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Difference between Socialism and Progressivism

Socialism vs Progressivism

Socialism is an economic system where the government runs and controls the production resources collectively owned by society to achieve its common good. Progressivism ,on the other hand, is a political philosophy that seeks to raise the standard of living of the average member of society in order to achieve a positive social change. While socialism and progressivism both seek the economic and political equality of all members of society, they differ in their views and approaches.

Socialists want to abolish capitalism because they believe that it exploits the working class. They want the working class to play an overpowering role in shifting society from capitalism to socialism either through a popular vote or going on a general strike or even going to the extreme of uprising or revolution. Progressives, on the other hand, believe that capitalism is the most expeditious way to grow the wealth of society under a regulated business environment. They want to attain social change gradually. They do not expect the working class to play a major role in the social change they want. They also object to any form of violence to achieve social change. The progressives believe that the approach of the socialists in achieving social change is too drastic and could cause social unrest. Instead, the progressives convince the poor or less privileged to be jealous of the rich capitalists in order to influence the working class to vote progressives into power and perform the government obligation of improving the life of the community.

In terms of economic advocacy, socialism promotes a planned economy wherein the blueprint for the production and distribution of goods and services is determined ahead of time. Socialists also believe in the equitable distribution of productivity gains. They believe that those who worked more, deserve to be given more. Progressivism goes for a mixed economy where the basic features of capitalism and socialism are present. Supporters of progressivism believe that wealth should be distributed equally among members of society. Where wealth is concentrated in the hands of a few, such wealth must be put under the control of a democratic political establishment. Progressives support economic egalitarianism and as such, treat members of society as co-equals in terms of their right to use the economic resources and wealth and their contribution to such wealth and resources.

Socialism is considered the mother of progressivism which explains their common goal of attaining equality among individuals in society.


1. Socialism wants to achieve the common good of society through public management and control of production resources while progressivism seeks to achieve public good by gradually raising the standard of living of the average member of society.
2. Socialists seek to abolish capitalism because it exploits the working class while progressives want to employ capitalism in expediting the accumulation of wealth for the benefit of the masses.
3. Socialism advocates a planned economy while progressivism supports a mixed economy.
4. Socialism is considered to be the mother of progressivism.

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  1. Better not tell Hilary Clinton that bit about Progressiveness. She hates Capitalism, yet calls herself a progressive.

    • She was a lawyer for Walmart. How could you possibly say she hates capitalism?

      • Why was Hillary a lawyer for Wal-mart. MONEY!!!!!!!

      • Yes. How could she be a lawyer for Walmart and not be a capitalist? Typical of the misconceptions people have about what socialism is.

        • It makes sense because Socialist leaders are often hypocrites. Capitalism is good for them but they want socialism for everybody else.

      • She likes capitalism that enriches her and her cronies. She is like many of those currently in our government and big business or small businesses working with government. They are all for businesses that help fund their campaign coffers, enrich them personally, and which do what they want to help them buy votes. They do NOT like businesses which do not serve their purposes. Whereas socialists try to run businesses through government, progressives seek to control businesses, but not be saddled with the responsibility to make them work. If what they demand works and the business succeeds, they want a large share of the proceeds. If the business fails, then too bad for the investors, which all too often is the taxpayer because with crony capitalists, often it is government providing grants or loans. A perfect example of this is Solyndra. Actually, that was a bad example because it was never going to work. That particular government loan deal was meant to ensure the millionaire cronies who made a bad investment in that company were able to bail out whole. Once the $545 million taxpayer backed loan was obtained, the stock prices rose. Then the investor cronies bailed out. It was meant to ensure those who gave Obama big buck donations in his 2008 campaign were able to bail out. The taxpayers got to take that loss. I never wanted anything to do with Solyndra or numerous other companies the government gave my tax money to. But in progressivism, I, as a taxpayer, have no say in that. I’m forced to finance bad investments by government masterminds.

