Hey! I'm not really very educated in the differences between political sub-groups like the ones mentioned in your blog. I think I at least get the basic ideas/stances behind the names but I'm not positive--would you mind laying out these differences for me? Particularly of the leftist groups. I love your blog by the way!
No problem, I’ll try to give a basic lowdown.
Socialism is the broad term that encompasses many different leftist systems. It is an organizational mode beyond capitalism that seeks to democratize society’s infrastructure as much as possible so that human needs can be actively met, with workers controlling workplaces, tenants controlling collective housing, and people in general controlling the economy.
Within that umbrella, a variety of sub-groups crop up. Socialism can involve government or it can be stateless. In general, advocates favor democratic planning, but as you’ll see below there are groups that favor markets. There are also a variety of views on money.
Communism, in the Marxian understanding, is a post-scarcity system beyond even socialism where social stratification, the state, and money wither away. Post-scarcity and common ownership/control over the means of production is likely to have this effect.
All consistent anarchisms are socialist in practice. Anarchism means self-organizing societies without the state, rulers, and classes, and that means the things I described above as elements of socialism. Anarcho-capitalism is not a form of anarchism because capitalism is a class-based system that involves private property, a concept that requires a state to enforce it.
Mutualism is a socialist system that utilizes markets for allocation. Think worker cooperatives in a market economy. This is beyond capitalism because labor is not subordinated to capital, and those who use or contribute in turn become the owners. Certain strands of “market anarchism” advocate similar proposals.
“Democratic socialism” and social democracy are philosophies that advocate reforms in the capitalist system, or in some cases they advocate a slow transition to a socialist society. Often, they will defang what socialism means by equating it to a bigger welfare state within a larger capitalist society, alongside subsidized education and collective bargaining and the like. There are intense debates within the leftist camp over whether or not social democracy sets up the conditions for genuine socialist ideas to take root, and I believe those debates are worth having. Ultimately, I believe reforms should always be understood as stepping stones; elites understand them as mechanisms to keep capitalism afloat, and if those reforms aren’t pushed beyond their basic implications that’s how we should view them too.
There are many other important ideas within leftist thought that I left out, so I strongly recommend exploring a bit further. The internet is a super helpful resource that helped me gather most of my own knowledge, alongside books and conversations with admin Greg.
Thanks for the support, by the way! =)