A Users’ Guide for the Present
The defeat of the June insurrection did not just affect the June fighters and the particular socialist party that stood behind them. It affected the entire socialist workers’ movement in France. Though it does not completely vanish from the stage, its strength as an independent movement is spent. It is no longer in a position to form an independent party with its own policy, but rather can only engage itself politically by entering a coalition with petty-bourgeois democrats, which effectively makes it their tail. The members of this petty-bourgeois-democratic party call themselves ‘socialist democrats’ (democrats socialistes), which Gottfried Kinkel, who was congenial towards them, then translated as ‘social democrats’, without suspecting how different a meaning this word would one day acquire. In the elections of May 1849 they manage to bring through a respectable number of delegates to the legislative National Assembly, around 200 of 750 in total, but among them only a very small minority of true representatives of the working class. The majority are democrats whose socialism goes no further than the socialism of the German democrat Schulze-Delitzsch, except with a more radical lick of paint. On 13 June 1849 they too suffer a defeat at a demonstration in Paris, which is bloodless but which has the result that part of its leadership is put behind lock and key, others go into exile, and the party ceases to be taken seriously in the National Assembly. The parliamentary struggle for power now plays out exclusively between the bourgeois republicans and the various groups of more or less outspoken monarchists.