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Engels Utopian And Scientific Socialism Notes
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Engels - Utopian and Scientific Socialism Chapter One
● Modern socialism was borne out of French enlightenment thinking, which subjected everything to the judgement of reason - religion, concepts of nature, society, political systems
○ superstition, injustice, privilege and oppression were to be superseded by eternal truth, eternal justice, equality based on nature, and the inalienable rights of man
○ But it transpired that this reason was no more than the 'idealised realm of the bourgeoisie'
- antagonism between rich and poor grew, freedom of property became freedom from property for the small peasants who were forced to sell because of economic competition etc etc - the institutions borne out of the 'triumph of reason' were a caricature of the promises of the Enlightenment
● During the French Revolution (and all bourgeois revolutions) there ran simultaneously the struggle between bourgeois and nobility and the struggle between exploiters and exploited - the bourgeoisie claimed to represent universal man but there were sporadic offshoots of the class that was being created e.g. Babeuf in France, Levellers in England
○ The theoretical manifestations of this class were ascetic - they preached the abolition of privilege through the prohibition of all pleasures
● Then came the three utopian socialists - Saint Simon, Fourier and Owen
○ They did not represent the interests of the proletariat - they were interested in universal emancipation, and thus remained in the French enlightenment paradigm
○ When they wrote capitalist production was at an immature stage, and thus their theories were immature critiques - 'the solution of the social problems which as yet lay hidden in undeveloped economic relations was to spring from the human brain' (idealism?)
● Saint Simon saw the French Revolution as an antagonism between workers, who included proles, merchants and bankers, and idlers, who included all those who lived on incomes earned without any part played in production
○ He also saw it as a battle between nobility, bourgeoisie and the propertyless class
○ The propertyless class had proved themselves unable to rule in the Reign of Terror, so science and industry were to rule - bourgeois?
● Fourier demonstrated the 'moral misery of the bourgeois world' and showed how under bourgeois rule 'the most pitiful reality corresponds with the most high sounding truth'
○ He claimed that in any society the degree of women's emancipation is the measure of the general emancipation
● Fourier also drew up a history of the development of society, from savagery, to the patriarchy, to barbarism and finally civilization - bourgeois rule
○ He had a dialectical understanding - bourgeois society constantly attains the opposite of what it wants to achieve, or pretends to want to achieve, so that 'under civilization poverty is born of abundance itself'
● Owen tried to remodel capitalism so that it was non-exploitative
○ he ran a factory in New Lanark with generous working hours, freedom of action, schooling, unemployment pay. This colony became a model, and showed that profit did not necessitate brazen exploitation
○ But this was not enough; Owen saw that exploitation was still ongoing and sought to make the productive forces the common property of all
○ He drew up plans for communist communities in Ireland and in America. Having previously been celebrated by the ruling classes as a philanthropist, he was shunned by
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