Marx's proletariat was an innovation which has made a lasting impression on socialism. While most other socialists believed that socialism needed the assistance of well-meaning bourgeois, or the plots of small, secret societies, Marx held that the proletariat was the key agent in the elimination of capitalism. For most other socialists, the idea of socialism represented the reconciliation of classes; for Marx it consisted in their abolition. He saw the proletariat not simply as among the beneficiaries of socialism, but as its creator. Marx was not always clear or consistent about the means of achieving socialism, or about the relations between the proletariat and its leaders, but he maintained that a proletarian revolution would usher in a classless society. This paradoxical combination of victorious class and classless sequel was based on an abstract conception of the proletariat as the representative of all mankind, and was a touchstone of his theory.