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The Soul of Man under Socialism

3.93 of 5 stars 3.93  ·  rating details  ·  1,465 ratings  ·  122 reviews
In The Soul of Man under Socialism Oscar Wilde expounds on an anarchist world view. Wilde argues that under capitalism the majority of people spoil their lives by an unhealthy and exaggerated altruism-are forced, indeed, so to spoil them: instead of realizing their true talents, they waste their time solving the social problems caused by capitalism, without taking their co ...more
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Published (first published 1891)
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This Oscar Wilde essay is one of the most prophetic and insightful works of 19th century political philosophy I have ever read. In this essay, Wilde talks about a world that we are only beginning to imagine now, over 100 years later. He saw the full potential of socialism and its possibility of freeing the human race once and for all. On the other hand, he warned us of authoritarian perversions of socialist thought that have become predominant in the 20th century, long after Wilde's death. He se ...more
Important: Wilde was not a philosopher but a writer and no one should be taking his "proposals" here too seriously.

I agree with other reviewers that his remarks on the excesses of capitalism are fair and his anarcho-libertarian/socialist dreams can even be alluring for certain people. But I also agree with another reviewer here that it's perplexing to decipher just how much of his essay is actually tongue-in-cheek and how much is serious proposal. Even Wilde once said, "I am so clever that somet
It's hard for me to decide whether Wilde expected what he wrote in this little book to be taken seriously or whether he meant it as a satire of liberal thinkers and do-gooders. One thing is reasonably clear; Wilde himself seems to have made no serious effort in his own life to practice the ideas he expresses in The Soul of Man under Socialism.

Consider this from the book:

"The majority of people spoil their lives by an unhealthy and exaggerated altruism—are forced, indeed, so to spoil them.They fi
Oscar Wilde is one of my favorite authors. This book is full of Wilde's humor and wit, but in a way that turns political science into political art. His arguments are well thought out--especially when it comes to the differences between socialist and capitalist systems, and the effects of each on the individual.

In this book, he constructs a view of government that favors individualism in such a way that makes me wonder whether Ayn Rand ever read this. Wilde's view of a collective that cares for
Paul Pellicci
The Soul of Man under Socialism was a very interesting little book. Although, I don't believe Oscar Wilde's interests included the common Socialist schools. Yet, socialism was the fad of the day. Many intellectuals were interested in the theories, but Oscar was in his eyes an artist and an Individualist. Capital "I" on individualist.
I couldn't find a date for this writing, but I believe his legal problems and the rumors preceding his legal problems were actually the motivation, and not economic
Tripe. I am a fan of Oscar Wilde, so when I saw this book offered free on iTunes, I figured I'd check it out - I really wish I hadn't bothered. If I had to boil down what it seems that Mr. Wilde was trying to say it would go something like this: 1) People shouldn't have to work for a living; life's necessities should be provided by machines so that folks can spend more time contemplating their navels. 2) Artists are the greatest and most important group of people around. 3) If the general popula ...more

Thoroughly enjoyed this. Unputtdownable.

This has definitely tempted me to read more Wilde as well as more essays.
Emma Roulette
Pretty good essay. Gets me excited thinking about the blossoming possibilities of living a competition-free life. And not just a life free of capitalist competition for private property, but all that that implies, too. Like social competition for respect and acclaim. Once free from these burdens, we are now able to pursue our "Individualism". Now we can take joy in things like self-cultivation, leisure, and learning.

Wilde thinks that any attempts to lessen the burden of private property, withou
Wilde's egoistic utopia found on aesthetic ideals. A scoiety where there is no property, no poverty and hunger and no burdens of wealth. Where machines do all the tedious labour and a man is completely free to chose himself. Wilde seems more concerned with the banality of the bourgeois than the suffering of the proletariat. You can clearly see that this is an artist's vision.

It's interesting to contrast this with Ayn Rand. Invdividualism vs communism is a false dichotomy.
"There are three kinds of despots. There is the despot who tyrannises over the body. There is the despot who tyrannises over the soul. There is the despot who tyrannises over the soul and body alike. The first is called the Prince. The second is called the Pope. The third is called the People"

Wilde writes indulgently in this book, a true champagne socialist. He talks largely about the soul of the wealthy and the artist under socialism. His accounts are not well backed, his arguments are largely
THE SOUL OF MAN under Socialism by Oscar Wilde is a fascinating inquiry into the questions: Where is equality most experienced, and under what circumstances can individualism thrive?

