After reading this article you will learn about the views of Utopian socialists on socialism.
The important premise of the Utopian Socialists is that human beings everywhere are part of humanity and they are the holders of the same degree of dignity. As to the merit and ability there are differences among men. But that cannot be the basis or reason of inequality.
This prescription of Utopian Socialists is normative. Any future society must acknowledge it. Corollary to it is the concept of equality. If all the individuals possess same dignity they can legitimately claim equality in various spheres of social life.
The Utopians or early socialists held the view that none can be deprived of the right to equality. Rather, it should be the basis of every society. If it is proclaimed as the basic aim of society then conflict in all forms will come to an end.
Mutual love, brotherhood and fellow-feeling will ultimately rule the society. There will be no place of exploitation and oppression. This is the picture of future society according to the Utopian socialists.
The early socialists or Utopians never regarded socialism as a free ideal. That is, it could not be achieved easily or without any effort. Socialism was bound to come but that must be preceded by arduous efforts.
Socialism, according to the Utopians, would finally conquer the world. Why did they come to the conclusion? They believed that everywhere the system of private property and capitalist mode of production had created intolerable and chaotic conditions causing great hardship to the toiling masses. Mass awakening would lead them to work for socialism. Utopian socialists thought that emergence of consciousness do not stay at any single place or condition. History shows that knowledge, consciousness idea etc. move from one stage to higher stage.
The material conditions of society also help this movement. Naturally, when people realize that they are oppressed or exploited they will be in search of a proper remedy and finally they will discover that only a socialist society is capable of emancipating them from all sorts of evils. In other words, socialism is the saviour.
The Utopians never conceived of achieving socialist goals by revolutionary means. They believed in the economic objectives that is, mitigation to inequality in economic sphere and redistribution of wealth in order to give every man his due share of wealth. The political revolution was not treated by them a master means. Rather, they had no intention to use or adopt revolution.
The early socialists were not revolutionaries. But they cannot be mistaken as counter-revolutionaries. They were convinced that socialism could be achieved by spreading education, intensifying propaganda and adopting reforms. To put it in a different language, peaceful ways are the best methods for achieving socialism.
The Utopians were convinced that the capitalist system of production was solely responsible for the large-scale chaos in the economic world. Both the numbers of capitalists and the competition among them had increased enormously.
The inevitable consequence was over-production and in order to save themselves from this crisis the capitalists were forced to retrench workers and to adopt other anti-worker policies.
But these failed to provide the effective cushion. Poverty and unemployment began to increase by leaps and bounds, these created suffocating conditions for the people living in a capitalist society. The growing crises forced the capitalists to find out ways of survival. They devised ways. But these could not help them because the crisis in capitalism was deep-rooted.
The result is the crisis continued; on the other hand the working class was also the victim of the crisis of capitalism. Unemployment increased by leaps and bound. The economic hardship went on.
The workers everywhere were forced to work at nominal wage. The purchasing power of the workers decreased. The multiplication of hardship and crisis became the characteristic feature of almost every capitalist system.
The Utopians have prepared a scheme of future society based upon certain ideals. These ideals may be attained either by reforms or individual efforts such as appealing to industrialists.
However, mutualism has been emphasized by them. They had no intention to exacerbate the relationship between classes. So it was also their goal to effectuate social harmony. In the scheme of future society we find the following ideals.
The private property is to be abolished. A planned economy on a national scale is to be accepted. Without planning a society cannot be freed from anarchy. The right to work is to be admitted.
Abolition of the existing class structure of society is essential. The manufacturers would form cooperatives on a voluntary basis. All distinctions between men and women and also between different religious sects are to be abolished.
The arts and science will be allowed to flourish with complete freedom. Universal education at public expense will be introduced. This is the scheme of a future society. If all these are translated into reality there will be no exploitation in the society. So socialism is the only way of emancipation.