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FRENCH OFFICIALISM

It is undeniable that France maintains, out of State, county, or local funds, a larger number of officials and functionaries than any other country in the world. It has been well said that in France their name is not legion but multitude. When one counts up all the able-bodied citizens who are employed and paid by the State, the départements, or the communes, and adds those whose military service withdraws them from civil pursuits, one is startled to find what an enormous amount of productive energy is abstracted, and how few men are left to live their own lives, and thus contribute to the national growth, in wealth and numbers.

Officialism is not the only sore that is eating into the French nation. The causes of the ills it suffers from are multiple and complex. They are not all new ; some, indeed, are extremely old. But at the present time officialism, although it covers itself with the mask of conservatism, must be looked upon as the most active agent of social decomposition. Conservative it appears to be in the sense that it tends to keep down all initiative spirit, and all independence of character, and forms a sort of nation within a nation, with interests of its own and a rooted aversion to changes of any kind as dangerous to its existence. Confined in the employment to which he clings, the official is always the ally of the government of the day when he is not its slave, or, in reality, its absolute master. His salary is generally mediocre, and his style of life narrow and shabby, but he feels that it is surer than any other as long as the taxpayers' money comes in.

We are speaking now of the great mass—the rank and fileof government clerks and officials, whose numbers suffice to turn the scale at an election. They are far from being free and independent, even in the exercise of their rights as fathers of families. Thousands of examples prove that the subordinate employé is not at liberty to send his offspring to the school of his choice. This constant pressure brought to bear on the subaltern official renders him a sort of inert being who bends to all the exigencies of politics and the dictates of the party in power. It is not astonishing that the result of universal suffrage, as worked, is a factitious majority without nerve, defence, or independence, deprived of all elevated views, incapable of sequence in its ideas, and only obeying an egoistical instinct of self-preservation.

If we look more closely at the subordinate official and watch him in the performance of his routine duties, we are struck by the small amount of work he does in return for the salary he receives. This salary is sure, but does not suffice for the support of a family. Hence the small employé is constrained to supplement his income by other means. They are not all endowed with sufficient intellect largely to add by their talent to the household budget. A few of them write for the papers, while others cultivate the arts. Others, again, keep the books of small business firms. These are the more intelligent and more honest ones. It would be naïve indeed, however, to imagine that none of this outside work is done during office hours. This explains why four or five men are employed where one or two would be sufficient. There are others who, less scrupulous than those we have just mentioned, make money by selling information acquired in the execution of their official duties. Finally, the rest work for those who do nothing, and they themselves do as little as they can. They rarely disturb themselves, follow the beaten track, and have a horror of everything new. These form the main body of the army of functionaries, a seated army which covers innumerable sheets of paper with writings most of which are superfluous and often contradictory. It is the army of the ronds-de-cuir, a stalwart body which has always formed an insurmountable obstacle to reforms, which even revolutions have not vanquished, and before which every government has had to bow down. This army is full of worthy men to whom all movement is odious, and who rule their chiefs by procrastination and a servile obedience in things not related to their duties. Masters led by their servants is a spectacle often seen.

The rond-de-cuir-this figurative appellation is quite common and has become part of the language of public offices—is a type that has been studied by the moralist, who has found him to possess the principal traits of the French character: diligence, regularity of habits, strict integrity in the smallest things, and a disposition to find fault with the powers that be. He is further said to have a marked taste for reading, which he often indulges during official hours, and, overtopping all, a deep conviction that the post he occupies was created for him and not for the public convenience, and that the public must serve him.

Having drawn this rapid sketch of the French Government official, we will say what he costs. We have already hinted that his salary is by no means high, yet the total expense to the State is considerable. There are two reasons for this. In the first place, these functionaries are a countless host. Secondly, successive revolutions and frequent changes in the superior official staff have made it a rule for the men who come into power to reward adherents, friends, and relatives for their services by finding posts for them. As the best places are occupied, they must be rendered vacant, and the only way to do this is to cause the present holders to leave the service. For some of them the time to retire has come, and nothing is easier than to liquidate their pensions, towards which they have been contributing annually a certain part of their salaries. The number of vacancies thus created not being sufficient, it becomes necessary to hunt up the men who have not given satisfaction and force them to retire. This is a delicate operation which often requires laborious negotiations. The result of these methods is that the pension list grows larger with every change of minister and every new government. From 1876 to 1896, while the population of France only increased by about one million souls, the budget rose from 100,000,0001. to 140,000,0001., and the amount of the civil pension list more than doubled.

