thumbnail of The theory and practice of communism; Evolution of Non-Marxian Socialism
Hide -
If this transcript has significant errors that should be corrected, let us know, so we can add it to FIX IT+
The Theory and Practice of communism a series of 13 lectures taken from the 1967 Wisconsin Alumni seminar held at the University of Wisconsin in Madison. The speaker of Michael B Petrovich is a specialist in Russian and Balkan history. The author of numerous books and articles is a professor of history at the University of Wisconsin. Today's lecture of the evolution of Nun Marxian socialism part two. In the first part of the lecture heard last week Professor Petrovitch defined communism as a system of social organization in which there is common ownership of the means of production and some approach to equal distribution of goods pointing out the fallacy in a common belief that communism is a system in which everyone has a share of material wealth. He stressed the importance of the second clause of the definition notably that there is some approach to equal distribution of goods. Professor Petrovitch then went on to trace various types of socialism from ancient to modern times which fall under this definition. Each type having evolved as a result
of a feeling of social injustice. It discussed the Republic of Plato. Certain teachings of early Christianity the utopian socialism of Thomas Moore the French socialistic thinking of the 18th century including the ideas of Blong and Pudong And finally the thought of Robert Owen today Professor Petrovitch continues his discussion of the evolution of non Marxian socialism with a consideration of the various kinds of socialism during and after the time of Karl Marx. Professor Petrovitch. What I did earlier was I hope successfully to show you that there have been many different kinds of socialist thought before Karl Marx but I would now like to impress you with the fact that there were many different kinds of socialism during the time of Karl Marx and after Karl Marx and that there are many different kinds of socialism in the world today and in the six or seven or eight different brands of socialism that I have here do not exhaust the list by
any means for those who see no difference between socialism and communism all you have to think about. If the fact that such quite different people as George Bernard Shaw and former mayor Zeigler of Milwaukee Norman Thomas archbishops and Catholics all kinds of people have been socialists of different sorts in our own time. I've talked about the utopian socialists who generally preceded Karl Marx but let me say a few words about the anarchists and I happen to still see it enter kids and especially with a Russian calling in the Baconian was never as important in Russia as he was in Western Europe. So that in a real sense but communion belongs to the history of Western European socialism than Russian socialism another Russian
that I might associate with the whole movement. If the parking lot there that's fine paperback edition of pork King's memoirs which tell you a great deal about anarchism caput can too belong much more to Western European talked in Russian for the simple reason that both become parking in but were exiled from Russia during most of their lives and had to work outside of Russia. I might add that both buckling in and car park can belong to the Russian aristocracy. But Clinton was the son of a wealthy landowning Squire support can belong to one of the great princely families of Russia and his title was Prince or Peter support. Now I won't tell you much about Bill Clinton's life except somebody once called him revolution pyramidal and whenever there was any trouble in Europe you could be sure that buckling in when I was there in the middle of the 19th century he lived from 18 14 to 18. Seventy
six and that was in his own day. I think better known than Karl Marx as a proponent of socialism and was in fact Karl Marx's great competitor and Nemesis. In many ways Karl Marx was but communions. Master in scholarship in economics in knowledge of history he was a Clinton supporter here but the Communion was by far the more successful revolutionary organizer and had much more appeal in his day with his anarchism than Karl Marx did. Furthermore Clinton was an amateur philosopher of sorts and I would like to give you just some but convenience thinking so that you might compare it with Marxist later. But Clooney unlike Karl Marx believed that the sum total of the universe acts through certain inherent laws and that
if matter in the universe is governed by these laws then human behavior is also governed by certain natural laws and that it is the duty of right thinking man in modern times to discover what these laws of human behavior are in order to determine how human behavior might be changed and used for the best. This was of course this emerges in an age that we call positivism in European intellectual history this is the age which begat for example the science of sociology. There was a time when sociology was not simply an academic discipline to describe the workings of social organisations but was born out of the idea that if one knew enough about social organisation one could then construct the most perfect kind of society. Many of the 19th century socialists come out of this tradition in that sense then they are all attuned to the idea of scientific laws lurking somewhere if we only knew what
these laws were then we could we could then. Order our societies and best way possible. Science span for buckling in was the answer for many of the sociologists but science necessarily deals in abstractions and generalization said Bakunin it does not deal with individuals. And this is why Bakunin warned against government by scientists. You remember the earlier socialists I talked about several of them had the idea that the new aristocracy would be the scientists who knew all of these laws and buckling and said Be aware of this because life human life is bigger than knowledge of science. A society obeying science through mere veneration and not understanding would be reduced to idiocy he wrote and government by any privileged caste is due to corruption and inevitably ends in despotism. And just as there
