Bourgeois socialism

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Bourgeois socialism or conservative socialism was a term used by Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels in various pieces, including in The Communist Manifesto. Conservative socialism was used as a rebuke by Marx for certain strains of socialism, but it has also been used by proponents of such a system.[1] Conservative socialism and right wing socialism are also used as a descriptor, and in some cases as a pejorative, by free-market conservative and right-libertarian movements and politicians to describe more economically interventionist strands of conservatism.

Marxist perspective[edit]

The Marxian view is such that the bourgeois socialist is the sustainer of the current state of bourgeois class relations. Opinions vary as to whether this or that bourgeois socialist is intentionally excusing the current order, but the common thread is that they are in objective fact preserving it. Rather than abolishing class divisions, they wish to simply raise everyone up to be a member of the bourgeoisie to allow everyone the ability to endlessly accumulate capital without a working class. In The Communist Manifesto, Marx and Engels use philanthropists, monks ("temperance fanatics") and reformers as examples of this type of socialist that they saw as opposed to their own aims. In expressing its views on the subject, Marx explicitly referenced Pierre-Joseph Proudhon's The Philosophy of Poverty, stating the following about bourgeois socialism:

The Socialistic bourgeois want all the advantages of modern social conditions without the struggles and dangers necessarily resulting therefrom.


An early proponent of conservative socialism was 19th-century Austrian politician Klemens von Metternich as early as 1847.[1] Monarchists had begun to use socialism as an antithesis of "bourgeois laissez-faire", indicating reliance on a social conscience as opposed to pure individualism.[1] Metternich said the aims of such a conservative socialism were "peaceful, class-harmonizing, cosmopolitan, traditional".[2] Monarchic socialism promoted social paternalism portraying the monarch as having a fatherly duty to protect his people from the effects of free economic forces.[3] Metternich's conservative socialism saw liberalism and nationalism as forms of middle-class dictatorship over the masses.[3]

Johann Karl Rodbertus, a monarchist conservative landowner and lawyer who briefly served as minister of education in Prussia in 1848, promoted a form of state socialism led by an enlightened monarchy supporting state regulation of the economy.[4] Rodbertus supported the elimination of private ownership of land, with the state in control of national capital rather than redistribution of private capital, i.e. state capitalism.[4] In the 1880s, Rodbertus' conservative socialism was promoted as a non-revolutionary alternative to social democracy and a means to justify the acceptance of Bismarck's social policies.[4]

Right-wing socialism[edit]

Right-wing socialism[5][6] is used as a pejorative term by some free-market conservative and right-libertarian movements and politicians to describe paternalistic conservatism as they see it supporting paternalism and social solidarity as opposed to commercialism, individualism and laissez-faire economics.[1][7] They argue that paternalist conservatism supports state promoted social hierarchy and allows certain people and groups to hold higher status in such a hierarchy which is conservative.[8]

Left-wing journalist Glenn Greenwald has described Trump-era conservatives like Steve Bannon and paleoconservative Tucker Carlson as examples of modern-day right-wing socialists.[9][10]

Although distinct, right-wing socialism is also used more commonly to refer to moderate social democratic forms of socialism when contrasted with Marxism–Leninism and other more radical left-wing alternatives. During the post-war period in Japan, the Japan Socialist Party divided itself into two different socialist parties, usually distinguished into the Leftist Socialist Party of Japan (officially the Japanese Socialist Party in English) and the Rightist Socialist Party of Japan (officially the Social Democratic Party of Japan in English). The latter received over 10 per cent of the vote in the 1952 and 1953 general elections and was a centre-left, moderate social democratic party.[11][12] In The Communist Manifesto, Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels criticized the Philosophy of Poverty by the anarchist writer and theorist Pierre-Joseph Proudhon as representing conservative or bourgeois socialism.[13]

Agrarian socialism, Christian socialism,[citation needed] guild socialism, military socialism, national syndicalism,[14][15][16] Peronism,[17][18] Prussian socialism[19][20][21][22][23][24][25][26] and state socialism are sometimes termed right-wing socialism by various authors.[6] Historian Ishay Landa has described the nature of right-wing socialism as decidedly capitalist.[27]


