Class Struggles in France 1848-1850


64. The Paris uprising of June 5 and 6, 1832, was prepared by the Left republicans and by secret revolutionary societies including the Society of the Friends of the People. The uprising flared up during the funeral of General Lamarque, an opponent of Louis Philippe’s Government. The insurgent workers threw up barricades and defended them with great courage; the red flag was hoisted over them for the first time.

The uprising of Lyons workers in April 1834, directed by the secret republican Society of the Rights of Man and the Citizen, was one of the first mass actions by the French proletariat. The uprising, supported by republicans in several other towns including Paris, was brutally suppressed.

The Paris uprising of May 12, 1839, in which the revolutionary workers played a leading part, was prepared by the secret republican socialist Society of the Seasons led by Auguste Blanqui and Armand Barbès; it was suppressed by troops and the National Guard,

65. Robert Macaire – a character portraying a clever swindler, created by the famous French actor Frederick Lemaître and immortalised in the caricatures of Honoré Daumier. The figure of Robert Macaire was a biting satire on the domination of the financial aristocracy under the July monarchy.

66. The reference is to the repercussions of the suppression of the uprising in the free city of Cracow (the Cracow Republic) which, by decision of the Congress of Vienna, came under the joint control of Austria, Prussia and Russia, who had partitioned Poland at the end of the eighteenth century. The insurgents succeeded in seizing power in Cracow on February 22, 1846, established a National Government of the Polish Republic and issued a manifesto abolishing feudal services. The Cracow uprising was suppressed at the beginning of March; in November 1846, Austria, Prussia and Russia signed a treaty incorporating Cracow into the Austrian Empire.

67. In the spring of 1847 at Buzaruçais (department of the Indre) the starving workers and the inhabitants of neighbouring villages looted storehouses belonging to profiteers, which led to a clash between the population and troops. Four of those who took part were executed and many others sentenced to hard labour.

68. The dynastic opposition – an opposition group in the French Chamber of Deputies during the July monarchy (1830-48). The group, headed by Odilon Barrot, expressed the sentiments of the liberal industrial and commercial bourgeoisie and favoured a moderate electoral reform, which they regarded as a means to prevent revolution and preserve the Orleans dynasty.

70. During the first days of the revolution, the workers of Paris demanded that the French Republic’s flag should be red, the colour of that hoisted in the workers’ suburbs of Paris during the June uprising of 1832. Bourgeois representatives insisted on the tricolour (blue-white-and-red) which had been the national standard during the French Revolution and under Napoleon I. It had been the emblem of the bourgeois republicans grouped around the newspaper National even before 1848. In the end, the tricolour was accepted as the national standard with a red rosette fixed to the flagstaff; later, the rosette was removed.

71. In 1848 Le Moniteur universel printed reports on the sittings of the Luxembourg Commission alongside official documents.

72. The reference is to the sum assigned by the King in 1825 as compensation for aristocrats whose property had been confiscated during the French Revolution,

73. The Mobile Guards, set up by a decree of the Provisional Government on February 25, 1848, with the secret aim of fighting the revolutionary masses, were used to crush the June uprising of the Paris workers. Later they were disbanded on the insistence of Bonapartist circles, who feared that if a conflict arose between Louis Bonaparte and the republicans, the Mobile Guards would side with the latter.

74. Lazzaroni – a contemptuous nickname for declassed proletarians, primarily in the Kingdom of Naples, who were repeatedly used in the struggle against the liberal and democratic movement.

75. The Poor Law adopted in England in 1834 provided for only one form of relief for the able-bodied poor: workhouses with a prison-like regime in which the workers were engaged in unproductive, monotonous and exhausting labour. The people called these workhouses “Bastilles for the poor.” Here and later Marx uses the English word “workhouses.”

