Q:Where does the Communist Party USA stand on the idea of freedom of expression, both in speech and political viewpoints that go against the party? Does it feel that diversity of opinions can help the society grow? Also, does it believe in a diversity of news providers, as one single state network could be used negatively (no one wants another Fox News)?

A: Our program calls for Bill of Rights Socialism, built on the revolutionary traditions of our country. The working people of our country have consistently fought for an expansion of democracy, for guarantees of political liberty and for a free press. We support those struggles, and want to expand our formal political democracy into a real, economic democracy. It is not only possible but necessary to have a socially organized economy as well as civil rights and liberties. In fact, socialism means involvement of the people, and it cannot be built and maintained without democracy and civil liberties.

Today in the U.S. and other capitalist countries, giant corporations and billionaires control most of the mass media and are gobbling up more every day. They are able to limit the information and range of ideas that most people have access to, and this helps the capitalist system keep its grip on society.

By contrast, we believe socialism requires debate, innovation, exploration, literacy and creative empowerment of an informed public. Our view is that socialism will most likely come about in our country through coalitions of many groups, not through a “monolithic” single party that “controls” everything.

The history of our party has been intertwined with the fight to protect and extend civil rights and liberties. We fought, at great personal cost to many of our leaders and members, against the efforts of McCarthyites and later right-wing politicians and corporate interests to demonize and suppress all left/progressive politics and weaken and break unions, and to pass laws that were not only anti-free-speech but also unconstitutional. These struggles continue today, and are part of moving our society toward a socialist transformation.

We do think there have to be some limits, namely on toxic hate speech — racist, sexist, homophobic, and the like — that hides behind free speech protections to stigmatize and marginalize entire groups of people, fueling discrimination and violence and blocking people from achieving their fullest development and participation in society. This is the social equivalent of yelling “Fire” in a crowded theater just to cause a panic.

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.