Marx in Neue Rheinische Zeitung October 1848

The Réforme on the June Insurrection

Source: MECW Volume 7, p. 478;
Written: by Marx about October 20, 1848;
First published: in the Neue Rheinische Zeitung No. 123, October 22, 1848.

Paris. When on June 29 the Neue Rheinische Zeitung was the only European newspaper, with the exception of the English Northern Star, which had the courage and the discernment to give a true appreciation of the June revolutions it was not refuted but denounced.

The facts have subsequently confirmed our interpretation even for the weakest eye as long as interest has not entirely destroyed the eyesight.

At that time the French press, too, disgraced itself. The resolute Paris newspapers were suppressed. The Réforme, the only radical newspaper which Cavaignac allowed to continue to exist, stammered excuses for the magnanimous June fighters and begged the victor to treat the conquered with some humanity as an act of charity. The beggar, of course, was not listened to. It took first the complete course of the June victory, the months-long diatribes of the provincial newspapers which were not fettered by the state of siege and the obvious resurrection of the Thiers party[314] to bring the Réforme to its senses.

On the occasion of the amnesty project of the extreme Left, it remarked in its issue of October 18:

“The people did not punish anybody when they descended from the barricades. The people! In those days it was the ruler, the sovereign and the victor. One kissed its feet and hands, saluted its tunic and acclaimed its noble sentiments. And rightly so. It was magnanimous.

“Today the people has its children and brothers in the dungeons, on the galleys and before courts martial. After hunger had exhausted its patience, after it had seen a whole crowd of ambitious people whom it had picked out of the gutter, calmly walk by and ascend to palaces, after it had for three long months put its trust in the republic, it finally lost its head in the midst of its starving children and slowly dying fathers and plunged into battle.

“It has paid dearly. Its sons have dropped under a hail of bullets and those who remained were divided into two parts. One part was thrown to the courts martial, the other was packed up for deportation without investigation, without the right of defence and without a verdict! This method is strange for any land, even for the land of the Kabyles.

“Never during its twenty years’ existence did the monarchy dare to do anything similar.

“In those days the journals that speculate in dynasties arrived inebriated by the corpses’ smell, boldly and immediately ready to insult the dead” (cf. the Kölnische Zeitung of June 29) “spewing forth calumnies of odious malice, drawing and quartering the honour of the people before the judicial investigation and dragging the vanquished, the dead and the living, before special courts. They denounced them to the destructive fury of the national guard and the army and turned themselves into agents for the hangmen and servants of the pillory. These lackeys of insane desires for vengeance invented crimes; they exacerbated our misfortune and they perfected the insult and the lie!” (Cf. the Neue Rheinische Zeitung of July 1 concerning the French Constitutionnel, the Belgian Indépendance and the Kölnische Zeitung.)

“The Constitutionnel openly displayed gruesome mutilations and despicable atrocities. It knew very well that it was lying but that suited its business and its politics, and being businessman and diplomatist all at the same time, it sold ‘by the crime’ as elsewhere one sells ‘by the yard’. This beautiful speculation had to end some time or other. The contradictions poured out: not a single name of a galley convict could be found in the documents of the courts martial or the bulletins of transportation. There were no longer any means to degrade the despair, and one kept silence, having cashed in on the profit.”