76. The reference is to the elections to the National Guard and the Constituent Assembly which were to be held on March 18 and April 9, 1848, respectively. Paris workers, grouped around Blanqui, Dézamy and others, insisted on a postponement of the elections arguing that they should be prepared by thorough explanatory work among the population. As a result of the popular demonstration on March 17 in Paris, regular troops were withdrawn from the capital (after the events of April 16 they were brought back), and elections to the National Guard were postponed till April 5 and to the Constituent Assembly till April 23.

78. Commission du pouvoir executif (the Executive Commission) – the Government of the French Republic set up by the Constituent Assembly on May 10, 1848, to replace the Provisional Government which had resigned. It existed until June 24, 1848, when Cavaignac’s dictatorship was established during the June proletarian uprising. Moderate republicans predominated on the Commission; Ledru-Rollin was the sole representative of the Left.

80. Under the decree prohibiting congregations of people adopted by the Constituent Assembly on June 7, 1848, the organisation of gatherings and meetings in the open was punishable by imprisonment of up to ten years.

81. On June 22, 1848, Le Moniteur universel No. 174 in the section ‘’Partie non officielle” reported an order of the Executive Commission of June 21 on the expulsion of workers between the ages of 17 and 25 from the national workshops and their compulsory enrolment in the army. On July 3, 1848, after the suppression of the June insurrection of the Paris workers, the government passed a decree dissolving the national workshops.

83. In the German original, the term Haupt- und Staatsaktion (“principal and spectacular action,” “main and state action”) is used, which has a double meaning. First, in the seventeenth and the first half of the eighteenth century, it denoted plays performed by German touring companies. The plays were rather formless historical tragedies, bombastic and at the same time coarse and farcical.

Second, this term can denote major political events. It was used in this sense by a trend in German historical science known as “objective historiography.”

Leopold Ranke was one of its chief representatives. He regarded Haupt- und Staatsaktion as the main subject-matter.

84. The reference is to the by-elections to the Constituent Assembly in Paris on September 17, 1848 (to replace former deputies, including those who were deprived of their powers after the June insurrection was suppressed). Among the newly elected was the revolutionary socialist Francois Raspail, imprisoned after the events of May 15, 1848.

85. This refers to a system of general treaties set up by the Congress of Vienna (September 1814-June 1815), embracing the whole of Europe, apart from Turkey. The Congress decisions helped to restore feudal order, perpetuated the political fragmentation of Germany and Italy, sanctioned the incorporation of Belgium into Holland and the partition of Poland, and outlined measures to combat the revolutionary movement.

86. The Projet de constitution présenté à l’Assemblée nationale drafted by the commission was submitted to the National Assembly by Marrast on June 19, 1848. The draft was published in Le Moniteur universel No. 172, June 20, 1848. A German translation of the draft was published in the supplement to No. 24 of the Neue Rheinische Zeitung on June 24, 1848. After the June insurrection, this draft was thoroughly revised by its authors in a conservative spirit. The Constitution of the French Republic was finally adopted on November 4, 1848.

87. The lily – a heraldic emblem of the Bourbon dynasty; the violet – a Bonapartist emblem.

88. By a decree of the Senate (Senatus consult) of May 18, 1804, Napoleon I, the founder of the Bonaparte dynasty, was proclaimed Emperor of the French.

During the February uprising of 1848, King Louis Philippe and the monarchist circles were compelled to make Guizot and other unpopular ministers tender their resignations, and tried to form a government of moderate liberals to save the monarchy. On the morning of February 24 Odilon Barrot was authorised to head the Cabinet, but Louis Philippe was compelled to abdicate and flee by the victory of the popular revolution. The Barrot Ministry survived till that afternoon.

89. On January 26, 1849, the Minister of Public Works Leon Faucher submitted and demanded urgent discussion of a Bill on the right of association, prohibiting clubs. The Constituent Assembly, however, refused to discuss the Bill as an urgent matter. In spite of opposition from the Left deputies, who demanded the Ministry’s resignation, accusing it of a breach of the Constitution, the first clause of the Bill (better known as the Bill on Clubs) was adopted by the National Assembly by a monarchist and moderate republican vote on March 21, 1849. This decision dealt a serious blow at the freedom of assembly and association, primarily at the workers’ associations.

