The Social Republic appeared as a mere phrase, as a prophecy on the threshold of the February Revolution; it was smothered in the blood of the Parisian proletariat during the days of 1848 but it stalks about as a spectre throughout the following acts of the drama. The Democratic Republic next makes its bow; it goes out in a fizzle on June 13, 1849, with its runaway small traders; but, on fleeing, it scatters behind it all the more bragging announcements of what it means do to. The Parliamentary Republic, together with the bourgeoisie, then appropriates the whole stage; it lives its life to the full extent of its being; but the 2d of December, 1851, buries it under the terror-stricken cry of the allied royalists: "Long live the Republic!"
The French bourgeoisie reared up against the reign of the working proletariat;--it brought to power the slum-proletariat, with the chief of the "Society of December 10" at its head. It kept France in breathless fear over the prospective terror of "red anarchy;"--Bonaparte discounted the prospect when, on December 4, he had the leading citizens of the Boulevard Montmartre and the Boulevard des Italiens shot down from their windows by the grog-inspired "Army of Order." It made the apotheosis of the sabre; now the sabre rules it. It destroyed the revolutionary press;--now its own press is annihilated. It placed public meetings under police surveillance;--now its own salons are subject to police inspection. It disbanded the democratic National Guards;--now its own National Guard is disbanded. It instituted the state of siege;--now itself is made subject thereto. It supplanted the jury by military commissions;--now military commissions supplant its own juries. It subjected the education of the people to the parsons' interests;--the parsons' interests now subject it to their own systems. It ordered transportations without trial;--now itself is transported without trial. It suppressed every movement of society with physical force;--now every movement of its own class is suppressed by physical force. Out of enthusiasm for the gold bag, it rebelled against its own political leaders and writers;--now, its political leaders and writers are set aside, but the gold hag is plundered, after the mouth of the bourgeoisie has been gagged and its pen broken. The bourgeoisie tirelessly shouted to the revolution, in the language of St. Orsenius to the Christians: "Fuge, Tace, Quiesce!"--flee, be silent, submit!--; Bonaparte shouts to the bourgeoisie: "Fuge, Tace, Oniesce!"--flee, be silent, submit!
The French bourgeoisie had long since solved Napoleon's dilemma: "Dans cinquante ans l'Europe sera republicaine ou cosaque." [#1 Within fifty years Europe will be either republican or Cossack.] It found the solution in the "republique cosaque." [#2 Cossack republic.] No Circe distorted with wicked charms the work of art of the bourgeois republic into a monstrosity. That republic lost nothing but the appearance of decency. The France of to-day was ready-made within the womb of the Parliamentary republic. All that was wanted was a bayonet thrust, in order that the bubble burst, and the monster leap forth to sight.
Why did not the Parisian proletariat rise after the 2d of December?
The downfall of the bourgeoisie was as yet merely decreed; the decree was not yet executed. Any earnest uprising of the proletariat would have forthwith revived this bourgeoisie, would have brought on its reconciliation with the army, and would have insured a second June rout to the workingmen.
On December 4, the proletariat was incited to fight by Messrs. Bourgeois & Small-Trader. On the evening of that day, several legions of the National Guard promised to appear armed and uniformed on the place of battle. This arose from the circumstance that Messrs. Bourgeois & Small-Trader had got wind that, in one of his decrees of December 2, Bonaparte abolished the secret ballot, and ordered them to enter the words "Yes" and "No" after their names in the official register. Bonaparte took alarm at the stand taken on December 4. During the night he caused placards to be posted on all the street corners of Paris, announcing the restoration of the secret ballot. Messrs. Bourgeois & Small-Trader believed they had gained their point. The absentees, the next morning, were Messieurs. Bourgeois & Small-Trader.
During the night of December 1 and 2, the Parisian proletariat was robbed of its leaders and chiefs of barricades by a raid of Bonaparte's. An army without officers, disinclined by the recollections of June, 1848 and 1849, and May, 1850, to fight under the banner of the Montagnards, it left to its vanguard, the secret societies, the work of saving the insurrectionary honor of Paris, which the bourgeoisie had yielded to the soldiery so submissively that Bonaparte was later justified in disarming the National Guard upon the scornful ground that he feared their arms would be used against themselves by the Anarchists!
