[Back to Modern Europe Syllabus]

Paul Halsall
Modern Western Civilization

Class 20: Socialism, Marxism, and Trade Unionism

I. Introduction

A. What is Socialism ?

What is Marxism ?

What is Communiism ?

B. Refer back to Lecture on 1848 -

Socialism as another product of 1848

Workers and m/c liberals part company.

C. Importance of Socialism in Europe cf USA - Reasons

1. Trust of immigrants for American system.

-democracy from an early period.

-cf. governments in countries of origin.

-Franklin Roosevelt, a patrician liberal dispersed quite

strong socialist feeling in the early part of the 20th

century - by New Deal policies.

2. The fact middle class is majority of the population.

-America is much wealthier than Europe.

-In a profound/real sense America is less class-ridden.

-Socialism is a response to poverty and the belief

society must be and can be organised better.

3. The Myth of getting on

-idea that if one is poor, one is still potentially rich

rather than a member of the working class

-despite statistics which show perhaps 15% of people ever

change their class.

II. Origins of Socialism

A. French Rev did not include workers

Basically a liberal revolution. It protected the rights of

property. It supported Lassiez-faire economics, and opposed

trade unions.

These ideas were carried on by liberals in the 19th Century.

B. Industrial Revolution

1. The Oppression of the Working Class

Industrialisation and Pop. growth created poverty on a new

and much more visible scale.

It also created wealth on a scale hitherto unknown.

This created a new possibility - that poverty might

actually be abolished if only we organise society better.

Socialism is a response to poverty, and the belief it can

be eradicated.

2. The Creation of class conciousness

As Ind. Rev. progresses working people come to be conscious

of themselves as a class. Middle class people shared the

intense class consciousness of the 19th Century.

Creates possibility of working class political action,

from the 1830's.

C. Judeo-Christian ideas of Justice

1. Give the labourer his due

One of Four Sins crying out to heaven for Vengence

is depriving a labourer of his wages.

2. Blessed are the poor

Jesus' condemnation of wealthseekers and option for the


3. Profit motive and usury condemned.

4. Apostolic Community - In Acts all the disciples of Jesus

live, selling all they own for the community.

5. Christian Idea of history having a goal.

III. Utopian Socialists

A. French Utopians

Tend to promote a system of greater economic equality

organised by the goverment.

1. Count Claude Henry de Saint-Simon (1760-1825)

Planned economy - he believed modern society requires

modern management.

Government by a board of directors.

Was not keen on wealth redistribution, but of making all

not-poor by good management.

He had followers known as Saint-Simonians who organised a

little cult around him.

2. Charles Fourier (1772-1837) - Socialist Communities

He dealt with problem of tedium by suggesting that

each worker have several jobs and wander around from

one to anoth so as to avoid tedium.

Phalansteres - communities, 200 acres, 1500 people

(compare to kibbutzim) - also called Phalanxs.

One in US - Brook Farm, Mass, 1842-1847

3. Louis Blanc (1811-1882) - (Not really a Utopian.)

In the Cabinet in France in 1848.

State should promote socialist programmes and guarantee

employment - National workshops.

4. Pierre Joseph Proudhon (more an Anarchist)

Claimed worker was source of all wealth

What is Property (1840) -"Property is theft"

Ended up working for Louis III Napoleon

5. These Utopian Socialists do not talk about class struggle.

They see something is wrong, but feel paternal action is

the appropriate response.


They also lacked any meaningful political following.

However they have certain features which remain

common to socialism

-Interest in eradicating poverty.

-a belief in industrialisation, and its proper

use to eradicate poverty.

-profound disbelief in the liberal idea that person is

basically an atom in society. Socialists always look at

a person's place in a community. (some link here with

European conservatives).

-many of there ideas continue in European socialism,

which is never only Marxist. [emphasise]

IV. Early English Socialism

Sometimes lumped in with Utopian socialism. But it had a much

larger following early on, and tended to be less doctrinaire

later on.

A. Robert Owen (1771-1858)

1. Life: Born poor, Became a self made man.

2. New Lanark - A small town in Scotland

Built houses and schools for children.

Did not pay workers off during a depression.

Made a Profit.

Organised an unsuccessful copy in the US - New Harmony.

3. Aims

-He thought people could be made better by better

conditions (goes back to Locke).

-Shows no need for bad conditions or low wages.

-Basically paternalistic.

4. He ended his long life as a spiritualist/

B. The Grand National Consolidated Trade Union

Founded by Owen in 1830s - treid to bring all unions into

one. But it suffered a collapse in the 1830s.

C. Chartism- In the late 1830s.

1. 1836 William Lovett (1800-1877) forms London Working

Mens Association.

