This volume offers new perspectives on the appeal and profound cultural meaning of socialism over the past two centuries. It brings together scholarship from various disciplines addressing diverse national contexts, including Britain, China, France, Germany, Norway, Sweden, and the USA. Taken together, the contributions highlight the aesthetic, narrative, and religious dimensions of socialism as it has developed through three broad phases in the modern era: early nineteenth-century beginnings, mass-based political organizations, and the attainment of state power in the twentieth century and beyond. Socialism did not attract millions of people primarily because of logical argument and empirical evidence, important though those were. Rather, it told the most compelling story about the past, present, and future. Refocusing attention on socialism's imaginative dimensions, this volume aims to revive scholarly interest in one of the modern world¹s most important political orientations.
Table of Contents
List of figures. List of Contributors. Acknowledgements. Introduction: Socialist Imaginations, Stefan Arvidsson, Jakub Beneš, Anja Kirsch. Part I: The Nineteenth-Century Socialist Future. Chapter 1. Contested Christianities: Communism and Religion in July Monarchy France, Julian Strube. Chapter 2. Religious Dreams of a Socialist Future: The Case of Owenism, Edward Lucas. Chapter 3. Beyond the ‘Grand Designs’: Owenism, Architecture, and Utopia, David Leopold. Part II: Ideals for the Working-Class Movement. Chapter 4. "If that is Socialism, we won’t help its advent": The impact of Edward Bellamy’s utopian novel Looking Backward on socialist thought in late-nineteenth-century Western Europe, Philipp Reick. Chapter 5: Christian philanthropy, or political class struggle? Imaginations of Socialism and Christianity in Swedish prose-fiction of the early 1900s, Beata Agrell . Chapter 6. ‘The Omnipotence of Spring’: Ideas of Progress in Norwegian Socialism before 1940, Åsmund Borgen Gjerde. Part III: The Imagination of Socialism in Power. Chapter 7. Imaginations of Insecurity: Representations of the State Security Service in East German Television in the late 1960s and 1970s, Sebastian Haller. Chapter 8. Frugal deaths: socialist imaginations of death and funerals in modern China, Philipp Hetmanczyk. Chapter 9. Xi Jinping’s China: Keeping the Imagination Alive Under Socialism in Power, Roland Boer. Chapter 10. Afterword: Socialist Cultures and Sociabilities, Gregory Claeys. Index
Stefan Arvidsson is professor in the history of religions at Linnæus University, Sweden. His main interest concerns modern mythology. English publications include Aryan idols: Indo-European mythology as ideology and science (2006) and The style and mythology of socialism: socialist idealism, 1871-1914 (2017).
Jakub Beneš is lecturer in modern European history at the University of Birmingham. His research focuses on the culture of workers’ and peasants’ movements in nineteenth- and twentieth-century east central Europe. He is the author of Workers and Nationalism: Czech and German Social Democracy in Habsburg Austria, 1890-1918 (Oxford, 2017).
Anja Kirsch is a post-doctoral researcher at the University of Basel whose main interest concerns the relation between religion and ‘the secular’ in contemporary and historical perspective. She specializes in the relation of religion and the socialist worldview in the German Democratic Republic (Weltanschauung als Erzählkultur, 2016); her research interests include narrative strategies of secular and religious social-revolutionary movements and utopias and transnational migration in the long nineteenth-century European history of religions.