"C'est Ic triomphe complet et definitif du Socialism!"' Thus did Guizot characterize the 2d of December. But, although the downfall of the parliamentary republic carries with it the germ of the triumph of the proletarian revolution, its immediate and tangible result was the triumph of Bonaparte over parliament, of the Executive over the Legislative power, of force without phrases over the force of phrases. In the parliament, the nation raised its collective will to the dignity of law, i.e., it raised the law of the ruling class to the dignity of its collective will. Before the Executive power, the nation abdicates all will of its own, and submits to the orders of an outsider of Authority. In contrast with the Legislative, the Executive power expresses the heteronomy of the nation in contrast with its autonomy. Accordingly, France seems to have escaped the despotism of a class only in order to fall under the despotism of an individual, under the authority, at that of an individual without authority The struggle seems to settle down to the point where all classes drop down on their knees, equally impotent and equally dumb.
All the same, the revolution is thoroughgoing. It still is on its passage through purgatory. It does its work methodically: Down to December 2, 1851, it had fulfilled one-half of its programme, it now fulfils the other half. It first ripens the power of the Legislature into fullest maturity in order to be able to overthrow it. Now that it has accomplished that, the revolution proceeds to ripen the power of the Executive into equal maturity; it reduces this power to its purest expression; isolates it; places it before itself as the sole subject for reproof in order to concentrate against it all the revolutionary forces of destruction. When the revolution shall have accomplished this second part of its preliminary programme, Europe will jump up from her seat to exclaim: "Well hast thou grubbed, old mole!"
The Executive power, with its tremendous bureaucratic and military organization; with its wide-spreading and artificial machinery of government--an army of office-holders, half a million strong, together with a military force of another million men--; this fearful body of parasites, that coils itself like a snake around French society, stopping all its pores, originated at the time of the absolute monarchy, along with the decline of feudalism, which it helped to hasten. The princely privileges of the landed proprietors and cities were transformed into so many at-tributes of the Executive power; the feudal dignitaries into paid office-holders; and the confusing design of conflicting medieval seigniories, into the well regulated plan of a government, work is subdivided and centralized as in the factory. The first French revolution, having as a mission to sweep away all local, territorial, urban and provincial special privileges, with the object of establishing the civic unity of the nation, was hound to develop what the absolute monarchy had begun--the work of centralization, together with the range, the attributes and the menials of government. Napoleon completed this governmental machinery. The Legitimist and the July Monarchy contribute nothing thereto, except a greater subdivision of labor, that grew in the same measure as the division and subdivision of labor within bourgeois society raised new groups and interests, i.e., new material for the administration of government. Each Common interest was in turn forthwith removed from society, set up against it as a higher Collective interest, wrested from the individual activity of the members of society, and turned into a subject for governmental administration, from the bridges, the school house and the communal property of a village community, up to the railroads, the national wealth and the national University of France. Finally, the parliamentary republic found itself, in its struggle against the revolution, compelled, with its repressive measures, to strengthen the means and the centralization of the government. Each overturn, instead of breaking up, carried this machine to higher perfection. The parties, that alternately wrestled for supremacy, looked upon the possession of this tremendous governmental structure as the principal spoils of their victory.
Nevertheless, under the absolute monarchy, was only the means whereby the first revolution, and under Napoleon, to prepare the class rule of the bourgeoisie; under the restoration, under Louis Philippe, and under the parliamentary republic, it was the instrument of the ruling class, however eagerly this class strained after autocracy. Not before the advent of the second Bonaparte does the government seem to have made itself fully independent. The machinery of government has by this time so thoroughly fortified itself against society, that the chief of the "Society of December 10" is thought good enough to be at its head; a fortune-hunter, run in from abroad, is raised on its shield by a drunken soldiery, bought by himself with liquor and sausages, and whom he is forced ever again to throw sops to. Hence the timid despair, the sense of crushing humiliation and degradation that oppresses the breast of France and makes her to choke. She feels dishonored.
