chapter  III
25 Pages

Socialism in the Eighteenth Century

It follows from all this that before the eighteenth century there could be no question of socialism. But at that period-at least in France-the three conditions we enumerated are indisputably present. Big industry is in process of development; the im­ portance attributed to economic life is sufficiently established by the fact that economics began to be considered a science; the state is secularized and the centralization of French society is accomplished. One might therefore expect that, as early as this epoch, we will encounter doctrines which exhibit the distinctive characteristics of socialism. In fact, this has been maintained. And lately this has been again suggested, in a very conscientiously prepared book, a history of socialism in the eighteenth century.1 But actually, if the theories to which this name has been given do in fact contain germs of what later will be socialism, they do not go beyond the communist conception.