I frequently hear about these two different concepts. What is the fundamental difference between them?

  • 1
    Do you mean communalism or communism? – Samuel Russell Oct 27 '18 at 6:20
  • 1
    Yeah it's communism @SamuelRussell – mrpanchal Oct 27 '18 at 8:59
  • 1
    Well, socialism according to Marx is the intermediate step between capitalism and communism. During socialism there should be a propaganda against capital and private owndership, I guess. Communism is the result of it. – rus9384 Oct 27 '18 at 11:33
  • 3
    @SwamiVishwananda I'm not asking about difference in the dictionary. But I'm telling you the fundamental differences as well as it can be also a political structural differences among them also – mrpanchal Oct 27 '18 at 12:46
  • 1
    @SamuelRussell, if you want to agree with this question's close reason I have no problem. But I'm not agree with it. Because philosophy is not narrow minded to only philosophy of mind and other spiritual thoghts but if we think about it in depth, philosophy is always around us, it's inside our thoughts, it's around our all the activities if we deeply analyse it. so it covers all the merits and all the science as well as you said about social science. – mrpanchal Oct 28 '18 at 4:18

Societies and political systems have generally evolved in proportion to the economics of human population density, in approximately the following order:

  1. Hunting/gathering, with informal division of labor and homemade weapons and tools. Natural diet. Some trading, sharing, and bartering. Tribal chiefs.
  2. Agriculture, with cultivation of crops and animal husbandry. More bartering. Homemade textiles, weaving. Monarchy and feudalism. Rise of patriarchy, and slavery.
  3. Simple capitalism, with trades, skilled cottage industries, and shop-keeping. Small villages and towns. Exclusive societies and fraternities.
  4. Industrialism, with mining, intensive exploitation of natural resources, wholesale business, manufacturing, mass-production, import/export. Shipping, railroads, air transportation. Division of labor begins to break down, along with family structure. Labor unions. Cities and metropolitan areas. Major ports.
  5. Corporatism, with banking and usury, currencies, contract law, globalization. Promotion of democracy.
  6. Socialism, with redistribution of wealth, welfare state, a powerful bureaucracy.
  7. Communism, with wealth and resources held in common. Everyone expected to pitch in with the labor. Totalitarianism.
  8. Fascism, with military industrial complex and dictatorships.
  9. Utopianism, emphasizing information technology and networking. Internet. Communication. Espionage and security services. Rise of 'professional authority' and universities. Idealism. Humanism.
  10. Anarchy, resulting from the exploitation of wars, disasters, political unrest, economic stresses, famines, disease epidemics, etc. Organized crime (including gangs and syndicates) and widespread corruption. Looting and robberies. Fraud, and general lawlessness.

I surmise that the default mode is hunting/gathering, triggered by extreme reductions of the human population, regardless of cause (including environmental or natural causes). Then as technology gradually advances with increases in population density, societies repeatedly cycle through governmental structures similar to the ones I have listed here. The higher the population density, the more difficult it becomes to keep society controlled and stable. Until finally, it breaks completely down in anarchy once again. Afterwards, it begins to regain stability again, with hunting/gathering.

It is better to compare socialism and communism relative to the whole framework of possibilities and history, rather than in isolation -- especially considering mrpanchal's original question essentially asked:

Is there [/] could [there] be [a] new ideology above Socialism and communism and capitalism [?]

And I hope that I have answered the question by outlining (to the best of my ability) the natural progression of governmental structures in relation to human population density, over time. I wouldn't say that either fascism or utopianism are necessarily "above" anything, in the sense of being any kind of real "improvement"; only that they are defensive reactions to unbearable social stresses.

While population density represents an important socio-economic parameter, its role is rarely studied in the economic literature...Too high population density decreases the natural endowment per capita...

Wikipedia, Socioeconomics

Oxford Scholarship Online, The Utopia and Radical Humanism (first chapter in a book by David Norbrook titled "Poetry and Politics in the English Renaissance", in which the author analyzes Sir Thomas More's work)

Wikipedia, "Anarchy, State, and Utopia", by Robert Nozick (1974, a book on the subject of distributive justice and libertarianism)

ResearchGate, "Socioeconomic Influences of Population Density", by Yuri Yegorov (Ph.D Economics, university of Vienna)


As Engels famously noted in Socialism: Utopian and Scientific that there are multiple approaches to what Socialism is. Some socialisms envisage an ethically appropriate ordering of human relations based on collective economic endeavour of some sort, and good associated cultures, and try to implement that plan. Others envisage the maximal development of working class power, economically and in terms of armed struggle, and that future social relations would be determined by the workers themselves (ourselves) based on their power and analysis while taking action.

Communism is normally used to refer to: utopian 19th century religious communities like kibbutz; or, an envisaged future historical process of the working class abolishing property relations; or, to the actual society of the Soviet Union after the 1940s.

In general these words don’t refer so much to specific ideologies, but are used as labels regarding organised political or economic movements in historical societies. They’re terms of social science more than ordered beliefs. And even the participants in these movements view their own ideas as methods of analysis or action rather than beliefs. The “scientific” approach of socialism as class war is more prevalent than the utopian approach of socialism as ideal ethics.

To expand on the specific difference between “socialism” and “communism” compared in the works of Marx and Engels and a number of those subsequently inspired:

For a certain interpretive tendency socialism is an intermediate or early form of workers self-governance and communism is a final or later form of workers self-governance, this time in the full abolition of work and property as social relationships.

What these constitute vary widely, often depending on support or detestation of the existence of wage labour and the state in the Soviet Union.

In contemporary revolutionary politics the call is often put for “FULL COMMUNISM NOW” such as in the pictures for sad children of Callie on the roof ( https://goo.gl/images/kNRSNQ ). Ie: of skipping the intermediate relationship of workers being their own bosses. This is from a historical perspective of workers revolutions, hopeful at best.

For this criteria, Socialism would have a direct democratic state of mandated rotating recallable delegate elected workers councils from the factory floor upwards with the sole monopoly on social violence. (Cf: workers councils in Hungary 1956 especially November 4-December 20). These councils would control goods and service distribution on flat wage bases, much like they would control production and exchange democratically with expert advice and very limited production good only markets.

Communism would lack a monopoly on power, wages, classes, and be working on eliminating required labour entirely.

  • Engels, F. Socialism: Utopian & Scientific, an extract of Anti-Duhring
  • 1
    But Marx's communism presupposes lack of government. Seems to be a panarchy and never was the case in the USSR. – rus9384 Oct 27 '18 at 11:35
  • 1
    Wage labour as part of an expanded system of reproduction of retained value-form demonstrably existed in the Soviet Union, ask history.se if you need details or consult Pirani, Fitzpatrick, Andrle. And yet people suggest otherwise. Philosophy.se is not where I suggest that they're wrong as a result of empirical research. – Samuel Russell Oct 27 '18 at 11:41
  • 1
    It is an attribute of both socialism and communism. That's not where distinction lies. – rus9384 Oct 27 '18 at 12:15
  • 1
    Yup. It is hard to tell communism from anarchism in the end. – Kentaro Tomono Oct 27 '18 at 14:42
  • 'Communalism' (early on) needs to be changed to 'communism'. Best - GT. – Geoffrey Thomas Oct 28 '18 at 16:36

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.