Marx and Engels in Neue Rheinische Zeitung January 1849
Source: MECW Volume 8, p. 281;
Written: on January 28, 1849;
First published: in Neue Rheinische Zeitung No. 209 and the special supplement, January 31, 1849.
Paris, January 28. The danger of a popular uprising has been removed for the time being by the vote of the Chamber against dealing with the prohibition of the clubs as a matter of urgency, i.e. against prohibition of the clubs in general. But a new danger is emerging: the danger of a coup d'état.
Read today’s issue of the National and say whether fear of a coup d'état is not visible in every line.
“Today’s vote is a fatal blow for the Cabinet, and we now challenge Messrs. Odilon Barrot, Faucher and tutti quanti to hold their portfolios any longer......
So far the National seems to be of good cheer. But listen to the end of the sentence:
“...without entering into open revolt against the spirit and letter of the Constitution!”
And what would Messrs. Odilon Barrot, Faucher and tutti quanti care about entering into open revolt against the Constitution? Since when have Barrot and Faucher been enthusiastic about the Constitution of 1848!
The National no longer threatens the Ministers; it shows them that they must resign, it shows the President [Louis Bonaparte] that he must dismiss them. And that in a country where for the last thirty years the resignation of the Ministers after such a vote has been a matter of course!
It is to be hoped, says the National, that the President of the Republic will realise that the majority and the Cabinet are in complete disagreement, that by dismissing the Cabinet, he will strengthen the ties between him and the majority, and that there is only one obstacle to a good understanding between him and the majority: the Cabinet.
Yes, the National is trying to ensure the Ministry an honourable retreat: it would like the charge against the Ministers to be dropped. The vote is punishment enough. This extreme measure could be avoided until the Ministers have really violated the Constitution by an accomplished act.
Yes, the newspaper finally exclaims, everything makes it the duty of the Cabinet to resign; its own words are binding upon it to such an extent that we hesitate to believe it will dare to remain in power. Monsieur Barrot stated this evening that if the urgency motion is rejected, the Assembly itself will bear the responsibility for events. Very well, when responsibility ceases, power too must cease. If the Cabinet does not want to be responsible for events, then it must not direct them. By rejecting responsibility, Monsieur Barrot has tendered his resignation.
In short, the National does not believe in the voluntary retirement of the Ministry any more than in its dismissal by the President.
But if the Ministry wants to defy the vote of the Assembly, then there is nothing left for it except — a coup d'état
Dissolution of the National Assembly and preparation for the restoration of the monarchy by military force, that is what lurks behind the fear of the National of the Ministry continuing in office.
Therefore the National and the red newspapers ask the people only to remain calm and to give no pretext for intervention, since any revolt can only support the Cabinet which is falling, can only be of service to the royalist counter-revolution.
That a coup d'état is becoming ever more imminent, is proved by the incidents involving Changarnier and the officers of the mobile guard. The bouchers de Cavaignac have no desire to let themselves be used for a royalist coup; that is why they are to be dissolved; they murmur and Changarnier threatens to have them cut to pieces, and he puts their officers under arrest.
The situation seems to become more complicated; in fact, however, it is becoming very simple, as simple as it always is on the eve of a revolution.
The conflict between the Assembly and the President together with his Ministers has reached breaking point. France can no longer exist in the state of impotence which has reigned in it for the last ten months; the deficit, the depressed state of industry and commerce, the pressure of taxation, which ruins agriculture, become daily more intolerable; large-scale, trenchant measures become more and more urgent, and each new Government is more impotent and inactive than the one before; until finally Odilon Barrot has inactivity carried to the extreme and for six weeks has done absolutely nothing at all.
In that way, however, he has greatly simplified the situation. After him, there can no longer be any Ministry of the decent republic. The mixed governments (the Provisional Government and the Executive Commission), the Government of the National, the Government of the old Left — that has all been gone through, it is all worn out, used up. Now it is the turn of Thiers, and Thiers is the undisguised restoration of the monarchy.
Restoration of the monarchy or — a red republic, this is now the only alternative in France. The crisis may still be delayed for a few weeks, but it is bound to break out. Changarnier-Monk with his three hundred thousand, who are entirely at his disposal for 24 hours, seems reluctant to wait any longer.
Hence the anxiety of the National. It recognises its inability to master the situation; it knows that any forcible change of government will bring its strongest enemies into power, that it is equally lost with a monarchy and a red republic. Hence its sighing for a peaceful deal, its politeness to the Ministers.
We shall very soon see whether it is necessary for the final victory of the red republic that France should go through the monarchical phase for a while. It is possible, but not probable.
But one thing is certain: the decent republic is falling to pieces, and after it — even if there are first of all some small intermezzi — the only possibility is the red republic.
Cologne, January 30. When yesterday morning we announced in a special edition the imminent outbreak of a storm in Paris, wailers  among the primary electors to the First Chamber wrote under our fly-sheet: It’s a lie! It’s no use intimidating us! and other such philistine strong expressions.
These miserable people regarded our special edition as a mere electoral manoeuvre, as if the First Chamber and the Second Chamber too, and the entire Prussian movement into the bargain, could induce us to falsify the history of the European revolution!
Stupp is an elector to the First Chamber! The rentier von Wittgenstein is an elector to the First Chamber! Chancellor von Groote is an elector to the First Chamber! And yet the revolutionary monster in Paris is capable of roaring afresh! Quelle horreur!
In our issue today, we said, inter alia, on the Paris situation:
“The danger of a popular uprising has been removed for the time being by the vote of the Chamber against dealing with the prohibition of the clubs as a matter of urgency, i.e. against prohibition of the clubs in general. But a new danger is emerging: the danger of a coup d'état.... If the Ministry wants to defy the vote of the Assembly, then there is nothing left for it except — a coup d'état. Dissolution of the National Assembly and preparation for the restoration of the monarchy by military force, that is what lurks behind the fear of the National of the Ministry continuing in office.... That a coup d'état is becoming ever more imminent, is proved by the incidents involving Changarnier and the officers of the mobile guard.... The situation seems to become more complicated; in fact, however, it is becoming very simple, as simple as it always is on the eve of a revolution. The conflict between the Assembly and the President together with his Ministers has reached breaking point.... Restoration of the monarchy or — a red republic, this is now the only alternative in France.... The decent republic is falling to pieces, and after it — even if there are, first of all some small intermezzi — the only possibility is the red republic.”
In the special edition we announced the crisis for the 29th.
The reports of the 29th from Paris printed below will show our readers how accurate our reports were and the striking correctness of our description today of the French situation.