    • That person doesn’t know what a progressive is progressives are almost like a communist.
      That person must have got their information from today’s history books what a knucklehead

    • That person doesn’t know what a progressive is progressives are very dangerous people and do not support capitalism. I was a Democrat all my life and I’m 67 years old now. Back then Democrats loved our country now today they all hate it just turn on the TV. Democrats the party of hate and violence. I did not leave the Democrat Party they left me.
      That person must have got their information from today’s history books what a knucklehead

  2. Socialism is NOT an economic system. It is an entire social system that includes an economic aspect. Socialism is a philosophy, an epistomology, an all embracing secular way of living. It is however, true to say that Marx believed society was based on economic relationships. Thus, the Communist Manifesto reflects the fact that key social institutions were the lynchpins of exploitation and oppression. Marriage, religion, patriarchal family relationships and inheritance. But the abolition of marriage is not what most people would deem “an economic policy”, unless they have a Marxist worldview.

    Socialism does not seek to abolish capitalism. Socialism wants to outlaw capitalism for everyone except the state to engage in. There’s a difference between those two concepts. Capitalism cannot be abolished, until such time as we have the technology to make markets unnecessary, by creating products from thin air through the manipulation of subatomic particles freely available in infinite quantities. And make “value” meaningless.

    Capitalism isn’t the opposite of socialism. Capitalism is the entire spectrum, with socialism at one end of it.

    • “Capitalism isn’t the opposite of socialism. Capitalism is the entire spectrum”

      Capitalism is defined by private ownership of the means of production, not markets. Even laissez-faire fundamentalists know capitalism isn’t “the entire spectrum” (whatever that means). Your definition of capitalism seems to be a synonym for economics. It is entirely fictional.

      Socialism, on the other hand, is defined by worker control, not state control, of the means of production. Some socialist theory argues the state will first take over the means of production. However, many socialists believe state ownership of the means of production a form of “state capitalism” because an elite bureaucracy, not the working class, is in control.

      • I don’t think you’re understanding me.

        Socialism is merely a system/philosophy of regulation over economic behavior.
        Communism is merely a system/philosophy of regulation over economic behavior.
        Laissez-faire is merely a system/philosophy of regulation over economic behavior.
        Social democracy is merely a system/philosophy of regulation over economic behavior.
        Democratic socialism, communitarianism, fascism, Third Way, neo-liberalism, etc… etc… etc… are merely a system/philosophy of regulation over economic behavior.

        Capitalism… or whatever you want to call it… is merely a term with no real definition agreed upon… to describe human economic behavior.

        So yes… you are correct when you say I’m using capitalism as a synonym for economics. That’s exactly what I’m doing. Because… in the end… there’s no difference between North Korea and Hong Kong except in the levels of regulation and oversight.

        • Government of necessity influences society. Capitalism depends upon individuality and personal initiative and encourages people to think for themselves and solve their own problems since the means of production and distribution are not in the hands of a centralized authority. Therefore society assumes that individuals will be self-reliant. This promotes a society in which people are able to conduct themselves responsibly.

          • Capitalism doesn’t depend on anything, Richard, except the existence of human beings who need things and provide things in exchange for things they need. Capitalism will function in the absence of individual initiative – just not nearly as well. Capitalism doesn’t do a thing to encourage personal initiative. Rather, personal initiative demonstrates itself in the markets. Societies that over-regulate capitalism will certainly stifle the fruits of initiative from being expressed or realized in the marketplace.

    • wow! what a misconception. communism is the old word and ideology, it’s replacement is progressivism which is the mother of socialism. socialism is the complete opposite of capitalism. capitalism is a free market allowing constituents of a country to make money however they want or can. socialism, however, is the government in control of every aspect of the nation from businesses, manufacturing, utilities and it’s people. socialism is the government telling you what you can and cannot do. sure, they provide for you, but you are at the mercy of their so-called benevolence and your health care is mediocre at best and if you want social equality, it’s non-existence. this is the Democratic party in the US at this time 2020, people better wake up.

  3. email me.

