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Western Civ 10 - Socialism
Transcript of Western Civ 10 - Socialism
Workers need CLASS CONSCIOUSNESS! Why don't they have this?
Socialism, it could be argued, can be seen in the earliest human societies.
Early socialists went farther than Mill in arguing for a radical solution.
“The Hand of Greed”
“From each according to his ability;
to each according to his work.”
They believed that they would be able to convince the upper and middle classes to give up their ownership of natural resources and the means of production.
Fourier’s Phalanx in Ceresco, Wisconsin
Charles Fourier: phalanx
New Lanark in Scotland
They came to believe that the only way for workers to achieve a just society was to seize the means of production.
The Revolutionary Socialists
Marx and Engels systematized the call for revolutionary action, rooting it in history.
Karl Marx and Fredrich Engels
In these works they developed the economic (or materialist) interpretation of history.
The most important thing about a society depends on how it apportions its resources, the material basis of life.
Because there is a finite amount of money and material in the world, all human history is a story of class struggle.
Over time, the worker has become alienated from the things that he produces and from his fellow man. He has become another piece of capital to be bought and sold.
Given these realities...
Because the real story of history is class war, because the factory owners have the advantage in winning it, and because they will never give up their resources, the only hope is…
The Communist Manifesto, Das Kapital, Capital
The 1871 Paris Commune
After the revolution, a classless society would ensue.
Marx gets vague on the “what then” question…
The Flaws are easy to see:
They define human happiness only in material terms, ignoring spiritual and altruistic desires.
They underestimate human greed.
Flaws in the system, Long Term Significance
The revolutions of 1848, in Germany, the Austro-Hungarian Empire, and Italy were about liberal tendencies and nationalism, not socialism.
No revolutions happened in Britain or Belgium, where industrialization was strongest.
Only in France did revolution happen against Louis Phillipe.
But that’s it…
A meeting of chartists in Kensington, 1948. These fail but are followed by the Reform Acts of 1867
which widen the franchise
1848-1871 saw full employment and economic growth.
Workers were in high demand and could organize into unions that could bargain.
Workers gradually received the vote.
Once they got the vote, politicians began to push for improved working conditions and treatment – for reform.
By the end of the 19th century, workers began to support their own socialist political parties.
Why didn’t the revolution happen?
Because he was the first to point out just how important economics is to history
Because his critique of capitalism is profound and hard to ignore.
Because he speaks to the needs of the least powerful members of society.
Marx remains important, nonetheless