90. An allusion to the similarity between the schemes for restoring the monarchy in December 1848, when Changarnier assumed command of the National Guard and the Paris garrison, and the part General Monk played in restoring the Stuarts in 1660.

91. In April 1849, President Louis Bonaparte and the French Government sent an expeditionary corps to Italy under General Oudinot to intervene against the Roman Republic proclaimed on February 9, 1849, and to restore the secular power of the Pope. On April 30, 1849, the French troops were driven back from Rome. The main blow was dealt by Garibaldi’s volunteer corps. Oudinot violated the terms of the armistice signed by the French, however, and on June 3 started a new offensive against the Roman Republic, which had just completed a military campaign against Neapolitan troops in the south and was engaged in rebuffing the Austrians in the north. After a month of heroic defence, Rome was captured by the interventionists and the Roman Republic ceased to exist.

92. The reference is to the defeat of the Piedmontese army during the second stage of the Austro-Italian war which broke out on March 25, 1848, as a result of the national liberation uprising in Lombardy and Venice against Austrian rule. However, the Piedmontese were compelled by military setbacks, particularly the defeat at Custozza on July 25 and 26, 1848, and the capture of Milan by the Austrians, to conclude an onerous armistice with Austria on August 9, 1848. On March 12, 1849, under public pressure, Charles Albert, King of Sardinia, cancelled the armistice and on March 20 hostilities were resumed. Despite national enthusiasm in Austrian-occupied Lombardy and throughout Italy, the Piedmontese army was defeated at Novara on March 23. Charles Albert abdicated. Victor Emmanuel II, the new King, concluded an armistice with the Austrians on March 26, and on August 6 a peace treaty was signed restoring Austrian rule in Northern Italy and the Austrian protectorate over a number of states of Central Italy (Parma, Tuscany, etc.).

Engels gives a detailed account of the Austro-Italian war of 1848-49 in his articles in the Neue Rheinische Zeitung.

93. Le Comité de saint public (the Committee of Public Safety) established by the Convention on April 6, 1793; during the Jacobin dictatorship (June 2, 1793-July 27, 1794) it was the leading body of the revolutionary government in France. It lasted until October 26, 1795.

95. General Brea, who commanded some of the troops that suppressed the June insurrection of the Paris proletariat, was killed by the insurgents at the gates of Fontainebleau on June 25, 1848, for which two of the insurgents were executed.

96. The reference is to the revolutionary events in Hungary and Germany in the spring and summer of 1849. A counter-offensive by the Hungarian revolutionary army, which routed the Austrian troops and almost cleared the Austrian invaders from the whole country, began in April. Hungary declared its independence on April 14, the Habsburg dynasty was officially dethroned and Kossuth elected head of state. However, a change unfavourable to the revolutionary movement shortly took place in the Hungarian campaign. In mid-June 1849 the Tsarist army entered Hungary to assist the Austrian counter-revolution. The Tsarist intervention was in effect approved by the ruling circles of France and England. The combined forces of the Habsburgs and the Tsar suppressed the Hungarian revolution.

Almost simultaneously with the counter-offensive by the Hungarians, popular uprisings broke out in Saxony, Rhenish Prussia, the Palatinate and Baden in defence of the Imperial Constitution drafted by the Frankfurt National Assembly but rejected by the King of Prussia and other German princes. On the development of these uprisings see Engels’ essays The Campaign for the German Imperial Constitution.

97. The reference is to the bombardment of Rome by Oudinot’s expeditionary corps on June 3, 1849. Rome was repeatedly subjected to fierce bombardments during the French siege, which lasted until July 3, 1849.

