Instructor: Bill McGuire
Differences between Socialism and Marxism
Socialism and Marxism have a lot in common, but some small and essential points of socialism are criticized by Marxism.
To start with, it is important to give a brief introduction to both Marxism and Socialism, what they stand for and their main points, in order to be able to identify the difference between them. Socialism was originated in the French revolution 1789 and stands for an economic system that is supposed to control the production of various good and regulate their distribution among people. The control is provided by a centralized government which wants to make sure that workers share their products with each other fairly. It also states that as big manufactures are run by collective work and effort , they should utilize their products for the benefits of society. Notable proponents of socialism are Karl Marx, Fredrick Engels and Robert Owen (Chakraborty P., July 18, 2017).
Often called Communism, Marxism is a political doctrine presented by Fredrick Engels and Karl Marx. Marxism criticizes socialism, it says that the higher classes just exploit the working class. Workers sell their labor for social benefits, what actually means more income for upper classes, leaving the working class deprived. It enables the confrontation between the working class and ownership class. Marxism is a social philosophy that is completely opposite to capitalism which is defined as an economic and social system based on private ownership which provides a free and competitive market and motivation to make a profit. Marx believed that the working class can overcome the ownership class and manage to create a society without social classes. The output produced by collective work is redistributed among the working class. Notable proponents of Communism are Vladimir Lenin and Leon Trotsky.
Moderate and extremist approaches
Socialists believe that it is possible to do a peaceful transition from capitalism to socialism without destroying the old state structure. Because they thought that they could do a good profit from the old system for the working class. Marxists, on the other hand, believed that after destroying the capitalistic dictatorship, the working class should overthrow and create their own dictatorship. This will be the beginning of the classless society.
In socialism accommodation, private property such as house, car, shop is owned by an individual. Public properties such as factories and big companies are owned by the government and run by workers. Communism ,on the other hand ,wants to eliminate private property at all.
In socialist system, means of production are owned by an individual or a cooperative the production is used in order to satisfy society’s needs. In Marxist system, means of production are owned by the people and private ownership is eliminated.
Proletarian revolution, as envisaged by Karl Marx, is not achievable in capitalist system, because the upper classes control the working class and has all the land. This creates class imbalance in the society. Just like in capitalistic society, this class distinction is also not possible because of the state ownership of production.
Moreover, the rise of working class happens in the time of competitive market ta exists in a capitalistic economy . The uprising of proletariat is unwanted in the socialistic economy where the market in not individual but collaborative.
Marxism vs Religion
Marx was the one person who tried to review religion from an objective and scientific point of view. His critique on religion is probably on of the most famous ones and is often quoted by famous researchers. As unfortunate as it might be, a lot of people quoting Marx do not have any idea what Marx actually meant. This happens mostly because of misunderstanding of Max’s theories about society and economics. Marx does not often refer to religion directly.
“The reason is that his critique of religion forms simply one piece of his overall theory of society — thus, understanding his critique of religion requires some understanding of his critique of society in general”. (Cline, Austine, 2017).
Religion, according to Karl Marx, is an expression of life realities and social inequality.
Religion is not an illness, it is more like a side effect. It exists to make people feel better, without turning back to being poor and exploited by the ruling class.
“The religion is an opium of masses”
Socialism vs Religion
Most socialists would deny that their creed is religious in character. Did not Marx say that religion is an opiate? But many have given evidence of the religious quality of their belief. The rewards offered by socialism are more immediate than those of the Bible.
The Biblical account of Adam and Eve’s fall explains the hardship of life. It also portrays mankind’s capacity for evil as well as good, suggesting that we might ameliorate the hardship by cultivating our better natures. But socialism makes things easier. Not only does it vow to deliver the goods in this world rather than the next, but it asks little in return. At the most, you have to support the revolution. At the least you do nothing, since “historical forces” will create socialism anyway.
In either case you do not have to worship or obey. You do not have to make painful sacrifices or give to charity. You do not have to confess or repent or encounter that tragic sense of life that is the lot of those who embrace a Biblical religion. No doubt, many or most people drawn to socialism feel some sense of humane idealism. But socialism’s demands are all made on “society,” not on individuals. It is idealism on the cheap.
If these are the things that made the religion of socialism so attractive, they also are what made it so destructive. What distinguished Biblical religion together with Eastern faiths such as Hinduism, Confucianism, and Buddhism from other supernatural beliefs, historian Herbert Muller notes, is that its “primary concern was no longer the material success of the nation or the assurance of good crops, but the spiritual welfare of man… rescuing man from his long obsession with food and phallus.” More specifically, the religion of these faiths connected man to a moral code. Then, two and a half millennia later, the religion of socialism sundered that connection. What was different about socialism was not the absence of God, since Buddhism and Confucianism also have no God, but rather the absence of good and evil or right and wrong. This opened the doors to the terrible deeds committed in the name of socialism.
Main points and History
Socialism is often regarded as one of the first phases of Communism, so communism as it is is a higher stage of Socialism. There are a lot of important differences between these two, that every should distinguish. We are talking about the Marxist movement, very often called “Communist” movement. There were a lot of other different interpretations of socialism, different parties and other movements. They also call themselves socialist, however, their ideology is based on Karl Marx’s ideas. All this terminology might result in confusion and misinterpretations of different terms. Keeping one historical fact in mind helps not to misunderstand this terms, the fact that in the early period when Marx and Engels wrote the Communism Manifesto, they referred their social movement as “Communism”. But in a while they started using the term Social Democracy.
Often the term “historical materialism” is used by Marxists referring to the special part of philosophy that interacts with the whole society. These two words emphasise the main points of their movement. They focus on naturalistic basis, which is materialism, and dialectical method, which refers to historical. As the term “historical” my seem inappropriate, it means that the study of society should be based on a completely different and modern approach to history.
The “historical materialism” will basically explain why different events and stages of history happened, reviewing all the history and explaining its stages will help us judge the future of human history. The main issue is to find connections between different stages of human history, this is not about the history of human as a species, but how the society developed through its long history.
The earliest form of society was commonly called “primitive commune”. This is where the primitive trading was developing very fast as well as slavery, small manufactures, sense of private and communal ownership. However, the transfer from the so called “primitive society” to a “slave society” was an event of great importance, but the transition from one type to another was not smooth to all people living in the “communal stage” as it happened to North American Indians. The of slavery overtaking the old social community is connected to the development of tools of production and using the division of labor and the whole new view on private ownership. The creation of criminal norms, punishments and work enforcement make its appearance.
This stage of human society history is often called ” ancient civilizations” such as Ancient Greece, Egypt and Rome. Throughout the time the new term appeared, the “feudal society” which were very common in medieval Western Europe. Slave owners were replaced by land lords and slaves by serfs. Then comes one of the most significant transitions in terms of social dynamics, the “capitalism”. As a result of consistent struggling, the land lords, inheriting the power and the land were placed as the main ruling class, their power involved big manufactures, trading and bank investments. The power of the ruling class was getting weaker and weaker and that is when the transition to socialism happened.
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