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Page:Studies in socialism 1906.djvu/177

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127
Strike and Revolution

conditions and in what form it could hasten social evolution and the advancement of the cause of labour. In the second place, that such an idea could have appealed to any class as a possible means of liberation ought to be a terrible and decisive warning to society. What! the working class is the main supporter of the whole social order; it is the creator, the producer. If it stops, then everything stops. And one might speak of it in the magnificent phrase that Mirabeau, the first prophet of the general strike, used of the Third Estate, still united then as workmen and bourgeois. "Take care," he cried to the privileged classes, "do not irritate this people, that produces everything, and that, to make itself formidable, has only to become motionless."

The owning and governing class has as yet learned to surrender too small a part of real power to this proletariat, the possessor of such formidable negative force, which at any moment it may be tempted to use. The owners have given, or rather they have allowed the working class to retain, so small a measure of confidence in the efficacy of legal evolution, that this class is fascinated more and more by the idea of refusing to work at all. Labour dreaming of refusing its service, the heart meditating stopping; that is the profound internal crisis to which we have been brought by the selfishness and blindness of the privileged classes, the absence of any definite plan of action on our part. Toward this abyss of