Page:Studies in socialism 1906.djvu/145

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95
The Necessity for a Majority

hundred and twenty years that have passed since the Revolution, human energy, already excited by the Reformation and the Renaissance, has developed a prodigious animation. In all classes and in all conditions of life we find active wills, forces in motion. Everywhere the individual has become self-conscious. Everywhere greater and greater efforts are being made. The working class has shaken off its drowsiness and passivity. But the lower middle-class is also active. In spite of the often crushing weight of the present economic system, it is not altogether subdued; it is constantly making an effort to better itself. And if it often seeks its deliverance by the most reactionary ideas, the most detestable politics, and the most sterile and degrading jingo patriotism, it is none the less an active and passionate power. It forms leagues, and in Paris it holds the Republican and Socialist democracy in check. That is to say, it will oppose a resistance that may be effective, to any social movement to which it has not been gradually converted, at least to a certain degree. In the same way the small peasant-proprietors have played a great rôle ever since the Revolution, sometimes on the side of reaction, sometimes on that of liberty. Save for some glorious and fairly numerous exceptions, they took fright at the idea of the Red Terror in 1851, and contributed to the success of the coup d'état and the Empire. Since then they have been gradually won over by the Republic and have become one of the living