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date: 23 February 2020

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter traces some connections between Karl Marx and British politics and culture in the nineteenth century. It outlines Marx’s engagement with Chartism, contemporary politics (including his anti-Palmerston campaign), and the International Association. It explores Marx’s attitude towards socialism in Britain, using Robert Owen as a case study. Marx’s balanced view of ‘utopian socialism’ includes a positive assessment of Owen’s critique of capitalism and his vision of future socialist society. Moreover, Marx excused certain weaknesses in Owen’s social theory as unavoidably reflecting the undeveloped historical circumstances in which his intellectual formation had occurred. In addition, Marx credits Owen with a significant role in the histories of both ‘materialism’ and the cooperative movement. The chapter concludes with brief reflections on the need for accounts of Marx’s posthumous impact on British socialism in the nineteenth century to reflect an adequate appreciation of these various connections during his lifetime.

Keywords: Karl Marx (1818-1883), Friedrich Engels (1820-1895), British socialism, Robert Owen (1771-1858), Utopian socialism

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