Edited By Francisco Bethencourt
Utopia and Science in Portuguese Communism
In contemporary history, criticism of utopia has been a recurrent element in Marxist discourse. This criticism was relevant in establishing the thought of Marx and Engels in the canon of political thought, where Marxism was frequently defined in contrast to the utopias of Saint-Simon, Fourier or Robert Owen. However, the relationship between Marxists and utopians has not just been limited to the expression of this contrast. While the former have subjected the latter to fierce criticism, they have not done so by repudiating the object of utopian desire. Instead, they allege the irrelevance of such desire, its inability to transform utopian dreams into a new reality, an inability that, from the Marxist point of view, is due to the absence of a scientifically grounded strategy for transformation, a strategy that could identify the nature of the present and ascertain the correct way of intervening in it. In short, Marxists have accused utopian socialists of not being equipped with the means necessary to achieve their objectives; but they have not questioned the pertinence of these objectives, a fact that distinguishes Marxist criticism from other criticisms of utopia.1
In this chapter we shall examine the relationship between utopia and Marxism over the course of the twentieth century, with a special emphasis on the case of the Portuguese Communist Party (PCP), highlighting connections or establishing comparisons with the history of communism in other countries. The chapter is divided in two major sections. In the first one (Utopias as the...
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