This accessible text offers a concise but comprehensive introduction to European socialism, which arose in the maelstrom of the industrial and democratic revolutions launched in the eighteenth century. Striving for sweeping social, economic, cultural, and political change, socialists were a diverse lot. However, they were united by principles asserting the social and political equality of all people, ideas that won the adherence of millions and struck fear in the hearts of their numerous opponents. William Smaldone shows how, over the course of 200 years, socialists successfully promoted the democratization of European society and a more equitable division of wealth. At the same time, he illustrates how conflicts over the means of achieving their aims divided them into rival “socialist” and “communist” currents, a rift that undercut the struggle against fascism and helped lay the groundwork for Europe’s division during the Cold War.
Although many predicted the demise of socialism as a potent force after the end of the Cold War, the Soviet Union’s dissolution, and the rise of neo-liberal ideology, recent developments show that such a judgment was premature. The author argues that the growth of new socialist parties across Europe indicates that socialist ideas remain vibrant in the face of capitalism’s failure to solve chronic social and economic problems, especially following the deep global crisis that began in 2008. Combining an analytical narrative with a selection of primary texts and visual images, this book provides undergraduate students with a brief, readable history, including an overview of how socialist political movements have evolved over time and stressing the rich diversity that has characterized socialism’s foundations from its beginning.
This new edition brings this text up to date and examines the European socialist movement in the face of 21st century challenges. It includes a new preface, including the 2017 American election, updated bibliographies, two new chapters and an afterword.
A Note on the Text
Preface to the Second Edition
1. Socialist Ideals and Imaginings (1789-1830)
2. Socialist Ideology amid Reform and Revolution, 1830-1870
3. Socialism in the Era of Mass Politics, 1870-1914
4. The Birth of Communism and the Transformation of Socialism, 1914-1945
5. Socialism and Communism during the Cold War, 1945-1991
6. The Retreat and Reemergence of Socialism, 1991-2008
7. Socialism, Populism, and the Authoritarian Challenge
William Smaldone is Professor of History at Willamette University, USA.
This book enables us to understand the contemporary situation of socialism in the many Western nations. The politics of the cooperating and conflicting parties in the major states are clarified as the medium in which socialism strives for actualization. Smaldone’s ability to focus upon core pragmatic realities as well as their ideological foundations have an unparalleled instructive cogency.
William Smaldone has written an admirable and eye-opening concise history of European socialism and resoundingly shows its relevance for the economic and political challenges of our world today. With beautiful writing and great insight into historical questions, Smaldone provides a clear and compelling narrative arc to a vast and complex subject. The well-chosen selection of sources illustrates the richness and diversity of the socialist intellectual tradition. Smaldone’s book is not only a fantastic text for undergraduate college courses on European history and politics, it’s an impressive piece of scholarship in its own right.
Starting at the dawn of the socialist movement, William Smaldone provides expert guidance through more than two centuries leading to the contemporary condition and situation of the European left. He combines careful attention to detail with sharp analysis. Exploring diversity, continuity and discontinuity in the history of socialism, he considers its prospects in today’s populist era.