We demand the postponement of the elections for the Constituent Assembly and for the National Guard. [If they were to be held now,] these elections would be derisory.
In Paris only a small number of workers are registered on the electoral rolls. The ballot boxes would be filled with nothing but the votes of the bourgeoisie.
In the cities, the class of labourers, shaped to the yoke by long years of repression and poverty, will take no part in the vote – or else they will be led there by their masters, like blind cattle.
In the countryside all influence rests in the hands of the clergy and the autocracy. By systematically isolating individuals, a cunning tyranny has stifled all spontaneity in the heart of the masses. The wretched peasantry, reduced to the condition of serfs, will become a stepping stone for the enemies who oppress and exploit them.
We grow indignant at the thought that the oppressors can benefit from their crimes in this way. It is sacrilege to deceive ten million men about their own salvation, to wrest from their inexperience the sanction for their slavery. This would be all too insolent a challenge to the barricades of February.
The people do not yet understand; they must learn.2 This is the work of neither a day nor a month. Since counter-revolution alone has had the right to speak for fifty years, would it be too much to grant the people – who ask for only half of the podium, and who will not put their hands over their enemy’s mouth – perhaps a year of freedom?
Light must shine into even the smallest hamlet; the workers must lift their brows bowed by servitude and rise from the state of prostration and stupor where the dominant castes hold them, their boot on their throat.
And do not say that our fears are illusory! The elections, if they are held, will be reactionary. This is the universal cry. The royalist party, the sole party that is organised, thanks to its long domination, will control them through intrigue, corruption and social influence. It will emerge victorious from the ballot box.
Such a victory would mean civil war! For Paris, the heart and brain of France, will not retreat in the face of this aggressive return of the past. Think about the sinister consequences of a conflict between the Parisian population and an Assembly that believes it represents the nation but which would not actually represent it – for tomorrow’s vote will be a surprise and a lie.
May your prudence spare France of such perils. Let the people be born to the Republic. They are still imprisoned and suffocated in the swaddling clothes of the monarchy.
Postponement of the elections – this is what the people of Paris demand!