Correspondance de P.-J. Proudhon; (1875)Tome Deuxiéme Librairie Internationale; Paris. pgs.363-365.
To M. F.1
National Assembly, March 2, 1849
My dear friend, It is not the least of my faults, since I became a politician, to not be able to spare a moment of time to relax, chat and frolic about. I am a slave, me the legislator and one of the founders of the Democratic and Socialist Republic. If you would like us to meet up one time, please allow me to share a dinner with you and come pick me up at the Assembly around five-thirty; I see this as the only way to catch up with you.
Your skepticism can be seen in each page that you write. A little reflection, however quick, would prove to you to what extent indifference and misanthropy are today very outdated, and you would forgive your poor friend for all the agitation he causes honest people.
I did not provoke the February revolution; I wanted slow, measured, rational, philosophical progress; the events, the foolishness of men, above all among these ceremonial bourgeois that you are a member of, chose otherwise. I promised myself that as long as the fruits of the February revolution were dependent upon me they would not be lost; I said to myself that in one year, we had to ignite a century's worth of cinder, in order to avoid having been completely foolish.
I believe that the goal that I set will be attained; admit how much it will please you that France does not want any Reds: What good does that do? As if it was all attributable to the will of France! as if, in this very moment, we were not being driven by NECESSITY.
But, this necessity must be ripped out, and it is to this end that the socialist and democratic agitation will serve wonderfully. The old world breaks up: I challenge you, with all your philosophy and your old habits, to revive it. Willingly, grudgingly, all of Europe, following France, is embarked on a social revolution that will perhaps bring, and I would very much like this, its authors and its contradictors. No single man has the power to stop it; the poison is taken, absorbed by the social body; let the victim convulse as much as he wants, it will be necessary that he create a new body and that he return what he has taken.
Instead of immobilizing you with a useless critique, which gets us nowhere and which only makes you unhappy with others and yourself, it would be better to work, within the bounds of your temperament, for the revolutionary cause than to bombard it with your sarcastic remarks which says more about your own judgment than it does about the current agitators.
I believe that the Reds are not as strong as the Whites, but they are more honest, and, anyhow, they have the wind at their backs and the current in their favor. It is inevitable, you hear, that the red party take it and that the moderates, confused with the Whites, be conquered and forced into their resistance. What am I saying? It is inevitable that the revolutionary flight begin by the moderate majority herself (organizing something like free credit);-and, once started, you will no longer be able to stop the movement. The makeup of society will be changed, so take your part in it. It is not up to you to decide whether you will be a reactor, after having so much applauded the revolution of 89, which, after all, was only the first part of what is happening now.
Return to top
Return to Proudhon's Collected Works
Return to Anarchy Archives
1. Translated from the French by Rory Van Loo