Works of Marx and Engels 1851
Source: MECW Volume 10, p. 537-539;
Written: Prison of Belle-Ile-en-Mer, February 10, 1851;
First published: as a leaflet: Trinkspruch gesandt durch den Burger L. A. Blanqui an die Kommission der Fluchtlinge zu London fur die Jahresfeier des 24. Februr 1851. Veroffentlicht durch die Freund der Gleichheit, Bern, 1851 (real place of publication: Cologne)
Some wretched deceivers of the people, the so-called Central Committee of European Social-Democrats, in truth a committee of the European central mob, presided over by Messrs. Willich, Schapper, etc., celebrated in London the anniversary of the February Revolution. Louis Blanc, representative of sentimental phrase-socialism, joined this clique of second-rate pretenders in an intrigue against another traitor to the people, Ledru-Rollin. At their banquet they read out various addresses supposedly received by them. All their efforts notwithstanding, they had not succeeded in wheedling a single address from Germany. A propitious sign of the development of the German proletariat!
They wrote also to Blanqui. the noble martyr of revolutionary communism, requesting an address. He replied with the following toast:
What is the pitfall that menaces tomorrow's revolution? The same which caused the downfall of yesterday's, the deplorable popularity of bourgeois disguised as champions of the people.
Ledru-Rollin, Louis Blanc, Cremieux, Marie, Lamartine, Garnier-Pages, Dupont (de l'Eure), Flocon, Albert, Arago, Marrast!
An ominous list! Sinister names written in letters of blood on all the streets of democratic Europe.
The Provisional Government has killed the Revolution! On its head rests the responsibility for all the disasters, for the blood of so many thousands of victims!
Reaction only did its job when it strangled democracy. The crime lies with the traitors whom the trusting people accepted as leaders and who delivered the people up to reaction.
Miserable government! In spite of all the entreaties and cries of anguish it hurls at the peasants the 45-centime tax and drives them to desperation and insurrection.
It kept in being the royalist general staffs, the royalist magistrates, and the royalist law. Treason!
It fell on the workers of Paris on April 16, it imprisoned those of Limoges, fired on those of Rouen on the 27th; it let loose all its hounds, it tracked down all true republicans. Treason! Treason!
It, and it alone, bears the terrible responsibility for all the calamities which have almost annihilated the 1848 Revolution!
Ah, they are very guilty men, but the guiltiest of all are those in whom the people, deceived by their fine phrases, saw its sword and shield; those whom it enthusiastically proclaimed the arbiters of its future.
Woe betide if on the day of the approaching triumph of the people the forgetful indulgence of the masses were to allow to regain power a single one of the men who have forfeited their mandate! That would be the end of the revolution for the second time!
May the workers always keep in mind this list of cursed names, and if a single one. yes, a single one were ever to appear again in a revolutionary government, let them all cry with one voice: Treason!
Speeches, sermons, programmes would again be nothing but lies and deceit; the same conjurers would only come back to produce the same tricks from the same bag; they would form the first link in a new chain of more ferocious reaction. Curse and vengeance upon them, should they ever dare to appear again! Shame and pity on the simple masses who would be caught in their nets again!
But it is not enough that the conjurers of February are for ever banned from the Hotel de Ville; one must insure against new traitors.
Rulers would be traitors if, raised to power on the workers' shoulders,they did not at once put in practice:
1) the general disarming of the bourgeois guards;
2) the arming and military organisation of all the workers.
No doubt there are many other indispensable measures, but they naturally flow from this first act which is the preliminary guarantee, the sole pledge of security for the people.
Not a single weapon must remain in the hands of the bourgeoisie. Without that there is no salvation!
The various doctrines which today vie for the sympathy of the masses may well one day be able to keep their promises of improvements and well-being, but only on condition that they do not abandon the prize for the shadow.
They would lead to nothing but a miserable miscarriage if the people, exclusively preoccupied with theories, were to neglect the only practical element of security: force.
Arms and organisation are the decisive ingredients of progress, and the only serious means of putting an end to misery!
He who has arms has bread. One falls on one's knees before bayonets; unarmed crowds are swept away like chaff. France bristling with workers in arms, that is the coming of socialism.
In the face of armed proletarians all obstacles, all resistance, all impossibilities will disappear.
But proletarians who let themselves be amused by ridiculous promenades on the streets, by the planting of "trees of liberty", by the ringing phrases of lawyers, must expect holy water to begin with, injuries to follow, eventually bullets, and always misery.
Let the people choose!