The Mountain (1849)
The Mountain (French: La Montagne; also known as the democratic socialists, démocrate-socialistes or démoc-socs) was a political grouping in the French legislative election, 1849. It drew its name from The Mountain, a group active in the early period of the French Revolution. Standing on a republican platform, its main opposition was the conservative Party of Order (Parti de l'Ordre). The Mountain achieved 25% of the vote, compared to 53% for the Party of Order. It was led by Ledru-Rollin, one of the members of the Second Republic's early provisional government.
The Mountain stood on a platform of low taxation, which made it popular with peasants, especially in industries that were suffering, such as agriculture and forestry. France sustained steady economic growth during the latter part of the Restoration and the July Monarchy, although the late 1840s witnessed a downturn, which was one of the factors behind the 1848 Revolution. The National Workshops proved unpopular with the peasantry, and, despite being formed by urban left-wing politicians, The Mountain was particularly successful in rural areas such as central France and the western and central départments in and around the Massif Central. The Mountain promised to end the land tax of '45 centimes' used to finance the Workshops, reform military service, and develop education. Traditionally pro-revolutionary, left-wing and Protestant areas of the south, affected by a slump in the wine trade, also backed The Mountain in 1849. Engels, and later Marx, attributed the relative lack of support for the democ-socs in the urban proletariat to distrust engendered by Ledru-Rollin's involvement in, and refusal to condemn, the suppression of the June Days Uprising. Later, in The Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Napoleon, Marx cited The Mountain's formation in the Second Republic as one of the many instances in this regime of history repeating itself "as farce".
After 1849, the Barrot Party of Order-backed government sought to repress protests against alcohol excises and the '45 centime', as well as demand for cheap credit and other grievances. The démoc-socs clandestinely organized this dissent in the face of press censorship, restrictions on political meetings, and harassment. The Mountain's broader strategy was to prepare for the 1852 legislative and Presidential elections, by continuing to espouse its utopian Christian socialist message alongside attempts to politicize the three million voters who had been disenfranchised in 1850 despite the Republic's constitution proclaiming universal (manhood) suffrage. Marx again found cause for criticism, accusing The Mountain of impotently "prophesying future victories".
The causes behind The Mountain's success amongst particular demographics are disputed. Margadent, McPhee, and Merriman have argued that the peasant vote signalled an acceptance of modernization, whilst Weber, Jones, Corbin have argued that peasant support was typical, even if the provincial rivalries and support for negative demands such as low taxation present were cloaked in urban political lexicon. Tombs has pointed out that the demands of voters were expressed in a number of different ways and that support was fleeting (wine growers were also prepared to back Louis-Napoléon or the Bourbons to get excise duties cut), and that peasants in the south-west and Massif Central who backed The Mountain also accepted Louis-Napoléon after his coup of 1851, and the end of the Second Republic. For the remainder of the Second Empire, Louis-Napoléon found the core of his support lay in the peasantry.
Resistance to the coup d'état was most strongly present in the normally republican regions, again suggesting continuity. Thus, when the démoc-socs, in the most widespread popular uprising of the 19th century, organized protests against the coup that numbered 100,000 strong, it was in mainly Protestant areas that The Mountain derived its most cohesive support.
- Friedrich Engels (Beginning of December 1848). "The French Working Class and the Presidential Elections". Neue Rheinische Zeitung. Retrieved 2009-08-29. Source: MECW Volume 8, p. 123; first published in Marx/Engels, Gesamtausgabe, Abt. 1, Bd. 7
- Karl Marx (June 21, 1849). "The 13th of June". Der Volksfreund. Retrieved 2009-08-29. Source: MECW Volume 9, p. 477; first published in Der Volksfreund No. 26, June 29, 1849
- Karl Marx (1852). "The Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte, Chapter I". Die Revolution, 1852, New York. Retrieved 2009-08-30. Source: "translated by Saul K. Padover from the German edition of 1869"
- Karl Marx (1852). "The Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte, Chapter III". Die Revolution, 1852, New York. Retrieved 2009-08-30. Source: "based on the third edition, prepared by Engels (1885), as translated and published by Progress Publishers, Moscow, 1937"
- Tombs, Robert (1996). France 1814–1914. London: Longman. pp. 256–258, 288, 390. ISBN 0-582-49314-5.
- Margadant, Ted (1979). French Peasants in Revolt: The Insurrection of 1851.