Why Was Karl Marx So Disparaging Of The Utopian Socialists

2496 words - 10 pages

In order to answer the question posed, I will examine what is meant by the term Utopian Socialism. With reference to this question I will conduct a brief biographical study of one of the great utopian socialist thinkers, Robert Owen. This will include an examination of the accomplishments of Robert Owen. The essay will then move on to examine the central criticisms of the utopian socialists as levelled by Karl Marx.

The term Utopian Socialism as defined in the Dictionary of Politics highlights Utopianism as “An approach to social or political theory based upon the design of a perfect society”. (Robertson, (1993) pg 479) Such thinkers as Owen and St Simon dreamt of ...view middle of the document...

Owen’s political theory was instrumental in the instigation of improvements within the following areas: housing, reduction of working hours, child employment, education and raising living conditions. This led the utopian socialists to argue that is was possible to witness a peaceful and productive industrial community. Marx however argued that due to the dawning of a new industrial era “society as a whole is more and more splitting up into two great hostile camps, into two great classes directly facing each other, the bourgeoisie and the proletariat”. ( Marx and Engels, (1848), pg 33)

Owen became convinced that the advancement of humankind could be furthered by the improvement of every individual’s personal environment. He reasoned that since “character was moulded by circumstances, then improved circumstances would lead to goodness” (Web page, A Web of English History, 11/04/02) This was a far cry from the revolutionary ideals of Marx and Engels who argued that the advancement of human kind would only be seen when the “workers of the world unite” (Marx and Engels, (1848) pg 72)

One of the most crucial components of Owen’s political theory is that of morality. This attitude manifests itself in several ways. In its philosophical outlook of the world Owen believed that one’s surroundings at birth would determine how an individual would behave. In other words, “society creates the character of the individual and he is at its mercy. Men do no wrong; they are impelled by their surroundings”. (Sargant, (1971), pg 4) Marx would argue that man, far from being impelled by his surroundings “can and must liberate himself”. (Marx and Engels (1848, pg 41)

In terms of political change Owen and many of the utopian socialists argued that the working class would not take part in political agitation. “Owen was convinced that through representative government that was tolerant, prosperity and happiness would be achievable by all”. (Pollard and Salt, 1971, pg 42) Marx and Engels were critical of Owen’s belief that governments could be tolerant and representative. They argued that in order that, “classes with conflicting economic interest, shall not consume themselves and society in fruitless struggle, it became necessary to have a power seemingly standing above society that would moderate the conflict and keep it within the bounds of ‘order’; and this power, arisen out of society but placing itself about it and alienating itself more and more from it, is the state”. (Engels, (1884), pg 205-6) It is clear to follow Engels’ view that far from a representative government instigating happiness and prosperity, as the government consisted of the bourgeoisie, it would be the bourgeoisie that prospered yet again at the expense of the proletariat.

Another criticism by Marx of the utopian...

Other Essays Like Why Was Karl Marx so Disparaging of the Utopian Socialists

A Comparison Of Karl Marx And Max Weber

581 words - 3 pages         During the nineteenth century, Karl Marx and Max Weber were two of the most influential sociologists. Both of them tried to explain social change taking place in a society at that time. On the one hand, their views are very different, but on the other hand, they had many similarities. Weber had argued that Marx was too narrow in his views. He felt that Marx was only concerned with the economic issues and believed that that issue is

Why Is the Concept of Sovereignty so Problematic

704 words - 3 pages ''Why is the concept of sovereignty so problematic?'' The definition of a state in its most simple form is a territory with a permanent population and a government which has both internal and external sovereignty. Sovereignty in itself is problematic though as there are so many different types of it, the most simple definition of sovereignty is ultimate power, for example when we in the UK say ''Parliament is sovereign'' what we really mean

To What Extent Have Socialists Disagreed About the Means of Achieving Socialism?

603 words - 3 pages ensue. One nation conservatives are more understanding of reasons of why humans are morally imperfect, and they accept that these imperfections can be influenced by social factors. Disraeli saw that social order would decay if we could not integrate the lower classes into society and that some sort of reform would be needed. What we needed was a form of distribution of wealth, this came to be welfare and the NHS which were hyper logical ideas

Why Is the Eiffel Tower so Important?

3098 words - 13 pages tell you things such as: No problem, or things like this, they may try to understand you. So as we are thinking about the advantages and disadvantages of Paris I thought about the most important: Paris had the most wonderful revolution, as I know the French Revolution was the movement that made that the Mexican one happened. After learning all these do you want me to explain one more time why Paris is the best city in all the world? Well, I can

Why is the initial consultation so important?

