Lecture 17 - Socialism

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27 Mar 2012

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What we must do is we must make sure that society mirrors this universal order of things.
Series in which each elements is graded or evaluated.
E.g., Catholic Church, each is ranked, pope closest to god
Hierarchy leads Conservatives to favour natural institutions (3, family, monarchy, church)
Why are they natural? They’ve been here forever
The only possible role the state can have is to ensure the peace and stability necessary for
this institution to continue
1st method: laws
2nd method: education
Allow us to understand the importance of the respect of hierarchy and natural institutions
Argue for the use of violent method
Cannot simply reduce violence to its physicality, can be symbolic like censorship
Other main challenger born of liberal thought
Socialism will be like conservatism, based upon a social force as a consequence of liberalism
Without liberalism, you don’t get socialism and conservatism
Around 1850, you will have a constituted working class (creation due to urbanization and
industrialization, because of liberalism) in Europe, working class will be the locus of socialist
thought, social force behind socialism
Term socialism was recent, first time in 1834, created by a French thinker, Pierre Leroux,
article entitled, “Individualism and Socialism”
In 1841, a British thinker, Robert Owen (wealthy industrialist), will use the term, write a
book call “What is socialism”
Socialism will be extremely popular and picked up quickly
Socialism designated a set of principles that oppose the possessive individualism (what
counts for liberals is possession) that associated with liberal thought (CB Macpheron of UofT)
Socialism will refuse the capitalistic idea of humans being are egotistical
Will also refuse that the idea of private property is the motor of economic activity
Socialists will not deny liberal principles
Socialist ideology will resemble liberalism
Socialist believe that liberal ideas and principles must be surpassed by pushing them to their
extreme limit
Socialist radicalize (get to the root) liberal ideas
o For example, liberals believe are equal by nature, we all have access to reason;
socialist agree, but socialist will say if we are all born equal, we should also enjoy
equality of outcome in society
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Socialists are opposing liberal values and liberalism in the name of liberal ideas
In order to maximize the universal content contained within liberalism
This is why socialism is a legitimate offspring of liberalism
There are socialisms
o Marxism, Utopian socialism, or Social Democracy
o All variations agree with 7 basic principles
1. Socialism shares the optimistic perspectives of liberalism
o For liberals, nature is generous, it offers all human beings precisely what they need
in order to be happy
o Socialist argue that nature is essentially positive, that it is a order made up of laws,
and these laws must be respected
o Humans must therefore obey the laws of nature
o Human nature itself is also good, if we follow our nature, individuals can ensure
their well being, by ensuring their well being, they are ensuring the collective well
being of all
o Socialism is an exact mirror of liberalism
2. Contrary to liberalism, socialism does not give the priority to the individual (understood as a
self sufficient being)
o In liberal thought, the individual also comes before society, liberal give priority of
individual over society
o Socialist will reject this idea, they will argue that as individuals, we are inherently
social beings
o They will argue that it is impossible to separate the individual from society
o Naturally, as individuals, we seek to live with others
o We actually need others
o If we were to fulfil our potential as human beings, we need the recognition of others,
without the presence of others, how can we fulfill our potential, and develop our
talents, and most importantly, how can we have our talent and ability recognized
o We cannot be understood as self sufficient beings
o In short, humans are gregarious animals
3. Direct consequence of an interplay between individual and society is that society itself in
socialism cannot be reduced to the sum total of individuals that live in it
o For liberals, society is the sum total of individuals who inhabited
o Socialist will argue that society comes before the individual
o Society has a consistency, an essence and ends that cannot be reduced to the
consistency, an essence and ends of the individual
o For socialist, society is a substantive totality
o Or it’s an autonomous whole
o Society is more than simply a sum total of individuals who inhabited
o For socialist, the individual is simply a part of a whole of a greater entity that
precedes him and survive after him/her
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