Jean Jaurès 1898

The French Elections

Source: Justice 21st May 1898, p. 6;
Transcribed: by Ted Crawford.

As soon as the defeat of Jaurès at Carmaux became known, arrangements were at once made for one of the comrades who was in the second ballot to resign in favour of Jaurès. The latter, however, definitely declined the offer in the following letter to the Petite République:

DEAR FRIENDS, — I am profoundly moved by the sympathy of the Parisian Socialists, and by the splendid example of solidarity shown by our party. In no other party could be found more moral unity and nobility. I shall, however, be compelled to keep to the decision that I have from the first held against your fraternal solicitations. To restore my health, shaken by five years of continuous labours, a little relaxation is absolutely necessary for me; it grieves me much that I cannot at once, and with my whole power, respond to the so touching confidence of Socialist Paris. It seems to me, however, that our party would do wrong to use, and abuse to exhaustion, the powers of its servants. It ought, on the contrary, to find them a retreat where, from time to time, they could renew their energies, overtake the movement of ideas, and find again the vast horizons of thought and enlightenment. They would then return to the field of immediate action with greater energy and security.

Again, although I attach the very highest value to electoral and Parliamentary action, it would be dangerous to allow the people to believe that it is only in Parliament that its friends can be of any service. There is an enormous work of Socialist education to be accomplished. Although the young men of the poorer bourgeois, the savants, chemists, engineers and professors of to-morrow are permeated with the Socialist idea, they are not organised to disseminate it, and their science remains fruitless because it is not in contact with the decisive force, with the revolutionary energy of the militant proletariat. To this work of organisation, to this penetration of the proletariat, I should now like to devote myself. I should like to see, in all social and humanitarian questions, the studies and knowledge of all the investigators and savants who are animated with the Socialist idea put at the service of our party, of its worker’s organisations, and of its representatives.

In a proletariat, armed for action by science, we have the force which will save the world.

Never before has the Socialist party had greater need for the recognition of the whole of its ideal.

To-day France is bound down in a dark hour of equivocation and impotence.

Equivocation, because under the various names of nationalism and anti-Semitism, the Clerical party are exploiting to their own profit the noble instincts of the people, and the Caesarian demagogues, attempt to hide with their own noise their work of reaction and degradation.

Impotence, because if universal suffrage appears to repudiate political retrogression, it is only by a diminished and uncertain Radicalism that it affirms its desire of progress.

Let the Socialist party hold well aloft its idea and its light. Let it be above all compromise, a party of truth, and then the human conscience will find in it refuge and human labour its salvation.

By this common work of education and combat, in the Chamber and out of the Chamber, we remain united. No event can break or even relax the ties which bind us together. Those whose hearts have been stirred by the same Socialist hope are united in life and in death.

Once more, my thanks. Thanks to the proletariat of Paris, and Vive la République Sociale.

Jean Jaurès.