Ask the Communists: What do you think about the relationship between communism and democracy?

Q: What do you think about the relationship between communism and democracy? Why do Communists believe the government should regulate everything while democracy gives people the option to do as they wish?

A: We think there is a direct integral relationship between socialism, communism and democracy. Extending the definition of democracy to include economic democracy gives people more rights. Socialism, by guaranteeing the essentials of life such as free health care, free public education and the right to a job, will mean that working people will have more time and energy to devote to social involvement and activism — the essence of real democracy. Removing the power of the corporations, their big-money campaign contributions and lobbyists from the electoral and legislative system will result in more democracy, allowing workers and grassroots activists to campaign and be elected to office. By giving our elected representatives control over whether or not transnational corporations can shift capital and jobs out of our country, the people will be exercising real power over their lives and livelihoods.

However, as experience has shown, democracy is not automatic even with a socialist revolution. Expanding democracy will require struggle and participation of millions of people.

In our view, socialism and communism don’t mean that a central government regulates everything. In fact, socialism means developing new bottom-up grassroots structures for vastly expanded participation by ordinary people in every aspect of civic and economic life.

We want to expand the political democracy and freedoms that we have now, which are limited and undermined in many ways. The reality of our capitalist country is that most people don’t have the option to do as they wish — millions live in poverty, without health care or adequate housing, without the ability to send their children to college, burdened by debt, in an increasingly degraded environment. Every year, tens of thousands lose their jobs when the companies they work for export their jobs (something the workers have no control over, something the government actually encourages and subsidizes!).

By putting people’s needs before corporate greed, ending the domination of the wealthy and big corporations over our society, socialism will take democracy to a much higher level in our country.

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.