Advanced Sociological Theory

Alternatives to Capitalism

The course will center on some of the principal conceptions of Socialism between 1789 and 1989. Its first part will be dedicated to some of the most important Socialist thinkers of the Nineteenth Century (Saint-Simon, Fourier, Owen, Proudhon, Lassalle, Marx, Bakunin and Kropotkin), while the second part will focus on the analysis of some of the main Socialist controversies and political experiences of the Twentieth Century, such as Leninism, the so-called “actually existing socialism” in Soviet Union, Cuba, the main Socialist experiences in Africa, and the so-called ‘Socialism of the XXI Century’ in Latin America.

Goal of the course is to examine the characteristics and distinguishing features of the varied Socialisms articulated by some of the main Socialists of the Nineteenth and the Twentieth century. The selection of readings will focus on the writings in which these thinkers developed their theories of how a Socialist society should be economically and politically organized.

Special attention will be dedicated to Marx’s Socialism and to his critique of other Socialisms, including Anarchism. Though he never composed a single text specifically on Socialism and post-capitalist society, through his critique of capitalism Marx pointed to some of the key social features and relations of production in the “society of free producers” which would replace the capitalist social formation. The course will explore the originality of Marx’s theories in comparison with those of his socialist predecessors, as well as the differences between his ideas and the historical record of “actually existing Socialism”.


York University

Date of course:


Reference number:

SOCI 3040. 3.0 (F)