The Style and Mythology of Socialism: Socialist Idealism, 1871-1914 (Hardback) book cover

The Style and Mythology of Socialism: Socialist Idealism, 1871-1914

By Stefan Arvidsson


324 pages | 79 B/W Illus.

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Hardback: 9781138738355
pub: 2017-10-10
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Arguably no modern ideology has diffused as fast as Socialism. From the mid-nineteenth century to the last quarter of the twentieth socialist ideals played a crucial part not only in the political sphere, but also influenced the way people worked and played, thought and felt, designed and decorated, hoped and yearned. By proposing general observations on the relationship between socialism, imagination, myth and utopia, as well as bringing the late nineteenth century socialist culture – a culture imbued with Biblical narratives, Christian symbols, classic mythology, rituals from freemasonry, Viking romanticism, and utopian speculations – together under the novel term ‘socialist idealism’, The Style and Mythology of Socialism: Socialist Idealism, 1871–1914 draws attention to the symbolic, artistic and rhetorical ways that socialism originally set the hearts of people on fire.

Table of Contents


1. Concerning Socialists

– Socialism from the perspective of history of religions

– A modern ideology

– Nature of socialism

    • Class and economic order
    • Moral ideals
    • Existential ideals

2. Cultural Traditions and Mythic Politics

– Political culture

– Romantic and classicist socialism

– The mythic politics of socialism

    • Biblical mythology
    • Medievalist mythology
    • Primitivist mythology
    • Classical mythology
    • The mythologies of Faunans och monsterology
    • Mythic language


Socialist idealism

3. The Cultural Style of Socialism

– Chronology: Socialist idealism

4. The Community of the Carpenter’s Son: The Knights of Labor I

– A secret socialist order

– Medievalism

– Fraternalism

– Jesus, the carpenter’s son

5. Body and Symbol: The Knights of Labor II

– The secrets of the great seal

– Holy toil

– The philosopher’s stone

– The thumb

– Culture and leisure

– Understanding the Knights

6. Myth and Utopi

– William Morris and romantic marxismen

– Classicist utopi: Bellamy’s Looking backward

– Romantic utopi: Morris’ News from Nowhere

– Fantastic and political stories

– Ideology and utopi

– The parlor of life

7. Socialist Beauty

– Walter Crane, the artist of socialism

– The work of present and future times

– Reflections concerning ergology

8. Ideology and Care of the Soul

– Socialist critique of religion

– Humanism and the religion of humanity

– The religion of socialism

– Ideology, power and resistance

– Socialist care of souls

– Note on "religion"

9. Socialist Idealism: its Character and Fall

– A characteristic

– From fraternal order to trade union

– From fraternal order to think-tank

– From co-producer of culture to consumer of culture

– From utopia to dystopia and post-politics

– Fascism

– From idealism to modernism

– From idealism to the mythology of fascism

– From christian to areligious socialism


About the Author

Stefan Arvidsson is Professor in the History of Religions at Linnæus University, Sweden.

About the Series

Routledge Studies in Modern History

Learn more…

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
HISTORY / Historiography
HISTORY / Modern / 19th Century
HISTORY / Modern / 20th Century
RELIGION / Atheism