Socialism and progressivism are two ideologies that, on the surface, seem similar. They both project an aim to elevate society, address people’s needs and make life better for everyone. However, their views and approaches differ. Let’s take a look at the difference between socialism and progressivism.
Characteristics of socialism
Socialism is “a political and economic theory of social organization that advocates for the community as a whole to own or regulate the means of production, distribution, and exchange.” [Source].
It is based on the belief that when workers rebel against a capitalist system, socialism will follow as a result. According to Marxism, there is a bad connection between labor and capital. The working class is overburdened and will revolt and overthrow the system. When a society reaches this point, the seeds of socialism are planted, founded on equality and strongly opposed to social classes.
Under socialism, the only hierarchy recognized is the government or state, which was elected through democratic means. Socialism also promotes religious liberty, collective ownership of assets, distribution of wealth according to one’s contribution.
Characteristics of Progressivism
Progressivism refers to ideas centered on social reform that aims to improve people’s lifestyles and livelihood. According to Wikipedia, progressivism is “defined as a movement in which scientific, technological, economic development and social organization are seen as necessary for human improvement.”
“During the Age of Enlightenment in Europe, progressivism became very significant as a result of the belief that Europe was demonstrating that societies could develop in civility from barbarianism by improving the basis for empirical knowledge as the foundation of society.” [Source].
The term progressivism is derived from the French word “progressif,” which means “to strive for change.”
The Progressive movement was created to address the issues resulting from industrialization, urbanization, immigration, and political corruption. It advocates for the end of dishonesty, implementation of efficiency and perfectionism, banning child labor, and improvement in public education. [Source].
Differences between Socialism and Progressivism
Socialists want to get rid of capitalism because they believe it oppresses the working class. They propose for the working class to have a major say in shifting society from capitalism to socialism through a democratic process or going on a general strike or even revolution.
The progressives believe that capitalism is the most effective approach to increasing society’s wealth. They prefer to take small steps rather than big leaps in order to achieve social change. They do not expect the working class to play a significant role in the social upheaval they desire. Any form of violence in order to achieve social change is also fiercely opposed.
Socialism encourages the use of a planned economy, in which the production and distribution of goods and services are predetermined. Socialists also favor a more equal distribution of productivity gains and believe that those who worked harder should receive more. Progressivism goes for a mixed economy. Progressivism believes that wealth should be distributed equally among members of society.
Similarities between Socialism and Progressivism
Both socialism and progressivism promote financial and social equality. Because they examine society’s faults and choose issues to address. Socialists and progressives place a premium on people’s sociological needs; as a result, societal development is the main objective, which must develop.
Another point of agreement is the need to eliminate corruption. These two systems are opposed to all forms of authoritarian rulers who command others and control them. They also include government officials whose duty is to meet people’s demands and eliminate unethical behavior against society.
Progressive Socialist Party Beliefs
The Progressive Socialist Party is based on particular activities that promote societal values and the general well-being of people. A Progressive Socialist party supports a democratic socialism system that allows citizens to participate in political and economic decisions. It also allows the people to speak out on injustices that have been identified in a country.
The Progressive Socialist Party advocates for democratic values. This is supported by the creation of civil courts, which allow the legislation to proceed in individual circumstances such as marriages or inheritance.
There is also religious freedom demonstrated by the leadership of Lebanon’s progressive socialist party being led by both Christians and Muslims. [Source]. Progressive socialists believe that industrialization is unavoidable, but it should be done thoughtfully. All forms of oppression and corruption are regarded as threats that must be destroyed.
Impact of Socialists on Progressive Era
In response to the question of how socialism impacted the US’s progressive movement, it was stated that socialists “introduced the idea of ‘progressive taxation as a means for narrowing income disparities between rich and poor.” [Source].
This is a shared view in most parts of the world in which socialists have been trying to bring equality between races, gender and religions, and fighting for the abolition of classes. To progress, socialists are urging for the rights of the LGBT community and animal rights while confronting industries responsible for causing global warming through pollution.
During the Covid-19 epidemic, socialists have been outspoken in their criticism of private enterprises that put profits ahead of people’s wellbeing. Outcries were heard during the height of the Covid-19 outbreak when private healthcare facilities increased prices.
Difference between Utopian Socialism and Scientific Socialism
Scientific socialism is a “term coined in 1840 by Pierre-Joseph Proudhon in his book What is Property to mean a society ruled by a scientific government, i.e., one whose sovereignty rests upon reason, rather than sheer will” [Source] and utopian socialism mean “an economic system based on the premise that if capital voluntarily surrendered its ownership of the means of production to the state or the workers, unemployment, and poverty would be abolished” [Source].
Friedrich Engels penned a book titled ‘Socialism: Utopian and Scientific’ in which he noted that utopian socialism is based on what people perceive after studying world changes, but scientific socialism focuses more on the “materialist conception of history.”
Utopian socialists propose theories that will lead to something better, whereas scientific socialists may demonstrate their points using actual evidence. Utopian socialism is characterized as “idealistic,” reflecting the writers’ personal views, while scientific socialism “draws itself from reality.”