98. Article V belongs to the introductory part of the Constitution. The articles of the principal part of the Constitution are numbered in Arabic figures.

99. The meeting of the Montagne leaders was held on the premises of the Fourierists’ daily La Démocratie pacifique on the evening of June 12, 1849. (Using the expression friedfertige [pacific] Demokratie, Marx plays on the title of the newspaper and its trend.) The participants refused to resort to arms and decided to confine themselves to a peaceful demonstration.

100. In the manifesto published in Le Peuple No. 206, June 13, 1849, the Democratic Association of the Friends of the Constitution – an organisation of moderate bourgeois republicans formed by the National party members during the Legislative Assembly election campaign – called upon the citizens of Paris to participate in a peaceful demonstration to protest against the “presumptuous pretensions” of the executive authorities.

101. The Declaration of the Montagne was published in La Réforme and in La Démocratie pacifique and also in Proudhon’s newspaper Le Peuple No. 206,June 13, 1849.

102. The events in Paris sparked off an armed uprising of Lyons workers and craftsmen on June 15, 1849. The insurgents occupied the Croix-Rousse quarter and erected barricades, but were suppressed by troops after several hours of staunch struggle.

103. On August 10, 1849, the Legislative Assembly adopted a law under which “instigators and supporters of the conspiracy and the attempt of June 13” were liable to trial by the Supreme Court. Thirty-four deputies of the Mountain (Ledru-Rollin, Felix Pyat and Victor Considerant among them) were deprived of their mandates and put on trial (some of them, those who emigrated, were tried by default). On June 13, the editorial offices of democratic and socialist newspapers were raided and the main of these papers were banned. Repressions were extended to emigrants residing in France, including Marx, who was ordered to leave Paris for the department of Morbihan, a remote swampy area in Brittany (on this see present edition, Vol. 9, p. 527). At the end of August 1849 Marx left France for England, not wishing to submit to the arbitrary police decision.

104. The reference is to the Municipal Guard of Paris formed after the July 1830 revolution and subordinated to the Prefect of Police. It was used to suppress popular uprisings and was disbanded after the February 1848 revolution.

105. In the battle of Waterloo(June 18, 1815) Napoleon’s army was defeated by British and Prussian troops commanded by Wellington and Blücher.

106. The reference is to the commission of three cardinals (who traditionally wore scarlet mantles) which, after the suppression of the Roman Republic by the French army and relying on support from the interventionists, restored the reactionary clerical regime in the papal states.

108. Alongside Wiesbaden, Ems was a permanent residence of Count Chambord, the Legitimist pretender to the French throne (who called himself Henry V).

109. Louis Philippe, who had fled from France after the February revolution of 1848, lived in Claremont.

110.Motu proprio” (of his own motion) – initial words of a special kind of papal encyclical adopted without the preliminary approval of the cardinals and usually concerning the internal political and administrative affairs of the papal states.

Here this refers to the statement of Pope Pius IX “To My Beloved Subjects” of September 12, 1849 (the French text was published in Le Moniteur universel No. 271, September 28, 1849).

111. The proposition that the proletarian revolution could only be victorious in several advanced capitalist countries simultaneously and not in a single country alone was most clearly formulated by Engels in his work Principles of Communism (1847) (see present edition, Vol. 6, pp. 351-52). By developing further the Marxist theory and drawing on the law of uneven economic and political development of capitalism in the era of imperialism, in 1915 Lenin came to the conclusion that under the new historical conditions, the victory of the socialist revolution would be possible initially in a few or even in a single country.

112. The figures do not tally: the text reads 538,000,000 instead of 578,178,000, apparently a misprint. This does not, however, affect the general conclusion, for the net per capita income is less than 25 francs in both cases.

113. Lagarde, a supporter of the Mountain party, was elected to the Legislative Assembly in the by-elections held in the department of the Gironde on October 14, 1849, to replace the deceased Right-wing deputy Ravez.

