152 Studies in Socialism
geois revolutions; it can no longer seize and twist to its advantage the revolutionary agitations of the middle class, because these agitations are over and done with. On open ground, on the large field of democratic legality and universal suffrage, the Socialist proletariat is now preparing, en- larging, and organising its revolution. To this methodical, direct, and legal revolutionary action Bngels at the end of his life summoned the Euro- pean proletariat in famous words which, in fact, relegated the Commwiist Manifesto to the past. Henceforward, middle-class revolutionary action being over, all violent means employed by the proletariat would result only in uniting all non- proletarian forces in an opposition coalition. And that is why I have always interpreted a general strike not as a means of violent action, but as one of the most gigantic means of legal pressure that the educated and organised proletariat can bring to bear for great and definite ends.
But if the historical hypothesis on which the revolutionary conception of the Comnnaiisi Mani- festo is based is as a matter of fact vSuperannuated, if the proletariat can no longer count on the revo- lutionary movements of the bourgeoisie as a means of displaying its own revolutionary' power, if it can no longer erect its class dictatorship after a period of chaotic and violent democracy, can it at least expect its sudden installation in power as the result of an economic crash, a cataclysm of the capitalistic system, that has come at last face to