Some Nineteenth-Century Socialist Thinkers
Two sets of conditions favored the development of thought along socialist lines in nineteenth-century Europe. Starting with the establishment in 1803 of a British-type factory at Liege in the Low Countries, industrialization spread eastward from its original home in Great Britain. This was the work of “capitalists,” owners and managers of capital. It made for rapid economic progress; it also brought with it the proletarianization of industrial wage-earners, urbanization, class antagonism, economic insecurity, what by the end of the century will be called the social problem. Following the defeat of Napoleonic despotism in 1814 and 1815 and the weakening of political authoritarianism through a succession of liberal and democratic revolutions, freedom of expression and of action increased in most of Europe. Even in Russia, shortly after the accession of Alexander II, censorship became lenient for a while. Capitalistic industrialization made for new problems; freedom of expression made it possible to discuss them, and political liberty made it possible to launch new movements.
KeywordsProductive Force Wage Labor Modern Industry Social Revolution Political Liberty
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