Page:Georges Sorel, Reflections On Violence (1915).djvu/34

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REFLECTIONS ON VIOLENCE

Giving evidence on June 5, 1907, before the Cours d'Assises de la Seine, in the Bousquet-Levy case, Jaurès said, "I have no superstitious belief in legality, it has already received too many blows; but I always advise workmen to have recourse to legal means, for violence is the sign of temporary weakness." This is clearly a reminiscence of the Dreyfus question. Jaurès remembered that his friends were obliged to have recourse to revolutionary manifestations, and it is easy to understand that, as a result of this affair, he had not retained very great respect for legality. He probably likened the present position of the syndicalists to the former position of the Dreyfusards; for the moment they are weak, but they are destined ultimately to have the force of the State at their own disposal; they would then be very imprudent to destroy by violence a force which is destined to become theirs. He may even regret at times that the State has been so severely shaken by the Dreyfus agitation, just as Gambetta regretted that the administration had lost its former prestige and discipline.

One of the most elegant of Republican ministers[1] has made a speciality of high-sounding phrases directed against the upholders of violence. Viviani charms deputies, senators, and the employés assembled to admire his excellency on his official tours, by telling them that violence is the caricature, or rather "the fallen and degenerate daughter," of force. After boasting that he has, by a magnificent gesture, extinguished the lamps of

  1. The Petit Parisien, that one always quotes with pleasure as the barometer of democratic stupidity, tells us that "this scornful definition of the elegant and immoral M. de Morny—Republicans are people who dress badly—seems to-day altogether without any foundation." I borrow this philosophical observation from an enthusiastic description of the marriage of the charming minister Clémentel (October 22, 1905). This well-informed newspaper has accused me of giving the workers hooligan advice (April 7, 1907).