Scientific Socialism

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Dominion Lede

At point of forked from en:Scientific Socialism to add §§ inappropriate for the English wiki added marxism template instead of socialism because it's one I've already partially imported.

Overview 2010-01

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.


Our impressions/opinions on the subject contemporary with the common content above.

Existing Marxist Groupings

While it's certainly wrong to say that existing Marxist groupings have sufficient commonality in their programs and approaches to be addressed as a unity there are some common features. The International Marxist Tendency for example is among the numerous groups that exist that revolutionary change can only occur through existing working class institutions such as trade unions. Others such as the Socialist Equality Party/ insist that this can only happen through the building of new revolutionary parties, normally based on their existing ones.

What they do share is generally being followers of traditional Marxist/Trotskyite thought with relatively little divergence from it except on specific tactical or strategic issues such as the above.

Toward Fully Rationalized Production

In the overview, what I don't say, and because it would be synth/OR/POV, is that the situation of applied Marxist thought existing as (a mere) current in scientific disciplines is in accord with both common sense and the stated intention of many if not most Marxist groupings.

See also


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