What could not maintain itself in France, what really was destroyed at that time, was not the Republic but that republic, which, as I have already shown you, abolished, by the law of May 30, 1850, the universal franchise, and introduced a disguised property qualification for the exclusion of the workingman. It was the capitalist republic which wished to put the stamp of the bourgeoisie—the domination of capital—upon the republican forms of the State; it was this which gave the French usurper the possibility, under an apparent restoration of the universal franchise, to overthrow the Republic, which otherwise would have found an invincible bulwark in the breast of the French workingman. So what in France could not maintain itself, and was overthrown, was not the Republic, but the bourgeois republic; and, on really correct consideration, the fact is confirmed, even by this example, that the historical period which began with February, 1848, will no longer tolerate any State which, whether in monarchical or in republican form, tries to impress upon it, or maintain within it, the controlling political stamp of the third class of society.
From the lofty mountain tops of science the dawn of a new day is seen earlier than below in the turmoil of daily life.
Have you ever beheld a sunrise from the top of a high mountain? A purple line colors blood-red the farthest horizon, announcing the new light. Clouds and mists collect and oppose the morning red, veiling its beams for a moment; but no power on earth can prevail against the slow and majestic rising of the sun which, an hour later, visible to all the world, radiating light and warmth, stands bright in the firmament. What an hour is, in the natural phenomena of every day, a decade or two is in the still more impressive spectacle of a sunrise in the world’s history.
[Footnote 47: The word bourgeoisie is henceforth used throughout the discussion to designate the political party now defined.—TRANSLATOR.]
[Footnote 48: Here the speaker quotes statistics showing that, on the average, throughout Prussia, a vote by a man of the first class has as much weight as seventeen votes by men of the third class.—TRANSLATOR.]
* * * * *
[A speech delivered by Lassalle in his own defense before the Criminal Court of Berlin on the charge of having incited to class hatred.]
TRANSLATED BY THORSTEIN B. VEBLEN, PH.D. Lecturer in Economics, University of Missouri
Mr. President and Gentlemen of the Court:
I shall have to make my beginning with an appeal to your indulgence. My defense will go somewhat into detail. It will, on that account, necessarily be somewhat long. But I consider myself justified in pursuing this course, first, by the magnitude of the penalty with which I am threatened under Section 100 of the Criminal Code—the full extent of this penalty amounting to no less than two years’ imprisonment. In the second place, and more particularly, I consider my course justified by the fact that this trial by no means centres about a man and the imposition of a penalty.