Page:Studies in socialism 1906.djvu/153

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103
The Necessity for a Majority

production, and would use up so much energy and elasticity in numberless jars and frictions, that the whole system would end in disaster. It can only succeed by the general and almost unanimous desire of the community.

Destined for the benefit of all, it must be prepared and accepted by almost all, practically indeed by all; because the hour inevitably arrives when the power behind an immense majority discourages the last efforts to resist its will. The noblest thing about Socialism is precisely that it is not the regime of a minority. It cannot, therefore, and ought not to be imposed by a minority.

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I must add, further, that the long exercise of universal suffrage has made it more and more difficult, if not impossible, for the minority alone to carry through any enterprise successfully. Universal suffrage, indeed, is constantly throwing light on the respective strength of the different parties. It is perpetually and publicly taking their measure. For a minority to attempt any independent movement when all the country knows, and it knows itself, that it is in the minority, is, then, extremely difficult.

In 1830 and 1848 the revolutionary minority which rose up could say, and could make others believe, that it represented the thought of the majority. Because this majority, under a system of limited suffrage, was voiceless. I do not speak of the fall of the Empire, whose collapse was due