was a despotism of the capitalists in Buckland's view so there might just as easily be a despotism by those who own the means of knowledge and were able to political controls to use their scientism as a form of control over others. Not buckling in felt that man was the highest type of animal as Feuerbach said Baconians rights man does everything the animals do but only he does it in a more humane way. Man is poor but communion a sick theory or a being but only relatively. Intelligence is a quantitative and not a qualitative difference. It's Nan's task to conquer nature and man can never conquer nature in the sense of the universal totality of its laws of which he is only a part. But he can master his own. Limited and environment. Not this word environment itself is important in the history of socialism because and indeed of sociology and indeed of all social work because at the
basis of it is the idea that it is the environment that determines man in modern thought on the whole. Before Freud. Has tried to get away from the idea that man is innately anything. That human nature is innately good or that human nature is innately imperfect or bad or anything of the sort. What the 18th century rationalist an early 19th century thinker is trying to get across is the toppling rough idea that man at birth is sort of like a blank sheet of paper and that everything that man is the result of his environment. And therefore if you can control the environment and to make a perfect environment you can also then produce a perfect match. And I'm sure all of you will see from this that this lies at the basis of much social reformism. And there is much to be said for art except that there are disturbing ideas to the contrary Freud being one of them. If I could really be a social
scientist and I disclaim that social science exists. Social studies exist there is no such thing in my vocabulary social science. If science by science we mean science in the same way as as the in that biology or zoology or any of these things but if I could be a social scientist and reduce humankind to a laboratory one of the things that I'd like to be able to do in a social laboratory see what Karl Marx would have said if he lived after Freud and not before Freud because Karl Marx belonged to a whole generation fed on 18th century rationalism that had very little conception of the intricacies and depths of the human personality. And to these people the human was really just a blank sheet of paper at birth and they didn't like the other suggestion because it sounded too churchy too religious to medieval to say that a man is born in sin or something of this art. But it was
Freud that brought back some of that. The doubts as to man's being a blank sheet of paper through his science of psychology. Well them but Coogan had a glimpse of the individual as a personality much more I think than Karl Marx did. Perhaps true but Clooney's own intuitive romantic reasoning he did not believe in any arbitrary free will but rational self-determination and yet he was wise enough to realize that this could lead men into trouble to the degree that their reason was imperfect. But one thing buckling would not recognize is the validity of religion. Let me quote you from calling God exists hence man is a slave. Man is intelligent just free. Therefore God does not exist. We defy anyone to avoid this circle and now let everyone choose in his religion but Clinton was not much above the unsophisticated level of the village
atheist. But he felt strongly that that man's dignity was not compatible with the idea of God because to Bakunin God meant authoritarianism above man's mind and this he would not accept that was the only thing he wouldn't accept he wouldn't accept the state either any state for Baconian as well as for Marx was an infamy in that it represented political oppression by one class over another class. We must bear in mind that when these socialists refer to the word state they are not just referring to a certain type of administration of certain social activities they are referring to a means of political oppression by one group over another group. The big difference between Marx and Baconian was that Marx was willing to use the state. In the revolution to have the revolution take over the state and use it in under a dictatorship of the proletariat. But Clinton wouldn't even have any of that. Said that all states are
Wickett even a state by the proletariat would be could be a wicked thing and what he wanted was to do with the. Away with the fate entirely and replace government over people by administration over things through a federation of communes localism in other words he believed he distrusted all power concentration of power and he felt that humans are to conduct their own affairs on a local level because he was able to think in these terms than 1000 Fanchon which wasn't quite as complicated as our own century but he thought of the local communes municipalities whatever counties whatever may be the case. Working as separate units and all of them bound to one another by a federation based on administration rather than politics. Quote. One of the great problems of socialism then is always what is one at it and one's attitude towards the state not as two.
His theory of socialism but believes. That the individual I quote from him at the moment of his birth is the material organic derivative of all that infinite diversity of causes which produced him in their combination. Every individual is absolutely unique. Yet all men are wholly the product of their environment. It is the task of socialism said Baconian founded on positive science to achieve for man the three things that he needs to be moral. I quote Three things are necessary for men to become moral. That is complete man in the full meaning of the word. Birth under hygenic conditions. An interesting thing birth under hygenic conditions a rational and integral education accompanied by an upbringing based upon respect for work reason equality and liberty. And third a social environment wherein the human individual enjoying full liberty will be equal in fact and by right to all others does such an
environment exist. Ask. But it does not. It follows then that it has to be created. Now this environment is to be created not by state but by the society and in Marx's in vocabulary deeds to words have quite a different meaning. The state is an instrument of political oppression by one class over another where society is just as people. Mankind society is the basis of human existence and there is no humanity outside of success. Man's speech reason and freedom are the products of society. Man says Brooklyn was not originally free and then gave up his freedom to society by some sort of social contract. This is absurd. Absolute individual liberty says but communion is absolute nonbeing natural and social laws are the same but political laws are not natural laws. That's that distinction I made earlier between natural law and the law of man.
