History of Philosophy

Alternatives to Capitalism in the XIX Century: From Early Socialists to the First International

In the XIX Century, in Europe circulate numerous theories that sought both to respond to demands for social justice unanswered by the French Revolution and to correct the dramatic economic imbalances brought about the Industrial Revolution. Many alternative forms of social organization emerged and several theorists outlined a new and more just social order, over and above the political changes that had come with the end of the Ancien Regime.

These theories – labelled in a disparaging way as “utopian” – will be critically reconsidered, with particular attention to the thinkers who: 1) took for granted that the adoption of a new social model based on strict social equality could be the solution for all the problems of society (Babeuf, Dézamy, Weitling); 2) believed that it was sufficient to conceive theoretically reform projects in order to change the world (Saint-Simon, Fourier); 3) focused on promoting small alternative communities in order to spread socialist principles (Owen, Cabet).

After 1848 and until Paris Commune of 1871, new and more economically developed ideas emerged. In the second part of the seminar, students will focus on the different tendencies of the International Working Men’s Association to overthrow of the existing social-economic system, such as Proudhon’s mutualism, British trade unions’ reformism, Marx’s anticapitalism, Lassalle’s state socialism and Bakunin’s anarchism. These ideas will also be analyzed in light of contemporary issues of our times.


Università di Bologna - Dipartimento di Filosofia e Comunicazione

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