  4. Unfortunately both socialism and progressivism have flaws, among others:

    1. Both are top down. They take power from the people and move it to the top, the STATE. (Big Gulp anyone)
    2. Both distort incentives. (Everyone gets a C grade: A’s are discounted, and F’s are subsidized). This “social justice” punishes performance, and rewards sloth.
    3. Both reward and encourage dependence on government.
    4. Both promise Utopia, buy taking from performers, and giving to non-performers. Eventually performers leave, revenue drops, etc. (More in the wagon than pulling the wagon)
    5. Both create colossal, expensive, bureaucracies.
    6. Neither seeks the citizen’s opinion.
    7. Neither has any history of success. (EU)
    8. Both ideologies claim moral superiority over other systems, arguing theory over evidence.
    9. Both have an elastic definition of fair, justice, equality, and rights. These terms are presented as “moral” yet invariably are re-defined by the political needs of the moment.

    An uncorrupted Republic tends to reward performance, generate much higher GNP, and with the higher revenue, supply a safety net. There is equality of opportunity, but not equality of outcome. There is a wide range of outcomes. (Bell Curve) This system has compassion for the wide variety in humanity. The needs of the citizen are determined by the citizen, not the state.

  5. I think this definition of socialism is outdated and it use serves the progressives.

    Here is a question for people. At what point does goverment regulation and control of business reach a point that it becomes basically the same thing as goverment owning and running the businesses?

    Is this the new socialism? Replacing “ownership of the means of production” with “regulation and control of the means of production”.

  6. Today, there is no real difference between the two words. The Democratic Socialists of America uses “progressive” and “socialist” interchangeably on its website. The Socialist International’s tagline is “Progressivism for a Fairer World.”

  7. Socialism is the redistribution of wealth, increased dependency on government, and severe government regulation (i.e. “big government”).

    Progressivism is pretty much the same except it views capitalism as a necessary evil.

    The only real difference is their views on capitalism.

  8. Whomever wrote this article has never actually studied economics or social systems and the inherent cronyism that exists in hierarchical societies or the natural economic inefficiencies that when resources are concentrated.

    Economic growth with equity is not a natural function of capitalism or the markets.

    • Unfortunately for you and all the other “true believers”, socialism is all about concentrating the resources and capital of people in the hands of the elite who run the state. And those elites run the state JUST LIKE any other crony capitalist would do – as a means to keep themselves in power.

      Socialism doesn’t eliminate capitalism. Neither does communism. What a ridiculous myth this is. Both systems only manage to dictate who may practice capitalistic market behavior under their span of control and who may not. In Cuba, only Castro and his cronies are millionaires.

  9. Socialism and progressiveness they both travel in the river of envy, hate, police estate,
    OppressiON, lack of individual liberties,lack of freedom of religion….repudious acts to the people, no habeas corpus, no impartial legal defense for the dedendant…to the ocean of COMMUNISM.

  10. “The goal of socialism is communism.”

    Vladimir Lenin

  11. “Socialism is an economic system where the government runs and controls the production…”

    the first sentence of this article starts off with an incorrect definition of socialism. opening with a faulty premise isn’t a good start, but it is a good place to end reading.

  12. I’ve never understood the quote (from this web site’s summary, above) that “Socialism is considered the mother of progressivism” due to their common goal of attaining equality among individuals in society. Socialism & progressivism differed so greatly in their approaches that they should be considered rivals, not one spawning the other; if anything, socialism was the evil step-sibling of progressivism!

    I cry foul at this quote chiefly because some of my students, in a sophomoric attempt to troll the web for quick answers to my midterm question comparing socialism & progressivism, latch onto this quote but fail to explain it in any way. Should I continue docking them for this, or somehow incorporate it into my class presentations on the two, rival reform ideologies of the early 20th century? Thanks for your help!

  13. Like communism, socialism and progressivism are simply means by which the elite gain wealth and power on the backs of the poor and middle class.

  14. Communism is just part of socialism, and progressivism is derived from Democratic Socialism – which roots go back to fabian socialism which is done through getting involved and through legislative means creating laws to control you and I abilities to trade goods and services and hire people.