And yet the French Government does not float in the air. Bonaparte represents an economic class, and that the most numerous in the commonweal of France--the Allotment Farmer. [#4 The first French Revolution distributed the bulk of the territory of France, held at the time by the feudal lords, in small patches among the cultivators of the soil. This allotment of lands created the French farmer class.]
As the Bourbons are the dynasty of large landed property, as the Orleans are the dynasty of money, so are the Bonapartes the dynasty of the farmer, i.e. of the French masses. Not the Bonaparte, who threw himself at the feet of the bourgeois parliament, but the Bonaparte, who swept away the bourgeois parliament, is the elect of this farmer class. For three years the cities had succeeded in falsifying the meaning of the election of December 10, and in cheating the farmer out of the restoration of the Empire. The election of December 10, 1848, is not carried out until the "coup d'etat" of December 2, 1851.
The allotment farmers are an immense mass, whose individual members live in identical conditions, without, however, entering into manifold relations with one another. Their method of production isolates them from one another, instead of drawing them into mutual intercourse. This isolation is promoted by the poor means of communication in France, together with the poverty of the farmers themselves. Their field of production, the small allotment of land that each cultivates, allows no room for a division of labor, and no opportunity for the application of science; in other words, it shuts out manifoldness of development, diversity of talent, and the luxury of social relations. Every single farmer family is almost self-sufficient; itself produces directly the greater part of what it consumes; and it earns its livelihood more by means of an interchange with nature than by intercourse with society. We have the allotted patch of land, the farmer and his family; alongside of that another allotted patch of land, another farmer and another family. A bunch of these makes up a village; a bunch of villages makes up a Department. Thus the large mass of the French nation is constituted by the simple addition of equal magnitudes--much as a bag with potatoes constitutes a potato-bag. In so far as millions of families live under economic conditions that separate their mode of life, their interests and their culture from those of the other classes, and that place them in an attitude hostile toward the latter, they constitute a class; in so far as there exists only a local connection among these farmers, a connection which the individuality and exclusiveness of their interests prevent from generating among them any unity of interest, national connections, and political organization, they do not constitute a class. Consequently, they are unable to assert their class interests in their own name, be it by a parliament or by convention. They can not represent one another, they must themselves be represented. Their representative must at the same time appear as their master, as an authority over them, as an unlimited governmental power, that protects them from above, bestows rain and sunshine upon them. Accordingly, the political influence of the allotment farmer finds its ultimate expression in an Executive power that subjugates the commonweal to its own autocratic will.
Historic tradition has given birth to the superstition among the French farmers that a man named Napoleon would restore to them all manner of glory. Now, then, an individual turns I up, who gives himself out as that man because, obedient to the "Code Napoleon," which provides that "La recherche de la paternite est interdite," [#5 The inquiry into paternity is forbidden.] he carries the name of Napoleon. [#6 L. N. Bonaparte is said to have been an illegitimate son.] After a vagabondage of twenty years, and a series of grotesque adventures, the myth is verified, and that man becomes the Emperor of the French. The rooted thought of the Nephew becomes a reality because it coincided with the rooted thought of the most numerous class among the French.
"But," I shall be objected to, "what about the farmers' uprisings over half France, the raids of the Army upon the farmers, the wholesale imprisonment and transportation of farmers?"
Indeed, since Louis XIV., France has not experienced such persecutions of the farmer on the ground of his demagogic machinations.
But this should be well understood: The Bonaparte dynasty does not represent the revolutionary, it represents the conservative farmer; it does not represent the farmer, who presses beyond his own economic conditions, his little allotment of land it represents him rather who would confirm these conditions; it does not represent the rural population, that, thanks to its own inherent energy, wishes, jointly with the cities to overthrow the old order, it represents, on the contrary, the rural population that, hide-bound in the old order, seeks to see itself, together with its allotments, saved and favored by the ghost of the Empire; it represents, not the intelligence, but the superstition of the farmer; not his judgment, but his bias; not his future, but his past; not his modern Cevennes; [#7 The Cevennes were the theater of the most numerous revolutionary uprisings of the farmer class.] but his modern Vendee. [#8 La Vendee was the theater of protracted reactionary uprisings of the farmer class under the first Revolution.]
