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HIS 4245: A History of European Socialism

The European Origins of Socialist Thought, 1789-1917

Professor Steven Kreis

Florida Atlantic University, Davie
Fall 1995

COURSE OUTLINE: Of all the political or social revolutions of the 20th century none were as significant as the Russian Revolution of 1917. Although the Bolshevik Revolution had specifically Russian roots, it was the European socialist tradition which served as its ideological foundation. This course will trace the European ideas of socialism and communism from their origins in the streets of revolutionary Paris in the 1790s to the execution of these ideas at the Winter Palace in Petrograd in 1917. The general theme of the course is the 19th century socialist tradition and particular emphasis is laid upon the works of Marx and Engels. You will leave this course with a better grasp of the French and Russian Revolutions, and revolutions in general. Finally, within the context of these revolutions, you will learn how and why socialism and communism made their appearance. There are no stated prerequisites for this course although the instructor hopes that at the very least, you have a sound understanding of the parameters of 19th century European history.

COURSE REQUIREMENTS: Attendance and informed participation at all class meetings is not only strongly recommended, but required. This means that you (1) show up to class on a regular basis and (2) complete your reading and written assignments on time. The entire success of the course, both from my standpoint and, more importantly, from yours, is that you get involved, get interested and get motivated to study an intellectual and political event whose history has been of such extreme importance in the 20th century. Keep the following statement in mind for the duration of the semester and you should do just fine: EDUCATION IS NOTHING MORE THAN DIALOGUE AND, ACCORDING TO THE MASTER OF DIALOGUE, SOCRATES, GOOD DIALOGUE OUGHT TO IMPROVE BOTH INSTRUCTOR AND STUDENT. When all is said and done, the primary task of this course is to challenge you to think and discuss your ideas freely and openly. There are no wrong answers!!!


Charles Breunig, The Age of Revolution and Reaction, 1789-1850, 2nd ed
Robert C. Tucker, ed., The Marx-Engels Reader, 2nd ed
Sheila Fitzpatrick, The Russian Revolution, 2nd ed

A NOTE ON THE TEXTS: I have tried to keep the number of books down to a minimum for two reasons. The first is cost. The second is the amount of reading per week. You will find some of the reading--as most of it is philosophy by any other name--to be rather terse and at times incomprehensible. But, if you take the topic seriously enough, and if I can succeed in engaging your attention thoroughly, you will find the reading less daunting. Bruenig's The Age of Revolution and Reaction is intended as a general introduction to the era of the French Revolution and its influence on the political, economic and intellectual history of the first half of the 19th century. We will spend the bulk of our time between the red covers--how appropriate--of Tucker's excellent compendium, The Marx-Engels Reader. Although we will not read the entire contents of this book, more than half of the course will be devoted to it. Fitzpatrick's The Russian Revolution is a short, very readable account of the Bolshevik Revolution. This last volume will put the rest of the course into greater perspective. What, after all, is theory without practice?

GRADING: I will assign two or three take home examinations during the course of the semester. These will be essay-type exams which will ask you to comment and reflect upon topics we have dealt with in class. These exams will be announced in advance and you will have one week to complete them. For those of you interested in submitting a research paper in lieu of the exams, please see me as soon as possible to discuss your somewhat different requirements. Your final grade is based upon two variables: (1) your performance on the exams or research essay and (2) the level of your participation in class. At least 15% of your final grade will be determined by this last variable.

THE INTERNET: I would urge that all of you sign up for your FREE VAX account at FAU. In this way we can communicate after hours on any subject which may have been discussed during class time. I cannot force you to get this FREE account but I do recommend that you do obtain this FREE account during the first or second week of the semester. If you already have access to email, or perhaps a full Internet account, fine. My reasons for this are quite clear: the Internet is an excellent medium for communication and information---you can't afford to miss out on what is being offered and I believe in the power of the Internet. If the technology is there for you to use, you would be a fool not to exploit its tremendous resources. If you have any questions about the Internet or your FREE FAU account, please do not hesitate to ask. Besides teaching European history I also find the time to teach the Internet as well.

