True Socialism

The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

True Socialism


(or German socialism), a type of petit bourgeois socialism that gained currency in 1844–47 among the intelligentsia and artisans of Germany and among German émigrés in other countries.

The main representatives of so-called true socialism were K. Grün, M. Hess, O. Liming, and H. Püttmann. G. Kuhl-mann preached true socialism in Switzerland and H. Kriege in the USA. True socialism expressed the sentiments of the German petite bourgeoisie, who were thrown off course by the development of capitalism and frightened by the growth of class antagonisms. The ideology of true socialism was a unique synthesis of the idealist aspects of Feuerbach’s philosophy (such as love for “man” in the abstract, the disregard of social relations, and other features) and an emasculated French Utopian socialism. Under the pretence of criticizing capitalism, the true socialists idealized the precapitalist system, in particular the artisan guilds, and spread illusions that Germany could arrive at socialism without passing through the stage of large-scale capitalist industry. Marx and Engels criticized true socialism in several of their works, including German Ideology (part 2), the Communist Manifesto, (chapter 3), and Circular Against Kriege, and in Engels’ works The True Socialists and German Socialism in Verse and Prose (see K. Marx and F. Engels, Soch., 2nd ed., vols. 3–4).

True socialism disappeared as a separate current during the Revolution of 1848–49, which fully revealed its bankruptcy. In characterizing the true socialists, Lenin wrote in 1906: “The ‘true socialists’ … are something like peaceful Lavrovists, semiuplifters, nonrevolutionaries, heroes of abstruse thought and abstract sermonizing” (Poln. sobr. soch., 5th ed., vol. 13, p. 154).


Serebriakov, M. V. “Nemetskii sotsializm i bor’ba s nim Marksa i En-gel’sa.” Uch. zap. LGU: Ser. filosofskikh nauk, 1948, issue 2.
Kandel’, E. P. “Iz istorii bor’by Marksa i Engel’sa s nemetskim ‘istinnym sotsializmom’.” In the collection Iz istorii formirovaniia i razvitiia marksizma. Moscow, 1959.
Kan, S. B. Istoriia sotsialisticheskikh idei (do vozniknoveniia marksizma), 2nd ed. Moscow, 1967.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
References in classic literature ?
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