It has always seemed that there's been a conflict between reformers and revolutionaries. The former relatively being described as those who want to patch up and repair the parts of the current system that cause so much misery. The latter relatively being described as those who want to completely overturn the social system in favor of a different system, one much more applicable to the wants and desires of human society. The chief aim of both has been thus: to change the current order of society insomuch that the lives of people (and animals, perhaps) are considerably improved. Both the reformer and the revolutionary are motivated by the same cause; they are plants to the same fertilizer. Their aim is to improve the lot of mankind -- to change those faults which have become inherent parts of life.
One of the most common assaults made against the reformer by the revolutionary is this: by reforming the system, by making small changes, my patching up small parts of the system, we are doing nothing but making the system more livable, making the people more tolerant of the status quo. For example, during the French Revolution, the efforts of all reformers (if there were any) were completely ineffective. Nothing was patched up. Nothing was changed.
The commonplace misery of the greater 95% of the population, caused by the social relationships, was enough to motivate the mass of people to revolt and overthrow their government. It was their misery, their pain, the suffering they had endured, that made them in to revolutionaries. Reformers, the revolutionary intellectual argues, prevent that misery from existing, and thus, they prevent revolutionary tendencies from taking place. For example, reformers in the United States have created a Minimum Wage law, have sustained fair working conditions in manufacturing plants, have created unemployment payments, have erected numerous public works programs -- all things that have alleviated the miseries of the working class in the United States. If none of these things had been put in to place, if none of these reforms were given acceptance by the government, then the working class would be pretty pissed off -- they would become revolutionaries from the 16 to 20 hour working days, the repression of the will of the workers, the massive amounts of poverty and unemployment, etc., etc.. If the conditions in the United States were worsened, then working proletariat would be so moved as to revolt against the class system, and they would create a genuinely Libertarian Communist social order.