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Searching for a New Way of Thinking about Society

A Noospheric Social Quality Orientation for Development toward Sustainability

Vyacheslav Nikolayevitch Bobkov and Nikolay Vyacheslavovich Bobkov

socionatural evolution based on the social intellect and educational society embodied in the Manifesto of Noospheric Socialism ( Subetto 2011 ). The second is connected with articulating the organizational and legal bases for regulating the movement of

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Susan Stedman Jones

This paper explores the nature of Durkheim’s theoretical language concerning the whole and the individual. I look at the questions of holism and individualism throughout his thought, but I particularly focus on ‘L’individualisme et les intellectuels’, where he enters the debate over the Dreyfus affair, espousing the language of intellectual and moral right. I examine the historical and philosophical background of this and the tensions between individualism and socialism, within neglected aspects of French political history. Here a new language of individuality and right was forged, not simply through the pressure of events, but through a re-thinking of socialist holism from within a philosophical tradition.

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Frank Pearce

This is an essay – along with another, by Raymond Boudon – on The Cambridge Companion to Durkheim (2005), edited by Jeffrey Alexander and Philip Smith. With becoming modesty, the editors admit that their argument for a 'cultural turn' in Durkheimian interpretation isn't universally accepted. Yet there is little sign, in their collection, of contributions that dispute their position. Certainly, some of the articles are interesting and stimulating, though others are modest in another sense, even quite flawed – as in some of their ideas about America. True, in his own article, Alexander makes a good enough case for a 'cultural turn'. But he seems unaware of Durkheim's last publication in his lifetime, 'The Politics of the Future' (1917). And in general, it is necessary to challenge 'culturalism'. This essay suggests an alternative, based not only on The Division of Labour, but the continuing relevance of Durkheim's belief in the need for socialism.

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Ronald Paul

This article brings together the Sartrean concept of bad faith and Edward Upward's novel, Journey to the Border, first published in 1938. The aim is to provide an overtly political reading that challenges the surreal obscurity of Upward's psychological narrative, while at the same time showing the continuing relevance of Sartre's understanding of the psychological tensions and existential dilemmas of the modern condition. Upward's novel has been the focus of much critical debate as to the meaning of the story - the descent of the main character towards madness in the context of the 1930s threat of fascism and war - as well as the generic characterisation of the text in terms of satire, fable, fantasy or political parable. The article argues in contrast a more unequivocally ideological reading of the series of existential choices, both personal and political, of the main character as a struggle for individual freedom and authenticity through a radical commitment to socialism and responsibility for the Other.

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The Rise of the "Global Social"

Origins and Transformations of Social Rights under UN Human Rights Law

Ulrike Davy

The article explores how national social policy ideas and UN-sponsored international social rights interrelate, historically and recently. Based on UN documents of the 1940s and 1950s, the article argues that UN-sponsored social rights – the "global social" – originally did not primarily reflect welfare statism (as taken for granted today), but drew on competing ideas (liberal welfare statism, developmental thinking, socialism). Based on an analysis of the state reports under the Social Covenant from 1977 to 2011, the article also argues that the states' reading of the UN social rights became more homogeneous over time. Only from the 1990s did essentials of welfare statism spread globally. This recent reading of the "global social" focuses on poverty and basic rights, such as the right to food and housing, with instruments like social assistance and measures enabling access to health services, education and land. The article draws on a global database of UN documents created by the author.

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Ian H. Birchall

Linda Bell’s article “Different Oppressions”1 makes a useful contribution to the study of Sartre’s Réflexions sur la question juive (1946).2 She raises the difficult question of the comparability and specificity of different forms of oppression, and in particular she recounts how the text encouraged her in challenging her own oppression as a woman. Surely Sartre himself would have asked for nothing better of the works that survived him than that they should inspire others struggling against oppression in all its forms.

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Ronald Aronson

When published, Sartre's Critique of Dialectical Reason appeared to be a major intellectual and political event, no less than a Kantian effort to found Marxism, with far-reaching theoretical and political consequences. Claude Levi-Strauss devoted a course to studying it, and debated Sartre's main points in The Savage Mind; Andre Gorz devoted a major article to explaining its importance and key concepts in New Left Review. Many analysts of the May, 1968 events in Paris claimed that they were anticipated by the Critique. But the book has had a very quiet 50th anniversary: it is now clear that the project has had little lasting effect beyond a narrow band of specialists. It has not entered the wider culture, has not been picked up beyond Sartre scholars except by one or two philosophically interested social scientists and feminist thinkers; and after the energy of 1968 wore off the Critique faded as well from the radar of political activists. This article asks and attempts to answer the perplexing question: Why? What became of the great promise of Sartre's project?

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Andrew Dobson

Sartre’s second volume of the Critique of Dialectical Reason1 presents us with an important irony: of all the phenomena of the twentieth century that demand a moral judgement, Stalinism must be near the top of the list – yet such judgement is hard to find in Sartre’s Critique. Part of my task in the following will be to explain this. It is not that moral judgement is wholly absent: Sartre describes the theory and practice of ‘Socialism in One Country’ as a ‘monstrosity’ [CDR2:103] characterised by ‘its uncouth, misguided crudity’ [CDR2:111], and he has no trouble with peremptorily asserting that the Russian Revolution’s good fortune at being pushed through by the ‘Man of Steel’ was matched on the debit side by Stalin’s ‘universal incompetence’ and his ‘dogmatic crudeness’ [CDR2:205].

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Vyacheslav Nikolayevitch Bobkov, Olesya Veredyuk, and Ulvi Aliyev

This article exposes criterial bases of the development of social quality in the USSR and Russia. The causes of the increased volatility of the state-monopoly capitalism emerging in Russia from the 1990s and in the first decade of the twenty-first century are analyzed. Characteristics of social quality such as a high proportion of low-paid employees, a low standard of living and a high economic inequality are considered. The impact of the precarity of employment on these processes is demonstrated. Risk factors of precarity of employment such as type of labor contract, form of employment, working conditions and wages (in particular, volatility and discreteness of payments) are analyzed. The evaluation of scale of the precarity of employment in the formal sector in Russia is made; the distribution of workers in precarity of employment by kinds of economic activity and the deviation of their average wages are introduced. Overcoming the instability of development is linked to the transition to a society of people-humanistic socialism.

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William L. McBride

From the very beginning of his explicitly political thinking until the end of his life, Jean-Paul Sartre was always cognizant of the fact that the typical electoral system, whether dominated by two or by several "parties," that is to be found in Western countries and that is vaunted as the pinnacle of real democracy amounted to a profound mystification. That is why, at the time of the centenary of his birth, he is owed a renewed respect for his ideas in this area. I do not intend to examine here the evolution of Sartre?s political thought, or even his views with respect to the Eastern European countries, the "socialism" of which, as he eventually discovered, was scarcely more real than their "democracy." Rather, I shall confine myself to recalling certain elements, especially certain iconoclastic elements, of that thought. I shall do so with a view to taking a clear-headed look at a possible future in which those icons will have disappeared.