For those who came after it, what was most important about the French Revolution was that it embodied a willed change in the way we live and govern ourselves. But socialists, including but not confined to Marx, saw the outcome of the French Revolution as a sort of ‘deformed’ liberalism whose deformity resided above all in its private property regime. They argued that this needed to be either reformed or overthrown. This chapter first considers the property critique of those socialists who pre-dated Marx: above all, Fourier, Saint-Simon and his followers in France, and Robert Owen and his followers in Britain. The second half of the chapter traces the trajectory of Marx’s own thinking on private property, which dominated his account of the deformities of capitalism from start to finish.
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