actions attributed to the People or state what society’s purpose and destination are: if I prove that democracy, far from being the most perfect government, is the negation of the People’s sovereignty and the origin of its ruin, it will be demonstrated, in fact and in right, that democracy is nothing more than one constitutional arbitrariness succeeding another, that it does not possess any scientific value and that it must be seen solely as a preparation for the one and indivisible republic.

It is important to clarify opinion on this point immediately and to eliminate all illusion.


The People, a collective being — I almost said rational being — does not speak in the material sense of the word at all. Like God, the People also has no eyes to see, no ears to hear, no mouth to speak. How do I know if the People is endowed with some sort of soul, a divinity inherent to the masses, the universal soul some philosophers suppose that sometimes moves and urges the masses on, or whether the People’s reason is merely the pure idea of the most abstract, comprehensive and freest of all individual forms, as other philosophers claim: that God is merely order in the universe, an abstraction? I am not getting involved in the investigations of esoteric psychology: as a practical man, I wonder how this soul, reason, will or what have you occurs outside itself, so to speak, and makes itself known. Who can serve as its representative? Who has the right to tell others that the People speaks through him? How will I believe that he who harangues five hundred applauding individuals from atop a stepladder is the People’s spokesman? How does election by the citizens, even by their unanimous vote, have the virtue of conferring that kind of privilege of serving as the People’s medium? And when you show me a coterie of nine hundred dignitaries thus chosen by their fellow citizens, why should I believe that those nine hundred delegates, who do not all agree with each other, are inspired by the People’s spirit? And when all is said and done, how could the laws they make obligate me?

Here is a president or a directorate, personification, symbol or fiction of national sovereignty: the first power of the state.

Here are two chambers or agencies: one in the interests of conservation and the other with the instinct for development, the second power of the state.

Here is the press, the third power of the state — eloquent, seasoned and tireless — pouring out millions of ideas in torrents each morning to swirl in millions of citizens’ brains.

The executive power is action, the chambers, deliberation, and the press, opinion.

Which of these powers represents the People? Or indeed, if you say that it is all of them that represent the People, how is it that they do not all agree? Put royalty in place of the presidency, and it is the same thing: my criticisms apply equally to both monarchy and democracy.

In France there are 500 or 600 newspapers, fountains of opinion, the titles of which greatly attest to the owners’ pretence that they are the interpreters of popular thought: Le Siècle, La Réforme, La Liberté, Le Progrès, La Presse, Le Temps, L’Opinion, La Démocratie, L’Atelier, Les Ecoles, La Vérité, La France, Le Monde, Le Constitutionnel, Le National, Le Commerce, Les Débats, Le Courrier, Le Populaire, Le Peuple, La Voix du Peuple, Le Peuple Constituent, Le Représentant du Peuple, etc., etc., etc.

With such publicity, when we are so well stocked with writers not lacking in erudition, ideas or style, I am certainly astonished that we still need representation in the form of a national assembly.

But, how can it be that, with all this, I know positively nothing about what interests the People even though it is the press’s duty and mission to teach me; how can it be that, instead of shedding any light, the flood of publications increases the darkness?

I ask what is the best political constitution, the law of progress, the march of the century, the thought of the epoch, the value of opinion and the future of France and the world? Will the republic arise from the workshop, the school or the guardhouse? Is democracy at peace or war? What truth, what reform, must arise from all these revelations of the People? What is liberty?

Journalism speaks on all those questions, but it does not answer them; it knows nothing. What if I asked, for example, if the organisation of society has a definite form and what that form is? If we are finished with revolutions, or if the revolutionary movement is eternal? How, in the latter case, is that perpetual agitation reconciled with liberty, security and well-being? If all men must be equal despite their nature, or treated according to their worth, despite the motto of the republic? What must be the worker’s wage, the entrepreneur’s profit, the contribution to be paid to the state, the credit to be granted to citizens? How will we escape the catastrophe of poverty when the population grows faster than its livelihood? Etc., etc.

I could infinitely extend this questioning and make my questions increasingly pressing and difficult. If the press is the People’s means of speaking, why does it digress instead of answering? The press is so far from possessing a positive spirit that it seems to have been expressly invented for diverting reason and killing contemplation. Ideas fall into the newspapers but do not take root: the newspapers are the cemeteries of ideas.

And what do we hear from the rostrum? And what does the government know? Not so long ago it was escaping its responsibilities by denying its own authority to make decisions. It did not exist, it claimed, to organise work and give bread to the People. For a month it has received the proletariat’s demands; for a month it has been at work, and every day for a month it has had Le Moniteur publish the great news that it knows nothing, that it discovers nothing! The Government divides the People and arouses hatred among the classes that compose it. Organising the People and creating that sovereignty that is both liberty and harmony exceeds the Government’s ability, as formerly it exceeded its jurisdiction. However, in a Government describing itself as instituted by the People’s will, such remarkable ignorance is a contradiction: it is already clear that the People are no longer sovereign.

Does the People, who are sometimes said to have risen as a single man, also think, reflect, reason and form conclusions like a man? Does the People have a memory, imagination and ideas? If, in reality, the People is sovereign, it must think; if it thinks, surely it has its own way of thinking and formulating thoughts. How then does the People think? What are the forms of the popular reason? Does it categorise, use syllogisms, induction, analysis, antinomy, or analogy? It is Aristotelian or Hegelian? You must explain all that; otherwise, your respect for the People’s sovereignty is only an absurd fetishism, and you might as well worship a stone.

Does the People use its experience in its meditations? Does it consider its memories, or does it endlessly produce new ideas? How does it reconcile respect for its traditions with its needs for development? How does it dispense with a worn-out hypothesis and go on to try another? What is the law of its transitions and enjambments? What motivates it, and what defines the path of its progress? Why this capriciousness, this instability? I need to know this, or the law you impose on me in the name of the People is no longer authentic, no longer law, but violence.

