What is/are the difference(s) between socialism and communism?
As far as I understand it, socialism is a branch of communism. But where do the distinctions lie?
In addition, would you say that socialism/ communism are primarily political, or primarily economic(al) systems? Please try to use the former Soviet Union in your answer, but other examples are ok with me, too.
I would say that the primary difference between socialism and communism lies in the focus of economic and political orders. What I mean by this is that the emphasis in socialism is the driving force behind an economic state of affairs where the free market's private element is supplanted with a public one. Communism is seen as more of a political reality, whose exact execution in reality is something that is more akin to control by a person or person representing a group of people or party. It seems that socialism can be used as a good way to critique capitalism, whereas communism pretty much rejects capitalism in all of its forms. I am not sure if the Soviet Union can constitute as a true example of socialism because, as noted in the previous post, it did not follow through the stages of economic development that allow the understanding of socialism/ communism to fully develop. In this line of thought, there has to be a natural progression to capitalism and an understanding of its rejection by the people. The Soviet Union never progressed through this stage.
Follow the link below for a discussion of the differences between socialism and communism from a Marxist perspective.
I would not say socialism is a branch of communism, at least not in Marxist thought. To Marxists, socialism is a step that has to come between capitalism and communism. Under socialism, a country can keep a democratic form of government, for example, and just have it be run by socialists rather than by capitalists. They would just use the existing system.
Under communism, the whole system that was in use under capitalism is blown up and something completely new is put in place.
It is hard to talk about these in terms of the Soviet Union because it did not really replace a capitalist system. The Soviets called themselves socialist, though, because they needed to have a big system of government. They supposedly believed that they would not need that government after true communism was achieved.