[OPE-L:5277] Re: The Webbs as utopians

From: Gerald_A_Levy (Gerald_A_Levy@msn.com)
Date: Wed Mar 28 2001 - 11:18:43 EST

Re [5275]:

> Just catching up on OPE, I notice that Jerry 
> wrote in #5191
> >... Utopians like ... the Webbs.
> I'm sure there's a sense in which the Webbs 
> might be describable as
> Utopians, but I have to say that it escapes me. 
> Jerry, can you elaborate?

Hi Julian. In [5191], in the sentence you refer to,
I was paraphrasing the following sentence written
by Hyman Minsky about  Paul Douglas:

"In his various courses he often enthused about
the Utopian visions of Robert Owen and he
took bargaining theories of wage determination 
-- such as the Webbs put forth -- seriously." 
(Minsky, "Beginnings", in  J.A. Kregel ed. 
_Recollections of Eminent Economists_, p. 174).

In a strict sense, I guess that the Webbs weren't
Utopian Socialists (like Saint-Simon, Owen,  
Fourier).  Yet there were enough similarities
that I will call them neo-Utopian Socialists.
What Bernstein and the Webbs had in common
with the Utopian Socialists was the belief that
socialists could be able to bring about socialism
through an evolutionary process. Both groups,
including (contemporary) Social Democrats,
embrace a particular perspective of the
(capitalist) state that is in opposition to Marx's
(and other revolutionary) perspective. 

You could, with some justice, claim that I am 
'stretching' the definition of Utopian socialist too 
much in the previous paragraph. Never the less,
I think that it has some merit and, if we think of
it is the foregoing terms, much of the M & E
critique of the Utopians can be extended as a
critique of all non-revolutionary socialists.

I must also admit, in fairness, that it has been 
several decades since I read the Webbs and my
memory of their writings is not exactly fresh.

In solidarity, Jerry

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