Ask the Communists

Q: I agree with some of the Communists’ ideas, but how do you convince others to work for the common good?

A: The question you ask is a crucial one. There is no simple answer, and there certainly is no quick answer.

Our approach is to work with all those fighting against the ravages of the system, against oppression and exploitation. Many who are active in important struggles do not yet see the need to replace capitalism, and we Communists don’t think we can preach our way to socialism. We have to be with people where they are at, involved in their struggles, as well as advocating socialism as the fundamental solution.

We think that we need to appeal not only to people’s moral outrage against the crimes of capitalism, but also to their self-interest. A society that provides health care, free education, improved social programs, and a peace policy will be one in which workers are better off in important ways.

The battle for unity, against racism, against all the divisions that the ruling class promotes and profits from, is crucial. Again, this is not just a moral question, it is a matter of self-interest. European American workers win more for themselves when they unite with African American workers. Citizens who organize a union win more when they welcome immigrants. Male workers win more when they fight for equal pay and decent working conditions for women workers. We advocate a real unity, one based on support for the special demands of all oppressed groups, not in a paternalistic way, but by mutual support, solidarity, and struggle.

Another aspect of how we see moving ahead is to find ways to link the struggles for reforms today with the battle for socialism in the future. Movements, whether union, civil rights, environmental, for extending democracy, for peace, etc., run up against the system, against the “rights” and power of corporate private property that trample on the rights, well-being and livelihood of individuals and society as a whole. Over time these movements will understand that replacing the capitalist system with one that enshrines people before profits is a necessity.

I’m sorry that I can’t offer any quick way to accomplish this — in order to be able to fundamentally transform society, we need to win a majority to see the need for it. We see revolution as a democratic process, and there is no shortcut past the slow task of gaining the trust, support and involvement of millions of workers, no matter how long it takes.

This doesn’t mean that socialism is only a far distant dream. Societies can change quickly when the conditions are ripe, when unity is built, when the working class is in the forefront of the struggles, when millions understand who the enemy is and how to build powerful coalitions to fundamentally transform society for the better.

This is the first of a regular column. We invite readers to submit questions about the Communist Party USA, its basic policies, and a Marxist viewpoint on current social issues. The answers are provided by Marc Brodine, chair of the Washington State Communist Party. Questions can be sent to cpusa@cpusa.org.

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