The Soul of Man Under Socialism – Oscar Wild

Discussed November 2015, review by Toby Blunsten January 2016

The Soul of Man whilst certainly not one of Oscar Wilde’s best works it is, however, interesting. Essentially the book, if one could call it that, is an amalgamation of Oscar Wilde’s thoughts as to what the state of man’s soul could be if we as the human race were to adopt socialism. What is essentially an essay does go some way into being persuasive but the prevailing sense that Oscar Wilde is rambling remains.

One poignant revelation Wilde puts forward is the notion that charity, aside from being an exhibition of goodwill, is in actual fact a means through which the capitalist system remains all powerful. As it is pointed out that engaging in charity essentially allows social ills to be partially remedied, when in actual fact one should instead avoid charity so that all can see the failings of capitalism. 

Another point Wilde highlights is the power of the press, proudly stating ‘in old days men had the rack. Now they have the rack’. What Oscar Wilde means by this is that at the time of writing, and most certainly applicable in todays society, the press had become all powerful. The press flings the private failings of individuals  into the public sphere where the public awaits to ridicule.

The Soul of Man as a read is ultimately worthwhile and due to its short length is easily finished with little obligation. Both interesting and insightful, Wilde reveals to the reader the innermost workings of his mind whilst viciously providing his opinion in a no holds barred rant.