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Socialism: Utopian and Scientific

4.21  ·  Rating details ·  5,335 ratings  ·  351 reviews
Modern socialism is not a doctrine, Engels explains, but a working-class movement growing out of the establishment of large-scale capitalist industry and its social consequences.
Paperback, 86 pages
Published December 1st 1989 by Pathfinder Press (NY) (first published 1880)
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Sep 17, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
In my opinion, this is a better introduction to Marxism than the Communist Manifesto. The first chapter focuses on utopian socialist who tried to make reforms but ran up against roadblocks of the bourgeoisie, and since it was based on an unscientific view, it lead to a "mish-mash of critical statements, economic theories and pictures of future societies," none of which had the momentum to implement their ideas. Unfortunately, this still sounds like the Left today.

The second chapter, talks about
I recently started a personal project of reading Marxist theory (something I hope to delve deeply into in 2021, despite it being a busy year for me) and Socialism : Utopian and Scientific is one of the necessary preliminary texts. Now, I didn't want to jump directly into Capital, Vol. 1: A Critical Analysis of Capitalist Production because that's undoubtedly a hard text to read and I'm more than likely to abandon it even when I've succeeded in understanding some of the fundamental Marxist terms ...more
The most accessible and riveting of the original Marxist works I’ve read so far…

(Note: I wrote this review in 2018, prior to reading Capital, Vol. 1: A Critical Analysis of Capitalist Production)

The Brilliant:
--“Marxism” just points to “go read Marx”; “scientific socialism” is more descriptive. Unpacking its key insights in “historical materialism” and “surplus value” provided invaluable context, particularly:
1) Social change originates in the economic conditions of production (which can be scru
Here, Engels sheds light on the theory and practice of socialism. We follow the evolution between the idea and the establishment of the system: the working class appropriates the capitalist means of production through an all-powerful state, which eradicates the concept of social classes, and, therefore, of State.
Looking back over the years, it is clear that this scientific socialism still lacks certain strings to be accurate and achievable.
Jul 07, 2015 rated it really liked it
Don't start learning about socialism by reading the Communist Manifesto, start with this. It's a small piece, covering the utopian socialist movements, the development of Hegelian dialectics, and historical materialism. The first part is a description of the utopian socialist movements, what motivated them, and what actions they took to try to usher in socialism. The second part is a short description of the development of Hegelian (idealist) dialectics, the contrast between dialectics and metap ...more
Carlos Martinez
Mar 12, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: marxism
A brilliant introduction to the basics of Marxist philosophy and economics. Just read it for the first time in probably 15 years. Will resolve to go back to it at least every couple of years - the explanations are so clear and the writing so powerful, it's a joy to read. Unfortunately doesn't come with a dummies' guide to actually bringing about a socialist society; maybe that's in the sequel. ...more
Aug 21, 2020 rated it really liked it
This work is very much "Marxism 101", and, like the Manifesto, it seems like it would make for a good entry point.

Engels lays out his and Marx's intellectual predecessors from the early French materialists to Saint Simon, Fourier, and Owen. He explains their "utopian" socialisms quite well, and contextualizes then as outcomes of, or reactions to, the transition from feudalism to capitalism. I found his brief history of that transition enjoyable, interesting, and pretty convincing.

In his elucid
Feb 03, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Socialism: Utopian and Scientific is one of the most important works for understanding Marxism. In this work Engels establishes what scientific socialism really is in three main parts.

He explains the role of utopian socialism and in particular specifies that utopian socialism was only an emotional argument against Capitalism.
Then he goes on to clarify what dialects is and how a materialist view of this can result in a scientific basis for socialism, in the form of Marxism.
The final part is using
Rob Keenan
Jun 26, 2017 rated it it was amazing
you should read this.
everyone should read this.
dialectics for the cool kids.
historical materialism for the pals.

I've not read a more concrete explanation of D & HM particularly, but the whole piece is a wonderful exploration of where the lads were at the end of the 19th century and to a lesser extent in practical terms, where we are now.

you have the right to the value your labour creates.
Apr 17, 2021 rated it really liked it
I like how this book explains dialectics and think it’s a better explanation of things than the manifesto. I’m gonna re-read later probably.
Jan 29, 2021 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Turns out that, between the two, Engels is the better explainer of Marx’s ideas. I’ll be recommending this little piece to newcomers to Marx going forward. Engels manages to distill the key points of both Historical Materialism and Dialectical thinking in a concise and straightforward way whereas Marx avoids explicit discussion of his method (there are exceptions), preferring to show or demonstrate its application and let it speak for itself.

The intro is like an open letter to the British intel
May 12, 2020 rated it really liked it
Reading this today, with some sense of the internal contradictions that Soviet positivism unleashed (following Ilyenkov), it is easy to be critical with Engels, for many. Lukacs is admittedly too critical, for while Engels is in practice a bit reductionistic and schematic (his analogy between the sciences of nature, which he knew only as a beginner, contrasted with the science of society, which he studied in depth, definitely posed serious difficulties for those who came after), he is in essence ...more
Nicolás Avendaño
Feb 03, 2021 rated it liked it
Shelves: redflag
Easily the best introduction to marxism. Engels is an extraordinary writer and its delightful read him.
In the first and the third chapter he explains in this little book the diferences between utopian and cscientific comparing history, philosophical bases and political purposes. And its really good.

