Difference Between Socialism and Progressivism

Various political ideologies have been shaping society from times immemorial. Among the most revered ones, socialism and progressivism never go together.


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They always differ in the mode of propagation and thus, the authoritative group in society fails to live up to the expectations of the common people. The deepest versions make use of the best principles of both these types to form a specific type of self-explanatory system of law and order.

Socialism vs Progressivism

The difference between socialism and progressivism is the developmental aspect – socialism is to exercise control for fuelling development while progressivism is a lenient version of communism. They can be included in any manifesto for successive implementation of unorthodox rules with immediate effect in all the concerned areas. It is essential to keep them distinct for the betterment of execution strategies at the state level.

Socialism vs Progressivism

The basic principles of socialism imply the transfer of collective control to the state authorities with the full support of all types of workers. They wish to use the people for increasing production as much as possible.

After a short span of time, revolutions become inevitable due to the large-scale exploitation of business leaders. Apart from this, actual freedom is also crippled in the guise of many fake promises for better results and added benefits.

One of the most essential aspects of progressivism is the strive for improvement. Even if the prospects are bleak, this school of thought propagates greater interest in less amount of time.

The economic and social aspects should be balanced for the active inclusion of views from the youth. A progressive society is akin to a country developing with the motive of achieving a particular socio-economic standard.

Comparison Table

Parameters of ComparisonSocialismProgressivism
DefinitionIt is a mode of governance that aims at the overall development of society by the control exercised solely by the state, irrespective of the means of productionIt is a mode of governance aimed at improving the existing conditions of people and enhancing the status of society by employing advanced measures in all fields
EtymologyIt has been derived from the Latin word “socialis” which means “companionship”, especially between alliesIt has been derived from the French word “progressif” which means “to strive for change”
Key Political ThinkersRobert Owen and V LeninFlorence Kelly and John Dewey
Main Theory PropagatedDeveloping theory of cooperative management which includes public ownershipMarxist theory of communism
Respective InterrelationSocialism can never be progressiveProgressivism can be socialist

What is Socialism?

Socialism is the state-controlled form of government in which the people have negligible control over their finances and overall life at large. It came to be known as an authoritative form of government due to the cruelties meted out to the hardworking laborers.

Once socialist thought reaches the core of authority, everyone becomes socially handicapped. Socialist states can be governed by either of the following exclusive types – libertarian socialism or democratic socialism.

Irrespective of the categorization, the complete hold of the state is essential. If the main focus is on the economic aspect, the common populace might become overly dependent. This dependence leads to mental degradation and productivity stoops quite low.

Some drawbacks of such a stringent socialist approach are the antithesis of statism, bare-minimum provision of individual freedom, and lack of performance-based incentives.

Due to these reasons, motivation is not reignited among the masses and ultimately, profits plummet to very low levels with time. Socialism is best known for the balancing of vast roles scrutinized by the capitalist school of thought.


What is Progressivism?

Progressivism is the most informative approach to society which incorporates changes in the right direction while maintaining the existing standards. The main enemies are the orthodox people who cannot comply with such thoughts.

Ultimately, progressivism helps topple down all the restraints as people come out in favor of such a helpful approach. The main outcome of progressive thought is negatively affected due to the clash between progressive thought and the authority’s negation of socialism at all times.

Universal health care has been one of the most revered forms and the claim for free education is also the basic doctrine of progressivism-friendly nations.

All progressive thinkers have been known to support social programs as the main instrument to tackle the grievances caused by progressives approaches.

Mass involvement is a must as progressivism cannot flourish without optimum levels of support from all sects of society, irrespective of the political inclination. It is also referred to as liberal socialism at times.


Main Differences Between Socialism And Progressivism

  1. Socialism is the political ideology related to state-owned industries while progressivism aims at betterment of all for the overall development of the state in all streams.
  2. The word socialism is considered to be synonymous with companionship but progressivism cannot work without an intentional formulation of positive changes in the existing society.
  3. Main propagators of socialism include Robert Owen and V Lenin. The political ideology of progressivism was initiated by Florence Kelly and John Dewey.
  4. The theory of concentrating power is mainly used to surcharge socialist states. On the other hand, progressive nations aim at achieving all the Marxian principles without completely delving into the restrospect of the communist school of thought.
  5. As far as the exclusivity is concerned, only socialism is exclusive among the two. Progressivism can even by incorporated as a supportive doctrine for better implementation of all the pre-decided principles.


  1. https://www.jstor.org/stable/1908127
  2. https://www.aei.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/07/Democracy-at-the-Polls_text.pdf#page=37
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