THE CLASS: My conduct in this class, as you will soon see, is based on a genuine respect for the intellect of the student. My approach is informal and at times, irreverent. Just the same, I take my work very seriously and I expect you to do so as well. If you show up late for class I expect you to enter the room as discreetly as possible. If you miss any class it is your responsibility to make sure that you make up for lost ground. I have found that a format of lecture AND discussion works to the advantage of everyone involved, including myself. If you are not prepared to at least think about our subject, then I suggest you will have a tough time overall. In other words, come to class prepared to learn and discuss new ideas, and above all, THINK!


AUGUST 31 Course Introduction: Objectives and Expectations
SEPTEMBER 7 Toward a History of the Socialist Tradition
1. The "Socialism" of the Ancients
2. Early Christian Communitarianism
3. Medieval Antecedents
4. The Utopia of Sir Thomas More
5. Of Levellers and Diggers
6. The Rationalism of the 18th Century Philosophe
READING: Breunig, pp. 1-64
SEPTEMBER 14 The Origins of the Socialist Tradition: The French Revolution
1. The Moderate Phase, 1789-1792
2. The Radical Experiment, 1792-1794
READING: Breunig, pp.65-120 (Please carefully review pp.1-64)
SEPTEMBER 21 The Immediate Consequences of the French Revolution
1. Napoleon
2. The French Revolution as Bourgeois Revolution
3. Early French Communism
4. The Industrial Revolution
READING: Breunig, pp.155-204 (Handout: Early French Communism)
SEPTEMBER 28 The Revolutionary Effects of the Industrial Revolution
1. The Age of Ideologies
2. Conservatism, Liberalism, Nationalism and Romanticism
3. The Utopian Socialists: Saint-Simon, Fourier and Owen
READING: Tucker, pp.683-724 (Handout: The Utopian Socialists)
OCTOBER 5 The Maturation of Socialism: Marx and Engels
1. A Biographical Synthesis
2. Education and Experience: The Industrial Revolution
3. Hegel and the Young Hegelians
4. Idealism, Materialism and the Dialectic
READING: Tucker, pp.xv-xxxviii, 3-8
OCTOBER 12 The Revolutionary Program at Mid-Century
1. Basic Premises
2. The Communist Manifesto (1848)
3. Exegetical Study: Sorry, it's the ONLY way!
READING: Tucker, pp.469-500
OCTOBER 19 The Early Marx, Part 1---Marx the Philosopher
1. The Economic and Philosophic Manuscripts (1844)
READING: Tucker, pp.66-105
OCTOBER 26 The Early Marx, Part 2---Marx the Philosopher
1. Theses on Feuerbach (1845)
2. The German Ideology (1846)
READING: Tucker, pp.143-145, 146-163, 176-186, 193-200
NOVEMBER 2 The Later Marx, Part 1---Marx the Economist
1. The Critique of Industrial Capitalism
2. The Critique of Industrial Society
3. Wage Labour and Capital (1847)
4. The Grundrisse (1857-58)
READING: Tucker, pp203-217, 221-244, 247-250, 278-285, 291-293
NOVEMBER 9 The Later Marx, Part 2---Marx the Economist
1. Capitalist Production
2. Labor-Power
3. Surplus Value
4. Division of Labor and Manufacture
5. The Realm of Necessity and the Realm of Freedom
6. Das Kapital (1859)
READING: Tucker, pp.302-329, 336-343, 344-364, 388-411, 439-442
NOVEMBER 16 Marxism After Marx
1. The Legacy of Karl Marx
2. The Legacy of Marxism
3. Late 19th Century Socialists, Anarchists and Communists
4. Toward 1917
READING: Tucker, pp.665-682, 728-733, 760-768
NOVEMBER 30 From Theories of Revolution to Revolutionary Practice
1. The Bolshevik Revolution of 1917
2. Of Jacobins and Bolsheviks
3. Revolutionary Personalities
READING: Fitzpatrick, pp.1-92
DECEMBER 7 The Revolution After the Revolution
1. Stalin's "Revolution from Above"
2. "Socialism in One Country"
3. Stalin's Reign of Terror: 1794 Revisited?
READING: Fitzpatrick, pp.93-172
DECEMBER 14 Reflections on the History of Socialism
1. Does Socialism have a Future?
2. Theoria and Praxis
3. The Meaning of the Soviet Collapse
4. Man, Society and the Vision

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copyright � 2000 Steven Kreis
Last Revised -- April 13, 2012