116. in his message of November 10, 1849, Carlier, the newly appointed Paris Police Prefect, called for a “social anti-socialist league” to be set up for the protection of “religion, labour, family, property and loyalty.” The message was published in Le Moniteur universel No. 315, November 11, 1849.

118. The July column erected in Paris on Bastille Square in 1840 in memory of those who fell in the July revolution of 1830 has been decorated with wreaths of immortelles ever since the February revolution of 1848.

119. May 4, 1848 – the Constituent Assembly was convened; December 20, 1848 – Louis Bonaparte became President; May 13, 1849 – elections were held to the Legislative Assembly; July 8, 1849 – by-elections took place in Paris as a result of which the party of Order strengthened its position in the Legislative Assembly.

120. Coblenz – a city in Western Germany; it was the centre of counter-revolutionary emigration during the French Revolution.

121. The reference is to the discovery of gold in California in 1848. Along with the discovery of rich deposits of gold in Australia in 1851, the Californian discovery added to the industrial and stock-exchange agitation in capitalist countries.

122. Proudhon expressed this point of view in his polemics against the bourgeois economist Frederic Bastiat, published in La Voix du peuple from November 1849 to February 1850 and reproduced in a separate edition which appeared in Paris in 1850 under the title Gratuite du credit. Discussion entre M. Fr. Bastiat et M. Proudhon.

123. In 1797 the British Government issued a special Bank Restriction Act making bank-notes legal tender and suspending the payment of gold for them.

Convertibility was reintroduced only in 1821 in conformity with a law passed in 1819.

125. The reference is to the commission of 17 Orleanists and Legitimists - deputies to the Legislative Assembly – appointed by the Minister of the Interior on May 1, 1850, to draft a new electoral law. Its members were nicknamed burgraves, a name borrowed from the title of Victor Hugo’s historical drama as an allusion to their unwarranted claims to power and their reactionary aspirations. The drama is set in medieval Germany where the Burggraf was governor of a Burg (city) or a district, appointed by the Emperor.

127. Baiser-Lamourette (Lamourette’s kiss) – an allusion to an incident during the French Revolution. On July 7, 1792, Lamourette, deputy to the Legislative Assembly, proposed to end all party dissension with a fraternal kiss, and the representatives of the hostile parties, in accordance with this proposal, embraced one another. The following day, however, the struggle among the parties flared up with fresh vigour.

129. The reference is to a new ministry to be appointed if the Bourbon dynasty was restored in the person of the Legitimist pretender to the throne, Count Chambord. It was to consist of de Levis, de Saint-Priest, Berryer, de Pastoret and d’Escars.

130. The reference is to the so-called Wiesbaden Manifesto – a circular drawn up in Wiesbaden on August 30, 1850, by de Barthélemy, secretary of the Legitimist faction in the Legislative Assembly, on the instruction of Count Chambord (de Barthélemy, La conspiration légitimiste avouée, in Le Peuple de 1850 No. 24, September 22, 1850). The circular was the Legitimists’ policy statement in case they came to power. Count Chambord declared that he “officially and categorically rejects any appeal to the people, because it will signify a negation of the great national principle of hereditary monarchy.” This statement evoked protests among the Legitimists themselves, notably from a group headed by La Rochejaquelein, and polemics in the press.

131. An allusion to the expiration of Louis Bonaparte’s presidential powers. In the text the date is not exact. According to the Constitution of the French Republic, presidential elections were to be held every four years on the second Sunday in May, on which day the powers of the incumbent President expired.

132. The Society of December 10 (Dix Decembre) – a Bonapartist organisation founded in 1849 and consisting mainly of declassed elements, political adventurists, the reactionary military. Many of its members helped to elect Louis Bonaparte as President of the Republic on December 10, 1848, hence its name. This organisation played an active part in the Bonapartist coup d’état on December 2, 1851. Marx describes the society in his The Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte.