The Struggle for Equality: A Concise History of European Socialism

Please join us for a Faculty Colloquium with Bill Smalldone (History) who will present his talk titled: “The Struggle for Equality: A Concise History of European Socialism”

European socialism arose in the maelstrom of the industrial and democratic revolutions that transformed Europe after 1750. Striving for sweeping social, economic, cultural, and political change, socialists were a diverse lot, but were generally 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. This textbook 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, it 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 for many the end of the Cold War, the Soviet Union’s dissolution, and the rise of neo-liberal ideology pointed to the demise of socialism as a potent political force, recent developments show that such a judgment was premature. The growth of new socialist parties across Europe indicates that socialist ideas remained vibrant in the face of capitalism’s failure to solve chronic social and economic problems even before the onset of the deep global crisis of 2008-2009.

Combining an analytical narrative with a selection of primary texts and visual images, this textbook provides undergraduate students with a brief, accessible history of European socialism. It includes a concise overview of how socialist political movements have evolved over time and stresses the rich diversity that characterized socialism’s intellectual and social foundations from its beginning.

The talk will take place on Friday February 15 at 3 p.m. in the Hatfield Room. As usual, cookies and refreshments will be served.