Open main menu

Page:Studies in socialism 1906.djvu/69

This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.
Socialism and Life

organised, now every one can understand and realise it. Now the growth of modern industry has brought forth a working proletariat increasingly numerous, coherent, and self-conscious. Those who with Marx hailed the advent of this decisive power, those who have understood that the world was to be transformed by its means, have perhaps shown a tendency to exaggerate the rapidity of economic evolution. Less prudent than Proudhou, and not allowing as he did for the power of resistance and resources of self-transformation in the class of small producers, they have perhaps over-simplified the problem and magnified the absorbing faculty of concentrated capital.

But even after we have made all the reservations and restrictions which result from the study of the complicated and many-sided reality, the truth remains that the proletariat is increasing in numbers, that it represents an ever-growing fraction of human societies, and that it is gathered together in always vaster centres of production; the truth remains that wholesale production has made this proletariat ready to conceive of wholesale ownership of property, which, carried to its logical conclusion, is social ownership of property.

Thus Socialism, which in Babeuf may be called the most acute manifestation of the democratic Revolution; which in Fourier and Saint-Simon was the most splendid enlargement of the bold promises of wealth and power poured forth by capital; which in Proudhou was the sharpest