    The difference between this is Democractic Socialism or Progressive socialism is government control over private business, how much pay employess, who you hire, what the benefits are, done through high regulations and high taxes. Democratic Socialism type of government only creates Cronie Capitalism – which politicians you know in the government that will create benefits for your industry and your business.

    Communism is total control of government over goods and services and lines of economic distribution of food, shelter, etc. Socialism communism progressivism is based off of the collective of humans versus individualism.

    Socialism communism and progressivism is based off of heaven on earth idealism, but not based off of natural and universal forces that is genetically ingrained in our DNA, we as humans are always into everything as to “what is in it for me” and my family and my friends, not for the common good of the collective.

    What happens is to force socialism progressvism and communism sadly to act on or enforce these policies you concentrate power with in the government with a dictator or politicians using facist laws police state techniques to get your agendas through, which goes against humans free will and freedom of choice.

    Remember that against the socialist or communist or progressive Dictator is still a politician and is still a human being like you and I and they like you and I are still looking out for themselves their families and friends (power elites) and sure not for their citizens.

    In reality Communism Socialism and Progressism is just a modern form of Feudalism where Kings and Queens and their power elite friends relatives have power over their subjects making their subjects citizens serfs to the state government – the Kingdom.

    None of communisms s0cialism progressiveism is based off of True Power To The People, power to the people is based off of you and I individual humans electing and controlling our rulers, not the other way around this is Rule By The People For The People.

    Free Market Capitalism does work if you study Adam Smith Wealth of Nation, all of US humans through human nature creating food and shelter for ourseleves have a basic need to trade goods and services with each out without being controlled by some big government agency, so we can provide food shelter and have the natural ability to bring up our standard of living.

    The key to true prosperity and bring up your standard of living for all humans is what is called “Less Is More”, keep in mind less goverment the more for you your family and your friends. The more government the less for you family and your friends. Just something to seriously think about.

  15. Capitalism works, but when greed is a better part of it it does not work, take out the greed and it’s the most powerfull system in the world, so that’s what we see now is hypocrisy, and gross greed.

  16. If you watch the way progressivism is expanding, there is a lot more of Orwell’s 1984 in the current edition, as the uber progressives attempt to moderate speech and behavior. So it’s not just about economics. But it is a lot about politics. In this version, which really deepened it’s roots during the Obama reign of superiority, there is an intellectual aristocracy, that essentially rules by shaming those of lesser intelligence — sort of the blue state, red state deal, which currently is undergoing a bit of rebellion. Those who live outside the heavily concentrated blue areas, now, heavily resent the former, and don’t regard them as their rulers, which is essentially what the progressives want. They don’t regard the ‘deplorables’ as capable of ruling themselves. And yes, thanks to Hillary, there is a heightened awareness of this disease of uber progressivism, and a very distinct opposition.

  17. There is a difference between Capitalism and Free Markets.

    Capitalism is linked closely to present day socialism or progressive liberalism,
    it has to do with big companies who use lobby groups working along with politicians to create regulations and taxes that benefit them and not the middle class. Hillary Clinton and Bill Clinton are very much a part of that. This creates corruption and what we are presently experiencing with the SWAMP.

    Example is the Military Industrial Complex, and there are many other examples.

    Free Markets is based on small businesses selling goods and service in the private sector, based off of Adam Smith.

    What is also interesting is present day progressive liberalism and socialism is actual just a modern day form of Feudalism. Difference is Feudalism has Kings and Queens the power elites versus Socialism again power elites like the Clintons and their cronies and in many cases dictators and also their cronies.

  18. By definition a progressive works for change and ever moving of the status quo. Whatever is in place must be improved upon or not good enough. Tradition and traditional values and mores are antiquated and hence bad. Thus we can understand the move of positions of Obama, Clinton and other “progressives” on subjects such as abortion and marriage. They can believe one thing today and “evolve” to believe another thing tomorrow. In fact it is the goal of the progressives to have no goal no end game. Change for the sake of change is the rally cry.

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