The three years' severe rule of the parliamentary republic had freed a part of the French farmers from the Napoleonic illusion, and, though even only superficially; had revolutionized them The bourgeoisie threw them, however, violently back every time that they set themselves in motion. Under the parliamentary republic, the modern wrestled with the traditional consciousness of the French farmer. The process went on in the form of a continuous struggle between the school teachers and the parsons;--the bourgeoisie knocked the school teachers down. For the first time, the farmer made an effort to take an independent stand in the government of the country; this manifested itself in the prolonged conflicts of the Mayors with the Prefects;--the bourgeoisie deposed the Mayors. Finally, during period of the parliamentary republic, the farmers of several localities rose against their own product, the Army;--the bourgeoisie punished them with states of siege and executions. And this is the identical bourgeoisie, that now howls over the "stupidity of the masses," over the "vile multitude," which, it claims, betrayed it to Bonaparte. Itself has violently fortified the imperialism of the farmer class; it firmly maintained the conditions that Constitute the birth-place of this farmer-religion. Indeed, the bourgeoisie has every reason to fear the stupidity of the masses--so long as they remain conservative; and their intelligence--so soon as they become revolutionary.
In the revolts that took place after the "coup d'etat" a part of the French farmers protested, arms in hand, against their own vote of December 10, 1848. The school house had, since 1848, sharpened their wits. But they had bound themselves over to the nether world of history, and history kept them to their word. Moreover, the majority of this population was still so full of prejudices that, just in the "reddest" Departments, it voted openly for Bonaparte. The National Assembly prevented, as it thought, this population from walking; the farmers now snapped the fetters which the cities had struck upon the will of the country districts. In some places they even indulged the grotesque hallucination of a "Convention together with a Napoleon."
After the first revolution had converted the serf farmers into freeholders, Napoleon fixed and regulated the conditions under which, unmolested, they could exploit the soil of France, that had just fallen into their hands, and expiate the youthful passion for property. But that which now bears the French farmer down is that very allotment of land, it is the partition of the soil, the form of ownership, which Napoleon had consolidated. These are the material condition that turned French feudal peasant into a small or allotment farmer, and Napoleon into an Emperor. Two generations have sufficed to produce the inevitable result the progressive deterioration of agriculture, and the progressive encumbering of the agriculturist The "Napoleonic" form of ownership, which, at the beginning of the nineteenth century was the condition for the emancipation and enrichment of the French rural population, has, in the course of the century, developed into the law of their enslavement and pauperism. Now, then, this very law is the first of the "idees Napoleoniennes," which the second Bonaparte must uphold. If he still shares with the farmers the illusion of seeking, not in the system of the small allotment itself, but outside of that system, in the influence of secondary conditions, the cause of their ruin, his experiments are bound to burst like soap-bubbles against the modern system of production.
The economic development of the allotment system has turned bottom upward the relation of the farmer to the other classes of society. Under Napoleon, the parceling out of the agricultural lands into small allotments supplemented in the country the free competition and the incipient large production of the cities. The farmer class was the ubiquitous protest against the aristocracy of land, just then overthrown. The roots that the system of small allotments cast into the soil of France, deprived feudalism of all nutriment. Its boundary-posts constituted the natural buttress of the bourgeoisie against every stroke of the old overlords. But in the course of the nineteenth century, the City Usurer stepped into the shoes of the Feudal Lord, the Mortgage substituted the Feudal Duties formerly yielded by the soil, bourgeois Capital took the place of the aristocracy of Landed Property. The former allotments are now only a pretext that allows the capitalist class to draw profit, interest and rent from agricultural lands, and to leave to the farmer himself the task of seeing to it that he knock out his wages. The mortgage indebtedness that burdens the soil of France imposes upon the French farmer class they payment of an interest as great as the annual interest on the whole British national debt. In this slavery of capital, whither its development drives it irresistibly, the allotment system has transformed the mass of the French nation into troglodytes. Sixteen million farmers (women and children included), house in hovels most of which have only one opening, some two, and the few most favored ones three. Windows are to a house what the five senses are to the head. The bourgeois social order, which, at the beginning of the century, placed the State as a sentinel before the newly instituted allotment, and that manured this with laurels, has become a vampire that sucks out its heart-blood and its very brain, and throws it into the alchemist's pot of capital. The "Code Napoleon" is now but the codex of execution, of sheriff's sales and of intensified taxation. To the four million (children, etc., included) official paupers, vagabonds, criminals and prostitutes, that France numbers, must be added five million souls who hover over the precipice of life, and either sojourn in the country itself, or float with their rags and their children from the country to the cities, and from the cities back to the country. Accordingly, the interests of the farmers are no longer, as under Napoleon, in harmony but in conflict with the interests of the bourgeoisie, i.e., with capital; they find their natural allies and leaders among the urban proletariat, whose mission is the overthrow of the bourgeois social order. But the "strong and unlimited government"--and this is the second of the "idees Napoleoniennes," which the second Napoleon has to carried out--, has for its mission the forcible defence of this very "material" social order, a "material order" that furnishes the slogan in Bonaparte's proclamations against the farmers in revolt.
