Is CPUSA a democratic socialist party?

BY: Scott Hiley| January 20, 2021
Is CPUSA a democratic socialist party?
QIt sounds like you're actually a democratic socialist party. Am I wrong?
AHi Jeffrey,

Yes, you are wrong about us being a democratic socialist party.  Or maybe not.  It depends on what you mean by democratic socialist.  We are a party deeply engaged in the struggle for democracy, of every kind.  In our understanding, democracy can only go so far under capitalism, which is based the coercive power of property over labor. Therefore, the struggle for democracy must eventually take the form of a revolutionary struggle to replace capitalism with socialism, placing economic and political power in the hands of the working class majority through expanded democratic institutions.

The term democratic socialism is not one we generally use.  I can’t speak for other party members, but it has always struck me as a sort of propaganda move, a way of saying “socialism... but don’t worry, not the bad kind.”  Some of our members are active in DSA, as are people from many other leftist tendencies and organizations.

In our analysis, we usually draw a distinction between social-democratic and socialist orientations.

A social-democratic party is one that seeks to achieve many of the goals of socialism (racial and gender equality, advanced protections for workers, sustainable development based on a high degree of central planning) within the basic structures of capitalist production: private ownership of business, generating profits from wage labor.   Social goals are accomplished through regulation and redistribution: heavy taxation of profits to fund social programs, strong legal protections for collective bargaining, workplace safety, etc.    We might think of them as “after market” modifications.

socialist party, on the other hand, recognizes that the interests of capitalists and the interests of workers are ultimately irreconcilable.  The overthrow of capitalism may not happen this week; indeed, it may be quite some time before the working class and its allies have the unity, organization, and political experience to undertake the revolutionary transformation of society, getting rid of of the domination of property over labor and organizing production based on human need rather than the generation of profits. This transformation is necessary if we are to save ourselves from fascism, environmental catastrophe, imperialist war, and the host of other crises intrinsic to the capitalist mode of production.

CPUSA is a revolutionary party of the working class.  Our goal is socialism. We embrace and struggle for any reform, however partial, that advances the cause of democracy.  But we do so with the understanding that those struggles are part of chipping away at the rights of the capitalist class and building the movement that will abolish it once and for all.


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