Marxism at Work: Ideology, Class and French Socialism during the Third Republic

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Despite a century of debate and criticism, Marxism as a mass ideological practice has remained an elusive topic. This book examines Marxist socialism as a mode of understanding and self-understanding treasured and transmitted by thousands of anonymous militants. It focuses upon the Parti Ouvrier Francais, the 'Guesdists', an archetypical movement of Marxism's 'Golden Age' before the First World War, the period when Marxist socialism evolved from sect to mass movement. Thousands of French socialists adopted Marxism due to the effectiveness of vulgar Guesdist polemic rather than to Marx's profound theoretical works, and entire communities were converted to an austere but messianic socialism which still affects French politics today. This book traces the doctrine's birth through conflict with liberals, proto-fascists, and anarchists; its 'making' of a working class; its attempted seduction of the middle class; and its confusion before alternative social visions - issues which today still condition the interpretive triumphs and political tragedies of Marxist ideology.
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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"...Stuart has written a rich, subtle and lucid analusis of French Marxism in the Belle Epoque. However controversial, it is sure to become the standard work on the subject and to be of use to anyone concerned with the difficulties of Marxist political practice." Science & Society
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780521415262
  • Publisher: Cambridge University Press
  • Publication date: 11/28/2004
  • Pages: 536
  • Product dimensions: 6.14 (w) x 9.21 (h) x 1.30 (d)

Table of Contents

List of Illustrations
Pt. I In search of French Marxism
1 Ideology, history, and the study of Marxism 3
2 The Parti Ouvrier Francais: its history and historiography 20
3 The axioms of class war: class, class consciousness, and class conflict 55
Pt. II The making of the French working class
4 The capitalist mode of production and proletarianisation 97
5 Unmaking the working class: lumpenproletarians and labour aristocrats 127
6 A 'class for itself'; trade unions, cooperatives, and the 'labour movement' 180
7 The bourgeois state versus the proletarian party 223
8 Reform and revolution 252
Pt. III History and class conflict
9 Vampire-Capital: Marxists indict the bourgeoisie 295
10 Shopkeepers and artisans: the Guesdists and the petite bourgeoisie 350
11 Aristocrats, peasants and labourers: Marxism and rural society 388
12 Sales clerks and savants: Marxists encounter the 'new middle class' 424
13 The proletarian revolution: from pauperisation to Utopia 459
Conclusion 492
Bibliographical note 503
Index 509
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