A HISTORY OF EUROPEAN SOCIALISM by Albert S. Lindemann

A HISTORY OF EUROPEAN SOCIALISM

By
Email this review

KIRKUS REVIEW

More an intellectual history of European socialism than a history of socialist politics, oddly--about the ideas of Rousseau, Paine, Cobbett, Babeuf, Owen, Luxemburg, Kautsky, and others of more-than-European importance. A history of European socialism, also, that founders on the problem of definition: Santa Barbara historian Lindemann spends a lot of time on the Soviet Union and on Western communist parties. As regards the thinkers, Lindemann's treatment lacks subtlety and color: to depict Marx as casting about until he discovers the proletariat is to fall somewhere between a theoretical understanding and a biographical insight. The successive thinkers, moreover, are often categorized in terms familiar to present-day historians but not to the subjects Was Babeuf (1760-1797) a communist? Was Marx a Leninist? (Yes and probably not, says Lindemann.) The intellectualist approach does at least pay off by providing summaries of a lot of writers; less can be said of the approach to socialism as a movement. To treat the Russian Revolution as a European socialist event is legitimate, for it did occur in European Russia. But once the USSR was in place, there are both ideological and geographical reasons for relegating it to secondary importance. Instead, Lindemann goes through the Stalinist phase in detail, and also devotes considerable attention to the communist parties of France and Germany--which stretches socialism from the communist hard-liners of the late 1920s to Helmut Schmidt. On the long, long way from Luddism to the German Social Democrat's policy of worker participation, furthermore, there is no attempt to provide an interpretation of socialism that would not only contain both but would help readers see how the path was traveled from one to the other. George Lichtheim's two books--advisedly, one on socialism and one on Marxism--remain the standard.

Pub Date: Feb. 1st, 1982
ISBN: 0300032463
Publisher: Yale Univ. Press