Conference on Socialism and Democracy

Mar 25, 2022, 1:30 pmMar 26, 2022, 1:00 pm
Marx Hall, Room 301 (Kerstetter Seminar Room). Due to current health protocols, open to PUID holders only.
Event Description

Friday, March 25, 1:30 PM -6:00 PM and
Saturday, March 26, 9:00 AM -1:00 PM

This event is limited to PU ID holders.  To register, click here.

ABSTRACT: Early communists and socialists, including Karl Marx himself, defended the introduction of universal suffrage. Marx wrote that “in unrestricted suffrage, civil society has raised itself for the first time to political existence…the reform of voting advances the dissolution of the political state, but also the dissolution of civil society.” (Critique of Hegel’s Philosophy of Right, published 1843). By the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, socialists 
were more skeptical that voting reform would lead to a socialist society. This conference proposes to examine theories of the relationship between socialism and democracy that emerged in Europe and America roughly around the turn of the century. How did socialists view parliamentary government? Was it an essential organ for socialist reform or did it merely produce forms of hierarchy anathema to socialist fellowship? How did socialists come to think of the working class' own institutions—the trade union and the socialist party? Were these institutions destined to entrench hierarchies or did some socialists think this problem could be mitigated? Finally, how did socialists think that the working class could be educated for political rule in the coming era of mass democracy? How could workers acquire democratic virtues and capacities of self-rule? Could the trade union or party’s struggle for piecemeal reform cultivate these virtues? Or was something more radical and militant—such as the general strike or revolution—required for workers to achieve democratic self-rule? Examining past conceptions of popular worker education and mobilization can further our understanding of the recent disarray of the workers’ movement and perhaps suggest avenues for its renewal.

Theophile Deslauriers and Peter Giraudo

Edward Baring (Princeton) 
Michael Behrent (Appalachian State) 
Warren Breckman (Penn) 
Théophile Deslauriers (Princeton) 
Kevin Duong (UVA) 
Peter Giraudo (Princeton) 
Alex Gourevitch (Brown) 
Karuna Mantena (Columbia) 
Natasha Piano (Chicago) 
Max Ridge (Princeton) 

History of Political Thought Project at the University Center for Human Values