Auguste Blanqui 1848
Translated: for marxists.org by Mitch Abidor;
CopyLeft: Creative Commons (Attribute & ShareAlike) marxists.org 2004.
If there is still time, open your eyes at the polling booth to the peril that threatens you: Paris is condemned and its sentence is being carried out by the hands of a reaction that was able to everywhere recruit accomplices in and instruments of its vengeance.
Under the pretext of disencumberment, of public order and even of humanity, every day the capital is being emptied of the working class. A fatal measure! A death measure!
With the exception of a small handful of rich idlers the entire city only lives only thanks to the workers: without workers there is no more consumption, and thus no more business! The mass of retailers would fall into ruin, big business and industry would follow them into the abyss, and the faction that represents the victorious past would applaud the ruin of this Paris that it abhors because it has changed the face of the world.
Merchants, landlords, don’t second these evil designs; leave behind your terrors and fears. What do the people ask for? To live in happiness through their labor, and interest orders you to support this just demand, for your profits come from the people, you earn them as a result of their consumption. Don’t let appearances fool you! In the ocean of affairs, spending on luxury items is but a drop of water. For every person who lives off the gold of the rich nine live on the centimes of the poor. Between you and the workers there is solidarity.
But be just! The people have suffered for too long! They no longer can nor will suffer under the harsh conditions made for them by the rapacity of the moneyed. They ask for a more equitable ones, and it is this demand that is rejected with violence, with fury...They persist, they claim to drive them to ask for mercy, they are hunted down through famine...But they don’t surrender! They will advance, shaking the dust from their feet. Their property doesn’t tie them down them, and they are already leaving. And Paris, without any people, will enter its agony.
When the grass grows green between the cobblestones it will be too late for you merchants without business and landlords without rent to cry in the doorways of your closed up shops and your deserted houses! You will have order just as in Milan or Warsaw, and you will perhaps find that the rolling of cannons on the streets is not worth as much as that of trucks and carts.
There remains one chance for salvation: that you freely join the people in order to ensure that they receive what they ask for, i.e., well-paid work and, above all else, the choice of representatives who will want to accomplish these tasks without any delay and at whatever cost, carry out this task.
It isn’t enormous; it suffices to not remain prostrated before capital and to render them that good will they showed for an instant after the events of February. Above all, don’t forget that your mortal enemy is provincial reaction. You know where to find it, for it doesn’t hide itself.
With its saber high it is leading the charge on Paris. Remember the sinister phrase of Isnard, a representative of one of the small towns: “If Paris dares attack national sovereignty travelers will soon search the banks of the Seine in an attempt to find the place on which Paris stood.”
This phrase is the key to the situation. Isnard and his ilk wanted to suffocate the great city in the hothouse of the army, and history is there to show us that their triumph would have ended with the carving up of France. They failed, and the holy city made of us the first people in the world.
Paris, the capital of intelligence and labor, is the true national representative body, the gigantic and majestic congress where the whole country, through the elite of its united children – writers, artists, workers, scientists, industrialists – is ceaselessly occupied in making shine the labor of its grandeur and prosperity.
Reaction aims to paralyze the nation by cutting off its brain. Parisians! It’s up to you, rich and poor, to prevent France from being decapitated and to hold back the hand that the parricides raise against their mothers!
Think of this at the polling booth.
Dungeon of Vincennes
September 15, 1848