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Title: 'Under the general designation of socialist' : the many-sided-radicalism of John Stuart Mill
Author: McCabe, Helen
ISNI:       0000 0004 2704 5188
Awarding Body: University of Oxford
Current Institution: University of Oxford
Date of Award: 2012
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This thesis examines why John Stuart Mill thought his political philosophy to be 'under the general designation of socialist' - an ideological position often thought to be antithetical to liberalism, of which Mill is regularly considered an exemplar. It suggests that in order to understand Mill's self-designation, one has to understand the changes his political theory underwent during his 'crisis', and how he developed a new, 'many-sided-radicalism' to replace the one-sided, Benthamite 'philosophical-radicalism' of his youth, in which he had lost his faith. It explains the core principles of many-sided-radicalism (happiness, liberty, equality, progress and harmony), and the institutions Mill felt would foster and uphold them. Finally, it seeks to situate Mill's many-sided-radicalism within three socialist contexts: his definition; contemporary understandings; and a conceptual definition. I utilise Mill's Collected Works to examine a wide range of his writings, bearing in mind the problems of interpretation caused by his 'crisis', in particular changes to the meaning of concepts (not least happiness); his philosophy of history; and his method of persuasion, along with writings by contemporaries, and modern historians and theorists. I conclude that Mill was a socialist on his own understanding of the word, committed to communal ownership of the means of production combined with private, unequal ownership of articles of consumption; work-place democracy; an egalitarian concept of justice; and the achievement of social harmony through co-operation. Historically, although sometimes linked to utopian socialism, he is a co-operative socialist, akin to Edward Vansittart Neale, William Thompson, Louis Blanc, and Phillipe Buchez and his followers. Conceptually, he is a liberal socialist, equally committed to core principles of liberty, equality and community. Recognising Mill's socialism should make us re-evaluate Mill, and the relationship between liberalism and socialism. It also hints at possible answers to questions of social justice which are neither totalitarian nor illiberal.
Supervisor: Leopold, David Sponsor: Arts and Humanities Research Council
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Intellectual History ; Political ideologies ; Political science