Advertisement

The Social Politics of Bureaucracy

The ‘Bureaucrat’ as ‘Bourgeois Type’
  • Ralph Kingston
Chapter
  • 88 Downloads
Part of the War, Culture and Society, 1750–1850 book series (WCS)

Abstract

Despite their very limited impact on the ordinary personnel of administrations, newspapers made the ‘purges’ of 1814–15 notorious. On 14 May 1815, Le Moniteur reported how ministerial reforms had centred on those who had ‘spent part of the last year offering proof … of their devotion to the Bourbon dynasty, while still engaged by their oath to the Emperor Napoleon’.1 Restoration newspaper editors were keen to heap opprobrium on Carnot in particular, who had ‘carefully investigated everyone who had ever expressed an opinion or shown a royalist sentiment, to persecute and destitute them.2 Yet even though they criticized Carnot for having exercised a despotic rule over his helpless clerks, forcing them to swear allegiance to Napoleon and to accept a constitution they despised, Restoration journals simultaneously called for a new purge of girouettes and Bonapartists. Out of this double standard, the impression emerged of an administration full of roués (used men) whose oaths of loyalty and vaunted merit carried little value and no legitimacy. Portraying the ministries as ‘ruled’ by the ‘will’ of Carnot or Bonaparte, the newspaper turned all administrators into impostors, all clerks into political ciphers.3 While real-life employés continued their daily routines, working towards promotions and pensions on the basis of ancienneté, the perception nonetheless developed that appealing to politics and politicians was a way to beat the system. Consequently, job seekers flooded the administrations with petitions in what became known as the manie des places.

Keywords

Symbolic Capital Office Politics Social Politics Reform Plan Money Lender 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

