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Page:Studies in socialism 1906.djvu/205

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The Question of Method

make it possible to pass without pain from a dogma professed for many years to a better known truth. And since the "revolutionary" spirits have need of these manipulations, who would dream of thwarting them? Nevertheless if Marx had only meant to talk of a relative pauperisation, how would he have been able to conclude that capitalism would force its slaves down below the minimum living wage, and thus, by a series of irresistible reflexes, make it inevitable that the working class should bring on the destruction of the bourgeoisie?

It has been said, too, that Marx and Engels only wished to define the abstract tendency of capitalism and to give a picture of what bourgeois society would become by its own law if the organisation of labour did not by an inverse effort counteract the tendency of oppression and depression. And how, indeed, could Marx, who made the proletariat the essence and vital embodiment of Socialism, have failed to recognise and give value to proletarian action? But it seems as if, in the thought of Marx, this action, although in fact ensuring certain partial economic advantages to the proletariat, was chiefly important as a means of increasing its class consciousness by developing its sense of injury and of its own strength: "But with the development of industry the proletariat not only increases in number; it becomes concentrated in greater masses, its strength grows, and it feels that