'Real Socialism' in Historical Perspective

Robert W. Cox

Abstract


The death of socialism is affirmed everywhere today as a matter of common knowledge, from yesterday's newspaper to the neo-Hegelian "end of history" proclaimed by Francis Fukuyama, and the neo-Burkian reflections on revolution in Eastern Europe by Ralf Dahrendorf. The events of Eastern Europe are read as the definitive seal of closure upon something much broader than the regimes of "real socialism". They signal the end of an historical project that had its origins in the response of nineteenth-century industrial society to the disintegrating impact of capitalism. Or so it would seem.

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