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Page:Studies in socialism 1906.djvu/178

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Studies in Socialism

a revolutionary general strike the proletariat is feeling itself more and more drawn, at the risk not only of ruining itself should it fall over, but of dragging down with it for years to come either the wealth or the security of the national life.

The general strike, quite powerless as a revolutionary method, is none the less in its very idea a revolutionary index of the highest importance. It is a prodigious warning to the privileged classes, rather than a means of liberation for the exploited classes. It is a dull menace in the very heart of capitalist society that, even if it comes to nothing in the end but an impotent outburst, is witness to an organic disorder that can only be healed by a great transformation.

Finally, if the governing class were mad enough to lay hands on the poor liberties that have been won, the wretchedly insufficient means of action of the proletariat, if they threatened or attacked universal suffrage, if by the persecution of employers and the police they made the right to unite in trades-unions and the right to strike empty forms, then a violent general strike would be certainly the form that a labour revolt would take, it would be their final and desperate recourse, more as a means of injuring the enemy than of saving themselves.

But the working class would be the dupe of a fatal illusion and a sort of unhealthy obsession if it mistook what can be only the tactics of despair