The Making of British Socialism provides a new interpretation of the emergence of British socialism in the late nineteenth century, demonstrating that it was not a working-class movement demanding state action, but a creative campaign of political hope promoting social justice, personal transformation, and radical democracy. Mark Bevir shows that British socialists responded to the dilemmas of economics and faith against a background of diverse traditions, melding new economic theories opposed to capitalism with new theologies which argued that people were bound in divine fellowship.
Bevir utilizes an impressive range of sources to illuminate a number of historical questions: Why did the British Marxists follow a Tory aristocrat who dressed in a frock coat and top hat? Did the Fabians develop a new economic theory? What was the role of Christian theology and idealist philosophy in shaping socialist ideas? He explores debates about capitalism, revolution, the simple life, sexual relations, and utopian communities. He gives detailed accounts of the Marxists, Fabians, and ethical socialists, including famous authors such as William Morris and George Bernard Shaw. And he locates these socialists among a wide cast of colorful characters, including Karl Marx, Henry Thoreau, Leo Tolstoy, and Oscar Wilde.
By showing how socialism combined established traditions and new ideas in order to respond to the changing world of the late nineteenth century, The Making of British Socialism turns aside long-held assumptions about the origins of a major movement.
Mark Bevir is professor of political science at the University of California, Berkeley. His books include Democratic Governance (Princeton).
"Bevir challenges both the old historiography of socialism and current conceptions of socialism based upon the older views. . . . Bevir accomplishes a good portion of his goals through a well-structured, closely argued text that incorporates the work of recent historians as well as the views of Marxists, Fabians, and moral socialists of the period of primary focus. . . . A valuable resource . . ."--Choice
"Bevir has made a useful contribution to what should be considered a history in progress."--Keith Flett, Reviews in History
"An impressive array of different material is covered in detail. . . . [G]enerally the selection is very good. Overall, it is an excellent account for historians and others interested in the politics and economics of socialism in this period."--James Hall, Political Studies Review
"Bevir's account contributes much to the historiography of both the European Left and late Victorian Britain. It will also be read with benefit by those seeking to revive a seemingly stagnant socialist tradition."--Henry Reichman, Historian
"This important book offers a fresh perspective on the emergence of British socialist ideas in the late nineteenth century that is rich in historical insight and contemporary political relevance. Mark Bevir skillfully analyzes the complex ideological strands that were woven together to form the political thought of British socialism and he deftly corrects the numerous misunderstandings that have accumulated in the secondary literature. He takes the intellectual history of socialism in this period to a new level of sophistication."--Ben Jackson, University of Oxford
Table of Contents
Other Princeton books authored or coauthored by Mark Bevir: