Jules Vallès 1871

The Vote

Source: Oeuvres. Paris, Gallimard, 1990;
Translated: for marxists.org by Mitchell Abidor;
CopyLeft: Creative Commons (Attribute & ShareAlike) marxists.org 2009;
First Published: in Le Cri du Peuple, March 29, 1871.

The elections have taken place.

The act of popular sovereignty was accomplished in a city bristling with men in arms, shining with bayonets, and bruised by cannon wheels.

In the midst of this military gear it voted, serene and threatening, deposing its cannonballs in the ballot box. But passing through these lines of sentinels, this camp standing around a red flag, liberty suffered not a single wound, not one!

It is now one week that this “minority” of pillagers and assassins holds Paris under its rifle butt.

Who has this rifle hit? Has it crushed a head? Smashed a window?

Answer, wretches! Answer, imbeciles!

You wanted to put the republic on a stretcher; we had it borne on a shield. What was supposed to be a battle was a festival.

It depends upon us that every day of social childbirth have this grandeur and joy; on us and on you, who aren’t going force us to beat the charge on our drums, right?

And starting tomorrow we will see at work the slandered and the wounded that make up the victorious list, full of unknown names, just as the Assembly of the Third Estate was full of men who made what the world calls the French Revolution.