Origins of Socialism


First elemets emerged - period of conservative reaction following defeat of Napoleon in 1815

Liberalism - still dominant radical ideology - elements which sought some form of social justice had emerged during French Revolution

Most notable - 'Conspiracy of the Equals' led by Gracchus Babeuf in 1974

By 1930s - groups arguing for separate working-class organisation existed in France (Louis-August Blanqui 1805-81) and in Britain - the Chartists

By 1840s - such groups were widespread across Western Europe

Best known example - international League of the Just - 1847 - renamed itself the Communist League at the instigation of two members of its executive committee - Karl Marx (1818-73) and Frederick Engels (1820-95)

By this time - clear features were developing socialist thought.

Rested on attitudes towards capitalism and the ways in which society might be transformed

Initally - all socialists believed not only is society unequal but all wealth is produced by labour

From this - socialists believed that free-market capitalism is a source of inequality and explotation

Question was - what to do about this?

1. Totally destroy capitalism - through aboliton of private property. To replace it - should be some form of socialisation of property under democratic control

View promoted by Mark and Engels, and by French tendency influenced by Philippe Proudhon (1809-65)

2. Reform capitalism - save the interests of the people. Involved increased legislation on social conditions, social welfare financed by taxation - on the rich - and some limited public ownership of industry.



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