Socialism is Much Better Than Capitalism and Communism Will Be A Far Better World
Part 2: Communism and Socialism
Revolution #026, December 12, 2005, posted at revcom.us
Editor's note: Revolution is serializing the speech "Socialism Is Much Better Than Capitalism, and Communism Will Be A Far Better World" by Raymond Lotta. See last week for Part 1, the introduction. Lotta is on a national speaking tour as part of the Set the Record Straight project. Information on upcoming speaking dates and related materials are available at www. thisiscommunism.org.
So I want to define communism. I want to do this first, since this is the goal toward which socialism is directed.
Imagine a society where people consciously learn about and transform the world...where people are no longer imprisoned by the chains of tradition and ignorance...where people not only coooperatively work to produce the necessities of life, but get into art and culture and science--and have fun doing it...where the scientific outlook and the flight of imagination strengthen and inspire each other...where there is unity and diversity, far-ranging debate, and ideological struggle over the direction and development of society--but no longer stamped by social antagonism...where people interact with each other based on mutual respect, concern, and love for humanity. A world that cares about and takes care of the environment. That is communism.
Communism is a worldwide society--and it is yet to be achieved--in which all classes and class distinctions have been overcome; all systems and relations of exploitation abolished; all oppressive social institutions and relations of social inequality, like racial discrimination and the domination of women by men, put an end to; and oppressive and backward ideas and values cast off. Communism is a world of abundance, where people together hold all of society's resources in common.
Communism also refers to communist ideology. Now often people think that "ideology" means some set of politically motivated ideas that bias everything you look at. No, by communist ideology I mean the comprehensive outlook and scientific method of the proletariat for understanding the actual forces operating in nature and in society. Communist ideology points the way to an historic advance in humanity's ability to understand and transform these natural and social forces. And communist ideology provides a morality that corresponds to the great leap that humanity has already begun to make.
Communism is not some sort of wishful and airy dream or utopia. The development of human society has brought humanity to a historic threshold.
The productive forces of society--not just machinery, equipment, and technology but also people and their knowledge--have developed to a level that can allow humanity to overcome scarcity, to provide for people's basic material needs, and beyond that to have a large surplus left over to devote to the all-around and future development of society.
The productive forces of society are highly socialized. They require thousands and ultimately millions working together to mass-produce the things--whether we are talking about clothing or computers--that are used by people throughout society. And these productive forces are highly interconnected on an international level: raw materials and transistors and machine tools produced in one part of the world enter into the production process in other parts of the world. But these socialized productive forces are privately controlled. A capitalist class of owners appropriates the results of production as private, capitalist property.
This is the fundamental problem in the world. And this is what proletarian revolution solves.
The proletariat is the class that emerges in capitalist society on the basis of these socialized productive forces. The proletariat represents the cooperative labor and cooperative efforts that correspond to the socialized nature of the productive forces. The proletariat has the material basis and occupies the material position to bring about a radically different way of organizing production and society as a whole.
Now what is socialism? Socialism is not a big welfare state that looks after people. It is not the old capitalist economy simply taken over by a state. Socialism is a transition from capitalism to communism, to classless society. Socialism is about the proletariat, in alliance with its allies who make up the great majority of society, consciously transforming the economic structures, social relations, and ideas that perpetuate social and class division. It is about unleashing the creativity and initiative of those who had been on the bottom of society.
The socialist revolution establishes a new system of political rule: the dictatorship of the proletariat. The old exploiting classes and those actively seeking to overturn the new system are controlled and held in check. This system of political rule gives the masses the right and the ability to change the world, to participate in society in an all-around way, to become masters of society. In the U.S. and around the world, we presently live under the dictatorship of the bourgeoisie--which in this country comes in the form of democracy. This dictatorship enforces a system that is in the service of capitalists, and rules over the people to allow the flourishing of that system.
The socialist revolution establishes a new economy based on social ownership of the means of production and social planning; on people cooperating to solve problems and to meet social need; and with a whole new set of economic and social priorities.
The dictatorship of the proletariat exercises dictatorship over the capitalists and enforces a system that allows for the freedom from capitalism. The masses and their leadership core have to firmly hold on to that power. But that can't be an end itself. This power has to be used for the good of humanity and to actually create the conditions so that this dictatorship can go out of existence in the future communist society.
These are the basic guiding principles that Lenin took into battle in leading the first proletarian revolution in October 1917.
Next week: Part 3: