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Why Was Karl Marx so Disparaging of the Utopian Socialists

  • Date Submitted: 01/28/2010 03:24 AM
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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 “class unity rather than the abolition of classes”. (Marx and Engels, (1848) pg 73)   Marx was highly critical of the belief that there could ever be such a situation that would promote class unity.   Marx went on to argue that “the utopians dreamt of class unity rather than the abolition of class.   The utopians are belated enlightenment idealists who think their blueprint could simply be imposed on the world”. ( Marx and Engels, (1848), pg134).

Robert Owen in order to test his political theory purchased a huge spinning mill at New Lanarkshire.   His experiences and experiments would prove to make him famous and spawn his many ideas of socialist/communal living. After becoming owner of the mill Owen became aware of the awful conditions under which many of the workers lived.   The mere fact that Owen was the owner of the factory brought much scorn from the likes of Marx and Engels.   Marx argued that “in the formation of their plans, they are conscious of caring chiefly for the interest of the working class, as being the most suffering class.   Only from the point of view of being the most suffering class does the proletariat exist for them”.   (Marx and Engels (1848, pg 73)   It us clear that Marx was to use the fact...


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