The works of my friends have been treated with great contempt by the Socialists who mix in politics, but at the same time with much sympathy by people who do not concern themselves with parliamentary affairs. We cannot be suspected of seeking to carry on a kind of intellectual industry, and we protest every time people profess to confuse us with the intellectuals, who do, as a matter of fact, make the exploitation of thought their profession. The old stagers of democracy cannot understand why people should take so much trouble unless they secretly aim at the leadership of the working classes. However, we could not act in any other way.
The man who has constructed a Utopia designed to make mankind happy is inclined to look upon the invention as his own personal property; he believes that no one is in a better position than he is to apply his system. He thinks it very unreasonable that his writings do not procure him some post in the government. But we, on the contrary, have invented nothing at all, and even assert that nothing can be invented; we have limited ourselves to defining the historical bearing of the notion of a general strike. We have tried to show that a new culture might spring from the struggle of the revolutionary trades unions against the employers and the State; our greatest claim to originality consists in our having maintained that the proletariat can emancipate itself without being compelled to seek the guidance of that section of the middle classes which concerns itself professionally with matters of the intellect. We have thus been led to regard as essential in contemporary phenomena what was before regarded as accessory, and what is indeed really educative for a revolutionary