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The philosophy of science basis of the claim of Marxism, and in the Soviet Union, Marxism-Leninism, to be a science is based its conceptions of dialectical materialism and historical materialism. Although the influence of Marxist thought especially in the social sciences is great, there are no communities of theoretical or applied scientists or technicians based on Marxism. This contrasts with those for disciplines which do have established and credible claims to being theoretical sciences or engineering disciplines, the planning functions of the current communist states notwithstanding.
The most one could say is that socialism, e.g. Marxism, has, at least historically, been a current which finds expression in various scientific disciplines such as mathematical economics, sociology, etc. Socialism and Marxism are thus better described as theoretical frameworks for understanding and analyzing the social, economic and political world.
The term also refers to an important philosophical difference between proponents of natural law, static human nature and static equilibrium (such as classical liberals, libertarians, social liberals and some early socialist thought). Specifically, these philosophies are based on metaphysical conceptions of a "natural" order of liberty that exists irrespective of civilizations' material, technological and productive capabilities. While scientific socialists see economic laws and various forms of social arrangements as context-based (relative to their specific stage of human development), and thus relative to specific material conditions, these critics view them as static and absolute moral values.
Attempts to engineer a new society via methods for doing so such as those proposed by B.F. Skinner (1949), and others with scientifically informed and inspired creators such as the early Israeli Kibbutzim and others on a small scale are known but in practicecommunist states of the 20th century did not and do not use scientific methods in a substantive way for this purpose. The era slogan of the current CCP leader, Hu Jintao, "Scientific Development" does not so far appear to be an exception to this.Contributions such as those of Leontief and others were made at a high macroeconomic level or within fields such as Operations Research on a microeconomic level but within a capitalist context.
The philosopher of science Karl Popper in his book The Open Society and Its Enemies characterized Scientific Socialism as a pseudoscience. He argues that its method is what he calls "historicism": the method of analyzing historical trends and deriving universal laws from them. He criticizes this approach as unscientific as its claims cannot be tested and, in particular, are not subject to being disproven.