Eleanor Marx 1884
Source: Today, June 1884, pp. 488-494;
CopyLeft: this text is free of copyright restrictions;
Transcribed: by Ted Crawford.
The municipal elections have resulted in a great victory for Socialism. It is not only that in Paris, the number of votes has more than doubled in three years. Far more significant is the success of the Socialists in the Provinces, where the-movement is assuming quite “alarming” proportions — according to the reactionary press. On this subject a Parisian correspondent sends me the following: “The burning question of the day has been the municipal elections, and the number of votes recorded bears witness to the immense progress made by us. In 1881, when the party was only in embryo, (for no really organised Socialist Movement was possible till the amnesty question had been decided and the vanquished of the Commune were not amnestied till July 1880), it already gave some proof of its existence, our candidates receiving in Paris 17,895 votes. At this time there was but a single programme, accepted by all the newly founded groups. In 1884 the Socialist vote has risen to 38,729, having doubled in three years. But the union that existed in 1881 has disappeared, and at the present moment we may look upon the. Socialists as divided into four groups. First, the Anarchists who make up in sound and fury for the smallness of their numbers and their general paucity of ideas of any sort. The second group is that of the Possibilists, who are nothing more than Trades Unionists, à la française, that is, à la phrase à patache. Then we have the Blanquists, active, devoted, well-disciplined men, but giving too great importance to the political, as compared with the social question; and finally the Collectivists. These belong to the school of Marx, and believe that the emancipation of the working class can only be accomplished by the nationalization of the instruments of labour, and that this revolution will only be accomplished when the working class has possessed itself of the political powers of the nation.
“At Paris only two groups officially and actively took part in the municipal struggle — the Possibilists and Blanquists. For reasons of tactics the Collectivists only put forward 6 out of the 80 candidates, but their men made common cause with the Blanquists. This progress in the Paris election is analogous to what has happened in Berlin, where in 1871 the Social Democrats obtained only 1,135 votes; in 1874, 16,549; in 1877, 33,629; and in 1878, 56,712.
“But it is above all in the Provinces that the party has grown. At Lyons, Roubaix, Rheims, Alais, in all the chief industrial centres the Collectivists have obtained thousands of votes. At Denain six working men candidates have been elected. At Marseilles Socialism has three representatives. At Roanne, Fouilland was at the head of the poll. At Lavaley-aux-mines, out of 17 municipal councillors, 15 belong to the “ Parti Ouvrier.” At Anzin Basly, the director of the miners’ strike and two of his companions have been returned. The result of these elections proves a general revival of the Socialist movement in France.”
Although the Socialists received nearly 39,000 votes in Paris, only two candidates have been returned — a working man, Chabert, and the ex-member of the Commune, Vaillant. The election of our friend Vaillant, whose erudition, and devotion to the cause of the people are well-known, is especially satisfactory.
Charles Fouilland, the working man who is returned at the head of the poll at Roanne, has, by an almost incredible piece of infamy, been condemned to twelve months imprisonment. Fouilland, who had been sent as delegate to the Roubaix Conference by all the working men’s groups and syndicates of his native town, Roanne, immediately after his return was arrested, by mistake, for assaulting a gendarme. It was pointed out that the real culprit was another person altogether, whose only connection with Charles Fouilland is that he happens to bear the same surname. But no notice was taken of this, and in order to get rid of Fouilland during the electioneering campaign the adjournment of the trial that was asked for, refused, and the innocent man condemned to 20 days’ imprisonment. This is bad enough, but not all. Fouilland “appealed.” On the 5th May the case was heard at Lyons. The court refused to hear witnesses, refused to adjourn at the request of the barrister, Cesar Bouchage, retained at Paris, and augmented the penalty from 20 days to 12 months imprisonment. And so, this man, guilty of no crime, save that of being a well-known Socialist, and whose old father is entirely dependent upon him, will for 12 months have to bear the horrors of the ‘Central prison,’ for he is not even looked upon as a political prisoner. “We have no words,” says Jules Guesde in the “Cri du Peuple,” “to stigmatize this double judicial murder, a moral murder of the most estimable of workmen, condemned to the disgrace of the ‘Central prison,’ a physical murder of the poor old father, whom Charles Fouilland supports. Charles Fouilland has nothing, and can have nothing, to do with the act for which he is to be buried alive; it is only because he is a working man, a member of the ‘Parti Ouvrier,’ that he has been struck down by the magistrates.” Many of even the French bourgeois radical papers have had the decency to protest against this iniquitous sentence. I have seen no allusion to the matter in any English paper.
In an early number of To-day I referred to the monument which, with the consent of the Paris Municipal Council was about to be erected at the Père Lachaise. in memory of the thousands of Communists buried there. The Prefect of the Seine has, however, taken upon himself to veto the vote of the Council, and an attempt to begin working at the monument was at once stopped. But the matter is not yet finally decided. It would be interesting to know if the Prefect would object to a monument in memory of Clement Thomas, or to one in honour of the murderer, Gallifet, who has “shed more blood and drunk more wine than any man in” Paris.
