Early Socialism; Theories and Debates during the Lifetimes of Marx and Engels (prior to and around 1848)
"Early socialism" refers to utopian, democratic, humanist and early anarchist ideas, most of which were discussed prior to the publication of Marx's writings on the critique of political economy, and prior to the formation of the major socialist organisations and associations. In some cases, they precede the revolutionary year of 1848 and the defeats that followed it.
We are mainly concerned, here, with contributions that played an important role in Marx's own development – if only because he critically distanced himself from the writings in question: Wilhelm Weitling (1808–1871) and his book The Human Race As It Is, And As It Should Be (1838/39), the writings of the early socialist Robert Owen and those of Joseph Dietzgen, who became a member of the Communist League and later exerted an influence within the German-speaking US labour movement, to name a few. Important texts can be found, among other places, at the Marxist Internet Archive, which presents selected sources in various languages. As an introduction to early socialism, we recommend a book Friedrich Engels first published in 1880, Socialism: Utopian and Scientific, and Keith Taylor: The political ideas of Utopian socialists. London 1992.