Jean Jaurès 1899


Source: “Madness” Justice, 2 Dec 1899, Jaurès, p.6;
Translated: by Jacques Bonhomme;
Transcribed: by Ted Crawford.

Anybody who has read Drumont’s articles in La Libre Parole will have an idea of the folly into which the Nationalists and the anti-Semites wished to rush France. Drumont says that “if Marchand had not been abandoned by his Government he would have driven away Kitchener like Joubert put to flight White’s troops.” Now we understand. The anti-Semites regret that France, on account of Fashoda, did not engage in a sanguinary war with England. But what a tissue of absurdities. How can Drumont compare the resistance of the Boers who are defending their own country to the adventures of Marchand alone in Africa far from France? The Boers are fighting for their homes, and England has to send her troops across the ocean.

But by what means and at what cost could France have sent to Marchand, who was on the Nile, an army corps capable of resisting the English army which had come up the valley of the Nile? And how could our navy, which is only a third of that of England, have got through the Canal of Suez or have fought the English fleet at sea?

It is only madmen or Nationalists who can compare the struggle of the English and the Boers in South Africa with a universal struggle between France and England. It is pure madness, but the Nationalists have their plan. They wish to exacerbate the jingo spirit in our midst, and they hope that by saying every day that the English would have fled before four men and a corporal, to drag France into a war. They need a war now as the Empire did in 1870, War for them, too, would be one of the dispensations of “Providence.”

Thus they would rescue monarchical and imperialist conspirators from the severities of Republican law. They would then be able to proclaim martial law, to rehabilitate the discredited General Staff, and to put a stop to the important movement of thought which will soon carry away our reactionary militarism. Therefore the reactionaries and the Clericals would like to hear the people cry in the streets of Paris, “To London” as an echo of the cry “To Berlin!” which was heard 30 years ago.

Yet no one can hate more than I do the excesses of English imperialism. Those speculators of the City, helped by Chamberlain, have egged the Boers on to war, and they deserve the reprobation of the whole of humanity. I was pleased to see that our English Socialist friends have loudly and bravely protested against their action. But I entreat the proletariat of France not to be duped by these reactionary tricks. The reactionary parties of France do not wish to overthrow the only culprit — English capitalism — but they wish to crush the England which loves liberty. They want, by exciting people against England, to ally France to the autocrats of Germany and Russia. Along with Drumont, who as a fanatic wishes France to fight England for the greater glory of God, there are the clever Nationalists who wish to make use of this war to prepare a Franco-German-Russian alliance.

Some days ago I said this, and was told that I was wrong. But now the Eclair, which in these matters is the official organ of the military party, is beginning to prepare us for this alliance. This is what Alphonse Humbert says in a recent number: “Russian newspapers do not hesitate to say that if England can count on a strict neutrality on the part of the great Powers during the war, yet she will have to reckon with them when the fate of Africa is decided. The Novosti adds that France and Germany will use their influence to bring about a solid and lasting peace in that part of the world.” This, the Eclair says, is important because it had been said that Russia would not like to see France and Germany unite in order to safeguard their colonial interests. It appears that it was not so.

And we are brought to this. The semi-official newspaper of our General Staff advises France to ally herself with William II against England. Our brave generals had only one scruple. They feared that his Majesty the Czar would not like this alliance. But as the Emperor Nicholas is good enough to allow it, we may join hands with William II.

And this is patriotism! And this is jingo logic! And how dear it is that reaction rules all. The same men who stupidly hissed “Lohengrin” now go on their knees before William II. to beg of him to assist us against England.

The next day the Eclair returns to the charge. Speaking of the departure of Count Muravief from Paris, it says that the interview between the two emperors has probably some connection with the joint action of France and Germany in Africa.

So now we know that, according to the Eclair, Germany and Russia are ready to go against England and that, therefore, we, as faithful allies of Russia, must take part in this coalition. Not, of course, that we should directly ally ourselves with William. No — far from it — but we are allies of Russia, which is to be an ally of Germany. That is the way our reactionary Jingoes try to bring about the new triple alliance that they are always dreaming of. The Eclair is, however, rather put out because William is going to see the Queen of England.

But it hopes that this is only a family visit and that William will still be England’s enemy. Alphonse Humbert kindly says pleasant things about the Emperor. There is a fear that the English might surprise his good faith. But then the Emperor is true, he as firm, he will not be false to Alphonse Humbert and to his Nationalist friends. We shall see the touching sight of a new holy alliance between France, Germany and Russia directed against perfidious Albion and, prostrate before Nicholas and William, we shall joyfully cry out “Long live the Emperors!”

The plumes of our generals, victorious in civil wars, and the mitres of our bishops, will thrill with a holy joy. But France, too, will never have fallen so low.

Jean Jaurès.