As Marx distanced himself from the speculative construction of the proletariat, he increasingly concentrated on the proletariat as a political and as an economic class. He saw the political as important both in constituting the proletariat as a class and in distinguishing modem from earlier social arrangements. Politics compelled social classes who would rule to present their interests in a universal form. In developing into a class/or itself, therefore, the proletariat had to aim at the capture of state power partly by presenting its interest as the general interest. Politics, Marx now believed, was the medium in which communists, as representatives of the proletariat, could proclaim the proletariat as a universal class, thus uniting the proletariat and attracting allies to its cause. Between 1846 and 1850, communists had a central role in Marx's conception of the proletarian revolution;l most of his work at this time, therefore, was directed at them and against their •deviations'. Until just after the 1848 Revolutions, he conceived of the socialist revolution in rather traditional (i.e. French) terms: as a political revolution inaugurated by communist seizure of state power, the introduction of universal suffrage and a programme of gradual nationali7.ation of industry, universal education for the young, etc. The capture of state power by the communists would precipitate the fonnation of the proletariat into a class for itself. Yet Marx was no Leninist avant la lettre. For him, communists possessed no knowledge that the proletariat could not attain to. Nevertheless, he treated communists quite differently from workers: he demanded more from them, and he was generally intolerant of them. He believed that communists were prone to ideological illusions. As proletarians came, peacefully, to have a political voice in the 1850s and '60s with the extension of suffrage, the insurrectionary role Marx had envisaged for communists became less relevant. Proletarians needed access to politics to develop into a class.