The long-foreseen moment has arrived when capitalism is on the point of seeing its development arrested by impassable barriers. In whatever way we interpret the phenomenon of accumulation, it is clear that capitalism stands essentially for economic expansion and that capitalist expansion has now nearly reached the point where it will be halted by the actual limits of the earth’s surface. And yet never have there been fewer premonitory signs of the advent of socialism. We are in a period of transition; but a transition towards what? No one has the slightest idea. All the more striking, therefore, the carefree security with which we settle down in this transition period as though it were a deﬁnite stage, so much so that considerations concerning the crisis of the system have almost everywhere become commonplaces. Certainly, we
can always go on believing that socialism will arrive the day after tomorrow, and make a duty or a virtue of this belief; so long as we go on taking, day by day, the day after tomorrow to mean the next day but one after today, we shall be sure not to be disappointed; but such a state of mind is diﬃcult to distinguish from that of those worthy people who believe, for instance, in the Last Judgment. If we want to traverse this sombre age in manly fashion, we shall refrain, like the Ajax of Sophocles, from letting empty hopes set us aﬁre.