Along with the mortgage, imposed by capital upon the farmer's allotment, this is burdened by taxation. Taxation is the fountain of life to the bureaucracy, the Army, the parsons and the court, in short to the whole apparatus of the Executive power. A strong government, and heavy taxes are identical. The system of ownership, involved in the system of allotments lends itself by nature for the groundwork of a powerful and numerous bureaucracy: it produces an even level of conditions and of persons over the whole surface of the country; it, therefore, allows the exercise of an even influence upon all parts of this even mass from a high central point downwards: it annihilates the aristocratic gradations between the popular masses and the Government; it, consequently, calls from all sides for the direct intervention of the Government and for the intervention of the latter's immediate organs; and, finally, it produces an unemployed excess of population, that finds no room either in the country or in the cities, that, consequently, snatches after public office as a sort of dignified alms, and provokes the creation of further offices. With the new markets, which he opened at the point of the bayonet, and with the plunder of the continent, Napoleon returned to the farmer class with interest the taxes wrung from them. These taxes were then a goad to the industry of the farmer, while now, on the contrary, they rob his industry of its last source of support, and completely sap his power to resist poverty. Indeed, an enormous bureaucracy, richly gallooned and well fed is that "idee Napoleonienne" that above all others suits the requirements of the second Bonaparte. How else should it be, seeing he is forced to raise alongside of the actual classes of society, an artificial class, to which the maintenance of his own regime must be a knife-and-fork question? One of his first financial operations was, accordingly, the raising of the salaries of the government employees to their former standard and the creation of new sinecures.
Another "idee Napoleonienne" is the rule of the parsons as an instrument of government. But while the new-born allotment, in harmony with society, in its dependence upon the powers of nature, and in its subordination to the authority that protected it from above, was naturally religious, the debt-broken allotment, on the contrary, at odds with society and authority, and driven beyond its own narrow bounds, becomes as naturally irreligious. Heaven was quite a pretty gift thrown in with the narrow strip of land that had just been won, all the more as it makes the weather; it, however, becomes an insult from the moment it is forced upon the farmer as a substitute for his allotment. Then the parson appears merely as the anointed blood-hound of the earthly police,--yet another "idee Napoleonienne." The expedition against Rome will next time take place in France, but in a reverse sense from that of M. de Montalembert.
Finally, the culminating point of the "idees Napoleoniennes" is the preponderance of the Army. The Army was the "point of honor" with the allotment farmers: it was themselves turned into masters, defending abroad their newly established property, glorifying their recently conquered nationality, plundering and revolutionizing the world. The uniform was their State costume; war was their poetry; the allotment, expanded and rounded up in their phantasy, was the fatherland; and patriotism became the ideal form of property. But the foe, against whom the French farmer must now defend his property, are not the Cossacks, they are the sheriffs and the tax collectors. The allotment no longer lies in the so-called fatherland, but in the register of mortgages. The Army itself no longer is the flower of the youth of the farmers, it is the swamp-blossom of the slum-proletariat of the farmer class. It consists of "remplacants," substitutes, just as the second Bonaparte himself is but a "remplacant," a substitute, for Napoleon. Its feats of heroism are now performed in raids instituted against farmers and in the service of the police;--and when the internal contradictions of his own system shall drive the chief of the "Society of December 10" across the French frontier, that Army will, after a few bandit-raids, gather no laurels but only hard knocks.
