Revolutionary Communism vs. “Democratic Socialism”: Two Basic Points

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Point One:

Democratic socialists—at their “most radical”—want to “redistribute the wealth” within the U.S. But think for a minute: Where does this great wealth come from? All the riches and resources piled up by capitalist-imperialist America have come, and come in large part, first from slavery and the theft of land domestically, and from its relentless economic, political, and military domination of the masses of people all over the world. The tens of millions of men, women, and children in the Third World laboring in the sweatshops and the fields; the slaughter carried out right now in your name in Yemen by the U.S.-backed Saudi forces; wars in dozens of other places, the grinding, brutal oppression carried out by American puppets and lackeys that drive immigrants to risk their lives to cross the Rio Grande (or the Mediterranean)—all this, historically and now, in multifaceted ways, feeds into the standard of living here, and in the other imperialist countries as well (even the so-called “socialist” countries of Scandinavia) sitting atop the imperialist food chain. Without a revolution that overthrows the whole system of capitalism-imperialism, all you’re doing is redistributing spoils and plunder atop this food chain, leaving intact the vast exploitative and oppressive economic and social relations that underlie this, crushing lives and destroying spirits. Fuck that. Only an internationalist revolution—one that immediately ends the U.S.’s exploitative economic relations and military dominance around the world, and views the newly liberated territory as a base area for revolution worldwide—is worth making. And only a society committed to that principle and outlook can stay on the road to an emancipated world.

Point Two:

Democratic socialists—again, at their “most radical”—envision taking over the machinery of government and “making it work” for the people. But quiet as it’s kept, this is a dictatorship—again, think for a minute: Who gives the orders to the police and the army? The class in power (the capitalist-imperialists) have a monopoly on the machinery of oppression and the legitimate use of force, and they have created massive armed forces that reflect the reactionary, putrid values and relations of this system. Even if democratic socialists were somehow to be elected, the capitalist class will use that obedient machinery, their armies, to murder those who would try even to seriously reform this system—as they did when they slaughtered countless people in Chile who supported Allende in 1973, or Sukarno in Indonesia in 1965, or Mossadegh in Iran in 1953, and history is littered with such examples; or they will make a mockery of the sacrifice of the masses by absorbing you and your so-called “revolution” into their system based on exploitation, as they have done in South Africa.

Only an actual revolution—in which the hold of their dictatorship is broken and their machinery of oppression is defeated and dismantled—can bring in a whole new economic system, political system, and set of values and ways of relating to each other and get us on the road to human emancipation. The major means of production have to be seized from the capitalist class to establish a different economy to meet the needs of the people, an economy that does not rely on exploitation and is not driven by the accumulation of profit, and state power has to be seized by the revolutionary forces to make this possible. Only THIS—an actual revolution—can begin to deal with the savage exploitation, the howling inequalities, and the deep-rooted forms of oppression that are baked into this system. These so-called democratic socialists have no strategy to win millions to real revolution, nor do they have a way to lead them when it comes time to actually take on and defeat that machinery of oppression and repression. The revolutionary communists do, and you can find it here. These so-called democratic socialists have no vision and blueprint for a radically different economic and political system—genuine socialism—that is on the road to emancipating ALL of humanity. The revolutionary communists do, and you can find it here.


The essence of what exists in the U.S. is not democracy but capitalism-imperialism and political structures to enforce that capitalism-imperialism. What the U.S. spreads around the world is not democracy, but imperialism and political structures to enforce that imperialism.

Bob Avakian, BAsics 1:3

It is important first to make clear what, in basic terms, we mean when we say the goal is revolution, and in particular communist revolution. Revolution is not some kind of change in style, or a change in attitude, nor is it merely a change in certain relations within a society which remains fundamentally the same. Revolution means nothing less than the defeat and dismantling of the existing, oppressive state, serving the capitalist-imperialist system—and in particular its institutions of organized violence and repression, including its armed forces, police, courts, prisons, bureaucracies and administrative power—and the replacement of those reactionary institutions, those concentrations of reactionary coercion and violence, with revolutionary organs of political power, and other revolutionary institutions and governmental structures, whose basis has been laid through the whole process of building the movement for revolution, and then carrying out the seizure of power, when the conditions for that have been brought into being—which in a country like the U.S. would require a qualitative change in the objective situation, resulting in a deep-going crisis in society, and the emergence of a revolutionary people in the millions and millions, who have the leadership of a revolutionary communist vanguard and are conscious of the need for revolutionary change and determined to fight for it.

As I emphasized earlier in this talk, the seizure of power and radical change in the dominant institutions of society, when the conditions for this have been brought into being, makes possible further radical change throughout society—in the economy and economic relations, the social relations, and the politics, ideology and culture prevailing in society. The final aim of this revolution is communism, which means and requires the abolition of all relations of exploitation and oppression and all destructive antagonistic conflicts among human beings, throughout the world. Understood in this light, the seizure of power, in a particular country, is crucial and decisive, and opens the door to further radical change, and to strengthening and further advancing the revolutionary struggle throughout the world; but, at the same time, as crucial and decisive as that is, it is only the first step—or first great leap—in an overall struggle which must continue toward the final goal of this revolution: a radically new, communist world.

Bob Avakian, BAsics 3:3


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