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The Soul of Man under Socialism (Forgotten Books) Paperback – 16 Oct 2008

4.3 out of 5 stars 12 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 54 pages
  • Publisher: Forgotten Books (16 Oct. 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1606801600
  • ISBN-13: 978-1606801604
  • Product Dimensions: 13.3 x 0.3 x 20.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,339,904 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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4.3 out of 5 stars
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By Lark TOP 1000 REVIEWER on 22 Dec. 2008
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Forget all the things which are commonly labelled socialist for a moment and consider why or what its appeal could possibly be and you are unlikely to come up with anything much different from what Oscar Wilde does in this brilliant, over looked, small book.

Wilde waxes lyrical on what he believes could be the result of a permanent relief of poverty, similar to William Morris, here is an uplifting account of a world of improved social obligations. Reasoning that a world without the sorts of obligations compelled by sympathy for others in chronic states of want or poverty would be one where a more profound, convivial, civilised and altogether more honest individualism prevails.

Entirely removed from concrete proposals for policy, personal choices or practices this account has a certain sort of timelessness and doesnt appear arcane, antiquated or dated like a lot of socialist books. It certainly is the ideology at its most romantic, smiley and would appeal to any post-eighties reader who's a libertarian, or even libertine, at heart.

I would recommend this to all readers, politically interested and not so politically interested alike, to anyone more or less hostile towards much maligned and misunderstood (not least by its dearest supporters) socialism. It is a story of sorts and it has more literary than political merit, infact it is to contemporary politics what Jules Verne is to contemporary world travellers, cavers or submariners.
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I bought this my daughters friend. He will study Government and Politics and while it may not be a modern expose on politics it is always good to hear what great people from the past thought of subjects that developed in the years since their passing.
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Format: Paperback
Oscar Wilde’s essay The Soul of Man Under Socialism should be retitled; The Soul of Man Under Individualism or Art as the expression of an individual soul.

For this is really an essay on art and a warning against artists pandering to the public. In short, the artist knows what he is doing - the public doesn't know what it wants; If the artist panders to the public, neither will be satisfied.
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Tripping out on "beauty" will lead to the spontaneous relinquishment of all private property? Colour me sceptical. History, since Wilde, has shown us, in flood after flood of innocent blood, that the soul of man under socialism is crushed. Beauty is what the socialist state says it is. Socialists worship the power of the state and, in the context of the real world, socialism means the state exercising a monopoly on violence to claim ownership of "it's" citizens - body, mind and soul. It is the crushing of, and the erasing of the memory of, all human rights. Socialism is either a childlike, ahistorical dream of sharing and caring, like Wildes, or a colossal lie, a fig leaf and rationalization for utterly brutal totalitarian people-farming - as with Lenin, Stalin, Hitler, Mao, Pol Pot...

I like Wilde. But wit, and beauty and other special effects are not enough. We need individual freedom, dignity, and responsibility. We need to restore the rights of free expression, free association, self-defense, property, trade and trial-by-jury, and prune the rapacious, ever-growing, deadly-thorned bureaucracy of the state back to the roots. Simply put, we are all under attack by a globalist fascism that, like Hitler's facism, is using the utopian, redistributionist rhetoric of "socialism" to co-opt (and, where strategic, foment) popular revolution. In this context, tripping out on "The Soul of Man Under Socialism" may provide some escape and solace. But don't get confused.
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The clue is in the title really, The Soul of Man under Socialism considers the state of affairs we need to establish in order to attain for each of us to achieve their aesthetic potential. This is not a socialism inspired by the need to break down the class barrier between rich and poor, nor to enfranchise the disenfranchised; its motivation is that we each be capable of entertaining beauty on an individual level, and that requires the advancement of society and science to the extent that they abolish the causes of material suffering, namely, private property and ownership, disease, poverty, and government.

So, how do we do this? Basically, Wilde wants machines to do all the menial work, the thankless soul destroying tasks, and he wants to abolish all social tiering, so no man has any advantage over any other and is free to pursue the goal of beauty (pretty young boys I presume).

It's an interesting work. Wilde' s main focus is on those factors about society that hinder aesthetic individualism- which he believes to be the goal and the right of all people to attain - and in positing a world where these hindrances have been negated.
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This was an interesting read. Wilde puts forward many thought provoking ideas of how he believed man should and inevitability will be under socialism. Despite not agreeing with all of this book, it is free and short, and well worth the read.
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