Socialism: the next chapter of the American story

BY:Michael Kuznetsov| May 15, 2024
Socialism: the next chapter of the American story


This piece is a contribution to the Pre-Convention Discussion for our 32nd National Convention. During Pre-Convention Discussion, all aspects of the party’s program, strategy, and tactics are up for consideration and debate. The ideas presented here are those of the author or authors alone, and do not necessarily reflect the positions of the Communist Party USA, its membership, or their elected leadership bodies. — Editors

As workers in the U.S., our nation is fundamentally shaped by revolutions. Each major turning point in its history represents a seismic shift towards greater equality, justice, and efficiency in its social and economic structures. In this lineage, the emergence of socialism can be seen not as a radical departure, but as the next chapter in the American story – a third revolution continuing the nation’s revolutionary and progressive traditions.

The first revolution, the War for Independence, was a struggle for self-determination and democratic governance, breaking away from the shackles of colonial rule. It laid the groundwork for a society based on the ideals of liberty and the rights of citizens. This was a revolutionary shift in class power, replacing monarchical and feudal power with a proto-capitalist republic. This revolution did not fully rectify many of the injustices of the time. Many historians are correct to point out the complex array of interests which coincided with this revolution, including those who stood to gain from the perpetuation of slavery and expropriation of indigenous lands. Nonetheless, Lenin described this as “one of those great, really liberating, really revolutionary wars of which there have been so few.”

The second revolution, the Civil War, was another profound transformation. It was not just a battle over the unity of the nation, but a revolution that overthrew the ‘slave power.’ This conflict and its outcomes paved the way for a restructured society, one stepping closer towards the ideal of equality enshrined in the nation’s founding documents. It represented a significant shift towards a more equitable class structure and the growth of productive forces. In its aftermath, a revolutionary period of Reconstruction saw a surge in organized labor and radical collective action across the country to push towards the sovereignty of labor over capital. While this advance of the working class ultimately did not succeed, ending with Jim Crow neo-confederate restoration, it laid the foundation for a revolutionary working class that would continue to organize and gather strength in the period that followed, such as the eight hour workday, the abolition of child labor, and many other important reforms increasing the power of the working class as the primary stakeholder in American industry.

In this historical context, socialism emerges as the third revolution. It’s a continuation of this progressive trajectory, aiming to address the systemic inequalities and inefficiencies still present in our society. This revolution seeks to realign the nation’s economic and social policies to ensure a fair distribution of wealth and opportunity for all, building upon the foundations of democracy and equality. Just as the revolutions of our country’s past were qualitative leaps forward which occurred after gradual evolution and escalation of contradictions working themselves out over time, so too does our country’s socialist revolution premise itself on an extended period of gradual evolution: this is the history of our country since Reconstruction. When our country makes a decisive shift towards a new social order in which the working class becomes the sovereign master class over its collective resources and means of production, hindsight will give greater clarity into how the dramas of the 20th and 21st century, through their twists and turns, were arced towards this inevitable historical outcome.

Socialism, in the U.S. context, does not reject the nation’s identity; rather, it seeks to end its hypocrisies and fulfill its promises. It aims to build on the best traditions of America – the pursuit of freedom, equality, and the right to a dignified life. This vision acknowledges that true democracy and socialism are inseparable and that the fulfillment of one is contingent on the realization of the other. Just like the revolutions of our country’s past, socialism will not be an immediate fix-all to the various problems our country faces. The transition to socialism cannot be predicated on comprehensively solving racism, ending patriarchy, or other important questions which can never be fully rectified under the conditions of a capitalist mode of production. From such a qualitative leap, there will follow an extended period of evolution shaped by the new conditions of societal organization which will free people to work out these and other various questions towards a society in which class antagonisms and their various manifestations will cease to characterize society in any remaining form.

While socialism will be uncharted territory in our own country’s history, we benefit from examples from other countries’ histories which provide insightful lessons in both what can be adapted to our own circumstances and what errors and mistakes we wish to avoid. History is rich with examples of countries that have pursued the construction of socialism while significantly shaped by their own nation’s baggage of a reactionary and shameful past. The German Democratic Republic, for instance, confronted its past and actively worked towards building a society that championed democratic values and social welfare. While there were many particularities and mistakes which led to the tragic end of that state’s path to socialism, it nonetheless can provide insightful adaptable examples as a nation which did not try to opportunistically erase or downplay the crimes of its predecessors, but rather actively point these out and consciously work to pursue justice for them as a matter of national unity and identity. This process of reflection and transformation is vital. It allows a nation to acknowledge and learn from its history while moving forward with a renewed commitment to progress and justice.

In putting forward our vision of socialism, we must make clear that the U.S. would not be discarding its past but building upon it. This new chapter would be marked by a conscious effort to address the shortcomings of previous eras and to advance towards a society that truly reflects the ideals of freedom and equality for all its citizens. The third revolution, therefore, is not just a political or economic shift, but a moral and social imperative which our present moment is calling for with greater resonance and clarity, continuing the U.S. tradition of relentless pursuit of a more perfect union.


    Michael Kuznetsov is an activist with the Dallas Forth Worth, TX Club.

Related Articles

For democracy. For equality. For socialism. For a sustainable future and a world that puts people before profits. Join the Communist Party USA today.

Join Now

We are a political party of the working class, for the working class, with no corporate sponsors or billionaire backers. Join the generations of workers whose generosity and solidarity sustains the fight for justice.

Donate Now

CPUSA Mailbag

If you have any questions related to CPUSA, you can ask our experts
  • QHow does the CPUSA feel about the current American foreign...
  • AThanks for a great question, Conlan.  CPUSA stands for peace and international solidarity, and has a long history of involvement...
Read More
Ask a question
See all Answer