TOUT POUR ET PAR LE PEUPLE – EVERYTHING FOR AND BY THE PEOPLE
« Pour l’Honneur de la France, pour les intérêts sacrés de l’Humanité – For the Honour of France, for the sacred interests of Humanity »
(Napoléon le Grand, le 17 ventôse an VIII – Samedi 8 mars 1800 – Napoleon the Great, 17th of Ventôse Year VIII – Saturday 8th March 1800)
ON NAPOLEONIC IDEAS
NAPOLEON III, EMPEROR OF THE FRENCH
Translated from the French
by Paul-Napoléon Calland, President of the Bonapartist Movement, and published in French and English in honour of the two hundred and fiftieth anniversary of the birth of Napoleon the Great, on the Fifteenth of August, 2019.
Traduit du français par Paul-Napoléon Calland, Président du Mouvement Bonapartiste, et publié en français et en anglais en l’honneur du 250e anniversaire de Napoléon le Grand, le 15 août 2019.
WHEN the fait of arms had rendered Napoleon the master of the greater part of the continent, he wished to have his conquests serve the establishing of a European confederation (1).
Prompt to understanding the trend of civilisation, the Emperor hastened its march, by carrying out immediately that which was contained in the far-off decrees of Providence. His genius made him foresee that the rivalry which divides the different nations of Europe would disappear before a properly understood general interest.
The more the world perfects itself, the more the barriers which divide men are driven further apart, the more there are countries which are brought together by the same interests.
In the infancy of societies, the state of nature existed between man and man; then a common interest brought together a small number of individuals, who renounced some of their natural rights, in order that society guarantee the entire enjoyment of all of the other rights. Thus, the tribe, or the clan, was formed, an association of men where the state of nature disappeared, and where the law replaced the rights of the strongest. The more civilisation progressed, the more this transformation took place on a greater scale. Men fought from gate to gate, hill to hill; then the spirit of conquest and the spirit of defence formed towns, provinces, and States; and a common danger having brought together a great part of these territorial fractions, the nations formed. Thus, national interest embraced all the local and provincial interests, fighting was now between peoples, and each people in turn trod triumphantly upon the territory of their neighbour, when they had a great man at their head and a great cause behind them. The commune, the town, the province, thus, one after the other, agrandised their social sphere, and extended the limits of the circle beyond which the state of nature exists. This transformation stopped at the frontier of each country, and it is still force, and not law, which decides the fate of the peoples.
To replace, between the nations of Europe, the state of nature by the social state, this was therefore the Emperor’s thought. All his policies tended toward this immense result, but to achieve it, it was necessary to bring England and Russia to frankly second his aims.
“As long as there will be fighting in Europe”, said Napoleon, “ it will be a civil war”.
“The Holy Alliance is an idea that was stolen from me”, that is the holy alliance of the peoples by the kings, and not that of the kings against the peoples – there is the immense difference between his idea and the manner in which it has been realised. Napoleon had transferred the sovereigns in the momentary interest of the peoples; in 1815, the peoples were transferred in the individual interest of the sovereigns. The statesmen of this epoch, consulting only grudges and passions, based a European balance upon the rivalries of the great powers, instead of seating his upon general interests; thus it is that their system has collapsed on all sides.
The Emperor’s policy, on the contrary, consisted in founding a solid European association, by making his system rest upon complete national entities, and on satisfied general interests. If Fortune had not abandoned him, he would have had in his hands all the means of constituting Europe; he had kept in reserve whole countries of which he could dispose to attain his goal. Dutch, Romans, Piedmontese, inhabitants of Breme and Hamburg, all of you who have been stunned to find yourselves become French, you will re-enter the atmosphere of nationality that befits your antecedents and your position; and France, in ceding the rights that victory had given her over you, will act yet in her own interest, for her interest cannot be separated from that of civilised peoples. To cement the European association, the Emperor, according to his own words, would have had adopted a European Code, a European court of Cassation, repairing errors of justice for all, as the Cour de Cassation in France repairs the errors of her tribunals. He would have founded a European Institute to animate, lead and coordinate all of the scholarly societies in Europe (2). Uniformity of currency, weights and measures, uniformity of legislation, would have been obtained by his mighty intervention.
The last great transformation would therefore have been accomplished for our continent. And just as in principle the communal interests had risen, above those of individuals, then the interests of cities above those of the communes, the interests of the provinces over those of the cities ; and finally those of the nation above those of the provinces; so also, the European interests would have dominated the national interests; and humanity would have been satisfied; for Providence could not have wished that a nation be happy at the expense of the others, and that there be only, in Europe, but victors and vanquished, and not reconciled members of the same great family.
1) He had the Additional Act preceded by these remarkable words: “I had”, he said, in speaking of the past, “as my aim, to organise a great European federative system which we had adopted as in conformity with the spirit of the age and favourable to the progress of civilisation. In order to bring it to completion and to give to it all the extent and all the stability of which it was susceptible, I had postponed the establishment of several internal institutions, more especially designed to protect the liberty of the citizens”.
2) The Emperor had already begun this type of European association for the sciences, by giving European prizes for new discoveries or inventions. In spite of the state of war, Davy in London, and Hermann in Berlin, won prizes created by the Institute.
In the same spirit of European confraternity, the Emperor had it declared, by a senatus-consultum on the 21st of February 1808, that those who brought into the bosom of France, talents, inventions, a new industry, or who formed great establishments, could, after a year’s residence, be granted the enjoyment of the title of French citizen, which would be conferred upon them by a decree.