Does the People always think? And if not, how do you account for the intermittent character of its thoughts? If we suppose that the People can be represented, what will its representatives do during those interruptions? Do the People sometimes sleep like Jupiter in the arms of Juno? When do they dream? When are they awake? You must teach me about all these things; otherwise, because the power you exercise by delegation from the People is only interim, and the length of the interim is unknown, that power has been usurped, and you are inclined toward tyranny.

If the People think, reflect, reason (sometimes a priori, according to the rules of pure reason, and sometimes a posteriori, based on the data of experience), they run the risk of deceiving themselves. The demonstrated authenticity of the People’s thought is no longer enough for me to accept that thought as law: it must also be legitimate. Who will choose among the People’s ideas and fantasies? To whom will we appeal its possibly erroneous, and therefore despotic, will?

Here I present this dilemma:

If the People can err, then there are two alternatives. On the one hand, the error may seem as respectable as the truth, and the People has the right to be completely obeyed despite its error. In this case the People is a supremely immoral being because it can simultaneously think of, desire to do, and carry out evil.

On the other hand, must the People be reproached for its errors? There would then be, in certain cases, a duty for a government to resist the People! Who will tell it that it is deceiving itself? Who could set it straight and restrain it?

But what am I saying? If the People are liable to err, what becomes of its sovereignty? Isn’t it obvious that the People’s will must be considered no less seriously than its dreaded consequences, and isn’t it the true principle of all politics, the guarantee of the security of nations, to consult the People only in order to distrust it, that all inspiration from it could hide enormous peril or success, and its will could be only suicidal thoughts?

Doubtless, you will say, the People has only a mystical existence. It only appears rarely in predestined epochs! Despite that, the People is not a phantom, and when it rises, no one can fail to recognise it. The People appeared on July 14th, 1789, and on August 10th, 1830. It was at Jemmapes and fought at Mayence and Valmy.

Why are you stopping? Why choose? Was the People absent during the 9th of Thermidor or the 18th Brumaire? Was it hiding on January 21st and December 5th? Were they not the emperor as he defeated the king? Did it not, by turns, adore and strike at Christ and Reason? Do you want to go further back? It was the People who, with its blood and guts, produced Gregory the Seventh on one day and Luther on another, who made Marius and Caesar arise after having chased off the Tarquins in a series of revolutions, who overturned the Decemviri, created the galleries to balance the consuls and, through the first example of a political shake-up, gave us the doctrinaire system. It was the People who worshiped the Caesars after it let them assassinate the Greeks!

Would you rather remain in the present? So tell me what the People are thinking today, March 25th, 1848, or rather, what it is not thinking.

Is the People thinking, with Abbé Lacordaire,[5] about making penance in sackcloth and ashes? Is it thinking that it was born out of the dust and will return to the dust, that its destiny here below is not pleasure but work and mortification? Or might it be thinking, like Saint-Simon and Fourier, that the fate of a human being is like that of a horse and that everything on earth is futile besides living well and making love?

Is the People thinking about the abolition of grants, progressive tax, national workshops, agricultural banks or paper money? Or is it not thinking instead that, amazingly, imposing unduly upon wealth kills wealth, that instead of expanding the state’s jurisdiction, it should be restricted, that the organisation of labour is only the organisation of competition and that the greatest service to be rendered to agriculture, instead of creating a special bank for it, is to sever all its relations with the bank?

Is the People for direct or [indirect] election? Is it for a representation of 900 or 450?

Is the People communist, phalansterian, neo-Christian, or utilitarian, or is not it? For, in fact, all of these are to be found within the People. Is it for Pythagoras, Morelly, Campanella or the good Icarus? For the Trinity or the Triad?[6] Isn’t it the People who speaks in those rantings that say nothing, in those contradictory posters and those governmental acts conceived in a sense that goes against February 24th? Is it asking for bread and circuses or for liberty? Did it have the revolution only to renounce it soon afterwards, or does it intend to continue it?

However, if the People has, in all historical epochs, thought, expressed, wanted and done a multitude of contradictory things, if, even today, among so many opinions dividing it, it is impossible for it to choose one without repudiating another and consequently contradicting itself: what do you want me to think of the reason, morality and justice of its acts? What can I expect from its representatives? What proof of authenticity will you give me in favour of an opinion that I cannot immediately claim for an opposing one?

What astonishes me in the midst of the confusion of ideas is that faith in the People’s sovereignty, far from dwindling, seems by this very confusion to reach its own climax. In this obstinate belief of the multitude in the intelligence that exists within it I already see a manifestation of the People affirming itself, like Jehovah, saying, “I AM.” I cannot then deny — on the contrary — I am forced to affirm the People’s sovereignty. But beyond this initial affirmation, and when it is a question of going from the subject of the thought to its object, when, in other words, it is a question of applying the criterion to the government’s acts, someone tell me: where are is People?

In principle then, I admit that the People exist, that it is sovereign, that it asserts itself in the popular consciousness, but nothing yet has proven to me that it can perform an overt act of sovereignty and that an explicit revelation of the People is possible. For in view of the dominance of prejudices, contradictory ideas and interests, variable opinions, and the multitude’s impulsiveness, I still wonder what establishes the authenticity and legitimacy of such a revelation, and this is what democracy cannot answer.


