What is Socialism?
Capitalism has failed the working class of the United States and the entire world. Increasingly desperate conditions for the vast majority—mass unemployment, poverty, indebtedness, ever declining wages—are combined with the most fantastic levels of wealth. CEOs make more in a day than their workers make in an entire year, and hedge fund managers make more in an hour than most Americans make in their entire lives.
At the root of all the problems of modern society—inequality, war, the attack on democratic rights—is a social and economic system, capitalism, in which everything is subordinated to the interests of a tiny elite. The alternative to capitalism is socialism: the reorganization of all economic life under the democratic control of the working class, to serve social needs, not private profit.
Socialism means genuine social equality, on a world scale. It means that satisfying the basic rights of the working class—the right to a job, education, health care, a secure retirement, a decent standard of living, a world without war—is the aim of society, not the enrichment of the financial elite. Socialism means the extension of democracy to the foundation of all of society: the economic process. It means the control of this process according to a scientific plan for the general improvement of humanity.
Socialism will be achieved only through the establishment of workers’ power. This will require a difficult struggle. But the “final goal” of socialism—the abolition of economic exploitation, all forms of inequality, the oppression of one group of human beings by another group, and, consequently, the removal of all restraints on individual creativity and the flowering of human culture—is not the outcome of a mythical quest. The revolution that will lay the political basis for socialism is prepared in the course of countless struggles by the working class, in the US and internationally, to defend its interests and oppose the efforts of the financial and corporate aristocracy to impose the burden of the crisis on the masses. Socialism is not a gift to be given to the working class. It must be fought for and won by the working class itself.
What is Socialism?
The program of the Socialist Equality Party starts not with what capitalism can “afford,” but with what the working class requires. Our program is not tailored to what small-minded opportunists and pragmatists may consider immediately “achievable.” What can or cannot be achieved, in any given situation, is determined in struggle. Those not prepared to fight will never win anything.
The SEP insists that everyone has basic social rights, necessary for life in a complex modern society. We demand that everyone have access to a job with a livable income, that health care and education must be provided as a social right. Young people have the right to a future, and we demand the abolition of student debt. We call for the immediate withdrawal of all US troops from wherever they are stationed abroad, and an end to the drive by the ruling class to restructure the world in its interests. We call for the defense of democratic rights, and the abolition of the police-state infrastructure built up under both Bush and Obama.
The demands raised by the SEP are not separate from the goal of socialist revolution. Rather, each demand by its very nature raises a challenge to the material interests of the corporate aristocrats. As they encounter the resistance of corporations and the capitalist state to their legitimate demands, working people will see ever more clearly the need for the revolutionary transformation of society. The fight for these demands strengthens the working class, unifies its disparate struggles, and in each case poses the necessity of taking political power and establishing socialism in the United States, as part of the socialist reorganization of the world economy.