It is evident that all the "idees Napoleoniennes" are the ideas of the undeveloped and youthfully fresh allotment; they are an absurdity for the allotment that now survives. They are only the hallucinations of its death struggle; words turned to hollow phrases, spirits turned to spooks. But this parody of the Empire was requisite in order to free the mass of the French nation from the weight of tradition, and to elaborate sharply the contrast between Government and Society. Along with the progressive decay of the allotment, the governmental structure, reared upon it, breaks down. The centralization of Government, required by modern society, rises only upon the ruins of the military and bureaucratic governmental machinery that was forged in contrast to feudalism.
The conditions of the French farmers' class solve to us the riddle of the general elections of December 20 and 21, that led the second Bonaparte to the top of Sinai, not to receive, but to decree laws.
The bourgeoisie had now, manifestly, no choice but to elect Bonaparte. When at the Council of Constance, the puritans complained of the sinful life of the Popes, and moaned about the need of a reform in morals, Cardinal d'Ailly thundered into their faces: "Only the devil in his Own person can now save the Catholic Church, and you demand angels." So, likewise, did the French bourgeoisie cry out after the "coup d'etat": "Only the chief of the 'Society of December 10' can now save bourgeois society, only theft can save property, only perjury religion, only bastardy the family, only disorder order!"
Bonaparte, as autocratic Executive power, fulfills his mission to secure "bourgeois order." But the strength of this bourgeois order lies in the middle class. He feels himself the representative of the middle class, and issues his decrees in that sense. Nevertheless, he is something only because he has broken the political power of this class, and daily breaks it anew. Hence he feels himself the adversary of the political and the literary power of the middle class. But, by protecting their material, he nourishes anew their political power. Consequently, the cause must be kept alive, but the result, wherever it manifests itself, swept out of existence. But this procedure is impossible without slight mistakings of causes and effects, seeing that both, in their mutual action and reaction, lose their distinctive marks. Thereupon, new decrees, that blur the line of distinction. Bonaparte, furthermore, feels himself, as against the bourgeoisie, the representative of the farmer and the people in general, who, within bourgeois society, is to render the lower classes of society happy. To this end, new decrees, intended to exploit the "true Socialists," together with their governmental wisdom. But, above all, Bonaparte feels himself the chief of the "Society of December 10," the representative of the slum-proletariat, to which he himself, his immediate surroundings, his Government, and his army alike belong, the main object with all of whom is to be good to themselves, and draw Californian tickets out of the national treasury. An he affirms his chieftainship of the "Society of December 10" with decrees, without decrees, and despite decrees.
This contradictory mission of the man explains the contradictions of his own Government, and that confused groping about, that now seeks to win, then to humiliate now this class and then that, and finishes by arraying against itself all the classes; whose actual insecurity constitutes a highly comical contrast with the imperious, categoric style of the Government acts, copied closely from the Uncle.
Industry and commerce, i.e., the business of the middle class, are to be made to blossom in hot-house style under the "strong Government." Loans for a number of railroad grants. But the Bonapartist slum-proletariat is to enrich itself. Peculation is carried on with railroad concessions on the Bourse by the initiated; but no capital is forthcoming for the railroads. The bank then pledges itself to make advances upon railroad stock; but the bank is itself to be exploited; hence, it must be cajoled; it is released of the obligation to publish its reports weekly. Then follows a leonine treaty between the bank and the Government. The people are to be occupied: public works are ordered; but the public works raise the tax rates upon the people; thereupon the taxes are reduced by an attack upon the national bond-holders through the conversion of the five per cent "rentes" [#9 The name of the French national bonds.] into four-and-halves. Yet the middle class must again be tipped: to this end, the tax on wine is doubled for the people, who buy it at retail, and is reduced to one-half for the middle class, that drink it at wholesale. Genuine labor organizations are dissolved, but promises are made of future wonders to accrue from organization. The farmers are to be helped: mortgage-banks are set up that must promote the indebtedness; of the farmer and the concentration of property but again, these banks are to be utilized especially to the end of squeezing money out of the confiscated estates of the House of Orleans; no capitalist will listen to this scheme, which, moreover, is not mentioned in the decree; the mortgage bank remains a mere decree, etc., etc.