2. The Charter - The Six Points:

Universal male suffrage,

Annual elections,

Secret ballots,

Equal electoral districts,

Abolition of property qualifications for MPs,

Payments of members (all but one now accepted)

3. Fergus O'Connor made speeches. There was a chartist press.

It was radical and quite sophisticated.

4. It was split - some would not accept violnce.

5. Once conditions improved in late 1840s it lost

some of its force. Had the support of 1/2 the people.

But it was a mass w/c movement - before Marxism.

V. Socialist Philosophy - Marx and others

VI. Marxism

Only one idea amongst many in 1848, but now the major philosophy

in the world rated by number who live under its influence.

All modern political science, sociology and history effected

by its ideas, either by adopting them, rejecting them, or

looking at questions in an entirely new way.

A. Karl Marx(1818-1883)

German. Born in Trier in Rhineland.

Father Jewish convert to Lutheranism for employment

reasons. Marx often anti-semitic.

Went to Universities of Bonn, Berlin and Jena.

Published radical papers in Koln and Belgium,

[Rheinische Zeitung] until 1849 when he came

to live in London for many years.

Married to an aristocrat's daughter.

Buried in Highgate Cemetary, where each Sunday

pious people come and lay red carnations on a grave

tomb which reads "Philosophers want to explain the

world, but the thing is to change it".

B. Fredrich Engels(1820-1895)

German manufacturer's son.

Managed factory in Manchester

Condition of the Working Class in England (1845)

Supported Marx for many years

Was Marx's only real friend. They met 1844.

C. The Communist Manifesto 1848

Great Book - no actual communist party at the time.

D. Other Works

Das Kapital [Magnus Opus] 1867 on.

E. Theory

1. Origins

a. German Philosophy - Hegel

Idealism - Thesis-Antithesis etc

Concentration on History.

Idea of some possible end of series.

b. English Economics - Adam Smith/ Ricardo

ideas of how economics works

Theory of money and labour theory of Value

c. French Politcs - French Revolutions

Marx was effected by idea a revolution could

bring about change in a few days.

d. Marx claimed he was new in proving classes

were bound up with dev. of modes of production.

2. Philosophy - Dialectical Materialism

Thesis - Antithesis

| =History has meaning


Worked out materialistically.

Spirit and consciousness are products of matter.

3. Theory of History

Economics is at the Heart of History.

All ideologies and actions are structured by the time in

which they take place. Theses structures are based

ultimately on the economic basis of society, although

they do not lack reality.

The economic basis of society is the organisation

of the means of production. [explain the phrase]

All History is a history of class struggle.

4. Theory of Economics

Labour theory of value

Workers produced surplus value which was collected by

capitalists. = Marx's explanation of how workers were


5. View of Past History

Original society

Feudalism - creates bourgeoisie

Capitalism - creates proletariat

-Socialism (does not say what will happen)

6. View of Current (19th Cent.) Events

Capitalism contains seed of inevitable destruction


-tendancy to create two classes - Bourgeoisie and


-Proletariat is workers depreived of ownership of the

means of production

-Deprived of any reason to keep society, they will

change it.

Marx does see current society as evil, but it

is also inevitable, and equally it will change.

7. Political Theory

a. Revolution - Based on French experience.

b. Democratic Change

Marx and Engels were both effected by the changes that

took place in there lifetime, and thought socialism

may be established through democracy.

F. Marx and the First International 1864-1876

(The International Working Men's Association)

Marx worked to unite all the socialist

organisations it one international co-operation.

It included, Trade unionists, socialists, anarchists,

and polish nationalists.

He made an accommodation to the evolutionary trends in

Socialism. Marxism emerges as the single most important

strand of socialism all over Europe after this, especially

amongst German socialists.

G. Russia

Marxism was written for Germans, by a man living in England.

But the ideas were picked up in Russia - where they were to

have there greatest effect. Lenin significantly develops

Marxism. We will look at this in the section on Russia.

H. The Appeal of Marxism

1. Authority of Science - its claim to be scientific

Marx said he had proved his doctrines. There was the

belief what he said would inevitably come about.

(Karl Popper's attack on historicism and

Marx's claim to be scientific.

a). Marxism not science as it does not propose a model to

be tested by experience, but tries to fix experience

to its model.

b). Technology effects history. Technology is based on

knowledge. We cannot predict future technology, since

future technology is based on future knowledge, which

by definition we don't yet have. Therefore we cannot

predict the future course of events.

- an example would be the impact of TV on politics)

2. Emotional Appeal

Marxism decried ethics, but had an emotional appeal,

especially when it talks about oppression.

Also Marx tacitly assumes the Proletariat are better than

other classes - more altrusitc and deserving.