But, the democrats observe, not without reason, that the People has never been suitably called to action. It has only been able to demonstrate its will in momentary flashes: the role it has played in history up to now has been completely subordinate. For the People to be able to express its thoughts, it must be democratically consulted: that is, all citizens, on a non-discriminatory basis, must participate, directly or indirectly, in creating the law. However, this mode of democratic consultation has never been exercised in a sustained manner: the perpetual conspiracy of the privileged has not allowed it. Princes, nobles and priests, military men, magistrates, teachers, scholars, artists, industrialists, merchants, financiers and landowners have always succeeded in breaking up the democratic whole by changing the People’s voice into the voice of a monopoly. Now that we possess the only true way of having the People speak, we will also know what constitutes the authenticity and legitimacy of its word, and all your preceding objections will vanish. The sincerity of the democratic regime will guarantee the solution for us.

I acknowledge that the crux of the problem is the People speaking and acting as one. In my opinion, the REPUBLIC is nothing else, and that is also the entire social problem. Democracy claims to resolve this problem through universal suffrage applied on the broadest scale, replacing royal authority with the authority of the multitude. That is why Democracy is called the government of the multitude.

Therefore, it is the theory of universal suffrage that we have to judge, or, to be more precise, it is democracy that we have to demolish as we demolished the monarchy: that transition will be the last one before attaining the Republic.

1. Democracy is a disguised aristocracy

According to the theory of universal suffrage, experience has proven that the middle class, which alone has exercised political rights recently, does not represent the People — far from it — along with the monarchy, it has been in constant reaction against the People.

We conclude that it belongs to the entire nation to name its representatives.

But if it is one class of men that is singled out as the natural elite of the People by the free development of society, the spontaneous development of the sciences, arts, industry and commerce, the necessity of institutions, the tacit consent or the well-known incapacity of the lower classes, and, finally, its own talent and wealth, what is to be expected from a representation which, having been arrived at by means of assemblies the inclusivity, enlightenment, and freedom of which may vary, acting under the influence of local passions, class prejudices, and hatred of persons or principles, can only constitute, in the last analysis, a simulated representation, the product of the electoral mob’s arbitrary will?

If we are to have an aristocracy of our own choosing, I would greatly prefer it to a natural aristocracy, but aristocracy for aristocracy, I prefer, with M. Guizot, that of fatality to that of arbitrary will: at least fatality does not obligate me.

Or, rather, we will only restore, by another route, the same aristocrats because for whom do you want named to represent these journeymen, these day workers, these toilers, if not their bourgeoisie? Unless you only want them to kill them!

One way or another, preponderant strength in government belongs to those with the preponderance of talent and wealth. From the very start, it has been clear that social reform will never come from political reform; on the contrary, political reform must come from social reform.

The illusion of democracy springs from the example of constitutional monarchy: attempting to organise government by representative means. Neither the revolution of July [1830] nor that of February [1848] has sufficed to illuminate this. What they always want is inequality of wealth, delegation of sovereignty and government by influential people. Instead of saying, as M. Thiers did, that the King reigns and does not govern, democracy says that the People reign and does not govern, which is to deny the Revolution.

It was not because he was opposed to electoral reform that M. Guizot fell, taking the monarchy and throne with him, but because, in the public awareness, the constitution was worn out and not wanted any more. All of the reforms the opposition demanded prove, and I have demonstrated this, that they were attacking the Charter even more than the minister; it was something even higher than the Charter: the very constitution of the society.

Therefore, when they talk today about substituting a representative democracy for a representative monarchy, they are not doing anything besides changing the phrase “Fair Marquise, your lovely eyes make me die of love” to “Your lovely eyes, fair Marquise, dying of love make me,”[7] and we can say, as L’Atelier put it, that the Revolution has vanished.

But, patience! Although it may seem difficult right now to escape this governmental alternative, the discomfort will not last long. Representation has fallen at the barricades and will never get up. Constitutional democracy has gone the way of constitutional monarchy. According to Latin etymology, February is the month of burials. Social reform will lead to political reform, the intelligence of the first involving the intelligence of the second. We will have a government of the People by the People but not through a representation of the People, and we will have the Republic, I say, or we will perish a second time with democracy.

2. Democracy is exclusive and doctrinaire

Since, according to the democrats’ ideology, the People cannot govern itself and is forced to hand itself over to representatives who govern by delegation with the right of review, it is assumed that at least the People is quite capable of being represented at least, that it can be represented faithfully. Well! This hypothesis is utterly false; there is not and never can be legitimate representation of the People. All electoral systems are mechanisms for deceit: to know but one is enough to condemn them all.

Take the example of the provisional government.

When a theory is produced in the People’s name, that theory and its expression must demonstrate complete irreproachability with regard to logic, justice, traditions and trends. I do not recognise the People’s voice in Fourier’s books any more than in Le Père Duchêne.[8]

The provisional government’s system pretends to be universal.

But whatever we do, in any electoral system, there will always be exclusions, absences and invalidated, erroneous and unfree votes.

The hardiest innovators have not yet dared to demand suffrage for women, children, domestic servants or those with criminal records. About four-fifths of the People are not represented and are cut off from the communion with the People. Why?

You set electoral capacity at 21 years of age, but why not 20? Why not 19, 18, 17? What! One year, one day makes the elector rational? A Barra or Viala is incapable of voting discerningly while the Fouchés and Héberts vote for them![9]

You eliminate women. You have thus resolved the major problem of the inferiority of the sex. What! No exception for a Lucretia, a Cornelia, a Joan of Arc or a Charlotte Corday! A Madame Roland, a de Staël or a George Sand will find no favour before your manliness! The Jacobins welcomed women garment workers at their meetings; no one has ever said that the presence of women weakened the men’s courage!

You reject the domestic servant. You say that there is no generous soul behind this sign of servitude, that no idea capable of saving the republic beats in the valet’s heart! Is the race of Figaro lost? It is that man’s fault, you will say: why, with so many means, is he a servant? And why are there servants?

I want to see and hear the People in their variety and multitude, all ages, sexes, conditions, virtues and miseries because all that is the People.

