This is a letter from Proudhon to his friend De Giradin, stating that the ability to withstand others who would force opposing ideas onto his followers was key to the success of the Revolution
To view the original French, click here.
To Mr. De Giradin 1
Conciergerie, January 22 1851
Friend and old colleague, according to our conversation of yesterday, at the moment where several ambitious people try hard to throw anew a division into our ranks, I believe it useful to tell you here, in the most quick manner possible, all my thoughts.
We support, my friends and I, and a number of citizens support with us, we defend, same in discussing these acts, against the enterprises of parties and of sects, the whole republican ministry, which, having given the well-founded order in February of security wanted by the circumstances of their formation, will walk faithfully in the lines traced by the Constitution, taking for ruler of her politics, the liberal opinion manifested in the country and will hand over to the government all initiative on the fundamental points of political organization and the social economy.
Our work, to our publicists, is to prepare the opinion;--the role of the government is to follow the decrees [of public opinion] It is thus that we hear [the voices of] the Republic and the revolution.
Certainly, we believe to have for ourselves the truth; but, if we don't claim to impose our ideas upon others, we are then determined not to suffer as others impose their ideas upon us
Revolutionaries before us, but republican revolutionaries, that is, those who take the lower road, we demand the largest liberty of discussion, finally assuring the largest freedom of the people to accept [our ideas]. Our enemies, know it well, our only enemies, are those who would be prevented from discussion, or who, without discussion, would force us to suffer as they please for them.
"All ministries who follow these simple politics are sure to live and have nothing to fear from our attacks, the same ones which will wipe out our critics. In these conditions, political crises appear to us, without reason for being, as easy government, order and progress assured.
"You can, according to need, take a share of that of which you have a right to; it is the alpha and the omega of our faith and our ambition."
I give you my hand.
N. B. This letter was written in front of an a facilitator from the Ministry of Transition republican and democratic; this is her only value; she could no longer express the thoughts of the author if the circumstances changed and the situation turned to the disadvantage of the revolution.
1. Translated from the French by Stephanie Silberstein