Individual interests and social interests however are not incompatible but mutual. It is not so with the individual in the state. To get down to brass tacks Bucklin regarded capitalism as sinful and parasitic for it lives at the expense of the workers. And in this but Kuhn agreed entirely with Karl Marx whom he called the illustrious leader of German communism and he referred to dust Capitale as that magnificent work like Marx. But can you believe that class struggle is inevitable irreconcilable in that the bourgeoisie is doomed. I quote him. To die is the only service which it may still render to humanity which it served during its life. But the trouble is that it does not want to die. And of course the state then is an evil church and state owned out taht is the German revolution as you say throne and altar bound together in evil companionship and they should both go down the
drainpipe of history. Also said he state and capitalism go hand in hand and both should be done away with. But can you believe that there was no such thing as a democratic state. That the word democracy in the word States were incompatible that they were the opposites of one another. That you could have a democratic society but no state could be democratic a state could be only oppressive whether it was the oppression of the minority over the majority or the oppression of the majority over the minority. No state could truly be democratic. But communions programs in part reads like this. Aiming at the actual And finally mancipation of the people we hold out the following program first. Abolition of the right of property inheritance equalization of the rights of women. Interrupt you to say that the rights of women were very much and mine was very much in the minds of the socialists. Many of them regarded as one of the ways of determining how virtuous and free a
society was but how much rights they gave to women. According to this Switzerland is one of the most backward countries in the world you know that women in Swiss Switzerland still are not permitted to vote. Equalization of the rights of women basic economic truth rests upon two fundamental premises says Baconian. First the land belongs only to those who cultivate it with their own hands. To the agricultural communes the capital and all the tools of production belong to the workers to the Workers Association. So you see you have these two forms of his administration agricultural communes and workers associations. The future political organisation should be a free Federation of Workers a federation of producers associations of Agricultural and factory workers and therefore in the name of political emancipation. We want in the first place abolition of the state and the uprooting of the state principle with all the ecclesiastical political military bureaucratic juridical
academic financial and economic institutions that go with it. We want full freedom for all nations with the right of full self-determination for every people in conformity with their own instincts needs and will. Well one could go into quite a discourse on the differences between the union and Marx They were great enemies in their lifetime. There are deep philosophical and organizational divergences among them. But what but Clooney wanted was a swift revolution right away based not on any particular class such as the working class proletariat but on all the oppressed all the exploited whether they're workers or peasants or anything else. And to be against any form of state but for a free Federation of 3Com your famous slogan went of agricultural communes and of workers associations. With violence and violent revolution being a necessity because the class
and power doesn't just want to go away or lie down and die. Now this is one form of socialism that had a great deal of appeal and emotional appeal and decided it was immediate if it wasn't like Karl Marx's scholarly prognostications of the future it was something you could sink your teeth into in 1860 in one thousand seventy and many workers did not have another car. Socialism is agrarian socialism national speak of it only in its Russian context here because of its importance as being a competitor of Marx Marx in socialism in Russia which after all is the first country when the communists took over political power successfully. Agrarian socialism in Russia was based on the conception that Russia in the middle of the 19th century wasn't really capitalist yet that Russia in the middle of the 19th century was still a backward
agricultural state in the throes of feudalism. And that while this was a bad thing for Russia on the one hand on the other hand it was a good thing because it meant that Russia could skip capitalism altogether. Why have capitalism a toff so that while Western Socialists were talking about the big struggle of mankind as being against capitalism the Russians who could hardly see any capitalism in Russia in the middle of the 19th century said let's just skip it. How through what we already have said the Russian socialist The peasant commune. I wonder if all of you know enough about Russian history to realize that for centuries in Russia the normal form of agriculture depended upon two institutions one with serfdom in which men were virtually slaves could be bought and sold in the marketplace. In the 18th century at least these men these agricultural producers were
virtually the slaves of the landowner the noble landowners of Russia. But there was another institution that went hand in hand with this and this is the exact opposite the Village Commune in which every Russian village of peasants virtually governed itself according to its own traditions and the rights landowner let them alone. These peasants had their own traditions their own laws common law and the law conducted their own rules of justice.
The theory and practice of communism
Evolution of Non-Marxian Socialism
Producing Organization
University of Wisconsin
WHA (Radio station : Madison, Wis.)
Contributing Organization
University of Maryland (College Park, Maryland)
If you have more information about this item than what is given here, or if you have concerns about this record, we want to know! Contact us, indicating the AAPB ID (cpb-aacip/500-hq3s0486).
Series Description
For series info, see Item 3358. This prog.: The Evolution of Non-Marxian Socialism II.
Politics and Government
Media type
Embed Code
Copy and paste this HTML to include AAPB content on your blog or webpage.
Producing Organization: University of Wisconsin
Producing Organization: WHA (Radio station : Madison, Wis.)
AAPB Contributor Holdings
University of Maryland
Identifier: 68-18-3 (National Association of Educational Broadcasters)
Format: 1/4 inch audio tape
Duration: 00:22:36
If you have a copy of this asset and would like us to add it to our catalog, please contact us.
Chicago: “The theory and practice of communism; Evolution of Non-Marxian Socialism,” 1968-04-01, University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed May 29, 2024,
MLA: “The theory and practice of communism; Evolution of Non-Marxian Socialism.” 1968-04-01. University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Web. May 29, 2024. <>.
APA: The theory and practice of communism; Evolution of Non-Marxian Socialism. Boston, MA: University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Retrieved from