You claim that there would be serious trouble in keeping good discipline, the peace of the state and the tranquillity of families if women, children and domestic servants obtained the same rights as husbands, fathers and masters, that, in addition, the former are adequately represented by the latter through their solidarity of interests and the familial bond.

I acknowledge that the objection is a serious one, and I do not attempt to refute it. But take care: you must, by the same reasoning, exclude the proletarians and all workers.[10] Seven-tenths of this category receive the aid of public charity: they will then vote in government jobs, salary increases and labour reductions for themselves, and they will not fail in this, I assure you, if their delegates represent them ever so little. In the National Assembly, the proletariat will be like the officials in M. Guizot’s chamber, judging its own case, having power over the budget and putting nothing into it, creating a dictatorship with its appointments until, with capital exhausted by taxation and property producing nothing any longer, general bankruptcy will break apart this parliamentary begging.

And all these citizens who, because of work, sickness, travel or lack of money to go to the polls, are forced to abstain from voting: how do you count them? Will it be according to the proverb, “Who says nothing, consents”? But, consents to what? To the opinion of the majority, or indeed to that of the minority?

And those who vote only on impulse, through good nature or interest, faith in their republican committee or parish priest: what do you make of them? It is an old maxim that in all deliberations it is necessary not only to count the votes but also to weigh them. In your committees,[11] on the contrary, the vote of an Arago or Lamartine counts no more than that of a beggar.[12] Will you say that the consideration due men for their merit is acquired by the influence they exert on the electors? Then the voting is not free. It is the voice of abilities that we hear, not the People’s. We might as well keep the 200-franc system.[13]

We have given the army the right to vote, which means that soldiers who do not vote as their captain votes will go to the stockade, the captain who does not vote as the colonel votes will be put under arrest and the colonel who does not vote as the government does will be destitute.

I will not discuss the material and moral impossibilities abounding in the mode of election the provisional government has adopted. It is completely devoted to the opinion that, by doubling the national representation and having the People vote by election-by-list, the provisional government wanted the citizens to choose concerning principles rather than persons precisely in the manner of the former government, which also made voters vote on the system, not on the candidates. How do we discuss the choice of 10, 20 or 25 deputies? If each citizen votes freely and is knowledgeable of his cause, how are the votes of such elections-by-list counted? How are such elections brought to a conclusion if they are serious? Evidently, it is impossible.

I repeat that I am not talking the purely material side of the issue: I keep to issues of rights. What they once obtained through venality they now tear away from impotence. They tell the electors, “Here are our friends, the friends of the republic, and there are our adversaries, who also are the adversaries of the republic — choose.” The electors, who cannot appraise the candidates’ abilities, vote on trust!

Instead of naming deputies for each ward, as under the fallen regime, they are now elected by department. They wanted, with this measure, to destroy the spirit of localism. How wonderful it is that the democrats are so sure of their principles!

They say that if deputies were named by ward, it would not be France that was represented but the wards. The National Assembly would no longer represent the country but would be a congress of 459 representatives.

Why then, I reply, don’t you have each elector name the deputies for all of France?

It would be desirable, you answer, but impossible.

First of all, I note that any system that can be true only under impossible conditions seems to me a poor system. But, to me, the democrats here appear singularly inconsistent and perplexed by small matters. If the representatives should only represent FRANCE and not the departments, wards, cities, countryside, industry, commerce, agriculture or interests, why have they decided that there will be one deputy per 40,000 residents? Why not one for each 100,000 or 200,000? Ninety instead of nine hundred: was that not enough? In Paris, could you not end your list when the legitimists, conservatives and royalists ended theirs? Was it more difficult to vote on a list of 90 names than on a list of 15?

But who does not see that deputies thus elected apart from all special interests and groups, all considerations of place and person, supposedly representing France, represent absolutely nothing, that they are no longer representatives, but senators, and that instead of a representative democracy, we have an elective oligarchy, the middle ground between democracy and royalty?

There, citizen reader, is where I wanted to take you. From whatever perspective you consider democracy, you will always see it between two extremes, each of which is as contrary as the other to its principles, condemned to vacillating between absurdity and impossibility without ever being able to establish itself. Among a million equally arbitrary intermediate terms, the provisional government has done like M. Guizot: he preferred what appeared to him to best agree with his democratic prejudices, that is, the provisional government did not consider the representative truth, such as a government of the People by the People. I do not reproach him for it. Minds are not at the top of the republic; we have to go through democracy once again. However, transition for transition, I like the system of the provisional government as much as M. Duvergier de Hauranne’s.[14] I do not believe that the choice merits a minute of examination.

3. Democracy is ostracism

In order for deputies to represent their constituents, they must represent all the competing ideas from the election.

But with the electoral system, deputies, so-called legislators sent by the citizens to reconcile all ideas and interests in the name of the People, only ever represent one idea and one interest; the rest are mercilessly excluded. For who makes the law in elections? Who decides the choice of deputies? The majority, one half plus one of the voices. Therefore, it follows that the half-minus-one of the voters is not represented or is represented against his own will, and that of all the opinions dividing the citizens, one alone, as long as it is an opinion held by a deputy, makes it to the legislature and therefore enters into the law, which should be the expression of the People’s will but is only the expression of half of the People.

Therefore, in the theory of democracies, the problem of government is to eliminate, through the mechanism of a supposedly universal suffrage, all, minus one, of the ideas finding favour in public opinion, and to declare the majority’s opinion to be sovereign.

But perhaps one might say that an idea that fails in one such electoral college might triumph in another and that therefore all ideas may be represented in the National Assembly.

Even in that case, the difficulty would merely be postponed, since the question is to know how all those divergent and antagonistic ideas will be combined and reconciled in the law.