There was a slight error in my notes last month. I spoke of a thousand francs having been sent by the Paris municipality to the Anzin miners, and of M. Yves Guyot as opposing this donation. I should have said that he spoke against the proposition to send this money, which was not voted. The Parisians, have not forgotten M. Yves Guyot’s conduct in this matter. He has been ignominiously beaten in the municipal elections, even friends and supporters admitting that his defeat is due to his anti-Socialist, and not to his political views.
The Anti-Socialist Law has been renewed, and not content with this, a sort of “Explosives Act” has also been passed. Just before the vote it began to hail dynamite plots, and the Reichstag seemed to think that after the great Chancellor had taken so much trouble, and produced plots quite regardless of expense and common sense, the least it could do was to vote for his bi1s. Germany is becoming more and more pleasant to live out of.
We are all mortal! The Almighty Chancellor has more than once of late come down to the Reichstag having apparently dined, not wisely but too well.
The report of the Factory Inspectors for 1882, reveals a horrible state of things in Germany. Everywhere the same story; women and children replacing the men of the family in factories; long hours and such starvation wages that as a last chance parents are forced into exploiting their own children; everywhere immorality, disease and death for the workers. Even such acts for the protection of women and children as exist are continually violated, not of course through any fault of the noble employer of “sated virtue, and solvent morals,” but through the perversity of the employed. Thus the law that prohibits the employment of women in factories less than three weeks after confinement is infringed “through the fault of the women, who make false statements in order that they may return the sooner to work.” The reason for these “false statements” is not far to seek. “These women,” the Inspector says, “try to get back to work as soon after their confinement as possible in order to lessen the loss of wages, and also from fear that if they are absent from the factory too long their places will be lost.”
In the same way children are represented as over school age, or when this cannot be done “the work of the factory, so far as possible, is continued in the home, and the children kept working till late into the night.” Thus in Hesse children are employed in lace-making, even before they are old enough to go to school! The Inspectors also report that children are employed in labour altogether unfit for them — for instance where, as in match-making, they are exposed to the effects of phosphorus, or in carting away stone, there “little boys are almost exclusively employed,” with the result that “the lads (under I4 years of age!). not unfrequently after a first campaign die of consumption.” One Saxon manufacturer frankly says he employs young girls 11½ hours, and that he “is not ignorant of the law, but he does not observe it because he considers it is not in, but against the interests of the working class." The picture given us in this report of the “family life” of the labourers is simply hideous. A beautiful system under which such conditions are possible!
A Russian friend tells me that the latest piece of news is the suppression of the best known of the large Russian magazines, the “Annals of the Fatherland.” The text of the ukase, which he has been lucky enough to procure, is signed by the four ministers of Public Instruction, of the Interior, of Public Worship, and of Justice, and has been issued under the new law of August 27th, 1882, by which ministers “have the right to suppress periodical publications not in accord with the general welfare of the country.” The order says, “the liberty that was accorded to the press, has been misused by some of the organs which have dared to express theories quite contrary to the general principles of the social and political state.” Referring to some revelations made by certain political prisoners that “members of the Executive Committee” contributed to Russian magazines, the governmental notice goes on to say that “the similarity of ideas, and even of the style of the ‘underground,’ and permitted press a long time ago, induced the government to think that the Russian magazines and contributors were in direct connection with the revolutionists. This supposition is now proved by facts. Investigations have shown that the secretary of one periodical held communications with persons belonging to the ‘criminal party,’ and that members of that party have contributed to this magazine. We are further aware that the “Annals of the Fatherland,” was read by a number of persons connected with the revolutionary organisations. Last year, one of the leading men on the editorial staff was sent out of St. Petersburg for addressing the students of the High Schools in an incendiary speech.” My friend tells me that the person here referred to is M. Michaelovsky, a very able populariser of the theory of Evolution, and an opponent of the strange way in which warm admirers of the Manchester school, interpret the Darwinian “struggle for existence.” He was sent first to Wyborg (Finland), and is now in a small village on the railway route between Moscow and St. Petersburg. In order to see his wife, who lives in the capital, he is obliged to get a special permission to go there, and this is only accorded when the Czar is at Gatchina. The ukase then continues: “the police have been obliged to arrest two other contributors to this magazine . That authors with criminal intentions wrote for it will strike no one who has observed the general tone adopted by this publication during the last two years, which has introduced among a considerable portion of society, a complete confusion of ideas. The government intends prosecuting only responsible persons, but it thinks that the continued appearance of a magazine which not only publishes articles expressing wrong and dangerous ideas, but even contributions from members of secret societies cannot be tolerated.”
I wish to call the attention of readers of To-Day to the very interesting article on the Russian revolutionary movement that appeared in the April number of the Nouvelle Revue. The writer is thoroughly acquainted with the subject, and all the, remarkable facts related are taken from the best and most trustworthy sources.
1. These details I have taken from an interesting article in the “Neue Zeit.”