To what extent was there Socialism before Marx? As an identifiable body of argument, socialism developed in Europe from the end of the eighteenth Century, almost as a response to Industrialisation. At its simplest it is a system in which the state controls the basic means of production. Through this process it is ble to the region produces what it needs and not what it desires, therefore associating itself with nationalism.
Once its General character had been established, attempts were made to discover intellectual precedents, and by the 20th Century socialist arguments had been articulated all over the world. Its origins lie nonetheless in the three principle industrial nations of the eighteenth Century, France, Germany and the United Kingdom. The main underlying principle of Socialism, this is Human Nature. 'Pessimism leads to order and a control but no trust while 'Optimism' leads to a lack of excessive control.
Socialist theories differ from one another in many different ways, but on the whole they share three things in common. They all believe that the root cause of oppression is Capitalism, which divides society into those who have and those who have not. The fact that possession of property exists means that land owners can live off the work of their workers. They all believe that the solution to this inequality is to create a society where there are no class boundaries. Individuals must contribute to society in a way that will contribute to the general good.
In this way all property must be shared so as to motivate all to equal the work of his neighbour, and vice versa. All forms of socialism believe in a theory of transition, but they vary in which one… Marxists believe that change can only be brought about through revolution, while others believe in a parliamentary route, where socialist parties will change society gradually and internally. The origins of Socialism lie in three main branches. The first of which, "Platonic Communism" is more a theory than anything else.
It arises mainly from Plato's theory of 'Guardians and Auxiliaries' whereby Plato tells us that Guardians will have no private possessions beyond the bare essentials, and none should have a dwelling house to which anyone is refused entry, and thirdly that their food should be a reward for work done or others. The quantity of food will be enough as to provide no surplus or deficit over the year. They will own no material gold r silver for it will pollute the gold given to them from the Gods.
He finally says that if they do come into contact with Gold or Property, they will become farmers and men of business rather than Guardians, and effectively become 'tyrants instead of guardians'. Christianity is another source of Socialism. Tony Benn believed that the 1st Socialist dated back to 4 years BC, he thought that Jesus Christ was indeed a socialist. He saw evidence for this in parables, such as the Rich Young Man who is told to sell everything he has and follow in a cause, sermons, such as the Sermon on the Mount where Jesus proclaims that "Blessed are the poor.
" The feeding of the 5,000 also has links o Socialism, where they pool all the food that the people have, nd when it is divided there is enough for all of the 5,000. Christian Socialism therefore was a brand of socialism that seeked to base the socialist system upon loyalty to the Christian church as opposed to antireligious, anti-Christian, atheistic brands of socialism, and yet still believed in all of the fundamental socialist ideas. Utopianism was another branch of early Socialist ideas, and it went back to Plato's criticism of the existing society.
The first Utopian Socialist to produce a class study was St Simon. In his publication letters from inhabitant of Geneva he explains that society is broken up into Parasites and Producers, of which he admitted to being a parasite, and that this social system was becoming more and more unequal. In The theory of the for-movements Fourier explains how the world had been perfectly created by God, and that man had destructed this. He came up with a solution which was to sub divide society into 16-1800 people, these would be known as phallasteres.
This number was chosen for it as assumed to be not too big to alienate its members and big enough to cater for society. It was based on equality, as any surpluses produced would be swapped with other phallasteres, so as to not build up any profits. Robert Owen was a Scotland based English man who built and owned factories in Scotland. However what was different about him was that he created free housing, schooling and shops where goods were sold at a discount price. He did this because he thought that it was of his own Economic interest to look after his workers.
And in this case he was correct, for everyone wanted to work for him, and put in 100% effort, for they all wanted the factory to do well and therefore for it to stay open. The Industrialisation period was a time of mass social and demographic change. Not only was there a rush from rural areas to Urban ones, but also a polarisation between the classes, as poverty, deprivation and destitution became apparent in the working classes. All of this promoted socialist/radical alternatives. Two examples of these are the Diggers and the Levellers.