Is this a socialist moment?

Is this a socialist moment? I hear this question when I travel. So here is the answer I usually give when asked at public meetings.

It depends on how we understand a "socialist moment." If it means that the American people in their majority are insisting on a socialism transformation of society, there is little evidence for it.

People are angry and frustrated; they want change; they are ready to struggle for jobs and relief, health care, public education, housing assistance and so on. But are they demanding a system change, a socialist society? Not yet. To say otherwise seems like a stretch to me.

If, however, what is meant is that many more people are ready to give socialism a hearing, not reject it out of hand, then I would say, "Yes, this is a ‘socialist moment'." This is no small thing. It wasn't that long ago that socialism didn't have much currency among broad sections of the American people. It was considered a failed model, undemocratic and worse, a bankrupt idea - something best consigned to history.

In fact, the ideologues of capitalism thought they had buried the socialist idea once and for all, but to their chagrin the genie is once again out of the bottle, thanks in large measure to the conditions buffeting the domestic and world economy. It is not economic determinism to say that force of economic circumstance and the crisis of everyday living for tens of millions is shaping and reshaping mass thinking, although in contradictory ways.

Communists and socialists should welcome the rebirth of this dialogue on socialism and eagerly participate in it.

Like everything else our vision of socialism needs to adjust to new conditions (economic crisis) and challenges (economic and environmental sustainability, nuclear disarmament, world poverty and inequality) as well as examine the experience of socialism in the 20th century.

After all, there are no universal models into which every country fits. The cloth of socialist experience is a beautiful weave of many colors and threads, not a drab monotonous gray. Each country fashions a socialism that bears a deep imprint of its own history, politics, economics and culture.

The experience of successful and unsuccessful socialist revolutions and societies has to be filtered carefully into our national context. In no case can those experiences be uncritically and simplistically imported.

As Gus Hall, the former leader of the Communist Party USA, said on many occasions, "We are for Bill of Rights Socialism," referring to our nation's Bill of Rights, which in his view would be preserved and expanded upon in a socialist society in the United States.



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  • I don't want social security to become privatize and become another Lincoln Thrift in CA and bankrupted because of a GOP greedyness.

    Posted by William Crum, 01/27/2010 12:52pm (6 years ago)

  • It would take a lot to overcome the bais against the
    concept of the very word socialism in the USA.

    Posted by Bob Hayes, 01/26/2010 4:07pm (6 years ago)

  • I like it where Sam has gone with this "moment". Clear deep and yet simple language.

    Posted by Gabe Falsetta, 01/26/2010 12:32pm (6 years ago)

  • Gary,

    Reading through the comments sections of these articles you make up excuses for everything.

    As you know we aren't talking about not printing books by Gus Hall. You know this.

    As you fully know we are talking about the leadership of this party taking the books written by Gus Hall that had already been published with the dues and contributions from party members and friends and tossing them in dumpsters and selling them cheaply to internet book sellers for peanuts instead of even offering them to party members first.

    I refer to Working Class USA and the Gus Hall Bibliography.

    These same leaders then deny the right to others to reprint the writings, pamphlets and books by Gus Hall on the internet citing copyright claims.

    These same leaders then turn around and publish their views that aren't even in keeping with the party program with our dues and contributions from friends while telling us there isn't enough money to publish a weekly newspaper or even print leaflets.

    The book Can Capitalism Last? by Daniel Rubin is an insult to the CPUSA and Marxist-Leninist everywhere.

    International Publishers has published a book with the author stating in a disclaimer he doesn't necessarily share the political views of the publisher so your claiming financial hardship does not address the problem.

    A million dollars is spent renovating the headquarters and you claim poverty.

    An entire apparatus is financed to support Barack Obama when it is as much acknowledged that these coalition partners don't even want us.

    The leaders claimed they had to get rid of Gus Hall's publications because they needed the space.

    I am on the NC and I know what is going on as do others. We don't need your excuses. We need facts and explanations.

    There is a reason why the present leadership doesn't want international guests at the upcoming national convention. They don't want Marxist-Leninist from around the world seeing for themselves what is going on.

    80 delegates and even fewer observers at a national convention of a Communist Party working in a country of 300 million people.

    There were more people sitting on hay bales in the barn representing more people at the founding of the Communist Party in Bridgeman, Michigan.

    No Gary books and publications were not just dropped another strawman term you picked up from Sam Webb. These books were dumped.

    We could have put a membership card and an invitation to join the CPUSA in the books and handed them out to working people expressing an interest in solving their problems and in socialism.

    These leaders have no interest in building the Communist Party USA. They want to change the name. They want another kind of organization. Rick Nagin has stated this for all to hear.

    Gus Hall's books were dumped and now these same people want to trash the CPUSA.

    No more excuses.

    Posted by waitingfortherighttime, 01/26/2010 10:29am (6 years ago)

  • Why are our numbers few in the last few year?

    Posted by Red Grandad, 01/26/2010 9:08am (6 years ago)

  • An excellent question with an answer tailored to the democratic traditions of our country.
    Since President Obama's election millions of people have heard the ultra right accuse the President of being a socialist. Health Care Reform has been attacked as socialist. Any regulation of the economy or enforcement of anti-trust laws is vehemently condemned as "socialistic" measures. So I agree that we sholud engage in the dialogue on socialism because thus far it has been very onesided. Perhaps we should even promote forums inviting workers and the participation of mass organizations fighting for democracy and peace.

    We loose not one once of integrity by admiting that our movement has made mistakes providing we also show people how we have learned from our mistakes and made progress.
    "We are for Bill of Rights Socialism", is also a way to reclaim our revolutionary heritage which is deeply imbeded in the democratic struggles of the workers, farmers, the small shop keepers, the racially and nationally oppressed that began with the birth of our country.

    Posted by Frank Chapman, 01/26/2010 5:03am (6 years ago)

  • Talking about Gus Hall. Can you explain why you dumped all of his publications?

    Posted by , 01/25/2010 5:20pm (6 years ago)

  • It is quite a shame that long discredited cold war notions still effect our national discourse. In many cases I belive it keeps our nation from very effective solution models used in similar times of crisis in the 20th century.
    To wit, if green energy is a goal and and job/energy cost soulution, where are the rural/community based co-ops?
    If social safety net programs exist to be expanded in times of crisis, why are they not expanded to a maximum level now? Why have not new programs been enacted?
    The model of Capitalist corperate largess, and that of privatization at every turn has utterly failed the average middle income, and working class American.
    ( My observation is that "the middle class" as it was known died off years ago. Middle income, working class, people now apply the term to themselves incorrectly)
    Times as they are are compelling a dialog toward more collectivist,cooperative, and socialist models as a solution, despite the built-in bias against them.
    When the dogma and model of one's society has utterly and complely failed all but the most wealty among us, despite thier best efforts "hard work" or level of sucesss, what other solution can be arrived at?

    Posted by Randall Smith, 01/25/2010 5:11pm (6 years ago)

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