The Dream

What was the Communist Dream?  And why did people dream it?

In this first part of this seminar, I challenge you to get into the heads of the people who were entranced by the dream  of communism.  It’s easy to say that they were fervent believers.  But why?

  1.  Wednesday,  January 13

Introduction:  Dreaming of Communism

In this session,

Glorified Image of Mao on the Long Marx
Glorified Image of Mao on the Long Marx

I will introduce you to the topics, pathways, and pitfalls of our exploration.  I will also bring up the three central concepts of the study of political science:  ideas, rules, and incentives.

  1. Monday,  January 18

Discussion:  Who are the dreamers, what do they want, and how do they propose to get it?

What were the foundations of the vast, complex, and vibrant organization known as the Christian church?  Somehow the Apostle Paul began the movement. When you read these segments of the Bible, read them deeply.  Try to envision them as components of a bold project in which everything is up for grabs.  Paul is a leader. Two thousand years ago, you might have been a follower.  In short, I am asking you to insert yourselves into a situation rather than just relying on the words alone. Selections from Paul the Apostle

  1. Wednesday, January 20

Discussion:  Imagining a Better World in 19th Century England. The challenge for this discussion is to: 1) put yourself into the streets of London (Engels’ description), and 2) unravel Engels’ agenda.

  • Friedrich Engels, “The Great Towns,” excerpt from The Condition of the Working Class in England(1845):  PRINT AND READ
  • What if you were Friedrich Engels?  READ

Engels’ world in the US?

  • Fashionistas!  WATCH
  • “Class in America”:  READ

Engels’ world everywhere?

  • “World’s richest 1% ….”:  READ
  • The opening Summary section of this Oxfam Report provides for an interesting comparison with Engels:  PRINT AND READ (only pp. 1-4)
  1.  Monday, January 25

The Origins of Marxism:  Part I

Discussion:  Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels, Communist Manifesto (1)

What is Marx and Engels’ argument about the coming revolution? How do they justify their claims?  Does their argument make sense (even today)?

The Communist Manifesto was written by educated Europeans in a rapidly industrializing society.  It emerged from the same meld of western European cultures and ways of thinking that produced liberal democracy and capitalism.  It was only later that the communist dream changed as it spread to other parts of the world. Hence, the origins of the communist movement are not a matter of “us versus them,” but instead “us, them, and some other guys.”

  • READ:  Communist Manifesto, Preface and Part I.
  • Who was Karl Marx?  READ
  • Archie Brown, The Rise and Fall of Communism, pp. 9-30.
  • What was the Crystal Palace:  “The Great Exhibition of 1851”  LISTEN AND TAKE NOTES
  • Facebook Revolution (we may get to this today, but if not, it will be just as relevant to a later class):  READ AND PRINT
  1. Wednesday, January 27

The Origins of Marxism:  Part II

Discussion:  Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels, Communist Manifesto (2) What role do the communists play in making the revolution?  Why would you want to join their club?

  • READ:  Parts II and IV
  • Donald Trump on Saddam Hussein and Gadhafi READ and LISTEN
  • “This House Believes that Dictatorship is the Best Path to Development”  READ and PRINT the responses to the four debating points
  1. Monday,  February 1

For this discussion, we will break into two groups.  Each will defend a policy brief written before the meeting.

“We should learn from Marx and Engles:  ‘Despotic inroads’ are required for the achievement of true justice in developing societies!!”


NOTE:  Please mute your technology during our meetings.