I first started thinking about socialism when I heard that Martin Luther King, Jr. had mentioned that our government needs to consider some form of socialism. Years later, when I first met with the Socialist Party, USA, I knew I was exactly where I belonged and wanted to be.
I consider Socialism to be anything that puts the interest of people before profits, plain and simple. The recent growth in our party (for the first time in 50 years) demonstrates that people are ready to listen to the arguments, and for good reason. The extreme disparity in wealth has actually made mainstream news lately. The concentration of wealth and power is well-known and understood, even though people don't know where to start to fight it. All I need to do to get their attention is to point out that the only way to fight is to organize at the grass roots level, and that is, de facto, democratic socialism.
I consider Socialism to be anything that puts the interest of people before profits. . .
I am a member of the Green Party. I couldn't avoid that because, well, I just am a Green. I believe strongly in all the principles. I am a member of the Labor Party because I work for a living. I am a member of NOW, because I am a woman and I am political.
Why am I concentrating on the seemingly useless task of educating people about socialism? Because I believe the disparity of wealth and the concentration of power are the root of all of our problems. Health care, environmental degradation, labor problems, welfare, scapegoating immigrants -- all of these directly relate to the fact that the government makes decisions based on the benefits of the wealthy minority, not in favor of the majority, or, indeed, in the long range, common sense interests of anyone.
I am appalled at the extent of heartlessness in our "advanced" society. People are enslaved in Burma and killed in Africa for oil. Clinton sends jobs overseas and puts kids into poverty to ensure more votes in an election. Our nation, arguably the richest now or ever, has 23% child poverty. That is my bottom line. How can we do this? How can this be possible in our "Christian," caring nation? It is possible because of the devious, malicious nature of the ruling class. It is the logical conclusion of letting greedy people control things. Fighting for the environment, fighting for labor or health care, these merely address the symptoms. We must get people to understand that we are being victimized, we are being duped. The ruling class is not much different than the royalty that our ancestors had the good sense to fight off in the Revolution, except now people have a false hope that someday they will be part of the "ruling class" also.
Things will not get better until we address who has power and why.
And the ruling class has managed to hide the real definition, the real meaning, the real common sense value, and the very real necessity, of socialism. Things will not get better until we address who has power and why. Things will not get better until we have some democratic decision-making power in corporate policy, corporate welfare, and wealthfare.
As I traveled the country during my 1996 Presidential campaign trying to work with several progressive parties around the country, I became painfully aware of the impossibility of a leftist coalition party happening before the election. Still, it was a recurring theme around the country, and we all know it is a good one. We have to organize the way the Christian right has organized. We have not been a visible force.
The first thing we need to do is to organize around issues that we share. Look locally and pick a few issues to work on. In Colorado, we have the Colorado Coalition for Single Payer, the Alliance (studying corporations), and many environmental and labor groups, for example. Do we all need to be under one umbrella to fight united? We need to give up the idea that a coalition means, "Quit your group and join mine." Perhaps we should be glad to have diversity on the left. We should be registering voters and working our butts off to get proportional representation passed locally, and later nationally. That would really make a fundamental change for the better, and would quickly make allies of many small groups. It would, indeed, lend credibility to us all. Dems and 'pubs alike would be wheeling and dealing with Socialists, Greens, all of us.
We need to work together to get press coverage and to overcome the corporate bias in the media. We need to educate people that 90% of us have a lot in common. We shouldn't be splintered as the ruling class works to make us. We should, and can, work together.
We need to give up the idea that a coalition means, "Quit your group and join mine." Perhaps we should be glad to have diversity on the left.
I am astounded, reading about Eugene Debs running for president in the first quarter of this century. Today, issues are the same. Wars are fought for oil. Big business makes heartless decisions that are devastating to families and to the quality of life. The dems accused the 'pubs of supporting the Socialist Party, USA to split the vote. Why has there not been any fundamental change? Because the root of the problem has not been addressed. Greedy people do not get to a point where they have enough money or power. Give them unleashed control, give them the money, give them the power, what can we expect?
Why am I working for the Socialist Party, USA? I am proud to represent a party with such a rich history, the party of Helen Keller, A. Philip Randolph, Upton Sinclair, "Mother" Mary Harris Jones, Jack London, and many others. I am proud to represent the party that is considered the "conscience of the United States." I am proud to represent the party which developed the idea of "Jimmy Higgins," the nameless and ceaselessly working cartoon character representing the millions who worked for justice in the Socialist Party. I am proud to see growth in a party kept alive in the hard times by some 500 "Jimmy Higginses" who really understood and believed. And, perhaps not least, I am inspired by the romance alive in a party with such a rich history of fighting for justice.
Big business makes heartless decisions that are devastating to families and to the quality of life.
It is exactly the time to admit that we are socialists, if not Socialists. (We have traditionally had more power and support than membership would suggest, although we invite anyone who dares to become a Card Carrying Socialist, and welcome joint memberships with most democratic organizations.) Things are bad enough that people are listening, and probably ready to do more than that if we can organize well enough.
Debs felt that US citizens had fought two revolutions, one against royalty and one against slavery. He felt that the Third American Revolution would be against the wealthy ruling class. So, here's to the Revolution-it is surely inevitable. I just hope it can be done peacefully this time.