Therefore, according to some ideas, revolution is only an accident that should not change anything in the general social order. According to some other ideas, revolution is even more social than political. How are such clearly incompatible claims satisfied? How do we give security to the bourgeoisie and guarantees to the proletariat at the same time? How will these contrary wishes, these opposing trends, be merged into a common result [résultante] under a single universal law?

Far from democracy being capable of deciding this question, all of its art and science consists in cutting it off. It uses the ballot, which is simultaneously democracy’s standard, balance, and criterion, to eliminate men with the popular vote and ideas with the legislative vote.

It has barely been a month since everyone was shouting about the 200 francs poll tax: What? It is one franc, one centime, that qualifies a voter?

It is always the same thing. What? One vote elects the representative, and one vote decides the law! Concerning a question on which the honour and health of the republic depend, the citizens are divided into two equal factions. Both sides bring to bear the most serious reasoning, weightiest authorities and most positive facts; the nation is in doubt, and the National Assembly is suspended. If one representative, without a substantial reason, passes from right to left and tips the balance, it is he who makes the law.

And this law, the expression of some bizarre will, is deemed the People’s will! I will have to submit to it, defend it and die for it! On a parliamentary whim, I lose my most precious right; I lose my liberty! And my most sacred duty, the duty to resist tyranny by force, falls before an imbecile’s sovereign vote!

Democracy is nothing but the tyranny of majorities, the most execrable tyranny of all because it is not based on the authority of a religion, nobility of blood or the prerogatives of talent and wealth: its foundation is numbers, and its mask is the People’s name. Under Louis-Philippe’s reign, M. de Genoude refused to pay taxes, saying that they had not been voted upon by a true national representation. It was decent of M. de Genoude to stop so short. When it chances that a more democratic majority votes in a budget, should the minority also believe that it has voted it in, too, and that it is therefore obliged to pay even though it voted against that very budget?

In the first volume of this work, I proved the legitimacy of the Revolution and the moral necessity of the Republic by demonstrating that, on February 22nd, all opinions, all parties, whatever their disagreements, agreed on a group of reforms for which the general formula was invariably THE REPUBLIC. Democracy, with universal suffrage, destroys that justification, the only one, however, that it can provide for its arrival. It tries to make the masses and departments say that they belong to the Republic, and if they do not, democracy will resist with force! Intimidation: here is the democrats’ strongest argument on the Republic! Is it now clear that neither universal suffrage nor democracy expresses the People’s sovereignty?

 I hope that the force of things, the inflexible reason of facts, will inspire our future National Assembly, but I would not be surprised if, formed by a government that has so little understood the revolution, the National Assembly ends up damaging the Revolution, and we will once again see the People disavow their representatives’ politics through an act analogous with that of February.

4. Democracy is a form of absolutism

If universal suffrage, the most complete manifestation of democracy, has won so many partisans, especially among the working classes, it is because it has always been presented as an appeal to the masses’ talents, abilities, good sense and morality. How often have they avoided the harmful contrasts of the speculator who becomes politically influential through plunder and the man of genius whom poverty has kept far away from the stage! What sarcasm about 200 franc capacities and the incapacities of those such as Béranger, Chateaubriand and Lamennais![15]

In the end, we are all voters; we can choose the most worthy.

We can do more; we can follow them step-by-step in their legislative acts and their votes; we will make them transmit our arguments and our documents; we will suggest our will to them, and when we are discontented, we will recall and dismiss them.

The choice of talents, the imperative mandate [mandate impertif], and permanent revocability are the most immediate and incontestable consequences of the electoral principle. It is the inevitable program of all democracy.

No more than constitutional monarchy, however, does democracy agree to such a deduction from its principle.

What democracy demands, like monarchy, is silent representatives who do not discuss but vote; who, when they receive their orders from the government, crush the opposition with their heavy battalions. They are passive creatures (I almost said satellites), whom the danger of a revolution does not intimidate, whose reason is not too rebellious and whose consciences do not recoil before any arbitrariness or proscription.

You will say that this is pushing the paradox to the point of slander, so we will prove the paradox then in fact and in law: it will not take too long.

Everyone has read the bulletin of the Minister of Public Education to teachers about the elections and noted this passage:

“The greatest error of our country residents is to believe that it is necessary to have an EDUCATION or wealth to be a representative.

“Most of the assembly plays the role of jury, judging with a yes or no if what the ELITE members propose is good or bad. They only need to be honest and have good sense. They do not CREATE. — Here is the fundamental principle of republican law.”

The Minister then expresses the desire that primary school teachers become candidates for the National Assembly, not because they are sufficiently enlightened but because they are not: “The lower they start, the higher they will go,” which, geometrically speaking, is indisputable.

If the Minister, convinced of the well-known ability of many respectable teachers, were content to point them out as hidden lights that democracy’s arrival must reveal, I would applaud the bulletin, but who does not see that, in the Minister’s thinking, the primary school teacher is an envious mediocrity that has not created and will not create anything and is destined to serve the war for the rich and democratic arbitrariness with his silent votes? In that regard, I protest that candidacy, or to be more specific, that prostitution of teachers.

Furthermore, the constitutional monarchy, seeking to surround itself with a talented and wealthy aristocracy, turns to dignitaries in the same way as democracy, which is the drunkenness of that system, comprises its patrician class of those of little distinction. This is not, as one might believe, an opinion specific to the Minister; I will soon prove that it is the pure essence of democracy.

I shall cite another fact.

All the authors of public law, specifically the democrats, speak out against the imperative mandate; I say that all of them unanimously consider it impolitic, abusive, leading to the oppression of the government by the populace, offending against the dignity of the deputies, etc. The imperative mandate has been roundly declared anathema. In civil law, it would be a monstrous thing if the mandate had less authority than the representative; in politics, it is just the opposite. Here, the representatives become judges and referees of their constituents’ interests. What is orthodox in a legal context is considered heretical in the field of constitutional ideas: it is one of the thousand inconsistencies of the human mind.

