Does Utopian Socialists Offer an Attractive Political Reform?

Topics: Socialism, Utopia, Utopian socialism Pages: 5 (1660 words) Published: April 2, 2005
Utopia is a term invented by Sir Thomas More in 1515. However, he traces the root two Greek words outopia and eutopia which means a place does not exist and a fantasy, invention. It is widely accepted that Plato was to first to picture a utopian order. In his masterpiece, "Republic", he formed the principles of ideal commonsense and his utopia (Hertzler, 1922:7). After the classical age, Sir Thomas More assumed to be the first of the utopian writers in early modern period. As a humanist, he gave the world in his "Utopia" a vision of a perfect communistic commonwealth (the history of utopian thought). Utopia's influence on contemporary and rival scholars is so deep that it has given its name to whole class of literature. Following the appearance of More's Utopia, there was a lack of Utopian literature for nearly a century (Hertzler, 1922:7). This period ended with the works of Francis Bacon, Campanelle and Harrington. These early modern utopians, being the children of Renaissance, filled with a love of knowledge and high respect for the newly truths of science. Thus, they believed that the common attainment of knowledge means the largest participation of all members of society in its joys and benefits. After the period of early Utopians, continuation of a sprit of French Revolution and initial signs of industrial revolution resulted in the emergence of a new group of Utopians called Socialist Utopians (Hertzler, 1922: 181). The word "Socialism" seems to have been first used by one of the leading Utopian Socialists, St Simon. In politics utopia is a desire that never come true neither now nor afterwards, a wish that is not based on social forces (material conditions and production) and is not supported by the growth and development of political, class forces. This paper discusses the validity of this claim, tries to present and evaluate the political reforms, if any, offered by Socialist Utopians.

In order to assess the degree of appeal for the political reforms offered by the Utopian Socialists, their ideals should be examined from both structural and programmatic point of view. Programmatic point of view helps us to clarify the basis of political reforms of the Utopian Socialists whereas the structural point of view forms the theoretical basis of these practical actions and reform plans.

The period in which the early socialists were formulating their theories covers the development of industrialism which was causing the dislocation to the situation of existing social groups. Furthermore, in this period, a new working class, proletariats, was being created (Goodwin and Taylor, 1982:123). As a result of this process, the social values associated with the past lost much of their relevance and new norms were requested. Thus, the ides of the Utopian Socialists can be seen as a response to these requests.

The response of most Utopian Socialists like Owen, Saint Simon, Fourier and Cabet was the vision of social harmony. Although, this vision is also shared by classical and early modern utopians, the introduction of Newtonian view of the universe as an orderly and integrated order enabled the Utopian Socialist to draw analogies between the social order and Newton's Laws of universe. Harmony implied a view of social relations where members of society live together without conflict and with common interests. Thus, Utopian Socialists presented the future society as a large, happy family. Concept of harmony was broadened to association, community and co-operation by the Utopian Socialists (Goodwin and Taylor, 1982:125). In the early nineteenth century, there was a common voiced by workers for being granted the right to associate for different social and economic purposes. Association promised a range of benefits like better working conditions through the right of bargaining. It was argued that if the labors stopped competing with one another and replaced the competition by the association, there would be a greater...
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