Apart from political or economic anarchist literature, Wilde's appeal in this essay is his focus on art. Longing for the benefit of every person's contribution to the creative life, he proposes the theory of what is lost to civilization when the entire of one's being is shackled to materialism. Exit art and individua
A short essay by Oscar Wilde exposing his thoughts on how Socialism can lead to Individualism and therefore giving people the freedom to be themselves.

Wilde appears to believe in the abolition of private propriety but he also believes that the best form of government is no government at all:

"If the Socialism is Authoritarian; if there are Governments armed with economic power as they are now with political power; if, in a word, we are to have Industrial Tyrannies, then the last state of man wil
"the public have an insatiable curiosity to know everything, except what is worth knowing"

I adore Oscar Wilde's writing, he offers such a wonderful, yet sassy, and unique perspective -- this essay is ostensibly less about socialism as it is about art and individualism (opposed to authoritarianism), a wonderful read.
Gabriela Vasquez
I think that Oscar Wilde's viewpoint regarding individualism and reverence to a person's own unique self are clearly palpable, as well as his statement that humanity is perfectly capable of existing by itself but that a government needs humanity in order to exist in the first place. Where I differ with him is in his view that socialism will protect individualism.

His view that "socialism is the path towards Individualism and that property rights are not necessary." His defense for this view is t
Dimitris Hall
"[...]with admirable, though misdirected intentions, they [altruists] have seriously and very sentimentally set themselves to the task of remedying the evils that they see. But their remedies do not cure the disease: they merely prolong it. Indeed, their remedies are part of the disease.
They try to solve the problem of poverty, for instance, by keeping the poor alive, or, in the case of a very advanced school, by amusing the poor.
But this is not a solution: it is an aggravation of the difficult
Michael William West
Tricky to 'review' as such. The gushing idealism of Oscar Wilde is wonderful to read, as is every word he put to paper. There's more than a little sense that Oscar would turn over society to his genre of socialism so that people might leave him alone to get on with his work, which is understandable, but the grounds are shaky. He's quite correct that the socialist movement would relatively eradicate the obscene poverty of the late 19th Century in Britain, but the leap from this baseline of surviv ...more
The European Socialism movement of the 19th century is much different from socialism of today. Many things we take for granted in our so-called capitalist society simply did not exist then for the vast majority of people. Leisure time, vacation, property ownership, college education (or even high school education), child labor laws, did not exist for the vast majority. Barely subsistence wages and a huge pool of people needing work kept the majority of the population lock into wage slavery. Ther ...more
Matthew Hunter
Other than reading The Picture of Dorian Gray and attending a production of The Importance of Being Earnest, I've spent very little time with the works of Oscar Wilde. I stumbled upon the title of this work while reading The Nation magazine. I'm glad I did!

For those curious about what Noam Chomsky means when he calls himself a Libertarian Socialist (aka anarchist), The Soul of Man under Socialism offers a good explanation.