The length of the mandate, revocable at will under civil law, is, in policy, independent of the will of the electors. In all our constitutions, the length of the mandate has varied from one to seven years following the agreement, not of the governed citizens, but of the governing citizens.

In fact, it is indeed understood in and proven by the authors’ doctrine and the ministers’ bulletins that, in any type of government, the representatives belong to power, not to the populace; that is why monarchies require representatives to be capable or rich, and democracy requires them to be incapable or indigent. Both monarchy and democracy require that representatives are masters of their own votes, that is, of trafficking in and selling them, and that the mandate has a definite length of at least a year, during which the government, in agreement with the representatives, does what it pleases and gives the force of law to whatever acts it likes.

Could it be otherwise? No, and the discussion of the point of law does not require a long speech.

The fallen system could define itself as the society’s government by the bourgeoisie, that is, by the aristocracy of talent and wealth. The system that they are working right now to establish — democracy — may be defined by its opposite — the society’s government by the vast majority of its citizens, who have little talent and no wealth. The exceptions that may be encountered in either of those systems do nothing to this principle, neither changing nor modifying the trend. Under a representative monarchy, it is inevitable that the People will be exploited by the bourgeoisie, and under a democratic government, it is inevitable that they will be exploited by the proletariat.

But whoever wills the end wills the means.

If monarchic representation were formed of representatives with an imperative mandate revocable upon the will of the electors, the bourgeoisie would soon lose its privileges, and royalty, which personifies that monarchic representation, would be reduced to zero. At the same time, if the democratic assembly were comprised of bourgeois individuals, powerful due to their talent and the wealth devoted to their principles and instantly replaceable if they betrayed those principles, the dictatorship of the masses would fall quickly, and the proletarians would return to their proletariat.

Therefore, it is necessary for each form of government to surround itself with the stability conditions best for its particular nature: hence, M. Guizot’s resistance to electoral reform, universal suffrage and [Minister of Public Education] M. Carnot’s bulletin.

But because nothing that creates a division in the People can last, it is also inevitable that those forms of tyranny will perish one after the other and, remarkably, always for the same reason: the bourgeoisie’s tyranny by the proletariat’s misery and the proletariat’s tyranny by the bourgeoisie’s ruin, which is universal misery.

This was not the trend of thought on February 22nd, 23rd and 24th.

The bourgeoisie, tired of its own government’s shamefulness, marched alone with cries of “Long live reform!” to the republic, and the working masses, enthusiastically repeating the cry of reform, caressing the bourgeoisie with their eyes and voices, also marched alone to the republic. The fusion of ideas and hearts was complete. The goal was the same although no one knew the route to which they were committed.

Since February 25th, the revolution, misunderstood, has become deformed. The social that was in everyone’s thoughts was made political because it is always the political that is occupied with labour in the state (under the pretext of organisation), and the demarcation line between the bourgeoisie and the People, momentarily erased, reappeared deeper and wider. Incapable of understanding the republican ideal, handed over to demagogic and mercenary routine, the provisional government is working to organise civil war and horrible misery instead of labour.

If the National Assembly does not end this despicable policy, France will soon learn through the most painful experience how much distance there is between a republic and democracy.

5. Democracy is materialistic and atheistic

If monarchy is the hammer that crushes the People, democracy is the axe that divides them: they concur on the death of liberty.

Universal suffrage is a kind of atomism through which legislators, who cannot make the People speak as a unit about their essence, invite citizens to express their opinions one-by-one, viritim, absolutely like the Epicurean philosopher explains thought, will and intelligence as combinations of atoms. It is political atheism in the worst meaning of the word. As if adding up some quantity of votes could ever produce unified thought!

“It’s from the clash of ideas that sparks of intelligence fly,” say the elders. It is both true and false, like all proverbs. Between the clash and the spark, a thousand years may pass. History has only begun to reveal itself to us for half a century; the ideas that once agitated Rome, Athens, Jerusalem and Memphis are only just enlightening us today. The People has spoken, no doubt, but no one has understood its words because it has been diffused in individual voices. The light of ancient ideas had been concealed from modern society. It shone for the first time in the eyes of the Vicos, Montesquieus, Lessings, Guizots and Thierrys and their emulators. Will we have to cut our own throats for posterity, too?

The most certain way of making the People lie is to establish universal suffrage. The individual vote, with regard to government, as a means of observing the national will, is exactly the same thing as a new division of land would be in the political economy. It is the agrarian law transported from the soil to authority.

Because the authors, the first of whom were concerned with the origin of governments, have taught that the source of all power is national sovereignty, it has been boldly concluded that it is best to have all citizens vote verbally, by rump or ballot and that the majority of votes thus expressed was equal to the People’s will. They have taken us back to the practices of barbarians who, lacking rationality, proceeded by acclamation and election. They have taken a material symbol for the true formula of sovereignty and have told the proletarians that when they vote, they will be free and rich, that they will rule capital, profit and wages, that they will, as other versions of Moses have, make thrushes and manna fall from heaven, that they will become like gods because they will not have to work anymore or will work so little that it will be nothing.

