Early European Socialism

Jonathan Beecher

in The Oxford Handbook of the History of Political Philosophy

Published in print May 2011 | ISBN: 9780199238804
Published online September 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780191728365 | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks in Philosophy

 Early European Socialism

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  • History of Western Philosophy
  • Social and Political Philosophy


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As a self-conscious movement and ideology, socialism came into being in France and in the Romantic period. The first self-proclaimed socialists were contemporaries of Victor Hugo, Eugene Delacroix, and George Sand; and the word socialisme itself was first used in the early 1830s. This article focuses on the early history of socialism, beginning with the work of the romantic or “utopian” socialists and concluding with a consideration of four new forms of socialism that emerged during the pivotal years following the European revolutions of 1848 and continued to have resonance well into the twentieth century. It traces the early history of Marxism, one of these new forms of socialism. After considering the problem of utopian socialism, the article looks at the challenges posed to Marxism by anarchist socialism and Russian agrarian socialism during the 1860s.

Keywords: France; socialism; Marxism; revolutions; utopian socialism; anarchist socialism; agrarian socialism

Article.  11757 words. 

Subjects: History of Western Philosophy ; Social and Political Philosophy

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