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This is a serious and accomplished synthesis Biographical vignettes enliven the presentation of ideas and references to studies of regional diversities give the narrative an uncommonly rich texture Lucid and illuminating It is the best book on the subject to put into the hands of our students—Helmut Gruber International Labor and Working Class HistoryA synthetic narrative by a young academic scholar who has independent ideas on an important subject This book is worth reading if for no other reason than its modest but nonpatronizing rehabilitation from generations of Marxist caricature of a host of deeply democratic European socialists—James H Billington Washington Post Book WorldOne asset of this book is its lack of the overbearing personal partisanship one finds in so many historical studies of socialism Lindeman incorporates some recent and inaccessible studies in social history written ‘from the bottom up’—David D’Arcy World ViewAs a whole Lindemann offers a balanced treatment of the ideas and the movement of socialism than found in many extant histories A must for all college and university libraries— ChoiceA competent and fair minded study of a controversial subject It presents much factual material and judicious interpretation in lucid prose—L S Stavrianos Los Angeles Times Book Review

10 thoughts on “A History of European Socialism

  1. says:

    Lindemann traces the evolution of socialism from socialist impulses of the French Revolution and earlier to the ideological formation in the 1830s to its development into fullblown ideological outlooks encompassing Marxism Anarchism Syndicalism Democratic Socialism in the latter 19th Century to its splitting into feuding factions following the rise of Bolshevism up through the second world war He argues that it differentiated itself from liberalism or conservativism in being usually secular accepting modernization and modernism but calling for private property to be abolished though differing on the ways to do that and how it was to be accomplished Chapter one looks to the early socialist impulses in the 18th century before the word was applied especially in the French Revolution with theorists like Babeuf and the san culottists who called for strictly eual society and total abolition of private property which scared liberals Chapter two moves to the first socialists in the first half of the 19th century up to the Revolutions of 1848 as its ideas move from small circles of intellectuals to lower class organizations in response to the poor conditions of industrialization English poor laws caused socialists to fight back and were influential in early labor unions In the 2nd Republic after the 1848 Revolution the 2nd Republic uickly moved to suppress socialists who had pushed for the Revolution Chapter 3 explores the maturation of socialism in 1850 1870 as Marx formulated his thought pattern and helped form the 1st International which also led to the rival Anarchists who called for abolition of the state as well as capitalism The Paris Commune uprising and suppression lead to serious study by socialists as to the possibilities of Revolution and the mistakes Lenin for instance Lindemann argues was deeply influenced by the Commune’s suppression and vowed to seize the day Chapter four looks to Socialist currents as a major force from 1870 1914 as capitalism endured a long depression from 1873 until the early 1890s The second international had a variety of strains such as revolutionaries reformists evolutionaries propaganda by the deed unionists and It ends when the social democrats who had been elected as socialist parties all vote for the war effort despite efforts to oppose itChapter five spanning 1914 1922 then argues that Communism was birthed in this vacuum of war and out of the revolution though ultimately the left was deeply divided by the tactics of the Bolsheviks such as dropping out of the war and jailing its socialist rivals Chapter six looks back at the evolution of the Democratic Socialists who were weakened by the appearance of the rise of the Bolsheviks but Lindemann also argues that the Communist Parties generally received all the militants which meant that reformist elements in Social Democratic Parties gained domination and emphasized majority rule to set itself apart from conspiratorial minority rule Chapter seven then looks at how the Soviet Union developed into hardline Stalinist Communism as Stalin outmaneuvered all his rivals within the old Bolshevik Party and gained utter control It specifically looks at the overall Communist strategic and ideological swings 1 The United Front from 1921 1928 in which the Comintern ordered parties to concentrate on economic well being of workers and to rebuild socialist movements instead of outright revolutionary struggle which reflected the New Economic Policy in the Soviet Union of limited capitalism 1928 34 was a period of hardening class against class and noncooperation with non Marxist Leninists Finally chapter 8 covers 1934 39 which was the Popular Front against Fascism in which all leftist groups worked together against fascism with mixed results such as electoral victories in Spain and France but both of which were eventually defeated by war with fascism though in very different manners Fascism itself was a general anti modern corporatist movement of lower rural middle classes allied with industrialists against urban working class power and socialist organizing Chapter nine finally ends with Socialism and Communism since World War II until the publication of the volume in 1983 very briskly The rise of Eurocommunism meant that western Communist Parties openly disagreed with the Soviet Union plus heavy handedness of the Soviets towards their Eastern European satellites discredited the soviets as a liberatory force especially after its invasions of Hungary in 1956 and Czechoslovakia in 1968 The Communist Party also helped suppress student alliances with workers in France in 1968 Overall the volume effectively goes to 1945 as when it was published in 1983 the Cold War had effectively just a few years leftKey Themes and Concepts Anarchism Marxism Syndicalism Marxism Leninism Social Democracy are all socialist variants even if in practice they vary greatly Hard rivalries between variants are almost family suabbles compared to their hatred for capitalism The rivalries did help decimate socialism as a whole Modern socialists are generally secular collectivist anti private property and accept the Industrial Revolution They are influenced by the Enlightenment and Romantic reaction The only place where democratic socialism was enacted effectively electorally was in Sweden prior to WWII