Page:Georges Sorel, Reflections On Violence (1915).djvu/33

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19
LETTER TO DANIEL HALEVY

The people who believe in natural right are not always implacable enemies of civil struggles, and certainly not of tumultuous rioting; that has been sufficiently shown in the course of the Dreyfus question. When the force of the State was in the hands of their adversaries, they acknowledged, naturally enough, that it was being employed to violate justice, and they then proved that one might with a good conscience "step out of the region of legality in order to enter that of justice" (to borrow a phrase of the Bonapartists); when they could not overthrow the government, they tried at least to intimidate it. But when they attacked the people who for the time being controlled the force of the State, they did not at all desire to suppress that force, for they wished to utilise it some day for their own profit; all the revolutionary disturbances of the nineteenth century have ended in reinforcing the power of the State.

Proletarian violence entirely changes the aspect of all the conflicts in which it intervenes, since it disowns the force organised by the middle class, and claims to suppress the State which serves as its central nucleus. Under such conditions, it is no longer possible to argue about the primordial rights of man. That is why our parliamentary socialists, who spring from the middle classes and who know nothing outside the ideology of the State, are so bewildered when they are confronted with working-class violence. They cannot apply to it the commonplaces which generally serve them when they speak about force, and they look with terror on movements which may result in the ruin of the institutions by which they live. If revolutionary syndicalism triumphs, there will be no more brilliant speeches on immanent Justice, and the parliamentary regime, so dear to the intellectuals, will be finished with—it is the abomination of desolation! We must not be astonished, then, that they speak about violence with so much anger.