Convention Discussion: The Road to Socialism – Winning hearts and minds

 
BY: Stephen Grima| May 2, 2014

Submitted by Stephen Grima, Detroit, MI

The United States of America is perhaps the most unique country in the entire world. Dubbed the “melting pot”, the USA is the most culturally diverse nation that has existed since the Ancient Roman Empire. The USA doesn’t have a national language, state religion, or one single cultural heritage that can be identified as its own. It is in this cultural diversity that can be the fertilizer for the growth of the communist movement, since communism’s ideology can be accepted by all since it stands for absolute equality throughout the social system.

Winning the “hearts and minds” of Americans is a catch phrase that has been used in American politics throughout history, and with good cause. The concept of winning the hearts and minds is the primary strategy in winning a political election. If a politician can “win over” the hearts and minds of voters they will be successful in their campaign.  

There are two parts of that concept, winning the heart and the mind. The Party must be successful at both if it ever wants to grow into a successful political machine. This paper will attempt to outline possible reflection points and possible discussion topics at the upcoming convention.   

Changing the Heart

Unfortunately, Communism was done a great disservice by the Cold War. America produced the image that communists were out to oppress freedom and liberty. That image is very prevalent in this country today, especially amongst Americans born before the early 1970’s. They remember how Vietnam killed so many Americans and how they had to hide in fear from the nuclear threat of communism.  

Those of in the Communist Party know otherwise. They know that Communism stands for equality, environmental stewardship, and the establishment of principles that put people before profitable gains. Yet the problem remains, how to change the minds of mainstream America towards ideals that most Americans would value. One could very well assume that a majority of Americans value human rights, environmental protection, equality for all, and support for the poor and marginalized because it is in our very nature to help one other. If one was to observe the response of Americans to disasters like September 11th Terrorist Attacks, Hurricane Katrina, and other national emergencies then one could come to such an assumption.  

Capitalistic society has destroyed this concept in everyday life. Sure Americans reach out to one another when a tornado rips through a neighborhood, but what about the thousands of poor people living under bridges, or those who are working yet don’t have wages to make ends meet? These same Americans who were so willing to give are now bound by the capitalistic lie and hold that the poor and destitute are somehow there by their own fault. In a society dominated by capitalism the losers of the system should not be helped because they were not ruthless or lucky enough to fight their way to the top.  

In order to change the minds of Americans, the Communist party must first change the hearts of Americans. Members of the Party, in general, were not drawn to communism by some intellectual argument but rather the fact that the nature of communism appealed to their humanity. If a person’s heart is hardened to new ideas or concepts then their mind will never be changed.

So how does the Communist Party change the hearts of Americans? It is not an easy task for sure, the party is small and the task before it is enormous.  Average Americans need to realize that they can have the same rights and freedoms under Communism as they do under the current economic system. The Party needs to show the world that this is the 21st Century and the Communist Party of the United States is not the dark figure of Soviet Russia.

Americans are also very “me” oriented. They tend to do what’s best for themselves and/or their immediate family. This includes possession oriented. Communism’s image over the past 60 years has been to make it seem like communists want to take that all away from them and give it to someone else or to make people equally poor.

Does the communist party say that Americans cannot own stuff? Certainly not, even in Soviet Russia people had personal possessions. Yet that is the idea Right Winged media outlets give the general public. Americans need to realize that communism seeks not to take away but to give. Americans can still go to the movies, sporting events, and concerts under a communist society. They must realize under communism they can still have a house and car. They can still go on vacations and go hunting. The Party must not be seen as a Robin Hood figure but rather the ideals the party supports should inspire others to give of themselves for the betterment of society.

It will be the actions of the party members themselves that will warm people up to the idea of communism. When the heart of a person is “warmed” then their mind and beliefs are more apt to change.  

Changing the Mind

As people explore the concepts of Communism the party can lose potential members if it is not ready. The CPUSA must have clear political beliefs that are easy to understand. It must have clear political goals both on a small scale and a large scale. It must have the general consensus of the membership. “This is what the party stands for and this is what I stand for”. People should want to join the party because it mirrors a majority of the political, social, and moral beliefs. If the party does not have clear goals and beliefs established then potential members will be turned off to Communism due to infighting of the Party members and indecision of the leaders.

The Party must also be realistic as well as idealistic. If this were a perfect world, idealism and realism would be one in the same, as such it is not a perfect world and the Party leadership must understand that. The idealistic communist society has different objectives than the realistic communist society. This may mean making some concessions in idealism to Americans while building a communist society. American politics has always been dominated by compromise and that is not a quality easily given up. Compromise is in every aspect of society, marriages, work environments, social settings. Idealistic hardliners can turn off new members to the CPUSA if they are unwilling to compromise as the party works to establish itself.

A person’s mind is not easily swayed even if they are warmed up to new ideas, it seems to be a norm in the United States that the older one gets generally the more “set in their ways” they become. This makes it even more difficult to bring them around to a drastic change in their belief structure. It would seem to prove a daunting task to convert a middle aged person who has been Republican their whole life than it would to sway a young adult who is fed up with the current political system. By bringing in young adults into its membership, the Party will have an easier time throwing off the Soviet era stigma that surrounds the word Communism.  

Communists must have patience. Communists are seen as radicals with radical ideas, but with the right goals and strategies and with a little patience they will start a revolution, slow as it may be, that will change the world. The belief that the Party, together, is stronger and more lasting than the individuals that make it up rally people to believe they are a part of something greater than themselves

Conclusion

In closing, the Communist Party has great potential to change the course of America. It has the chance to show that Communism is not a “failed experiment” but rather a useful form of economics and governance to promote social justice, environmental stewardship, and freedom and equality for everyone. At the convention there should be a discussion of strategies the Party can take and activities the Party can do to work at changing the Hearts and Minds of the American people. If the Party can accomplish this, then we can make the world a better place for everyone through peace and solidarity.   


The views and opinions expressed in the Convention Discussion are those of the author alone. The Communist Party is publishing these views as a service to encourage discussion and debate. Those views do not necessarily reflect the views of the Communist Party, its leading bodies or staff members. The CPUSA Constitution, Program, and all its existing policies remain in effect during the Convention discussion period and during the Convention.

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