Marxism encompasses the political and economic theses of Karl Marx, who considers the capitalist system unfair and wrong. On the other hand, scientific socialism, named after Engels, has a more practical character and seeks to put an end to the difference in social classes.
Marxism’s objectives are to end capitalism, which uses, according to its theories, an unfair free market system. To do this, it seeks to put an end to private property and for the State to assume full control of the economy and the means of production.
Scientific socialism, endowed with a more academic perspective, aims to put an end to strong social differences. Thus, since it deals with more formal and structured ideas than those of Marxism, scientific socialism seeks to apply its theses to industry, society and the problems generated by capitalism.
From Marxism to scientific socialism
In the 19th century, the social reality was convulsed, the economic crises and the acute social differences brought strong social conflicts. It was in this context that the Germans Marx and Engels advocated revolution, class struggle, and confronting a bourgeoisie they considered oppressive.
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Marxism considered that the economy was the key element that determined social relations and that generated certain structures of power and domination.
However, in the face of the social and economic problems that took place in the 19th century, not only Marxist ideas emerged. The so-called utopian socialism was another type of response in which ideologues such as Saint-Simon, Charles Fourier and Robert Owen arose. Thus, the so-called utopian socialism advocated social equality through solidarity, cooperative work and the distribution of its fruits.
However, Engels opted for a more academic socialism and in the 1840s, there was a transition towards scientific socialism. Thus, scientific socialism combined the ideas of the German socialists, endowed with a solid theoretical foundation, while taking revolutionary elements from French ideologues and incorporating the economic knowledge of British ideologues.
Why scientific socialism and Marxism are not the same?
The strong influence of Karl Marx’s ideas on scientific socialism is undeniable, as it brings concepts such as the workers’ struggle, the dictatorship of the proletariat, the end of private property, frontal opposition to the capitalist economic system, a classless society and a State that governs the economy.
Likewise, scientific socialism incorporated concepts of Marxism such as surplus value, which consisted of the added value that workers contributed to production. Thus, the difference between the value of production and wages was called surplus value.
However, Marx’s ideas, by themselves, do not constitute what is known as scientific socialism. And it is that, the contributions of Friedrich Engels were key to conform the theoretical body of a new scientific vision of socialism.
As previously noted, in the 1840s, Engels and Marx worked together to develop the set of ideas that made up scientific socialism, which ended up being embodied in the Communist Manifesto.
Although socialism is often associated or identified with the original Marxism, there are certain differences. Thus, scientific socialism, to formulate its proposals, makes use of areas of knowledge such as philosophy, economics and law.
Another small difference with Marxism is that it does not seek the complete abolition of private property, but only seeks to end private ownership of the means of production.