Saint Simon and the liberal origins of the socialist critique of Political Economy

In standard interpretations of the history of socialism, the cosmological and providential side of nineteenth century socialist thought tends to be ignored. What still today is often considered the core of socialist reasoning was its preoccupation with the claims of producers, its championing of the cause of the working class, its critique of political economy. In the twentieth century, the most characteristic goal of socialist parties - at least until the advent of Tony Blair - has been the socialisation of the means of production. The particular association of socialism with a language of productivism - with work, producers, the character of labour, and a critique of political economy - goes back to the commentaries of the 1830s and 1840s. Adolphe Blanqui, the brother of the famous revolutionary, in his History of Political Economy in Europe published in 1837, described Fourier and Owen as 'utopian economists',1 while Lorenz von Stein in his Der Sozialismus und Kommunismus des heutigen Frankreichs, first published in 1842, defined socialism as a theory which made work the sole basis of..
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