Scientific Socialism

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Scientific Socialism is the term used by Friedrich Engels[1] to describe the social-political-economic theory pioneered by Karl Marx. The purported reason why this socialism is "scientific socialism" (as opposed to "utopian socialism") is because its theories are held to an empirical standard, observations are essential to its development, and these can result in changes/falsification of elements of theory. Although Marx denounced "utopian socialism", he never referred to his own ideas as "scientific socialism".

The term also refers to an important philosophical difference between advocates of laissez faire economics and those advocating a planned economy. Mainstream, bourgeois thought maintains that the latter is a virtual impossibility as it holds that the economic calculation problem is infeasible, impractical, and/or inadvisable. This viewpoint maintains that the best social planning is little or none at all and considers the subject of this article to be a contradiction in terms.

Attempts to engineer a new society via methods for doing so such as those proposed by B.F. Skinner (1949), and others with scientifically informed and inspired creators such as the early Israeli Kibbutzim and others on a small scale are known but in practice communist states of the 20th century did not and do not use scientific methods in a substantive way for this purpose. The era slogan of the current CCP leader, Hu Jintao, "Scientific Development" does not so far appear to be an exception to this. Contributions such as those of Leontief and others were made at a high macroeconomic level or within fields such as Operations Research on a microeconomic level but within a capitalist context.

The philosophy of science basis of the claim of Marxism-Leninism to be a science is based its conceptions of dialectical materialism and historical materialism.[2] In practice however, although the influence of Marxist thought especially in the social sciences, is great, there are no communities of either theoretical or applied scientists or of scientific or technical practice based on the subject corresponding to those for disciplines which do have established and credible claims to being theoretical sciences or engineering disciplines, the planning functions of the current communist states notwithstanding. The most one could say is that socialism, e.g. Marxism, has, at least historically, been a current which finds expression in various scientific disciplines such as Mathematical economics, Sociology, etc.

See also


  1. Frederick Engels - Socialism: Utopian and Scientific. 1880 Full Text
  2. ibid. Part III Historical Materialism