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Paris and the Social Revolution

Paris and the Social Revolution

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Excerpt from Paris and the Social Revolution: A Study of the Revolutionary Elements in the Various Classes of Parisian Society

It was the author's original intention to let this book make shift without the conventional preface, as befitted the unconventionality of its theme. But he has learned since it was begun - what it was very stupid of him not to have known at the outset - that in the matter of heresies, ethical, social, and political as well as theological, interest is bound to pass for approval, explanation for advocacy, and sympathy, be it ever so slight, for profound belief: as if a man who showed a curiosity about and appreciation of dogs should, by that very fact, become a dog; or as if (since there may seem to be an unfortunate implication of contempt in this illustration a German who attempted to expound honestly English temperament, opinions, and traditions should, by that very fact, become an Englishman.

Once for all, then, the author is not a revolutionist, though there are moments when he fancies he would like to be one, it appears such an eminently satisfying state. It takes faith to be a revolutionist; and he is, alas! mentally incapable of faith. He is not an anarchist, not a socialist, not a radical, not a "red republican," nor a "mangeur de pretres." His affiliations have not been even Dreyfusard in France, nor even Bryanite in America. He is a conservative of the conservatives, only prevented from being a reactionary by the fact that reaction is but another form of revolution, and the most hopeless and faith-exacting of them all. So far from being a revolutionist, he is an evolutionist only under protest, - vi et armis, as it were. He favours things as they are, things as they were quite as often, while things as they might be contain for him no allure. He cherishes enormously this imperfect old world as it is, still more as it was; has not the slightest desire to reconstruct it after his own formula, and would not willingly exchange it for any hypothetical world which, up to the present hour, restless human ingenuity has devised.

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