Open main menu

Page:Studies in socialism 1906.djvu/168

This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.
118
Studies in Socialism

will very quickly be led to arming itself with its gun or any other violent weapon that comes to hand. As a matter of fact, then, they count on the revolutionary force of events to supplement or complete the insufficient revolutionary force of men.

I have a perfect right to say that this is a revolutionary trick. And like every machine that has not been tested by repeated experiments before it is put to a decisive use, this one is bound to disillusionise in many ways those confiding men who expect the greatest results from it. To work up by artificial means a revolutionary excitement which the ordinary action of suffering, misery, and injustice has not been strong enough to produce, is a very hazardous enterprise.

It has been said that revolutions are not decreed. It may be said with still greater truth that they cannot be manufactured; and that no machinery of conflict, no matter how vast or how ingenious, can replace the revolutionary preparation of events and men's minds. It will not do first to postulate the general strike and then expect the Revolution to succeed as an inevitable consequence. It is perfectly possible that the proletariat, needing as they do the pretext and even the illusion of legality to lure them into the movement in the beginning, will shrink from the use of force when the pretext is unmasked and the illusion vanished. The die cast into the air may possibly fall on the side of violence; it may