830 words - 4 pages of client records, all of which should be explained and disclosed to the client during the initial consultation. In order to demonstrate why the initial consultation is so important, the following essay will discuss the factors that an ethical therapist will cover with their client when meeting for the first time. It is well documented that the initial consultation is beneficial to establishing a good rapport and aiding relaxation in the

Comparing the Theories of Durkheim and Marx

1672 words - 7 pages Comparing the Theories of Durkheim and Marx Emile Durkheim and Karl Marx were two of history’s most influential theorists. While both of these classical theorists played a significant role in the development of social science, their views on social issues differed greatly. Emile Durkheim was the first sociologist in France to hold an academic post. Much of his career was focused on promoting sociology as a “legitimate and significant

Why there was Discontent Amongst the Members of the Third Estates by the Late 1780's

1363 words - 6 pages Why there was Discontent Amongst the Members of the Third Estates by the Late 1780's The Third Estate was a very mixed group of people, who were neither clerics nor nobility. By far the greatest proportion of this estate, comprising between 80 and 90% of the population as a whole, was peasantry. The remainder was made up of the bourgeoisie and the urban workers. The bourgeoisie (middle classes) is a rather vague term

Why was the spanish armada defeated

513 words - 3 pages the English ship were small vessels so the total ship weight was about equal. But the English used many very fast and long ships which had superior long range fire power. Another Problem was that the Spanish were accustomed to the Mediterranean style of fighting which required ramming, so the type of opponents they were fighting against were using totally different tactics. But all this did not mean that the Armada would definitely have lost the

Navajo People And Why Their Culture Was Pivotal To Changing The Fate Of The Allies

739 words - 3 pages , Community and Professionalism can be found when we analyze the contributions the Navajo code talkers made during World War 2. The children of the Navajo or The Diné are taught an ancient language that has been passed down from generations. Today, I will describe briefly who the Navajo people are and why their culture was pivotal to changing the fate of the allies during World War 2. Who are the Navajo people? The Navajo people are Native Americans

Why was Italy not unified after the Congress of Vienna (1815)?

661 words - 3 pages a country divided into eleven independent states, excluding the tiny principalities and the Republic of San Marino. So Italy was not unified after the Congress of Vienna due to a number of reasons, such as the foreign influence of the Central European Powers, parochialism within the states, the lack of a common language and a strong economy coupled with the poor geography that separated Italy from itself and the rest of Europe.   &nbsp

Was "The Era Of Good Feelings" An Accurate Name For The Period Between The War Of 1812 And The Rise Of Andrew Jackson? Why Or Why Not?

756 words - 4 pages Was "The Era of Good Feelings" an accurate name for the period between the War of 1812 and the rise of Andrew Jackson? Why or why not?The term ¡§the Era of Good Feeling¡¨ was first posted in a Boston newspaper, which impressed, James Monroe, the new American President's warm reception in Boston. The entire society was very anxious to turn back into a normal life when the War of 1812 ended; as a result, the term implied

Related Papers

Why Did Trench Warfare Develop On The Western Front And Why Was It So Hard To Break The Deadlock Of Trench Warfare?

931 words - 4 pages , giving the Germans a nasty shock. Also, the assumption that the Russians would take 6 weeks to mobilize was wrong as they only took 2 weeks. The German soldiers were not following the timetable well but got to Paris where they fought with the French who had arrived by taxi! Neither country would allow each other to gain land so at the Battle of the Marne, so they both dug trenches from the North Sea to the Swiss Frontier which changed very little

Explore The Ideas Of Karl Marx

3135 words - 13 pages ? Marx also put forth the idea of ‘objectification’, whereby “humans create external objects from their internal thoughts”, and by doing so transform themselves and society (Palgrave 2012, p.95). This essay will further explore these concepts and ideas put forth by Karl Marx’s, also looking at his influence on economies and today’s managers. It is said that Karl Marx had a critical approach towards the philosophies of other

Karl Marx The Communist Manifesto Essay

802 words - 4 pages Karl Marx was one of the most influential idealogues of the 19th and 20th centuries. His seminal document The Communist Manifesto of 1847 was the first of its kind to expound the communist philosophy. Karl Marx's communism was a synthesis of the ideas and actions that had evolved since the Enlightenment, the French Revolutions, and the Industrial Revolution. The Communist Manifesto encompassed a large field of influences including but not

Karl Marx, A Summary Of His Life

5480 words - 22 pages Karl MarxKarl Marx was born into a progressive Jewish family in Prussian Trier (now in Germany). His father Herschel, descending from a long line of rabbis, was a lawyer and his brother Samuel was--like many of his ancestors--chief rabbi of Trier. The family name was originally "Marx Levi", which derives from the old Jewish surname Mardochai. In 1817 Heinrich Marx converted to the Prussian state religion of Lutheranism to keep his position as a