Letters from: Proudhon, P-J. (1875) Correspondance de P.-J. Proudhon; Tome Troisiéme Librairie Internationale; Paris.
Translated by Claire Cahen
From: P.J Proundhon
To Mr. Charles Edmond,
Paris, February 27 1850
My dear Edmond, I write these letters because I am incapable of doing anything else. Everything disgusts and bores me: philosophy, literature, political economics and history. I especially loathe current affairs; and, concerning those that I myself have touched upon, I can no longer bear to hear about them. Always talking; what a pity when there is so much TO DO.
Thus, let us ask about the elections in these terms:
The country or the foreigner!
The nation or the coalition.
Inviolability of the territory or invasion, for that is where we stand.
The government has done everything to attract foreigners to our home; it has encouraged them, extended invitations, as well as many a welcoming gesture. General Baraguey-d'Hilliers himself! He's become the noble escort of Russians heading to Paris.
The cries of Reaction against Socialism remind the vivat of 1814 and the allies of 1815!
Thus, ring the alarm bells; cleverly suspect the powers that be, dwell on the memories of '92, of Louis XVI's betrayal, of the stories behind emigration. Reread the Moniteur, the records of the time, the parliamentary history of Buchez; quote the speeches; out of ancient history make a lesson for the people of 1850.
Do not rest until democracy, united as one man, is no longer hopping on one foot.
Do not think, for the moment, of making our principles triumph. We have with us only a ridiculous minority. The French people must give itself the gift of an attempt at dictatorial communism; it will arrive at a synthesis only by passing through the antithesis. If we obtained a great advantage in having helped fusionist ideas become accepted, Luxembourg and Jacobinism have also reaped benefits that belong to us, helping candidates Vidal and De Flotte gain popularity. Carnot himself is but a new thrill for Jacobinism. Let us accept all this without worrying; let us focus the debate on the question of foreigners; let us wake the sleeping people; let us call Jacques; let us resurrect the militias and the vigilantes.
We will come back to the front line with our mutualism, once the people get drunk on community and fraternity; once the question of foreigners is put to rest, our time will come.
When will you come visit me? Come tomorrow, Thursday; I'm not doing anything, I drink, I eat, I sleep or I laze around. I really could use an army to command to give myself something to do; but I would like to not have to write anything, with the exception of my columns.
Oh! What a mistake I made when I got myself imprisoned for this beast that is the Elysée!...
We cannot bet on a hypothesis of a status quo in two years; in any case, whatever happens, there will be a general upheaval before 1852. Coup d'Etat of the Elysée, invasion of the Austrio-Russions or any other cause; you will see France back on its feet before this era. Yet, with the state of mind of the French and the apathy of the bourgeoisies, all we have is Jacobinism, all we have is communism.
Let us not look for organic ideas; only negation; we can only save liberty through negation.
Negation, that means abolish all taxes; abolish central authorities; the sovereignty of the commune and the département; applying universal suffrage to everything; this is the only will you will escape the Jacobins and communists only in this manner.
France, as long as it has not found its happy medium, is weak; when it is not kissing the behind of a despot, it is hiding under the skirt of a Convention. Let us save it from itself through the widest application of these principles: the people, the people, always and everywhere.
But especially war on the reaction; down with the Russians and Poitiers road, with the Austrians of the Elysée, with the Easterners of the Constitutional, the Pitts and Cobourgs of the Richelieu roads.
It is time to eliminate ancient civilizations: ring, bells of change.
Come visit me.