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French Provincial Police and the Fall of the Second Republic

French Provincial Police and the Fall of the Second Republic: Social Fear and Counterrevolution

Thomas R. Forstenzer
Copyright Date: 1981
Pages: 360
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  • Book Info
    French Provincial Police and the Fall of the Second Republic
    Book Description:

    While careful attention has been paid to the overthrow of the July Monarchy and to the subsequent development of radicalism under the Second Republic, little research has been done on the counterrevolutionary activity that preceded Louis Napoleon's seizure of power. Thomas Forstenzer revises the standard and current interpretations of social and political repression in France from 1848 to 1851.

    Originally published in 1981.

    ThePrinceton Legacy Libraryuses the latest print-on-demand technology to again make available previously out-of-print books from the distinguished backlist of Princeton University Press. These paperback editions preserve the original texts of these important books while presenting them in durable paperback editions. The goal of the Princeton Legacy Library is to vastly increase access to the rich scholarly heritage found in the thousands of books published by Princeton University Press since its founding in 1905.

    eISBN: 978-1-4008-5419-6
    Subjects: History

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Preface
    (pp. ix-x)
  4. Introduction
    (pp. xi-2)

    In its narrowest political sense, revolution is a struggle between established authority and outlaws who menace the very existence of the state. Insurrection, an extralegal appeal to force by subordinate groups against entrenched elites, is a criminal activity unless and until the rebels prevail. By the same token, counterrevolution, the defense of the status quo against the threat of revolution, is an attempt at law enforcement, a police activity. The clash between insurgents and a government is therefore a complex and comprehensive interplay of “cops” and “robbers,” but one in which the social definition—the identity—of the “cop” and...

  5. 1 An Anatomy of a Permanent Counterrevolution
    (pp. 3-23)

    Much is known about the revolutionary process and the radical movement under the Second Republic, but we have been handicapped by our comparative ignorance of the forces that ultimately defeated the radicals. This historiographical blind spot is present not only in the writings on this particular era; it is part of a general imbalance in the way virtually all violent social conflicts have been studied by historians and social scientists. In his recent attempt to elaborate a model for the study of counterrevolutions, Arno J. Mayer points out that

    ever since 1789 the study of revolution has been pursued far...

  6. 2 The Contending Social Factions ca. 1840-1848
    (pp. 24-54)

    The groups that contended so violently for mastery of the Second Republic were spawned considerably earlier than 24 February 1848. They had been produced, yet contained, by the slow-moving social evolution of nineteenth-century France. The most explosive among them were the lower-middle-and lower-class political organizations with radical social demands. These groups had been placed under particular pressure by the institutions and practices of the July Monarchy, and they reacted violently in 1848. The intensity of the crisis atmosphere surrounding the republic’s brief existence contrasts rather dramatically with the apparent placidity and orderly optimism of the preceding period—thejuste milieu....

  7. 3 Career Patterns of the Prefects and Procureurs-Généraux
    (pp. 55-102)

    Two ministries and their respective bureaucracies have usually been responsible for public order in France from the time of the Directory to the present: the Ministry of the Interior and the Ministry of Justice. Their hierarchies of authority and status, which extend from the offices of the ministry in Paris into the smallest commune, are the only police powers tolerated in the state: agents of the national government carry out law enforcement, and local authorities are formally subordinate to them. When the mayor of a commune or a justice of the peace issues an arrest warrant, he does so as...

  8. 4 Reports from the Provinces
    (pp. 103-148)

    The political repression carried out by theprocureurs-générauxand prefects is important evidence of the social fear and frustration experienced by the notables between 1848 and 1852 and also of the fear and stress experienced by the bureaucrats themselves. These matters have been acknowledged as significant by virtually all historians of the Second Republic, but they have never been subjected to systematic scrutiny.

    The government and its agents were usually well aware that they were ineffective in suppressing the left. The ministers and the bureaucrats were not immune to the fear experienced by other notables, and when they did express...

  9. 5 The Limits of Repressive Techniques before the Coup
    (pp. 149-225)

    With the major Marxist theorists of counterrevolution, from Marx himself to Mayer and Marcuse, historians of the Second Republic have believed that the leftward momentum of a revolution is spent, and counterrevolution is automatically triumphant, once the full force of the state is turned against the revolutionaries. The corollary to this “law” is that any fear professed by the ruling class is merely a calculated justification for obliterating the opposition, which was more an annoyance than a genuine threat. Yet the writers who have made these assumptions are surprisingly mute on the technical aspects of political repression, even though police...

  10. 6 From Frustration to a Totalitarian Revolution
    (pp. 226-248)

    The extralegal powers given the police bureaucrats from the date of the coup through the end of March 1852 mark a watershed in French history. Far from being a mere culmination of the repression carried out during the brief constitutional existence of the Second Republic, the mass arrests, the courts-martial, and finally the Mixed Commissions were an explosion of rage against those who had threatened the social order of nineteenth-century France. The sheer numbers involved (more than 26,000 arrests officially recorded), the kangaroo court procedures (defense attorneys were never present at a hearing, no witnesses were heard, and the defendant...

  11. Appendix 1 The Prefects and Their Departments
    (pp. 249-277)
  12. Appendix 2 The Standard Interpretation: Social Fear after 1849 as a Hoax
    (pp. 278-282)
  13. Notes
    (pp. 283-318)
  14. Sources and Bibliography
    (pp. 319-330)
  15. Index
    (pp. 331-336)
  16. Back Matter
    (pp. 337-337)