The problem is the second chapter. I don't have probles with Engels' oversimplifided history of materialism/empiricism/realism (choose your favourite), the problem of this philosophy with the popular
Michael Wayne
Jun 28, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Suuuper important read imo. Engels has a very clear and measured style, which made it much easier for me to fully wrap my head around historical materialism, class antagonisms, the obsolescence of the state, et al. There's a lottt of English history in the preface to the English edition, and the first two chapters explain the philosophical path that eventually culminated with him and Marx (utopian movements, Owen, Hegel), but it ends up really paying off in that last section. Lovely wonderful ...more
Rhi Carter
May 08, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: own-it, theory
A lot of people start with the Communist Manifesto when first getting into socialist theory. While still good for a lot of reasons, this is a mistake. This is the book you want. In fact it was literally written for the purpose that no one have any confusion about what Engles and Marx were talking about.

Written with decades of experience and development behind it, this book concisely summarizes and elaborates the economic and philosophical arguments behind Marxist socialism, the astoundingly rel
gage sugden
Sep 04, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A still relatively straightforward, but more in depth analysis of the evolution of the means of production/exchange and thus of class antagonism.

Chapter 2 offers interesting philosophical context but you won't find it very insightful unless you're already familiar with Hegel and Kant. It's brief though so you might as well read it too. Chapter 1 also will be most useful to you if you're familiar with Fourier and a few others, but is an interesting examination of some of the historical context ar
May 13, 2009 rated it really liked it
Shelves: politics
Interesting. I read somewhere that Engels was actually the better writer of the Marx/Engels team. Does that make Engels the Garfunkel, or Simon? I don't know. But this was fun to read and interesting. So much passion. ...more
May 18, 2020 rated it liked it
Salad oil
Laura McCafferty
Aug 30, 2020 rated it it was amazing
conscise and accessible, really important read to understand dialectics and socialism
Jan 26, 2022 rated it liked it
i fucking hate dialectics
Alex Billet
Jun 04, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: marxist-basics
Much like The German Ideology and The Communist Manifesto, Socialism: Utopian and Scientific is among the essentials for understanding Marxism and the dialectical materialist approach to socialism. Frederick Engels, himself a rather undervalued influence on Karl Marx, is clear and concise in this book, laying out simply how it is that Marxism is a more viable way of looking at the world, and why workers' self-emancipation accompanied by an overthrow of capitalism points the most realistic way fo ...more
Mickey Dubs
Sep 12, 2021 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2021
Socialism preceded Marx and Engels. The utopian socialists of the early 19th-Century recognised that the bourgeois revolutions failed to make good on their promises of universal liberty and justice. Instead of ushering in a new age of reason, these revolutions gave birth to a new system of exploitation - that of capitalism. The Utopians thought that this failure was borne out people not living up to liberal ideals – their reason was insufficient, their sense of justice was not refined enough. Ma ...more
Dec 23, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Currently ignoring my family on Christmas Eve to review this book. It's very good; I get the impression that, since Engels is writing in the final quarter of the nineteenth century (the introduction to the English translation is from 1892, after Marx had been dead for 9 years), the text has a certain coolness to it, and a certain settled quality of argumentation, compared to the fiery polemic of the manifesto. But that's a strength: it's a very clear and thoughtful history of the three important ...more
reread. so excellent
Dec 20, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Excellent short book, a must read for everyone who wants to understand the socialist movement and/or the capitalist system in a clear and concise way!
Dec 06, 2021 rated it liked it
fairly easy to read in comparison to the other nonfiction books i’ve read
Jul 25, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a good, succinct overview of the overall marxist position. And perhaps more importantly, of how that position contrasted itself with the other strains of 19th century utopianism at the time. It wouldn't be marxism without lashing out at fellow travellers!

Engels covers a lot of ground in terms of philosophy, history in a very short amount of space, and he also probably gives the single best, succinct description/takedown of Hegel I've ever come across without getting bogged down in a worl
Oct 08, 2020 rated it liked it
Didn't learn anything I didn't already know from reading The Communist Manifesto. It is a short read though, so I didn't mind a revision of basic Marxist concepts. ...more
Paige McLoughlin
Classic by Engels in the 1870s. A good understanding of how capitalism works however at predicting its future course leaves a lot to be desired. Getting into the prediction racket is a mug's game. I have no idea where capitalism and its ongoing crises will lead but it probably isn't going to be a nice place. ...more
Jun 07, 2022 rated it did not like it
I’m not sure if it’s just the translations, but I don’t understand a word he’s saying. I’ll just stick to Marx who is clear and concise.
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In 1820, Friedrich Engels was born in Germany into a wealthy family. Managing a branch of his father's business in Manchester, England, from 1842-1845, Engels became appalled at the poverty of the workers. He wrote his first socialist work, Conditions of the Working Class in England. After their meeting in 1844, Engels and Karl Marx became lifelong colleagues. While co-writing an article with Enge ...more

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“Thus, as far as he is a scientific man, as far as he knows anything, he is a materialist; outside his science, in spheres about which he knows nothing, he translates his ignorance into Greek and calls it agnosticism.” 52 likes
“The materialist conception of history starts from the proposition that the production of the means to support human life and, next to production, the exchange of things produced, is the basis of all social structure; that in every society that has appeared in history, the manner in which wealth is distributed and society divided into classes or orders is dependent upon what is produced, how it is produced, and how the products are exchanged.” 5 likes
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