Whatever they do and say, universal suffrage, evidence of discord, can only produce discord. I am ashamed for my homeland that for seventeen years they have agitated the poor people with this miserable idea! It is why the bourgeoisie and workers have sung the Marseillaise in chorus at seventy political banquets and, after a revolution as glorious as it was legitimate, why they have given in to a sect of doctrinaires! For six months, the deputies of the opposition, like actors on holiday, travelled through the provinces, and what did they bring back to us as the result of their benefit performances upon the stage of political privilege? Agrarian politics! It is under this divisive banner that we have claimed to preserve the initiative of progress, to march at the forefront of nations in the conquest of liberty, to usher in harmony around the world! Yesterday, we had pity for the Peoples who did not know as we do how to raise themselves up to constitutional sublimity. Today, fallen a hundred times lower, we still pity them, but we will go with a 100,000 bayonets to make them share the benefits of democratic absolutism with us. And we are the great nation! Oh, be silent! If you do not know how to do great things, or express great ideas, at least let’s preserve common sense.

With 8 million or 8,000 electors, your representation with some different qualities will be worth the same.

The law, whether 900 or 90 deputies create it, sometimes more plebeian, sometimes more bourgeois, will be no better or no worse.

If I place any hope in the National Assembly, it is indeed due less to its origin and the number of its members than to events that can only advise it and the work of public reason, which will be to the National Assembly as light is to the daguerreotype.[16]

6. Democracy is retrograde and contradictory

In monarchy, the government’s acts are the deployment of authority; in democracy, they constitute authority. The authority in monarchy that is the principle of governmental action is the goal of government in democracy. The result is that democracy is inevitably retrograde and contradictory.

Let us place ourselves at the point of departure for democracy, at the moment of universal suffrage.

All citizens are equal and independent. Their egalitarian combination is power’s point of departure: it is power itself, in its highest form, in its fullness.

According to democratic principle, all citizens must participate in the formation of the law, the government of the state, the exercise of public functions, the discussion of the budget and the appointment of officials. Everyone must be consulted and give their opinions on peace and war, treaties of commerce and alliance, colonial undertakings, works of public utility, the award of compensation and the infliction of punishments. Finally, they all must pay their debt to their homeland as taxpayers, jurors, judges and soldiers.

If things could happen in this way, the democratic ideal would be attained. It would have a normal existence, developing directly in line with its principle, as do all things that live and develop. That is how the acorn becomes an oak and the embryo an animal; that is how geometry, astronomy and chemistry are the infinite development of a small number of items.

It is completely different in democracy, which, according to the authors, exists fully only at the moment of elections and in the formation of legislative power. Once that moment has passed, democracy retreats; it withdraws into itself again and begins its anti-democratic work. It becomes AUTHORITY. Authority was M. Guizot’s idol as it is that of the democrats.

It is not true, in fact, that in any democracy all citizens participate in the formation of the law: that prerogative is reserved for the representatives.

It is not true that they deliberate on all public affairs, domestic and foreign: that is no longer even the representatives’ privilege, but the ministers’. Citizens discuss affairs, but ministers alone deliberate on them.

It is not true that each citizen has public functions: those functions that do not produce marketable goods must be reduced as much as possible. By their nature, public functions exclude the vast majority of citizens. In ancient Greek society, each citizen held a position paid by the state treasury: in that context, the democratic ideal was achieved in Athens and Sparta. But the Greeks lived off slave labour, and war filled their treasuries: the abolition of slavery and the increasing difficulty of war have made democracy impossible in the modern nations.

It is not true that citizens participate in the nomination of officials; moreover, that participation is as impossible as the preceding one, since it would result in creating anarchy in the bad sense of the word. Power names its own subordinates, sometimes according to its own arbitrary will, sometimes according to certain conditions for appointment or promotion, the order and discipline of officials and centralisation requiring that it be thus. Article 13 of the Charter of 1830, which assigned the king the appointment of all positions in public administration, is customary in both democracy and monarchy. In the revolution that has just been achieved, everyone understood this to such a degree that we could believe that it was the dynasty of Le National that succeeded the Orléans dynasty.

Finally, it is not true that all citizens participate in justice and in war: as judges and officers, most are eliminated; as jurors and simple soldiers, all abstain as much as they can. In short, because hierarchy is government’s primary condition, democracy is a chimera.

The reason that all the authors give for this merits our study. They say that the People is unable to govern itself because it does not know how, and when it does know how, it will not be able to do it. EVERYBODY CANNOT COMMAND AND GOVERN AT THE SAME TIME; authority must belong solely to some who exercise it in the name of and through the delegation of all.

According to democratic theory, due to ignorance or impotence, the People cannot govern themselves: after declaring the principle of the People’s sovereignty, democracy, like monarchy, ends up declaring the incapacity of the People!

This is what is our democrats mean: once they are in the government, they dream only of consolidating and strengthening the authority in their hands. This is what the multitude understood when they threw themselves upon the doors of the Hôtel de Ville, demanding government employment, money, work, credit, bread! And there indeed is our nation, monarchist to its very marrow, idolising power, devoid of individual energy and republican initiative, accustomed to expecting everything from authority and doing nothing except through authority! When monarchy does not come to us from on high, as it did formerly, or on battlefield, as in 1800, or in the folds of a charter, as in 1814 or 1830, we proclaim it in the public square, between two barricades, in the electoral assembly or at a patriotic banquet. Drink to the People’s health, and the multitude will crown you! What then? Is monarchy the end and democracy the means?

The authors can think whatever they like, but the republic is as opposed to democracy as it is to monarchy. In the republic, everyone reigns and governs; the People think and act as one person. Representatives are plenipotentiaries with the imperative mandate and are recallable at will. The law is the expression of the unanimous will: there is no other hierarchy besides the solidarity of functions, no other aristocracy besides labour’s, no other initiative besides the citizens’.

Here is the republic! Here is the People’s sovereignty!



But democracy is the idea of the endless extension of the State; it is the combining of all agricultural operations into one agricultural operation, all industrial companies into one such company, all mercantile establishments into one such establishment and all partnerships into one. However, it is not the endless decrease of general costs, as it must be under the Republic, but the endless increase of those costs.