  1. ^ a b c d Viereck (2006), p. 74.
  2. ^ Viereck (2006), pp. 74–75.
  3. ^ a b Viereck (2006), p. 75.
  4. ^ a b c Shatz, Marshall S. (1989). Jan Waclaw Machajski: A Radical Critic of the Russian Intelligentsia and Socialism. Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania: University of Pittsburgh Press. p. 86.
  5. ^ Rothbard, Murray (2010). Left, Right, and the Prospects for Liberty. Auburn, Alabama: Mises Institute. p. 19.
  6. ^ a b Huerta de Soto 2010, p. 80.
  7. ^ Huerta de Soto 2010, pp. 79–80.
  8. ^ Huerta de Soto 2010, p. 79.
  9. ^ Chait, Jonathan (2021-03-04). "Why Glenn Greenwald Says Tucker Carlson Is a True Socialist". Intelligencer. Retrieved 2021-04-17.
  10. ^ "Glenn Greenwald Describes Tucker Carlson, Bannon, and 2016-Era Trump as Right-Wing 'Socialists'". Mediaite. 2021-03-04. Retrieved 2021-04-17.
  11. ^ Ware, Alan (1996). Political Parties and Party Systems. Oxford University Press. p. 395.
  12. ^ Moask, Carl (2007). Japanese Economic Development: Markets, Norms, Structures. Taylor & Francis. p. 239.
  13. ^ Marx, Karl; Engels, Friedrich (1848). The Communist Manifesto. "Chapter III. Socialist and Communist Literature". "2. Conservative or Bourgeois Socialism".
  14. ^ Sternhell, Ze'ev (1986). Neither Right Nor Left: Fascist Ideology in France. (2nd ed.). Princeton, New Jersey: Princeton University Press.
  15. ^ Sternhell, Ze'ev; Sznajder, Mario; Ashéri, Maia (1994). The Birth of Fascist Ideology: From Cultural Rebellion to Political Revolution. Princeton, New Jersey: Princeton University Press.
  16. ^ Sternhill, Ze'ev (1998). "Fascism". In Griffin, Roger, ed. International Fascism: Theories, Causes, and the New Consensus. London; New York City: Arnold Publishers.
  17. ^ Christian, Shirley (13 January 1990). "Buenos Aires Journal; Carlos, Carlos, How Does Your Economy Sink?". The New York Times. Retrieved 14 January 2020.
  18. ^ Servetto, Alicia (1999). "El derrumbe temprano de la democracia en Córdoba: Obregón Cano y el golpe policial (1973-1974)". Archived 6 July 2011 at the Wayback Machine. Estudios Sociales (in Spanish). 17: 19. Revised paper of a 1997 Conference at the National University of La Pampa.
  19. ^ Harris, Abram Lincoln (1989). Race, Radicalism, and Reform: Selected Papers. New Brunswick, New Jersey: Transaction Publishers.
  20. ^ Hughes, H. Stuart (1992). Oswald Spengler. New Brunswick, New Jersey: Transaction Publishers. p. 108.
  21. ^ Hüppauf, Bernd-Rüdiger (1997). War, Violence, and the Modern Condition. Berlin: Walter de Gruyter & Co.
  22. ^ Kitchen, Martin (2006). A History of Modern Germany, 1800-2000. Malden, Massaschussetts; Oxford, England; Carlton, Victoria: Blackwell Publishing.
  23. ^ Blamires, Cyprian; Jackson, Paul (2006). World Fascism: A Historical Encyclopedia, Volume 1. Santa Barbara, California: ABC-CLIO. p. 628.
  24. ^ Winkler, Heinrich August; Sager, Alexander (2006). Germany: The Long Road West (English ed.). Oxford: Oxford University Press. p. 414.
  25. ^ Rohkrämer, Thomas (2007). "A Single Communal Faith?: The German Right from Conservatism to National Socialism". Monographs in German History. 20. Berghahn Books.
  26. ^ Weitz, Eric D. (2007). Weimar Germany: Promise and Tragedy. Princeton, New Jersey: Princeton University Press.
  27. ^ Landa, Ishay (2012). The Apprentice's Sorcerer: Liberal Tradition and Fascism. Haymarket Books. pp. 60–65.

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