What is utopian communism?

We explain to you what is utopian communism and how these socialist currents arise. Differences between utopian and scientific communism.

  1. What is utopian communism?

Utopian communism is called the set of socialist currents that existed in the eighteenth century when philosophers Karl Marx and Federico Engels emerged with their theories of a scientific communism, that is, protected by the laws of history, according to a theoretical doctrine that they baptized as “Historical materialism.”

To distinguish, thus, Marxist socialism from the currents already existing in this regard, which were trying to reach the Revolution through diverse procedures and postulates, this distinction was proposed between their proposals. Utopian communism is often accused of opposing the capitalist system of surplus value , but lacking tools to explain it, understand it and therefore overcome it.

It is common, therefore, to refer to the thinkers of utopian communism with the names of “utopian socialism,” “premarxist socialism,” “protosocialism,” or “first socialism.”

The most important representatives of this school of socialist thought were Robert Owen (England) and Henri de Saint-Simon, Charles Fourier, Flora Tristan and Étienne Cabet (France). It is also worth mentioning Graco Babeuf, Filippo Buonarotti and Auguste Blanqui, for their insurrectional social ideas.

Utopian communism came to an end during the 19th century , when the great socialist movement coordinated by the International Workers Association (1864-1876) was founded, based on the ideas of Marx and Bakunin. However, his legacy would have a strong influence not only on Marxism , but on social democracy, cooperativism, the hippie movement , ecology and social Christianity.

  1. Differences with scientific communism

The difference between these two aspects of socialism, despite the fact that in the so-called “utopian” there are various approaches and approaches to the matter, is based on the method used to understand and defeat the capitalist system.

Utopian socialists are accused of being merely critical of the system , while Marxist or scientific socialism would have proposed a critical method of understanding reality, which understood history as a perennial struggle between social classes (the famous class struggle ) for assuming control of the means of production . To this confrontation Marxism called it “the engine of history.”

Another difference is that Marxism unified around its postulates the different critical approaches to capitalism , while utopian socialism consisted of a diversity of currents, often contradictory to each other, that sought a new path to a more just society.

  1. The utopian colonies

The main currents of utopian socialism tried to establish utopian colonies or utopian communities, not called that way at the time, and that were attempts to found community agricultural colonies that did not depend on the capitalist model but explored other forms of more solidary relationship.

However, these communities failed due to philosophical discrepancies and economic problems , and the emergence of cliques and personalist leadership within them. Most of these experimental communities attempted to be founded in France, Brazil and the United States.

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