Thirty days of dictatorship have exposed democracy’s powerlessness and uselessness. All its old memories, philanthropic prejudices, communist instincts, conflicting passions, sentimental phrases and anti-liberal tendencies have been expended in one month. It went through utopia and routine, consulted quacks and charlatans, welcomed skilful speculators, listened to the preaching of the lawyers and received the Monsignor’s holy water. Yet, in everything that democracy proposed, decreed, sermonised and blustered for a month, who would dare to say that the People were recognised even once?

I will conclude by repeating my question: the People’s sovereignty is the starting point of the social sciences, so how is that sovereignty established and expressed? We cannot take one step forward until we solve that problem.

Of course, I repeat it so that I am not misunderstood. I do not in any way want to deny the workers, the proletarians, the exercise of their political rights: I only maintain that the manner in which they aspire to exercise them is only a mystification. Universal suffrage is the Republic’s symbol but not its reality.

Furthermore, look at the indifference with which the working masses greet that suffrage! The most that can be gotten from them is their registration to vote. While the philosophers praise universal suffrage, popular common sense mocks it!

The Republic is the organisation through which all opinions and activities remain free, the People, through the very divergence of opinions and wills, thinking and acting as a single man. In the Republic, all citizens, by doing what they want and nothing more, directly participate in the legislation and the government as they participate in the production and circulation of wealth. Therefore, all citizens are kings because they all have complete power; they reign and govern. The Republic is a positive anarchy. It is neither liberty subject to order, as in the constitutional monarchy, nor liberty imprisoned in order, as the provisional government understands it, but liberty delivered from all its obstacles, superstition, prejudice, sophistry, speculation and authority; it is a reciprocal, not limited, liberty; it is the liberty that is the MOTHER, not the daughter, of order.

This is the program of modern societies. May democracy be forgiven for having, so to speak, formulated it through the very spectacle of its contradictions.

End Notes

[1] The Revolution of February 1848 saw the first major use of the Red Flag by working class insurgents. (Editor)

[2] The House of Bourbon was a European royal dynasty whose members ruled France from 1589 to 1792 when it was overthrown during the French Revolution. It was restored briefly in 1814 with the abdication of Napoléon and definitively in 1815 after the Battle of Waterloo. The senior line of the Bourbons was finally overthrown in the July Revolution of 1830. A cadet branch, the House of Orléans, then ruled for 18 years until it too was overthrown by the Revolution of February 1848. The Bourbons held thrones in Naples & Sicily, Spain and Parma. (Editor)

[3] In Paris. The Champ de Mars (“Field of Mars”, after Mars, the god of war) was originally used for military drills. During the French Revolution, it was the setting of the Fête de la Fédération on the July 14th, 1790. It was also the setting of a massacre on July 17th, 1791, when a crowd collected to draft a petition seeking the removal of King Louis XVI. On February 25th, 1848, Lamartine gave a speech in which he declared that “I will never adopt the red flag… because the tri-colour flag has made the tour of the world, under the Republic and the Empire, with our liberties and our glories, and… the red flag has only made the tour of the Champ-de-Mars, trained through torrents of the blood of the people” (quoted in Alphonse de Lamartine, History of the Girondists; Or, Personal Memoirs of the Patriots of the French Revolution from Unpublished Sources (New York: Harper & Bros, 1854), xix) (Editor)

[4] The voice of the people, the voice of God (Translator)

[5] Henri Lacordaire (1802-61), together with Lamennais, was one of the leading lights of nineteenth-century Catholic liberalism. (Editor)

[6] A reference to Catholicism and leading Saint-Simonian Pierre Leroux’s philosophy. (Editor)

[7] This is a slight misquotation of Molière’s The Bourgeois Gentleman (Act II, Scene IV) in which Monsieur Jourdain (the would-be “bourgeois gentilhomme” of the title) is being advised on his prose style by a “master of philosophy.” (Editor)

[8] Le Père Duchêne (“Old Man Duchesne”) was the title of a newspaper which appeared during revolutionary periods of the nineteenth century including during the Revolution of 1848. It borrowed its title from the Père Duchesne published by Jacques Hébert during the French Revolution. (Editor)

[9] Joseph Barra (1779-1793) and Joseph Agricol Viala (1780-1793), said to have died fighting for the French Republic against the Royalists at the age of thirteen, were posthumously honoured as Revolutionary martyrs. Joseph Fouché (1759-1820) was Minister of Police during the reign of Napoléon I. Jacques-René Hébert (1757-1794), editor of the far-left Le Père Duchesne, was among those who helped usher in the Terror with the slogan, “hunt down the traitors.” (Editor)

[10] This is effectively what the Conservative dominated National Assembly did on May 31st, 1850. (Editor)

[11] Comices were the legislative or elective formal assemblies of the people in Ancient Rome. (Editor)

[12] Politicians François Arago (1786-1853) and Alphonse de Lamartine (1790-1869) were, respectively, a scientist and a poet of renown. (Editor)

[13] That is, limited suffrage based on ownership of a minimum amount of property. (Editor)

[14] In Des Principes du gouvernement représentatif et de leurs applications (1838), Prosper Duvergier de Hauranne (1789-1881) coined the famous phrase: “The king reigns but does not govern.”(Editor)

[15] Proudhon names several well-known political figures here: songwriter Pierre Jean de Béranger (1780-1857), Romantic poet François-René de Chateaubriand (1768-1848), and Catholic liberal Félicité Robert de Lamennais (1782-1854). (Editor)

[16] The daguerreotype was the first publicly announced photographic process, developed by Louis Daguerre. The image is exposed directly onto a mirror-polished surface of silver. The daguerreotype is a negative image, but the mirrored surface of the metal plate reflects the image and makes it appear positive in the proper light. (Editor)