It is not easy to determine the exact number of employés of every sort who receive pay from the State. For the last half-century it has been the habit in France to consider as fonctionnaires—that is to say, attached to the government by close ties of absolute subjection-all those whose salaries appear in the budget, even if their duties are such as should make them entirely independent. We have seen in recent judicial proceedings that the senators and deputies implicated were amenable to the law as functionaries. Long-armed as the law is, it could not reach directly the members of Parliament who had made a traffic of their position. It had not been anticipated --and this is greatly to the honour of preceding legislaturesthat the votes of senators and deputies would one day be bought as one buys apples and cabbages in the market. The government, and the public too, were strongly of opinion that members of the Chambers are not, properly speaking, fonctionnaires. They do not act as such, and it is even their duty to remain strangers to all governmental action, in order to retain their independence and liberty of conscience. The difficulty was turned. It was said: “They are paid, and therefore they are functionaries. Correctly speaking, the remuneration they receive is not ó salary,' nor even ' fees' like those of doctors and lawyers, and still less is it ‘pay,' such as is allowed to officers and private soldiers. It has been given the somewhat hypocritical name of indemnity.' Senators and Deputies are indemnified for the trouble caused them by sending them to sit at Paris. For this they receive 9,000 francs per annum. This sum would be small as salary, but it is pretty large for an indemnity. It is true that it is in addition to certain small privileges, of which the free pass on all the French railways is not the least appreciated by these gentlemen. It must be admitted, however, that in lowering the representative of tial way.

the people to the rank of functionary the authors of the organic law governing the two great bodies of the State could not have supposed that this singular species of functionary would be content to live on 9,000 francs a year, if he had no private means, and resist all temptations to increase his income, honestly or otherwise. Many members use their position as a passport to journalism, others, who are barristers, turn it to account to get clients, while others again use it to push the sale of their books. These are honest means. Other members there are who utilise the fact of their belonging to one of the Chambers in such a manner as not to deprive their constituents of advantages on which they counted. They do not sell their votes in the open (Panama) market, but pay for friendly turns done them by the government by voting for it on occasions when a close division is expected on a question of confidence. Mr. So-and-so will be provided with a snug berth in the Inland Revenue Department if he shares the little pickings to be got therefrom with the influential deputy who procures it for him. Another man, if he obtains the post he covets, will show his gratitude in some other equally substan

As to selling honorary rewards, and helping delinquents to escape who ought to have been punished, these things are matters of history. Such means of adding to the official salary are equivocal, but they serve to maintain a flattering harmony between the government and the majority. They are a consequence of the system of payment of members, a system by which the representatives of the nation become badly remunerated officials.

The Senators number 300, and there are 531 members of the Chamber of Deputies. They cost the country 7,929,000 francs annually, without reckoning the 'indemnities' paid to the presidents, the clerks, and the 159 other persons attached to the two Houses. The total expense exceeds 12,000,000 francs, and we consider the price very high for the amount of work that is done. If we add to this sum the 1,200,000 francs paid to the President of the Republic we discover, with astonishment, that the pouvoirs publics, as now constituted, cost the nation 13,313,737 francs per annum, or 313,737 francs more than the old royal civil list. Yet one would be only too happy if this modest figure represented the whole of the increase.

The habit and passion of fonctionarisme have been carried to their extreme limits. The category has been made to embrace men who do, it is true, exercise a function, but a function outside the action of the government, a spiritual and intangible function. Under various decrees, the priests and ministers who are remunerated by the State are considered functionaries. As far as the non-Catholic creeds are concerned, the remuneration is an act of generosity; it has nothing obligatory about it, and is dictated solely by a spirit of wide tolerance. It is different with the Catholic establishment, whose maintenance, and the salaries connected therewith, result

Vol. XLIII-No. 252

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from a synallagmatic contract between two States, which compact, by reason of this fact, is placed under the guarantee of the law of nations. Doubtless the stronger of the two parties can tear it to pieces at any time, violate her word and disown her signature. But these are not the methods of civilised peoples, and they often bring disaster to those who resort to them. This is what happened to the great French Revolution. It sowed contempt for laws divine and human, and reaped civil and foreign war, and finally took refuge in despotism. In 1791 the Constituent Assembly seized the property of the churches, and established in France what was called a "constitutional' clergy, composed of genuine functionaries. Such an organisation might suit in other countries, but France showed so much hostility to it that ten years later it became necessary to return to the old track. Bonaparte, then only First Consul but already omnipotent, found it advisable, in order to consolidate his power, to abandon this instrument of despotism. Hence this synallagmatic treaty, which restored the churches and recognised the clergy's right to an indemnity for its confiscated property. This was not a salary, and it is doubtful whether Bonaparte foresaw that Napoleon would one day regret not having made the Church of France a nest of functionaries. Anyhow, the stamp which he afterwards tried to give it turned to his disadvantage. The inclination still subsists in certain politicians. The idea of subjugating the Church revives in the mind of the government every time it finds the clergy an obstacle to its views, or even offering merely a semblance of opposition. Since 1878, the French clergy have again become functionaries. They had ceased to be such after 1871. They were such under the Second Empire, and also under Louis-Philippe, but by no means so under the Restoration. It is thus that, in France, everything is changed without a single reform being accomplished, and as the past has been, so probably will the future be.

All the elected representatives of the nation are officials. The Court of Appeal has repeatedly decided in this sense. Several times it had decided otherwise. To-morrow, perhaps, it may change its mind again. All the priests who are paid by the State are, at present, regarded as officials, save the Mussulman priests of Algeria. These latter are paid without being considered functionaries, as if to prove that the receipt of a salary is not ipso facto the indelible sign of an official. All young Frenchmen, with a very few exceptions, serve three years in the army. Consequently, they are functionaries in the narrowest acceptance of the word. Even those who are exempted from military service-often on the most whimsical pretextsmay become functionaries to-morrow, by a call to arms or the obligatory occupation of a salaried post. And everyone continues up to the age of forty years thus vowed to functionarism.

Taking the quasi-official figure of 750,000 as the number of

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