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Page:Studies in socialism 1906.djvu/185

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The Question of Method

mechanism by which the coming victory shall be obtained?" In proportion as the proletarian power increases in self-consciousness it becomes embodied in definite forms; in universal suffrage, in trades-unions, co-operative societies, and the various branches of the public service in the democratic State And we cannot treat the power of the proletariat apart from the forms in which it has already organised itself, the machinery that it has already partially adapted to its own uses. We have, then, reached the time when it is no longer Utopian to try to find out with a certain amount of precision what method the growing Socialist idea will adopt to bring about its complete realisation. To ask this is not to separate ourselves from the life of the proletariat, by returning to the realm of Utopian conjecture; it is, on the contrary, to bind ourselves more closely to that life, to grow with it, to become more fixed in our ideas as it defines itself more and more clearly. For that life is no longer "the spirit moving over the face of the waters"; it is already incorporated in institutions, both economic and political (universal suffrage, democracy, trades-unions, co-operative societies), that have reached a definite stage of development and acquired a power and a policy; and it behooves us to know whether the Communism of the proletariat can be realised by these means, or whether, on the other hand, it can only be brought about by a decisive rupture with existing institutions.