Wilde argues that non-authoritarian socialism leads to individualism. He w
This is certainly worth a read, particularly for historians of nineteenth century social thought. Wilde's view is that socialism will lead to individualism, in the sense that everyone will be free under socialism to achieve his or her own artistic and contemplative potential. When the poor are free from the mundane necessities of work--Wilde envisions machinery performing all the necessary functions of life so that people can develop new ideas and create art--and the rich are free from the hassl ...more
Sandys Nunes
Neste livro o autor deixa claro que o socialismo é apenas uma proposta, uma proposta que deve ser posta em prática. O ponto principal é algo maior que o socialismo, Oscar Wilde fala do indivíduo e de sua relação com o Individualismo.
Por Individualismo entende-se o aspecto de evoluir por si só e praticar aquilo que gosta, principalmente no trabalho e nas artes. O autor também fala da calmaria do povo diante de um governo ruim que dá agrados e mimos ás pessoas, sendo assim descrito por ele como a
A wonderful essay that oozes Wilde's humor and wit on every page. There are many reviews, interpretations and discussions of the essay widely available so I will refrain from commenting on the contents of the essay, other than I agree with some of Wilde's arguments, disagree with others, but every page has food for thought for any critical thinker whatever his political or social affiliations may be. I would have loved for a discussion of this essay in my early philosophy classes. Furthermore it ...more
Amir Ardestani
سه جور مستبد هست
مستبدی هست که بر جسم ظلم می کند
مستبدی که بر روح ظلم می کند
مستبدی که هم بر روح و هم بر جسم ظلم می کند
"اولی را "شهریار" می نامند دومی را "پاپ" سومی هم "مردم
Sep 09, 2015 Leonardo marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
[La gente] se encuentra a sí misma rodeada por una espantosa pobreza, por una espantosa fealdad, por una espantosa inanición. Es inevitable que se vean fuertemente conmovidos por todo esto […] Por ello, con admirables aunque mal encaminadas intenciones, se ponen muy seriamente y muy sentimentalmente a la tarea de remediar los males que observan. Pero sus remedios no curan la enfermedad; simplemente la prolongan. Realmente, sus remedios son parte de la enfermedad. Tratan de resolver el problema d ...more
Wilde plantea aquí como el socialismo nos libera de la necesidad de vivir de otros.
La sociedad intenta resolver el problema de la pobreza manteniendo a los pobres vivos, pero no es así como debería funcionar. Deberíamos eleiminar la pobreza mediante el socialismo, que nos llevaría al Individualismo.
El individualismo representa una independencia. Aunque Wilde no lo plantea como una independencia física sino como un individualismo moral en el que el hombre deja de valerse por lo que tiene y empi
Haythem Bastawy
The Soul of Man Under Socialism is a very unusual article by Oscar Wilde. Through which he promotes his own take on socialism, a government-less socialism that is the alternative to democracy. In his opinion , individualism is the path to happiness for the individual and all humanity, because through it artists realise their own creativity in stead of wasting their limited time on earth leading altruistic lives which only fulfils temporary needs for their families and the people around them. He ...more
Kelvin Gómez
Entre muchas cosas, una reflexión sobre el Individualismo expuesta por quien en su vida sufrió las consecuencias de vivir y hacer lo que le dio la gana. Este es mi párrafo favorito en todo el texto, que me hizo sentir como en la escuelita bíblica cuando nos hablaban de la Tierra Prometida:

"It will be a marvellous thing – the true personality of man – when we see it. It will grow naturally and simply, flowerlike, or as a tree grows. It will not be at discord. It will never argue or dispute. It w
Oscar Wilde writes beautifully, and in The Soul of Man Under Socialism, it shows. In this essay, Wilde critiques capitalism, advocates for enlightenment and 'individualism', and expresses disdain for how the public dictates Art and what is 'popular' -

... the artist can fashion a beautiful thing;and if he does not do it solely for his own pleasure, he is not an artist at all.

Though I do not agree with anarchism (but given what happened to him, I cannot blame him for having this world view) and so
Timothy Volpert
The first half or so of this booklet describes my own philosophy with incredible accuracy. It's all there: the problems with philanthropy, the ineffectiveness of punishment, and most of all the way that people are denied the opportunity to discover their full potential under capitalism. There are still some great points made in the second half, but it gets a little navel-gazey about the nature of art and the tyranny of public opinion.
Ahmad Sharabiani
The Soul of Man under Socialism, Oscar Wilde
عنوان: سوسیالیسم و فردگرایی؛ اثر: اسکار وایلد؛ مترجم: باوند بهپور؛ مشخصات نشر: تهران، نشر چشمه، زمستان 1386، در 91 ص، موضوع: سوسیالیسم
اسکاروایلد را بیشتر با رمان «تصویر دوریان گری» یا نمایشنامهی «اهمیت ارنست زنان بودن» و زندگی جنجالیاش میشناسند. با این حال، نوشتههای تئوریک وی جنبهای دیگر از خلاقیت و هوش و جسارت خاص ایشان و لحن تیز و شوخ و برندهاش را به نمایش میگذارد
Frank Jacobs
When reading this prediction of human progress under socialism, it is worth recalling one of Wilde's key quotes: "The well-bred contradict other people; the wise contradict themselves'; for only when considering this text as a deep parody of the serious political manifestos produced at the time (rather than as one of those manifestos itself) can we appreciate the text's literary beauty rather than its inherent contradictions.
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Oscar Fingal O'Flahertie Wills Wilde was an Irish playwright, poet and author of numerous short stories and one novel. Known for his biting wit, and a plentitude of aphorisms, he became one of the most successful playwrights of the late Victorian era in London, and one of the greatest celebrities of his day. Several of his plays continue to be widely performed, especially The Importance of Being E ...more
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“Art is the most intense mode of individualism that the world has known.” 187 likes
“A map of the world that does not include Utopia is not worth even glancing at, for it leaves out the one country at which Humanity is always landing. And when Humanity lands there, it looks out, and, seeing a better country, sets sail. Progress is the realisation of Utopias.” 71 likes
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