Ernest Coeurderoy, Three Letters to the Journal l’Homme – I

[one_third padding=”0 10px 0 0px”]


[/one_third][two_third_last padding=”0 0px 0 10px”]

“No force can stop the movement of social decomposition. And Demagogy is not even a force.”
(Ernest Cœurderoy. — Days of Exile.)
Following a simple complaint that I addressed to it, the journal l’Homme having challenged me to a serious discussion which it later recognized itself incapable of defending against me, I publish the responses that the impartial editing of that journal refused to insert. Dieu merci! The demagogy of le National and la Réforme does not still reign over the world, and we find in England some printing houses without certificates!
FIRST LETTER. To the Editor in Chief of the journal l’HOMME :
Santander, 15 avril 1854,
Mr. Editor in Chief,
I have before me the journal l’Homme, for the 12th of this month. In its first article, signed Ch. Ribeyrolles, this journal, responding to a conflicting allegation of the Correspondance Havas, claims that no democratic-socialist publication has called for the triumph of muscovite absolutism.
I am surprised to find such an absolute assertion in the journal l’Homme. Its editors are not, however, unaware that in June and September 1852, I, ostensibly a socialist democrat, published two publications in which I predicted the current events, and I called Russian czarism to sack the civilization of monopoly. These two publications have raised a great enough scandal in the midst of the emigration and journalism that I thought I should rectify the assertion of the journal l’Homme.
In the first, The Barrier of the Combat, written in collaboration with my friend Octave Vauthier, we find this passage:
“We, sons of France, republicans-democrats-socialists, look forward to the arrival of the Cossacks, for we understand the Revolution…. Let them descend, the Barbarians! Let them transfuse their young blood in the veins of our decrepit societies, constitutionally, organically bourgeois…. Let them come, and let them be blessed! Are they not our brothers?”
In the second, Revolution in Man and in Society, I said:
“I dare to stare to the North instead of looking away from the clouds gather there, from the thunder that rumbles, from the Russian power which overwhelms us with all its weight, and I said, there will be more revolution until the Cossacks descend.”
I limit my citations to these two passages.
That is what I have argued, and what I intend to argue again, as soon as my resources permit it, very soon, I hope.
As for my status as a socialist democrat, I like to think that no one could put it in doubt, given the acts of my entire life.
Holding myself apart from all parties, I can only commend myself to your impartiality, Mr. Editor in Chief, for the insertion of this letter.
I send you a good memory of personal affection.
Exile, condemned to deportation by the high court of Versailles, member of the socialist committees of Paris in 1848 and 49, and of the school committee.
Mr. Cœurderoy knows that we do not need the patronage of any man or party in order that some protests, though not well-founded and signed, be welcomed in l’Homme, a journal of liberty, though not Cossack.
So, without any qualm or reticence, we grant his claim, and if when we have written the few lines which provoked it, we had recalled his two books, we would certainly have indicated it; for the exception confirms the rule. Two years ago, Mr. Cœurderoy founded his school; he remains alone and will die the same way. No, we are mistaken, there are two to roam the steppes of the desert and of fantasy.
A word on the merits.
M. Cœurderoy knows as well as we do that the principal question that divides and troubles the West, is a question of science, a problem to resolve, that of labor, and he calls the Cossacks, which is to say servitude, ignorance and misery, organized, disciplined, stultified by a despotism which holds all under its hand, bodies and souls!
Certainly, these brave men are our brothers, like monsieur Cœurderoy; but we find that they would be far too incapable and far too dangerous, as tutors of social economy, politics and government.
Is it as a revolutionary, and to make a clean sweep of ideas, that Mr. Cœurderoy summons these legionnaires of the desert and calls them, with the czar, to the sack of civilization?
Alas! France knows them. Paris has already seen them, twice, within its walls: and what did they bring? ancient relics and ancient servitudes: in return, they take away our treasures and our honor!
M. Cœurderoy desires the transfusion of a young blood in the veins of our decrepit societies: he hopes that this operation will rejuvenate the old world.
We would say to Dr. Cœurderoy that for sixty years the people of France have shed more blood for the cause of humanity, than the Cossacks of all of Russia have shed for despotism, for a thousand years. Young blood, rich and vigorous. — What was it that flowed on the great barricades de Paris, barely four years ago?
Ah! you blaspheme science, you blaspheme the homeland, you blaspheme the Revolution !
Do you know what happens when a nation, betrayed in its last effort, and violated by foreigners, is subject to one of these savage invasions that you summon upon your country with such sad candor? The people—who are always young, do you hear?—will collect the last of its dead, and embalm them in its memory; and, thirty or forty years later, it will seek out the nephew of the emperor, and hail him as president, believing, thus, to take revenge for Waterloo !
You say that you understand the Revolution, but you do not want the soldier-people of the Revolution, and you pass the rallying cry to the Cossacks!
You say that you are a socialist democrat, and you believe in the superiority of races! You call on one to regenerate the other! And in a question of science, and when it is a question of resolving the problem of the last emancipation, you appeal to all the brutality of ignorance and servitude!
In truth, your school will not rage, and we like you better as we have known you.
Ch. Ribeyrolles.


[to be continued…]
Working translation by Shawn P. Wilbur
About Shawn P. Wilbur 2703 Articles
Independent scholar, translator and archivist.