Labour and Socialism

  • Guy Chapman


The political history of the urban workers from 1871 up, indeed, to 1906 is one of confused debate. ‘The true history of France’, wrote Renan in 1849, ‘begins in 1789 and nothing of importance happens in France that is not the direct consequence of that huge fact, which has profoundly affected the conditions of life in our country.’ La Revolution est un bloc… dont on ne peut rien distraire’, said Clemenceau in the ridiculous debate on Sardou’s Thermidor in 1889. There is the long list of dates which every Republican child learns: those of the Revolutionary calendar, Thermidor 9, Vendémiaire 13, Floréal 21, Fructidor 18, Brumaire 18. And the later revolutions, 1814, 1815 (twice), July 1830, February 1848, June 1848, December 1851, 1852, 1869, 1870: the abortive revolts, Lyon in 1831 and 1834, the rue Transnonain 1839, the barricades of June 1848, the failure of 1849, October 1870, January 1871 and the Commune of March to May: — a calendar of violence. ‘The revolutionary philosophy’ — again it is Renan — continued a belief in violence, an idea of justice based on a materialistic conception of property, a neglect of personal rights, all of which carries the germs of destruction, heralds the reign of mediocrity, the disappearance of initiative, just for the sake of superficial physical comfort, the conditions of which are really self-destructive.’


Penal Code Minimum Programme General Strike Socialist Movement Political Revolutionary 
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Copyright information

© Guy Chapman 1962

Authors and Affiliations

  • Guy Chapman
    • 1
  1. 1.University of LeedsUK

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