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About this Lecture
In this module, we think about the rise, fall, and then resurgence of socialism since the end of the Second World War. To begin with, we consider the host of socialist regimes imitating the Russian model, often leading to similarly horrific regimes in countries like China under Mao and Cambodia under Pol Pot, all of which taking place in the global context of the Cold War. We go on to think about how the collapse of the USSR and Fall of the Berlin Wall were interpreted by some as the ‘end of history’ and the ideological demise of socialism, and we consider the reasons why these reflections have proved premature, using the thought of the Italian philosopher Antonia Gramsci to help make sense of this.
In this course, Professor Jeremy Jennings (King’s College London) thinks about the history of socialism from its origins to the present day. We begin in the first module with the French Revolution which set the European precedent for political revolution before moving on to survey writers of the ‘utopian socialist’ tradition which emerged in the first half of the nineteenth century. In the second module, we think about the life, work, and impact of Karl Marx who theorised that capitalism would inevitably bring about its own demise in its creation of a revolutionary industrial proletariat. We then consider how the failure of this revolution to materialise caused a ‘crisis’ for socialism in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries and reflect on some of the theories as to why this was the case. In the fourth module, we turn to the first successful socialist revolution to occur – that of Lenin’s Bolshevik Party in October 1917 – and chart the history of Russian socialism until its huge territorial gains by the end of the Second World War. Finally, in the fifth module, we think about the global rise of socialism after 1945 in Asia, Africa, and Central America, before examining the sudden collapse of the Soviet edifice between 1989-91 and the resurgence of socialist movements today linked to a critique of globalisation, climate change, and cultural hegemony.
Jeremy Jennings is Professor of Political Theory at King's College, London. His research focuses upon the history of political thought in France. He is presently finishing a book provisionally entitled Travels with Tocqueville and is acting as co-editor of the Cambridge Encyclopedia of French Thought. A larger, long-term project is to write a history of the concept of liberty.
Cite this Lecture
Jennings, J. (2019, September 26). Socialism - Post-WW2 [Video]. MASSOLIT. https://massolit.io/courses/socialism/post-ww2
Jennings, Jeremy. "Socialism – Post-WW2." MASSOLIT, uploaded by MASSOLIT, 26 Sep 2019, https://massolit.io/courses/socialism/post-ww2