Preview

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Endnotes

  1. 3.
    One response to political attacks on bureaucrats in this period - and their punishment in annual budgets - is [Eugène Dossion], Le cri des employés, réponse à MM de la Bourdonnaye, Castel-Bajac, de Villèle, Cornet d’Incourt, Dufourgerais, et c. (Paris, 1817). Dossion, a rédacteur in the Ministry of Interior, wrote anonymously, ‘do you wish to follow the example of the Jacobins, your predecessors, who delivered one after the other to the fury of the populace (which is not the same as the people), nobles labelled as “aristocrats”, priests labelled as “fanatics”, magistrates and financiers as “leaches”… Out of the idea of “bureaucracy” the adjective “bureaucrat” has naturally formed, [in the same way that] ignorance and bad faith, among all parties, built up hatred of those the Revolution designated as “aristocrats” and “democrats”’ 5–7). See also Houchard, Les employés, les bureaux et les réformes considérés sous le rapport moral et politique (Paris, 1819).Google Scholar
  2. 8.
    Guillaume de Berthier de Sauvigny, La Restauration (Paris, 1955), 119–120, 278–281.Google Scholar
  3. 10.
    On the politics of the press in the period, see Irene Collins, The Government and the Newspaper Press in France, 1814–1881 (Oxford, 1959); Eugène Hatin, Histoire politique et littéraire de la presse en France (Paris, 1861); Robert Goldstein, Political Censorship of the Arts and the Press in Nineteenth-century Europe (Basingstoke, 1989).Google Scholar
  4. 20.
    Jacques Gilbert Ymbert, L’art du ministre: par une ex-excellence. Première partie: le ministre qui s’en va (Paris, 1821).Google Scholar
  5. 21.
    Ymbert, Profession de foi aux électeurs de l’Aisne (Paris, 1834).Google Scholar
  6. 24.
    Jacques-Gilbert Ymbert, Des dénonciateurs et des dénonciations (Paris, 1816), 229–230.Google Scholar
  7. 27.
    Collins, The Government and the Newspaper Press, 36–41. The use of metaphor to avoid censorship has been explored in more depth in the period of the July Monarchy, especially in relation to the newspapers of Charles Philipon: David Kerr, Caricature and French political culture, 1830–1848 (Oxford, 2000); James B. Cuno, ‘Charles Philipon and La Maison Aubert: the business, politics, and public of caricature in Paris, 1820–1840’, Ph.D. thesis (Harvard University, 1985); Elizabeth C. Childs, ‘The Body Impolitic: Press Censorship and the Caricature of Honoré Daumier’, in Making the News: Modernity and the Mass Press in Nineteenth-century France, ed. Dean de la Motte and Jeannene M. Przyblyski (Boston, 1999); Richard Terdiman, Discourse/Counter-Discourse: The Theory of Symbolic Resistance in Nineteenth-Century France (Ithaca, NY, and London, 1985); Sandy Petrey, In the Court of the Pear King: French culture and the rise of realism (Ithaca, NY, 2005).Google Scholar
  8. 32.
    On the criticism of Restoration government through cloaked political reference in the theatre itself, see Sheryl Kroen, Politics and Theater: The Crisis of Legitimacy in Restoration France, 1815–1830 (Berkeley, CA, 2000).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. 51.
    Gabriel et Edmon, Le déjeuner d’employés, comédie-vaudeville, en un actereprésentée, pour la première fois, à Paris, sur le Théâtre de Vaudeville, 18 juil- let 1823 (Paris, 1823); Théaulon, Francis and Artois, Le protecteur, comédie- vaudeville en un acte… représentée pour la première fois sur le Théâtre des Variétés, le 24 août 1826 (Paris, 1826); Francis and Maurice, Les employés, comédie-vaudeville en un acte… représentée pour le première fois, sur le Théâtre des Nouveautés (Paris, 1828); Carmouche and Frédéric de Courcy, La place et le dîner, comédie-vaudeville en un acte… représentée pour la première fois, à Paris, sur le Théâtre de la Porte Saint-Martin, le 17 mai 1828 (Paris, 1828); Casimir Bonjour, Le protecteur et le mari, comédie en cinq actes et en vers… représentée, pour la première fois sur le Théâtre Français, par les comédiens ordinaires du Roi, le 5 septembre 1829 (Paris, 1829).Google Scholar
  10. 55.
    Dumersan, Brazier and Carmouche, Les femmes d’employés, comédie en 1 acte, mêlée en couplets, représentée, pour la première fois, sur le Théâtre du Vaudeville, le 15 mars 1832 (Paris, 1832), 3.Google Scholar
  11. 70.
    Pierre Birnbaum, Les sommets de l’état: essai sur l’élite du pouvoir en France (Paris, 1994), 28.Google Scholar
  12. 79.
    Jules Delbousquet, De l’organisation des administrations centrales des divers ministères: des droits et des devoirs des employés (Paris, 1843), 29, 40.Google Scholar
  13. 82.
    Both Cuvier’s plan and the July Monarchy plans discussed above are also treated in Guy Thuillier, L’E.N.A. avant l’E.N.A. (Paris, 1983), 56–80.Google Scholar
  14. 86.
    Georges Demartial, ‘Le statut des fonctionnaires’, Revue politique et parle- mentaire, 156 (June 1907), 535–538.Google Scholar
  15. 96.
    Anne-Marie Meininger, ‘Qui est des Lupeaulx?’, L’Année balzacienne (1961), 153–154. Balzac also drew inspiration from Henry Monnier’s translation of the nuances of accent into written dialogue, his abandonment of conventional form to express the incoherence and confusion of social relationships, and his penchant for reusing characters in different storylines. Some early articles which formerly were attributed to Balzac were in fact written by Monnier: Meininger, ‘Balzac et Henry Monnier’, 227, 233. See Edith Melcher, The Life and Times of Henry Monnier (Cambridge, MA, 1950), 174–175, for a more detailed comparison.Google Scholar
  16. 99.
    Honoré de Balzac, Les employés, ed. Anne-Marie Meininger (Paris, 1985), 95; Les petits bourgeois, ed. Michel Bouteron [La comédie humaine, VII] (Paris, 1936), 95. Charles Rabou completed Balzac’s unfinished manuscript for Les petits bourgeois and published it in 1856–57 as Les parvenus. However, as Balzac left no indication of his own ideas as to its conclusion, this version does not form part of my analysis of the work.Google Scholar
  17. 103.
    Until the 1970s, Marxists dominated critical interpretations of realism. Best illustrated by Georg Lukács’ Balzac et le réalisme français, trans. Paul Laveau (Paris, 1999), they elaborated the power of realist novelists to describe real-life ‘types’. Structuralist and post-structuralist critics after 1968, however, challenged this viewpoint. Roland Barthes, in particular, pioneered the study of realism as a form of representation: ‘The Reality Effect’, in French Literary Theory Today: a Reader, ed. Tzvetan Todorov, trans. R. Carter (Cambridge, 1982), and S/Z, trans. Richard Miller (New York, 1974). Barthes argued that realism is both a constructed and a constructing practice. ‘Types’ are, in fact, stereotypes. Theoretically informed critics since Barthes have continued this investigation, looking in particular at the realists’ naturalization of socially and historically constructed gender categories and conceptions of the body: Dorothy Kelly, Fictional Genders: Role and Representation in Nineteenth-Century Narrative (Lincoln, NE, 1989); Naomi Schor, Breaking the Chain: Women, Theory, and French Realist Fiction (New York, 1985); Jan Matlock, Scenes of Seduction: Prostitution, Hysteria, and Reading Difference in Nineteenth-Century France (New York, 1994); Spectacles of Realism: Body, Gender, Genre, ed. Margaret Cohen and Christopher Prendergast (Minneapolis, 1995).Google Scholar
  18. 111.
    For historians of the nineteenth century, the label ‘petit bourgeois’ has more often been associated with shopkeepers and master artisans. However, this label (applied perjoratively by writers during the period under discussion) does little to reveal the complexity of those groups’ social identities any more than it does for administrators. For instance, they were very much central to the development of industrial capitalism in Continental Europe: Geoffrey Crossick and Heinz-Gerhard Haput, The Petite Bourgeoisie in Europe, 1780–1914: enterprise, family and independence (London, 1995). On the realist novel’s concentration on seemingly marginal social milieu as a device to categorize society as a whole, see D.A. Miller, ‘The Novel and the Police’, Glyph, 8 (1981), 128–137.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Ralph Kingston 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Ralph Kingston
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of HistoryAuburn UniversityUSA

Personalised recommendations