Thesis Eleven 80 (1):74-93 (2005)

Socialism is dead and Christianity, at least in the modern West, is not feeling too good either. What remains of the substantive goals, ethics, and ideals of socialism in an epoch of political defeat and in the aftermath of a century of tragic experiments? Are ‘still existing’ socialists simply nostalgic, seeking consolation in an opiate of lost dreams, or are there fragments of ideas and policies that constitute a still living politics of hope for humanity? Christian socialism is one socialist tradition well-suited to address these meta-questions of faith, meaning and goal, not least because it has no unitary political ideology, party or even movement. It is argued here that Christian socialism’s best legacy and use-value today is in its historic failure to be anything other than a modest discourse and practice of a social ethic of free association, political pluralism and a gift economy. To these ends, I use a case study of a clash between two rival versions of contemporary Christian socialism. I then explicate the more difficult and radical version to be found in the work of its leading representative. I outline Milbank’s arguments for Christian socialism as a counter ontology to the secular politics of the modern nation state, an alternative complex space that conceives of community as ‘nomadic city’, and a free market economy based on the poetic practice of gift-giving. This is an agenda, a discourse and a poetic practice bound to failure. Therein is its use value to socialism
Keywords No keywords specified (fix it)
Categories (categorize this paper)
DOI 10.1177/0725513605049125
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Request removal from index
Revision history

Download options

PhilArchive copy

Upload a copy of this paper     Check publisher's policy     Papers currently archived: 52,893
External links

Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server
Configure custom proxy (use this if your affiliation does not provide a proxy)
Through your library

References found in this work BETA

The Communist Manifesto.Karl Marx - unknown - Yale University Press.
The American Evasion of Philosophy: A Geneaology of Pragmatism.Cornel West - 1990 - Transactions of the Charles S. Peirce Society 26 (3):373-384.
Enclaves, or Where is the Church?John Milbank - 1992 - New Blackfriars 73 (861):341-352.
Socialism of the Gift, Socialism by Grace.John Milbank - 1996 - New Blackfriars 77 (910):532-548.

View all 9 references / Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

No citations found.

Add more citations

Similar books and articles

The Politics of Time: Community, Gift and Liturgy.John Milbank - 1998 - Telos: Critical Theory of the Contemporary 1998 (113):41-67.
Max Weber. Friedrich Naumann and the Nationalization of Socialism.Asaf Kedar - 2010 - History of Political Thought 31 (1):129-154.
Illiberal Socialism.Robert S. Taylor - 2014 - Social Theory and Practice 40 (3):433-460.
Beyond Neo-Marxism.Murray Bookchin - 1978 - Telos: Critical Theory of the Contemporary 1978 (36):5-28.
Rosa Luxemburg on Disappointment and the Politics of Commitment.Loralea Michaelis - 2011 - European Journal of Political Theory 10 (2):202-224.


Added to PP index

Total views
25 ( #396,679 of 2,343,521 )

Recent downloads (6 months)
2 ( #332,879 of 2,343,521 )

How can I increase my downloads?


My notes