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Page:Studies in socialism 1906.djvu/106

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Studies in Socialism

leaders did not foresee all the economic and social consequences that would result from this act. Mirabeau, for instance, thought that the suppression of royal monopolies and of guild privileges would bring into being in the new order a legion of small producers and independent artisans. He does not seem to have understood the great capitalistic evolution of industry that was about to take place. But others saw more clearly, and the Gironde especially had foreseen that wealth and production (to use an expression of that time) would be like great rivers, the waters of which it would be hopeless to attempt to distribute into little streamlets.

At all events, if the Revolution did not know exactly what the secondary and indirect consequences of the economic and social régime that it inaugurated would be, if it did not have a clear understanding either of capitalism, with its combinations, its daring devices and its industrial crises, or of the antagonistic development of the proletariat, it did at all events know what régime it wanted to inaugurate. That revolutionary France in 1789 was able to have so well defined a conception of the ends for which it was working, and so powerful a will to bring about its desires, was due to the fact that even the boldest reforms that it proposed had either precedents in the past or exact models in real life.

The economic growth of the industrial and merchant middle-class in the seventeenth and