"Communism" gains ground among Americans

A specter is haunting Americans. About one in 10 of them.

Eleven percent think  "communism" is a "morally superior" system to that which is currently in place in the U.S., and another 13 percent aren't sure, according to a startling new Rasmussen poll, conducted March 12-13.

The poll,  has a margin of error of three percent with a 95 percent level of confidence.

Further, 10 percent say that the "communist system of economics and politics" is better for middle-class Americans, and another 10 percent are undecided. Still, only four percent believe the "communist" economic system to be superior to that of the "free market." No surprise there, given the images of economic austerity in countries ruled by Communist parties.

Significantly however, 12 percent, don't consider communism "a failed ideology." Another 15 percent aren't sure.

Americans appear to be slowly embracing the idea that there is a better way to run society.

"Socialism," a term that carries far less baggage than "communism," is even more accepted by Americans. In an April 2009 Rasmussen poll, only 53 percent said that capitalism was better than socialism. With the margin of error, those who think capitalism is better are statistically tied with those who think socialism is better (20 percent) and those unsure (27 percent).

As in the new poll, young people broke more for the left alternative: about a third said capitalism was better, a third said socialism and another third was unsure.

Those numbers represent what could be the beginning of a stark turnaround in public opinion, and are sure to horrify the tea party crowd - which finds even moderate Democrats too extreme.

So what do communists say?

"The fog of the Cold War is lifting on the one hand," says Sam Webb, national chair of the Communist Party USA, said in an interview, "but still there are misconceptions of what communism is."

The majority of people - the 80 or so percent who reject "communism" as a better system, says Webb, still suffer from misconceptions that gained currency over the years.

In a statistic that supports Webb's point, younger voters were more likely to see communism as morally superior.

And, Webb continues, "If people were able to get a fairer picture of what Communists think and how they see socialist society, the polls would have been far better than they are."

Communists see socialism as a transition between capitalism, our current system, and communism. Socialism, they explain, means that working people democratically run society without interference from big corporations. Communism comes along far later, when class division has disappeared. As socialism progresses towards communism, society becomes more and more democratic.

"If U.S. socialism is to earn the name socialist, it will be democratic at its core," Webb said in an interview. "There is no socialism that isn't democratic."

But are Americans wrong to believe that people were shut out of government in some of the countries that collapsed in 1991?

Not exactly, says Webb.

Despite a record of historic and even heroic achievements - defeating the Nazis, full employment and health care in most, "The countries that were formerly building socialism had a deficit of democracy."

Jarvis Tyner, CPUSA executive vice chair, points to the party's history, noting that its newspaper, the Daily World (predecessor of the People's World), was a leader in the fight to desegregate baseball.

In the 1930s, the CPUSA helped lead the fight against racist lynchings and other violent oppression of African Americans. The party, Tyner says, has always been part of the fight for labor rights, civil rights, women's rights, a just peace and for political and economic democracy.

People, says Webb, are becoming more and more disenchanted with the current system, capitalism, in which workers' rights, a decent living standard and democracy overall, are being curtailed by the big corporations and their "masters" in the Republican Party.

Socialism, says Webb, is not yet on the agenda, but every step forward in securing the rights of working people, in civil rights and in defending democracy against the far-right onslaught is a step in that direction.

Still, the "communism" poll was a surprise to many.

"Here you have one of the most vilified words in the English language, the most lied about," said PW Editor Joe Sims, "and yet 11 percent have a positive outlook towards it. That is huge."

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  • And yet, the platform from which you spout your philosophy was built by capitalism, not communism. No country has made socialism or communism work well, and those who still retain this 18th century ideal are fools. No socialist country has managed to eliminate poverty or promote true justice and equality any better than the United States has. My cousins in Canada tell me about the secret private healthcare system that exists but no one talks about. They tell me how their sports teams send their injured players to New York hospitals to get better and faster treatment. Socialism and communism won't ever work because you cannot make everything equal and fair, this is real life and there will always be people out there who want more than what they're handed and are willing to sacrifice everything to get it. That's what you socialists don't seem to understand. Not all of us want to hold hands and sing kumbaya around a campfire 24/7. Some of us want more and some of us want better.

