Democratic Propaganda (1835)


The sympathies of the masses, tempered anew by a system of terror, are re-awakening stronger than before. They are like a spring that has been made all the more energetic by compression, and that asks only to be released. It is up to us to encourage this movement of expansion. If the doctrinaires2 were able to claim to have crushed democracy forever it is because the last catastrophe allowed them to put a halt to propaganda [la propagande].

Let us re-establish it and advance.

For the aristocracy is powerless to fight against republicans through principles alone. If the press is still a weapon in its hands it is because it uses it to spread slander while we, by the sheer strength of our doctrines of equality and fraternity, are sure to lead the masses.

But our voice must be able to reach them.

So let us unite our efforts, citizen, in order to destroy the most odious of monopolies, the monopoly of enlightenment. Let us prove to proletarians that they have the right to prosperity with freedom, to free, common and equal education, and to intervene in the government – all of which are things they are denied.

As you see, citizen, we have in mind less a political change than a refoundation [refonte] of society. The extension of political rights, electoral reform and universal suffrage may be excellent things, but only as means, not as ends. Our goal is the equal sharing of the burdens and the benefits of society; it is the complete establishment of the reign of equality. Without this radical reorganisation all formal modifications in government would be nothing but lies, all revolutions nothing but comedies performed for the benefit of an ambitious few.

But it is not enough vaguely to declare that all men are equal; it is not enough to combat the slanders of the wicked, to destroy prejudices and the carefully maintained habits of servility in which the people are kept. We must convince proletarians that equality is possible, that it is necessary. They must be made aware of their dignity and clearly shown their rights and duties.

This should be the aim of our efforts. But they will only be effective with the support of all republicans: we appeal to their devotion and ask for their active and selfless cooperation.

As it is clear that new writings from a republican perspective, and with the goal we have just indicated, would be the object of perpetual harassment, however moderate they might be, we have resolved to undermine the relentless efforts of the police. What is important to us above all is to enlighten the masses. Trials, imprisonments and fines would soon destroy our efforts, despite all the perseverance that patriotism might inspire in us.

We will limit ourselves simply to spreading ideas by reprinting fragments of the best works published in the interests of the people, works that have circulated freely for some time.

We will select those that most clearly deal with the great questions of EQUALITY AND LIBERTY; those that aim to establish, as the sole basis of social institutions, the principle of the FRATERNITY of all men, and as the sole guarantee of their lasting value, the responsibility of power.

If the ideas developed in these diverse writings are not always as up to date as might be hoped by the most advanced minds engaged with matters of the future, it should be remembered that we will be reprinting previously published works, and one must understand that public education has been so severely delayed that what seem to be old truths to the enlightened remain entirely new to the proletarian.

The writings we will publish will have four in-12 pages; they will appear irregularly, but in such a way as to form a brochure of ninety-six pages by the end of the year.

For 1 franc 25 centimes, 100 copies will be sent to your home address.

It is possible to subscribe for a smaller number.

Those citizens in Paris and the departments who want to aid us in these efforts are requested to send their names and precise addresses to Rouanet’s bookshop, rue Verdelet, no. 6.

L.-Auguste Blanqui, Hadot-Desages.

Our publications will appear irregularly, twice a month.

Since most writings cannot reach the people, who do not have the means to pay for them, the particular goal that we have set ourselves is to solve this problem by distributing them to proletarians for free. Therefore those citizens who want to assist us in our work should distribute amongst the people the copies that they will receive, by giving them away.

In order to receive the printed materials at a home address one must subscribe for twenty copies of each publication, as postage costs prevent us from sending fewer than this. Citizens who subscribe for fewer than twenty copies should collect them from the office of the Rouanet bookshop, rue Verdelet, no. 6.

Hadot-Desages, rue des Dames, 37, Batignolles.

Imprimerie de L.-E. Herhan, rue Saint-Denis, 380.

  1.  Source: OI, 313-315, first published as Propagande démocratique (Paris: Imprimerie d’Herhan, 1835). This prefatory text, which Blanqui co-wrote with Louis-Ambroise Hadot-Desages, was part of a series of pamphlets that sought to facilitate mass political education. Three short pamphlets were published in total, made up of brief extracts by figures like Tiberius Gracchus, Raynal, Mercier, Volney, Robespierre, Saint-Just, and Marat.
  2.  Grouped around Pierre Royer-Collard, the Doctrinaires supported a highly restricted suffrage as part of a constitution designed to preserve some of the liberal achievements of the Revolution together with the rigid social hierarchies of the monarchy. Cf. Pierre Rosanvallon, La Démocratie inachevée (Paris: Gallimard, 2000).