What if the people don’t want socialism?

BY: Scott Hiley| October 21, 2020
What if the people don’t want socialism?
QIf the CPUSA were to be in charge of the American government and economy and establish Communism in the United States, let's say after 4 years the people and the government want to reinstate capitalism again, would you let the people go back to capitalism or you would you deny their request and stay Communist and repress the people even more? —Stan
AHi, Stan, and thanks for writing.

Before thinking about the transition from socialism back to capitalism, it makes sense to look at how we understand the transition to socialism in the first place.

Getting to socialism will require more than an election. Imagine CPUSA won majorities in every federal and state legislative chamber and took the White House and every governorship—even then, building socialism would be a monumental task.

(By the way, to dispel a misconception: we do not see ourselves ruling a single-party state, as in the Soviet or Chinese models.  The multi-party system is part of the democratic traditions of this country, and socialism has to be built on those.)

Socialism, for us, means working class power.  It means taking economic and political power away from billionaires and putting it in the hands of the people.  It will require huge changes in the economy, like putting most of the current private sector under public control.  It will also require changing our political institutions to make sure that money can’t buy power.  It will take time, but the end result will be huge step forward for democracy.

In other words, we don’t see socialism as a checklist of policies to be imposed by a Communist government.  It just means that the 99% will hold the power that the 1% now holds.  What is done with that power, how it is used, rests with the working class.  So the question isn’t really, “what if the people want to go back to capitalism?” It’s more, “what do they want socialism to look like?”

Certainly, some of the people—mostly of the billionaire and hundred-millionaire variety—won’t be very happy under socialism.  They will have to give up a significant portion of their wealth and the undemocratic power that goes with it.  No more lobbyists, no more off the record lunches with senators, no more privately funded think tanks and hired intellectuals to push their agenda...  They’ll have no more and no fewer rights than anyone else. And you know what they say: when you’re used to privilege, equality feels like oppression.

History suggests that they will try to seize power again, both by legal electoral means and by terrorist violence.  (This process is usually called “counter-revolution.”) As we saw recently in Bolivia, where the people restored the MAS party of Evo Morales after a U.S.-backed coup, the best defense against counter-revolution is a people united in the fight for democracy.

The bottom line is, socialism can only flourish with the support and active participation of the majority of the people.

Hope this helps.

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