A Better World

BY: Beatrice Lumpkin| April 2, 2005
A Better World

I was asked to write on, How do we convince working people of the U.S. that Socialism is the answer? What questions do we need to answer?

I welcome this open discussion about Socialism. Let the dreams multiply!

We have a new and growing opportunity to talk about socialism with our friends and coalition partners. Many are raising the inspired and defiant slogan, A better world is possible! The door is now wide open for us to fill in the dashes. That better world is Socialism!

What is the thinking behind the mass slogan, A better world is possible? It comes from mass disgust with transnational companies greed that pushes capitalist globalization. In the US, this greed has destroyed 60 million better-paying jobs. Most new jobs are low-wage, often minimum wage jobs. Developing countries are being drained by debt payments to the World Bank while the AIDS epidemic grows for lack of affordable medicine. The disastrous Iraq war based on cynical lies has killed hundreds of thousands. Still, President Bush wants to develop new nuclear weapons. There are already huge stores of nuclear weapons. Pollution of the oceans and global warming are reaching crisis levels. So it is no exaggeration to say, A better world is necessary for the very survival of humanity.

Our fellow and sister fighters for a better world are convinced that the present system is evil. But they dont know what could replace it. We need to be part of that discussion, putting forward the vision of socialism. It takes practice to explain socialism. We can get good at it by doing it and learning from our mistakes. And we need popular literature about socialism. (Short sentences, please.)

Some questions to answer: What is Socialism? Socialism takes different forms in different countries. Socialism USA will reflect our own history and culture. But the basic differences between Socialism and Capitalism are universal.

Under Socialism, the key sectors of the economy are publicly owned and democratically run in the interest of the people. Under Capitalism, private individuals (capitalists) own the factories, banks, transportation, and distribution. Private owners run their companies any way they can get away with to increase the bottom line, their private profit. The basic difference is that Socialism puts people first. Capitalism puts profits before people.

Whether capitalist or socialist, governments work to aid and preserve their system. The difference is that socialist governments must be highly democratic to succeed. Socialism requires true empowerment of people to operate the economy and society for the good of the people. In a Socialist USA, the Bill of Rights will be extended to include all basic human rights such as the right to a job, education, health, housing, equality and peace.

In contrast, capitalist governments range from the openly Nazi dictatorship to the limited democracy we have in the United States today. The limits to our democracy restrict our right to vote. Big money decides elections and limits access to the media. Democratic rights are very important to the peoples struggles. Communists defend our democratic rights, such as the right to vote and to join a union. In the course of this struggle, we expose the limits to capitalist democracy and the need for Socialism.

Can capitalism be reformed? Many of our allies, probably most, think that working people can win everything we need under capitalism. This includes jobs, health care, equality, education, safe environment, housing and peace. For example, Cong Jesse Jackson, Jr. proposes winning these goals by amending the US Constitution. In his book A More Perfect Union, he suggests a full employment amendment that includes the right to organize. Other amendments he proposes add the right to health care, affordable housing, good public education, equality, a healthy environment, fair taxes and the right to vote.

When I read these amendments I thought, We need socialism to get all this. The catch to the amendments is that they end with, Congress shall have power to implement this article by appropriate legislation. Without enforcement, amendments remain on paper. Underlying Jacksons proposal is the idea that capitalism can be reformed to serve peoples needs.

While we fight hard for reforms in defense of working people, Communists do not believe that capitalism can be reformed. Experience shows that no workers gains are secure under capitalism. For example, Communists played a large role in winning reforms such as Social Security, Unemployment Compensation and overtime pay. Now we have to fight for them all over again. In the course of the fight to defend our victories, working people learn the limits of gains under capitalism and the need for Socialism.

Reforms do not change the basic exploitation built into the capitalist system. Profit comes from exploiting workers by paying them less than the value they produce. Thats robbery! In the 1990s, net worth of the upper 1% of US incomes went up ten times! Depressions and unemployment are also built into the capitalist system. Thats because working people are not paid enough to buy back products equal to the value that they produce. When products are not sold, factories shut down. Or companies shut down to go where they can pay starvation wages and maximize profit. To win permanent gains, we need a system that puts people before profit, Socialism!