3. Analogy with Christianity

Prophet (Marx)

Holy Book (The Manifesto/Das Kapital)

Chosen People (Proletariat)

Clergy (Intellectual Leaders)

Church (Communist Party)

The Sinful (The Bourgeiosie)

The Promised Land (Communist society)

VII. Edward Bernstein and Revisionism

A. Edward Bernstein (1850-1932), was involved with the German

SPD, which as we shall see was both a marxist party, but

one which did not in practice advocate revolution.

B. In Evolutionary Socialism 1899 Bernstein noted that

Capitalism did not seem to be about to collapse, and change

might even theoretically be brought about by parliamentray

action. He called for more democracy and reform. NOTE Marx

had accepted this in GB and US, but it was not clear it

would work in authoritarian Germany.

VIII. Fabianism 1884

From (mythical) Roman general whose techniques had been

to avoid conflict to avoid defeat - ie gradualism.

British intellectuals - GB Shaw (1856-1950),

Sidney (1859-1947) and Beatrice Webb.(1866-1946).

Aim was gradual social change, backed up by accurate arguments.

Were keen on state control of means of production.

IX. Trade Unions

A. The Workers Movement - perhaps had more to do with Unions.

Generally the Working class becomes stabilised after

1850/1870. But it continues to grow in numbers and importance

as the 2nd indutrial revolution takes hold.

Unions organise to get better conditions for members.

Face Combination Acts/Anti-Union Laws. There were some very

long strikes. But in general no violent uprisings.

In fact workers begin to have a stake in society. Marx was

wrong. Workers conditions did improve. Workers have some

possessions. Many are quite conservative.

B. Britain - From Chartism to Craft Unions

1. Failure of Grand National Consolidated &

Failure of Chartism.

EMPHASISE. Unions in GB organise from the bottom up.

Gradualism is the way. The failure of these overblown

attempts prepares the way for the smaller union to evolve.

Less political agitation and more practical work.

2. Repression.

Unions become legal 1871. Repeal of Combination Acts.

Protection to Trade Unions in 1875 in Parliament,

under Disraeli. [Allowed to picket]

3. Craft Unions -

a. Tolpuddle Martyrs

b. Conservatism of Unions

4. General Unions

Less skilled workers beging to organise, miners, railway

workers. dockers (longshoremen).

Before WWI they never include a majority of the

labour force. [they do afterwards]

5. Increasing place for Workers in Britain

a. Reform Bills of 1867 and 1884 - extend Franchise

[by Disraeil and the Tories]

b. Liberal Party - moves to social welfarism,

esp in 1906-1914 Government

Old Age Pensions, Free Schooling, National Insurance

C. European Trade Unions

1. Germany

Trade Unions flourish as German Industry grows after 1870.

Only fully legal after 1890.

2. France - Syndicates

-Unions legalised in 1884.

-Confederation General de Travail - 1895

Unions influenced by anrachism - and uninterested by

political socialism.

The idea of syndicalism - by having a general strike,

to generate unity and workers power.

X. Socialist Parties

A. Later 19th Century - They depend on a broad suffrage.

-Not quite universal in GB 1867, 1884.

-Universal in Germany in 1871,

-France, 1871,

-Switzerland 1879,

-Spain 1890,

-Belgium 1893,

-Netherlands 1896,

-Norway 1898,

-Italy 1912]

B. France - Third Republic

Paris Commune 1871 - -The Internationale

But it frightened people. This was last time Paris dominated


Had 5 socialist parties, but not strongly organised.

France was still a much more rural country.

The Communist Party after 1918 was to be the party of

French workers. Same in Italy.

C. The SDP [SPD] in Germany and Bismarck

1. SDP [SPD]- A Marxist Party.

The strongest in Europe. Founded by Ferdinand Lasselle

in 1875. Another main leader was the marxist Auguste Bebel


Had difficulty due to the keeping of power by the Junker

class in Prussia, and a voting system which gave 1/3rd of

seats to 5% of the taxpayers.

The party was composed of radicals who advocated,

revolution, refomists, and Marxists.

2. Bismarck tried to outlaw socialist parties. 1878-91

Attacked meetings, newspapers and organisation.

Introduces an impressive social welfare system

-in fact the first such system in Europe.

3. William II dismissed Bismarck to stem rising

tide of socilism, but could not stop it

Repression did not work - more and more SPD deputies

got elected.

4. Social Democratic Party becomes largest party in

Reichstag, but it is nationalist not revolutionary,

although it professes to be so.

Lenin despised it.

D. Labour Party in Britain

1. First socialist in Parliament - Keir Hardie 1892

2. Independant Labour Party

3. 1901 - Taft Vale Decision - Unions can be sued

for damages.

4. TUC launches Labour Represenataion Committee

5. Labour Party

This was a militant party calling for the betterment of

workers conditions. It was offically socilist, but the

theoretcial side was left to individuals, and the Fabians.

The Labour Party rank and file were more concerned with



E. In late 19th C. the socialist movements within each

country became different from one another.