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Page:Studies in socialism 1906.djvu/162

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Studies in Socialism

suffering would be intensified by the crisis of misery and hunger. Hence would come inevitable conflicts between the working class and the panic-stricken guardians of the capitalist system. At the end of a few days, then, the general strike would become purely revolutionary in character. And as the capitalist power would be scattered by the very necessity of keeping watch over such a varied and widespread movement, as the army of repression would be scattered and submerged in the flood, the proletariat would be able to overcome the obstacle against which it had heretofore only beat itself in vain, and, master of the social system at last, would install labour as sovereign.

That is the idea. I do not say that it is as clear as that in the minds of all theorisers on the subject of the general strike. I do not say that all who acclaim it attach the whole of this meaning to it. But I do say that for those who see in it the decisive means of liberation, it has that meaning or none.

Well, given this revolutionary meaning, I think the ideal is a false one. First, a tactical movement is especially dangerous when it cannot fail a single time without involving an immense disaster for the whole working class.

The partisans of the general strike, taking the words in this sense, are obliged—understand this clearly—to succeed the first time. If a general strike fails, after having had recourse to revolutionary violence, it will have left the capitalist