Marx, Central Planning, and Utopian Socialism

Social Philosophy and Policy 6 (2):160 (1989)


Marx believed that what most clearly distinguished him and Engels from the nineteenth-century French socialists was that their version of socialism was “scientific” while the latters' was Utopian. What he intended by this contrast is roughly the following: French socialists such as Proudhon and Fourier constructed elaborate visions of a future socialist society without an adequate understanding of existing capitalist society. For Marx, on the other hand, socialism was not an idea or an ideal to be realized, but a natural outgrowth of the existing capitalist order. Marx's historical materialism is a systematic attempt to discover the laws governing the inner dynamics of capitalism and class societies generally. Although this theory issues in a prediction of the ultimate triumph of socialism, it is a commonplace that Marx had little to say about the details of post-capitalist society. Nevertheless, some of its features can be discerned from his critical analysis of capitalism and what its replacement entails

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