While the different threads of Marxist socialism in nineteenth-century Europe shared some common themes, it was also a divided movement. How would you describe those common perspectives? How would you describe the key differences and points of division?

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First, let’s review Marxist socialism. Karl Marx inspired the notion that the ruling class (bourgeoisie) were exploiting workers (proletariats) through capitalism. Simply put, the ruling class was getting rich while the workers were being treated unfairly, with low wages and deplorable working conditions. This was a common viewpoint among all socialists.

Europe, during the nineteenth century, was rapidly changing with the Industrial Revolution. The “few” in the ruling class owned the companies, land, production, and equipment. This left the “many” in the working class to provide all the labor with little reward.

One common theme of those who believed in socialism was to end capitalism and allow the government to distribute resources fairly to all. The key differences come into play with how to achieve the goals of socialism. Marx did not believe in the individual so much as he believed in the working class as a whole. Other socialists felt that an individual could grow economically through education and shared prosperity. Socialists also believed that poverty could be addressed through a democratically controlled economy. Marx, however, believed a collective uprising forcing change was the answer. Marx hoped to cause a global revolution whereby the workers would overthrow and abolish the ruling class and start their own political and economic system.

If you would like to learn more about socialism in nineteenth-century Europe, the following video may be helpful.

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