Bonaparte would like to appear as the patriarchal benefactor of all classes; but he can give to none without taking from the others. As was said of the Duke of Guise, at the time of the Fronde, that he was the most obliging man in France because he had converted all his estates into bonds upon himself for his Parisians, so would Napoleon like to be the most obliging man in France and convert all property and all labor of France into a personal bond upon himself. He would like to steal the whole of France to make a present thereof to France, or rather to be able to purchase France back again with French money;--as chief of the "Society of December 10," he must purchase that which is to be his. All the State institutions, the Senate, the Council of State, the Legislature, the Legion of Honor, the Soldiers' decorations, the public baths, the public buildings, the railroads, the General Staff of the National Guard, exclusive of the rank and file, the confiscated estates of the House of Orleans,--all are converted into institutions for purchase and sale. Every place in the Army and the machinery of Government becomes a purchasing power. The most important thing, however, in this process, whereby France is taken to be given back to herself, are the percentages that, in the transfer, drop into the hands of the chief and the members of the "Society of December 10." The witticisms with which the Countess of L., the mistress of de Morny, characterized the confiscations of the Orleanist estates: "C'est le premier vol de l'aigle," [#10 "It is the first flight of the eagle" The French word "vol" means theft as well as flight.] fits every fight of the eagle that is rather a crow. He himself and his followers daily call out to themselves, like the Italian Carthusian monk in the legend does to the miser, who displayfully counted the goods on which he could live for many years to come: "Tu fai conto sopra i beni, bisogna prima far il conto sopra gli anni." [#11 "You count your property you should rather count the years left to you."] In order not to make a mistake in the years, they count by minutes. A crowd of fellows, of the best among whom all that can be said is that one knows not whence he comes--a noisy, restless "Boheme," greedy after plunder, that crawls about in gallooned frocks with the same grotesque dignity as Soulonque's [#12 Soulonque was the negro Emperor of the short-lived negro Empire of Hayti.] Imperial dignitaries--, thronged the court crowded the ministries, and pressed upon the head of the Government and of the Army. One can picture to himself this upper crust of the "Society of December 10" by considering that Veron Crevel [#13 Crevel is a character of Balzac, drawn after Dr. Veron, the proprietor of the "Constitutional" newspaper, as a type of the dissolute Parisian Philistine.] is their preacher of morality, and Granier de Cassagnac their thinker. When Guizot, at the time he was Minister, employed this Granier on an obscure sheet against the dynastic opposition, he used to praise him with the term: "C'est le roi des droles." [#14 "He Is the king of the clowns."] It were a mistake to recall the days of the Regency or of Louis XV. by the court and the kit of Louis Bonaparte's: "Often did France have a mistress-administration, but never yet an administration of kept men." [#15 Madame de Girardin.]
Harassed by the contradictory demands of his situation, and compelled, like a sleight-of-hands performer, to keep, by means of constant surprises, the eyes of the public riveted upon himself as the substitute of Napoleon, compelled, consequently, everyday to accomplish a sort of "coup" on a small scale, Bonaparte throws the whole bourgeois social system into disorder; he broaches everything that seemed unbroachable by the revolution of 1848; he makes one set people patient under the revolution and another anxious for it; he produces anarchy itself in the name of order by rubbing off from the whole machinery of Government the veneer of sanctity, by profaning it, by rendering it at once nauseating and laughable. He rehearses in Paris the cult of the sacred coat of Trier with the cult of the Napoleonic Imperial mantle. But when the Imperial Mantle shall have finally fallen upon the shoulders of Louis Bonaparte, then will also the iron statue of Napoleon drop down from the top of the Vendome column. [#16 A prophecy that a few years later, after Bonaparte's coronation as Emperor, was literally fulfilled. By order of Emperor Louis Napoleon, the military statue of the Napoleon that originally surmounted the Vendome was taken down and replaced by one of first Napoleon in imperial robes.]
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