Does Socialism work? Socialism created a vastly better life for the people of the Soviet Union. Health care and education were free to all. The right to a job was guaranteed. Children faced a secure future. Affirmative Action raised the standard of living of formerly oppressed peoples. Soviet Socialism was a huge success but serious mistakes weakened their ability to withstand capitalist attacks. False leaders sold out and overthrew Socialism.

The restoration of Capitalism has brought calamity and death to Russia. In 1994, life expectancy in Russia dropped to 57.7 years. At the same time, Socialist Cubas life expectancy rose to 76 years. In Russia, deaths now outnumber births 17 to 10,

Capitalist Russia is suffering from plagues unknown under socialism. These plagues include AIDS, drug abuse, homelessness, unemployment, prostitution, street violence, and control by the Mob and the World Bank.

In Cuba, Socialism made a huge change for the better. Despite the 44-year US blockade, everyone gets free health care and a good education. Literacy and child mortality rates are better than those of the USA. Culture is flourishing and Cuba is a world leader of biotechnology

Can socialism be won peacefully? When the socialist coalition wins a majority, it is our democratic right to change the system. The Communist Party USA wants a peaceful changeover to Socialism. Unfortunately, ruthless big business has a long history of using violence against working people. The best guarantee for a peaceful transition is to gain overwhelming majority support for the change to Socialism.

We can gain this majority by fighting for labors rights and peoples needs now. Meanwhile, we can expose the failures of capitalism. Unity is the key to victory. And the key to unity is to fight racism, sexism, and for the rights of immigrants. The bedrock of socialism is a highly organized working class. So organizing the unorganized is an essential step towards a Socialist USA.

How would Socialism work here? Socialism USA will reflect our own history. It will not be the same as Cuban or Soviet Socialism. Life will be beautiful because working people will enjoy the abundance they create. There will be an end to exploitation. The Bill-of-Rights will be extended to include the right to a job, health care, education, and equality.

Socialism eliminates the profit motives for racism. There will be no institutional racism. Hate crimes will be eliminated quickly by strict enforcement of the law. Still aggressive campaigns may be needed to wipe out remnants of racism, sexism and similar capitalist thinking. Affirmative action and socialist education will help create true equality among people.

What is the Role of the Communist Party USA? The Communist Party USA has the proud role of advocate of Socialism USA. As a Party based on the working class and its allies, we are immersed in every struggle of the day. But we also see a way out. We can get rid of capitalism and build a new system, socialism. We are the Party of Scientific Socialism, of Marx, Engels, Lenin and on a national scale, of Foster, Ford, Gurley Flynn, Henry Winston, Gus Hall, DuBois and many other heroes. A science must be studied, practiced, and must grow to meet new situations and new knowledge. So we have a big job to do to educate our membership and encourage creative thinking.

Socialism is the Way Out I think back to an early period of red-baiting in our Laundry Workers Union in Brooklyn, NY. It was just before Pearl Harbor. Communists had led laundry workers in a heroic struggle. First the workers drove out the mobsters who controlled the AFL laundry workers union. Then they helped organize thousands into the CIO. They negotiated good union contracts. Despite red baiting, the workers elected a left-led executive committee. Unable to defeat us in an election, the national union leadership just took the local over and removed the elected officers. In our final evaluation, there was doom and gloom in our Party Club. Some feared that all of our hard work was wasted. Then we realized, we had helped educate and moved forward thousands of workers. Our goal was Socialism. It was the only way to end exploitation. Our work was not wasted because the Party had grown and many workers had learned lessons of unity and struggle. Socialism was our light at the end of the tunnel. It showed the way out. It was our duty and pleasure to show other workers that there was a way out.

Educational Papers Series A Communist Party Education Commission project for the pre-convention discussion period leading to the CPUSA 28th National Convention July 13, 2005, Chicago Illinois



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