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European Socialism: A Concise History with Documents

William Smaldone

2 ratings by Goodreads
ISBN 10: 1442209070 / ISBN 13: 9781442209077
Published by Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, 2013
Used Condition: Good Hardcover
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Title: European Socialism: A Concise History with ...

Publisher: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers

Publication Date: 2013

Binding: Hardcover

Book Condition: Good

About this title

Synopsis:

This accessible text offers a concise but comprehensive introduction to European socialism, which arose in the maelstrom of the industrial and democratic revolutions launched in the eighteenth century. Striving for sweeping social, economic, cultural, and political change, socialists were a diverse lot. However, they were united by principles asserting the social and political equality of all people, ideas that won the adherence of millions and struck fear in the hearts of their numerous opponents. William Smaldone shows how, over the course of 200 years, socialists successfully promoted the democratization of European society and a more equitable division of wealth. At the same time, he illustrates how conflicts over the means of achieving their aims divided them into rival "socialist" and "communist" currents, a rift that undercut the struggle against fascism and helped lay the groundwork for Europe's division during the Cold War. Although many predicted the demise of socialism as a potent force after the end of the Cold War, the Soviet Union's dissolution, and the rise of neo-liberal ideology, recent developments show that such a judgment was premature. The author argues that the growth of new socialist parties across Europe indicates that socialist ideas remain vibrant in the face of capitalism's failure to solve chronic social and economic problems, especially following the deep global crisis that began in 2008. Combining an analytical narrative with a selection of primary texts and visual images, this book provides undergraduate students with a brief, readable history, including an overview of how socialist political movements have evolved over time and stressing the rich diversity that has characterized socialism's foundations from its beginning.

Review:

William Smaldone has written an admirable and eye-opening concise history of European socialism and resoundingly shows its relevance for the economic and political challenges of our world today. With beautiful writing and great insight into historical questions, Smaldone provides a clear and compelling narrative arc to a vast and complex subject. The well-chosen selection of sources illustrates the richness and diversity of the socialist intellectual tradition. Smaldone's book is not only a fantastic text for undergraduate college courses on European history and politics, it's an impressive piece of scholarship in its own right.--Kevin J. Callahan, University of Saint Joseph; author of Demonstration Culture: European Socialism and the Second International, 1889-1914

Smaldone (Willamette Univ.) combines substantial writing skills and insightful editorial judgment to deliver a dense but accessible historical narrative supplemented by documents and visual displays. The author does not reach back to the 17th-century Diggers in England, but begins the story of socialism with the French Revolution. From Babouvism to today's parties of the Left, Smaldone depicts and analyzes the numerous and frequently conflicted versions of socialism, anarchism, social democracy, and communism that at one or another time have claimed the authoritative voice of the people in their struggle against exploitation by social and economic elites. Smaldone examines differences and struggles within specific groups and parties, as well as divisions from one to another. Consequently, he attends to the causes of the collapse of the first and the second international socialist organizations, but also the struggles between revolutionaries, maximalists, and reformists a generation later; the Stalinists versus reformists in Soviet Russia; hard-liners against Eastern European liberalization and Western Eurocommunism; and more. In thus exploring the historical complexity of socialism, Smaldone reveals its breadth and depth. Summing Up: Recommended. General readers and beyond.--CHOICE

Smaldone has something more interesting to offer than eternal truths. He invites readers on a tour through European socialism that is open to their own interpretations. . . . Writing in the aftermath of the Great Recession and in the face of a new age of austerity, he understands the need to defend social standards and public spending. . . .But Smaldone also understands that the improvement of social and ecological conditions on this planet require fundamental change. The balance sheet that he draws on European socialism from times of the French revolution until today can also be read as a call to arms. . . . A welcome opportunity to mine past experience for ideas about socialist strategy in the future.--Against the Current

William Smaldone offers a history of socialism that is at once ideal for a student who is being introduced to the sweep of the idea and its political expressions in modern culture, yet sufficiently thoughtful to inform scholars. The text fulfills the best model of historical narrative: It is accessible and informative for any reader, offering in-depth analysis of the significant thinkers, yet fluidly moving through its arc from socialism's foundational ideas in the last decade of the eighteenth century to the post-Soviet present. The book includes key documents penned by the major socialist thinkers--invaluable as a basis for the careful discussion of that individual's thought and action. Smaldone's ability to accurately recreate the ever-changing contexts in which socialism rose to its next plateau, its generational struggles, and its conflicts among adherents as well as its class enemies offers a historical account that is integral to any thorough understanding of the political, social, and economic realities of the past several centuries.--Mark E. Blum, Professor of History, University of Louisville

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