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Christian socialism,term used in Great Britain and the United States for a kind of socialism growing out of the clash between Christian ideals and the effects of competitive business. In Europe, it usually refers to a party or trade union directed by religious leaders in contrast to socialist unions and parties. The movement was begun in England in 1848, after the failure of ChartismChartism,
workingmen's political reform movement in Great Britain, 1838–48. It derived its name from the People's Charter, a document published in May, 1838, that called for voting by ballot, universal male suffrage, annual Parliaments, equal electoral districts, no
..... Click the link for more information. . Influenced by Carlyle, Southey, Coleridge, and the Fourierists, rather than by Marx, such men as John Ludlow, Frederick Denison MauriceMaurice, Frederick Denison,
1805–72, English clergyman and social reformer. He was brought up a Unitarian but became an Anglican. He studied law at Cambridge and was a founder of the Apostles' Club.
..... Click the link for more information. , and Charles KingsleyKingsley, Charles,
1819–75, English author and clergyman. Ordained in 1842, he became vicar of Eversley in Hampshire in 1844. From 1848 to 1852 he published tracts advocating Christian socialism.
..... Click the link for more information. sought to encourage the laboring masses and the church to cooperate against capitalism. They published periodicals and tracts, promoted workingmen's associations, founded (1854) a workingmen's college, and helped achieve some general reforms. Though their experiments in producers' cooperation failed, their traditions were carried on by the Fabian Society, by adherents of guild socialism, and by several Roman Catholic groups. The movement in the United States was organized with the formation (1889) of the Society of Christian Socialists, although there had been earlier activity by Washington GladdenGladden, Washington,
1836–1918, American clergyman, writer, and lecturer, b. Pottsgrove, Pa. He was pastor of the First Congregational Church, Columbus, Ohio, from 1882 until his death.
..... Click the link for more information. , Richard Theodore ElyEly, Richard Theodore
, 1854–1943, American economist, b. Ripley, N.Y., grad. Columbia, 1876, Ph.D. Heidelberg, 1879. He taught at Johns Hopkins (1881–92), the Univ. of Wisconsin (1892–1925), and Northwestern Univ. (1925–33).
..... Click the link for more information. , and others.
See C. E. Raven, Christian Socialism, 1848–1854 (1920, repr. 1968); J. C. Cort, Christian Socialism (1988).
a trend in social thought that seeks to give the Christian religion a socialist coloration. The Christian socialist school of thought emerged in the 1830’s and 1840’s as a variety of feudal socialism. From the very beginning, Christian socialism took different forms in different countries and was variously interpreted by its proponents—for example, by F. R. de Lamennais in France, F. D. Maurice and C. Kingsley in Great Britain, and F. X. von Baader, V. Huber, and W. E. von Ketteler in Germany. Thus, while Lamennais held democratic beliefs, Bishop Ketteler’s views were extremely conservative. Many Christian socialists actively sought—and many still seek—to deliver the exploited from their misery and forced state of dependency, but at the same time they favored unrealistic ways and means of achieving their goal, such as the partnership of different classes or moral and religious self-improvement. In the course of its evolution, Christian socialism has turned into one of the basic types of bourgeois ideology that stands in opposition to scientific socialism and the revolutionary workers’ movement.
In the attempt to give the Christian religion a new social coloration and adapt it to modern historical conditions, a special role has been played by the Catholic Church and the various Christian Democratic parties that speak on its behalf, as well as by those trade unions and other secular Catholic organizations whose programs include many of the tenets of Christian socialism. The modernization of the social program of the Catholic Church (as exemplified by the Pastoral Constitution of the Church in the Modern World, adopted by Vatican Council II, 1962–65, and the encyclical of Pope Paul VI in 1967, Populorum progressio), together with recognition of the need to effect a number of social reforms, represent an attempt to offer an alternative to the communist program of world transformation and to split off some of the Communist parties’ adherents.
In altered form, Christian socialist ideas are held in our own time by those millions of believers who ever more actively participate in worldwide democratic movements—particularly the antiwar and class movements—and whose aspirations toward social prosperity, peace, and socialism are clothed in religious vestments.
The progressive dechristianization of large portions of the Catholic population, their increasing self-awareness, and the growing popularity of the ideas of scientific socialism have forced the ideologists of Christian socialism to critically reappraise various aspects of capitalist reality. In the final analysis, however, the position of the Christian socialist ideologists is one of social reformism, their goal being the improvement of the bourgeois system of social relations.
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M. V. ANDREEV