Socialism & Class Struggle

Socialism was an important political idea during the French Revolution of 1848.  During and preceding the reign of King Louis-Philippe French society was rigidly split between the classes, and the working class wanted to ensure the Revolution did not benefit only the rich but also upheld their newly won freedom. Socialism was therefore extremely appealing to members of the lower and working classes, and was championed by a number of reformers in Paris. The posters below advocate for members of the working class to support the rise of socialism, both by voting for socialist candidates and by spreading socialist ideas. The introduction of universal male suffrage in 1848 created a political environment where social issues became increasingly pertinent, and the socialists were only one of many groups to promise to ‘cure’ the ailments faced by French society. Employment was a hot button issue during and after the Revolution, and socialists promised to fix the low unemployment rates if they were voted in. Popular socialist rhetoric included promises to share the wealth among classes and allow class mobility.


This is the application for the candidacy of Eugéne Béro, a socialist. This poster was written to appeal to industrial merchants and manufacturers and encourage them to support his candidacy. Béro wants to reform workers rights and claims he understands workers interests.  He promises to solve the high unemployment rates and represent the workers in the government if he is elected.


Louis Blanc, also a socialist, is appealing to the working class in this poster. This document explains the benefits of electing Blanc, who promises to ensure the “good administration of finances” of the French Republic while promoting socialist ideals.  He uses the poster to draw potential supporters’ focus to workers’ rights, and advocates that socialism will solve the issues of high unemployment rates and the gap between the social classes. His target audience is the workers, who he would recognize as the primary voters for the socialist cause.


This document describes the appointment of the new president of the Republic prior to the declaration of socialism as the new form of government. It addresses the questions that have been raised about socialism, but answers these questions to ensure socialism appears in the most flattering light possible. Many skeptics and critics were likely not appeased by this poster.


This document celebrates the introduction of universal male suffrage and claims that socialism is to thank for the development. Under King Louis-Philippe the right to vote was extended to only 220,000 privileged voters, all members of the elite class. It was believed that socialism had not only given the working class the right to vote, but would eventually give them their freedom, a central tenet of the Revolution.

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