    Having said all of that, I'm sure this comment will be moderated and then deleted because, as my parents (who fled a communist state after their land and property was seized by the government) have shown me time after time again, socialists and communists hide and alter the truth like no other group. It's in your DNA.

    Posted by Mark Lechman, 03/24/2015 10:52am (7 months ago)

  • Communism is the end of history, comrades, and one cannot strive against it. It will happen.

    Posted by Daniel Lewis, 12/15/2013 2:55am (2 years ago)

  • capitalism may have worked fine when everyone lived on the farm by it makes no sence now.It rewards a few at the expence of many.

    Posted by walt, 02/18/2013 3:43pm (3 years ago)

  • All i can say is .......... VIVA LA REVOLUTION!!!!!!!!!

    Posted by r, 05/29/2012 5:05pm (3 years ago)

  • Heh, communists. By all means, feel free to ignore a century of history in which power-hungry bastards co-opted dozens of proletarian revolutions and governments.

    Posted by Ryan, 04/23/2011 1:06am (4 years ago)

  • @itolduso I take it to mean that there's a 95% chance that the actual pro-communist percentage of the population is within three percent points on either side of the 11% figure.

    Or another way to put it, there's 5% chance that the percentage of Americans who are pro-communist is either less than 8% or greater than 14%.

    By the way, when they poll people on socialism versus capitalism, instead of communism versus capitalism, more than 1 in 3 Americans choose socialism. And only about half say that capitalism is superior to socialism.

    Posted by Trailer Trash, 04/11/2011 9:03am (5 years ago)

  • "The poll, has a margin of error of three percent with a 95 percent level of confidence." ....................What happened to the remaining 2%? ..............Fuzzy Math?

    Posted by itolduso, 04/04/2011 4:44pm (5 years ago)

  • The discussion of political ideologies usually amounts to demgoguery by partisans. The real issues are the preferential treatment, privileges and entitlements of various people, to be paid by someone else. It comes down to:
    Don't tax me; don't tax thee; tax that fellow behind the tree.”
    That's the issue between:
    Capitalism, socialism and Communism
    Democrats and Republicans
    Liberal and Conservatives
    Religion and science
    Have's and Have nots.
    Everyone wants a system that suites their own benefit.
    Who gets the goldmine, who gets the shaft.
    It's all in the eye of the partisan beholder.
    Real democracy is about the only hope of replacing entrenched power and privilege with some semblance of balance. Our Constitution was just the first step, but We the People have been sleeping at the switch for 200 years.

    Posted by John Klein, 03/27/2011 12:32pm (5 years ago)

  • The working people of the USA and other NATO countries are carrying the terrible burden of the military industrial complex.

    This burden could fund great initiatives in environmental protection, public infrastructure and housing without any increases in taxation.

    Alas, corporate power is entrenched by the soft power of the mass media and escapist infotainment.

    The CPUSA is right to support gradual change. Best wishes in campaigns to bring light back in this darkness through music and fun activities.

    The Resistance Generation in France sung this refrain:

    Amis, Freres,
    De tour les pays

    The music to this song is on You Tube: 'Amitie, Liberte 001'

    Alas, the political orientation of the words has been changed.

    Posted by Anton, 03/27/2011 3:39am (5 years ago)

  • For younger people who have taken history classes in school have never had the core of the party explained to them. There are no lessons taught about the ideals and structure of socialism, and the benefits we can achieve under this party.

    Keep learning, keep teaching, and stay informed.

    Ben Davis

    Posted by Benjamin Davis ; son of Sam Davis, Grandchild of "Red" Davis, 03/23/2011 4:54pm (5 years ago)

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