- Capitalism and Alternatives -
Continued; part III (by the way, what happened to part two?)
Posted by: Frenchee on November 15, 1999 at 12:08:57:
If we now turn to socialist doctrine, we see a similar picture here too. These teachings did not arise either in the twentieth century or the nineteenth; they are more than two thousand years old. Their history can be divided into three periods.
(1) Socialist ideas were well known in antiquity. The first socialist system, whose influence can be seen in all its countless variations right up to the present, was created by Plato. Through Platonism socialist ideas penetrated to the Gnostic sects which surrounded early Christianity, and also to Manicheism. In this period the ideas of socialism were propagated in schools of philosophy and in narrow mystical circles.
(2) In the Middle Ages socialist ideas found their way to the masses. In a religious guise they were propagated within various heretical movements, the Catharists, the Brethren, of the Free Spirit, the Apostolic Brethern, and the Beghards. They inspired several powerful movements, for example,the Patarenes of fourteenth century Italy, or the Czech Taborites of the fifteenth century. Their influence was particularly strong during the Reformation and their traces can still be seen in the English revolution in the seventeenth century.
(3) Beginning in the sixteenth century, socialist ideology took a new direction. It threw off its mystical and religious form and based itself on a materialistic and rationalist view of the world. Typical of this was a militantly hostile attitude to religion. The spheres in which socialist ideas were propagated changed yet again: the preachers, who had addressed themselves to craftsmen and peasants, were replaced by philosophers and writers who strove to influence the reading public and the higher strata of society. This movement came to its peak in the eighteenth century, the "Age of Enlightment." At the end of that century a new objective made itself felt, that of bringing socialism out of the salons, out of the philosopher's study, and into the suburbs, onto the streets. There followed a reneweed attempt to put socialist ideas behind mass movement.
In this writer's opinion, neither the nineteenth nor the twentieth century introduced anything that was new in principle into the development of socialist ideology.
Taken from Alexander Solzhenitsyn's "From Under The Rubble.", by Igor Shafarevich.