The Communist Manifesto is an 1848 booklet by German philosophers Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels. The Manifesto summarizes the philosophers’ theories about the nature of politics and society. It also features Marx and Engels’ ideas of how the capitalist society would ultimately be replaced by socialism. This essay will focus on outlining the three types of socialism as stated in the Communist Manifesto and how socialism is different from communism according to the philosophers. It will also illustrate how each type of socialism is related to the development of capitalism and examples of each type of socialism in the current day politics to illustrate Marx and Engels’ categories.
There are three types of socialism stated in the Communist Manifesto. They are bourgeois or conservative, reactionary, and critical-utopian socialism. Reactionary socialism developed as a response to the supremacy of the bourgeoisie class and its destruction of the other classes. It is categorized into three, namely, feudal, German or “true,” and petty-bourgeois socialism. Feudal socialists were English and French aristocrats who opposed the bourgeoisie because it opposed their way of life and took away their power (Sriram and Hemmige 160-164). However, they support the proletariat because it attacks the bourgeoisie. Politically, feudal socialists oppose the proletariat because they do not want a revolution.
The petty-bourgeois socialists consist of small business owners and tradespeople. They are continually pushed down into the proletariat class as they cannot compete with the bourgeoisie (Sriram and Hemmige 160-164). They criticize the bourgeoisie for the same reasons as the communists but recommend different solutions. Petty-bourgeois socialism makes every effort to either absolutely restore the ancient social system or reframe the present system using the old regulations. German socialism consists of comprehensive thoughts adopted from French socialist literature (Sriram and Hemmige 160-164). Since they have not experienced any conflicts between the Bourgeoisie and Proletariat, their philosophy is more about human interests.
The second type is conservative socialism. These socialists are members of the bourgeoisie who recognize that the communal system they have established is unstainable. However, they do not want to get rid of the two-class system; they want to eliminate revolutionary trends of the proletariat. They do so by trying to conciliate some of the social grievances of the proletariat or by trying to persuade the proletariat that they do not need political reforms. The last type is Critical-utopian socialism. These socialists are interested in improving the lives of everyone regardless of their class. They do so by appealing to the ruling class. They do not support revolutions, but instead, they want to make small and peaceful strides.
According to Marx and Engels, socialism is distinct from communism. The critical distinction is that under communism, most economic resources and properties are owned and controlled by the government (Reisman 169-174). Under socialism, on the other hand, all resources are equally shared by the citizens as allocated by the democratically-elected state. Another distinction is that under communism, citizens are provided for according to their needs. Under socialism, the state provides most of the necessities based on what it considers to be the needs of its citizens (Reisman 169-174). On the other hand, socialism rewards people according to their effort and contribution to the economy.
Each of the three types of socialism is related to the development of capitalism in different ways. The reactionary socialists, particularly the feudal socialists, did not relate well to the development of capitalism. In fact, they called for the abolition of all privately owned property. The critical-utopian socialists, on the other hand, because they are interested in the development of everybody regardless of their class, related well with the development of capitalism. They even imagined a society with little private property. Lastly, conservative socialists believe that their communal system cannot be stained. However, the reforms they are suggesting to use to address the grievances of the proletariat have a positive relation to the development of capitalism (Sriram and Hemmige 160-164). This is because the reforms serve the interests of capitalists.
Some countries still practice socialism in their current-day politics. First of all, feudal socialism still exists in the contemporary world. The United States is an example of a country that still practices it because the higher class is getting richer, the middle is getting nowhere, and the poor are many more now than before (Dean 1-17). An example of German socialists in Finland because it prioritizes the interests of its people. China is an example of petty-bourgeois socialists because it comprises several business persons, and the businessmen control its politics. Sweden is an example of current-day conservative socialists because it shifted from democratic socialism.
In conclusion, the Communist Manifesto by Marx and Engels discusses three types of socialism. The three types are conservative socialism, critical-utopian socialism, and reactionary socialism. According to Marx and Engels, these types of socialisms have some distinctions from communism. First, under communism, most economic resources and properties are owned and controlled by the government. Secondly, under communism, citizens are provided for according to their needs, while in socialism, the state provides most of the necessities based on what it considers as the needs of its citizens. They also related to the development of capitalism, and some countries still practice them in their current-day politics.
Dean, Jodi. “Communism or Neo-Feudalism?” New Political Science 42.1, 2020. 1-17.
Reisman, David, and Arthur J. Penty. “On Property.” Democratic Socialism in Britain, 2021. pp. 169-174.
Sriram, D. Hemmige. “A review of ‘The communist manifesto’.” 2018. 160-164.