From the Editors: Change in Thinking is Key to Our Future
Millions of people are starting to engage in an effort to reform our society. Success depends on understanding under what conditions reform can be achieved. America is a very special place. It is so big and so rich that the American people have this idea that they can do anything they want to do. They believe that all they have to do is organize for it and gather the forces to do it. As the study of society became scientific, it was established that while it is true that human beings create their own history, they do so under definite conditions. This applies doubly so in the fight for reform.
Whoever who wants to change a given situation operates under given conditions. If there is not a scientific understanding of those conditions, it is very difficult to achieve their goals. There is an objective view and a subjective view about reform and its relationship to revolution. The objective view is that society is built upon and reflects the economy. What this implies, is that every quantitative change in the economy demands a corresponding change in the social relations and the social order. The word “reform” means to restructure, to change the situation into an improved form or condition.
When the fundamental economic base of society changes, the superstructure (expressed in society’s institutions, and relations between classes and people) must be reformed. Any discussion about the struggle for reform has to begin with an examination of the changes in the foundation that will allow for that reform actually to take place.
Today any further reform under capitalism is absolutely impossible, because there are no reforms left within the quantitative development of capitalist industrial production. The capitalist system is over. The computer, and everything the computer means – globalization
and robotics – is spelling an end to the capitalist system. When jobs are replaced by electronics in one sector of the economy after the other, the whole cycle of distribution through buying and selling is disrupted.
It is very important that we see this; otherwise we just hang onto the idea that we can make a reform, if we just get enough strength to force this reform. You can force a concession, but there is a distinction between what a concession is and what is a reform. A concession can be won one year and taken back the next. This has happened over and over again through things like congressional budgets and union contracts. There has to be a fight for concessions – we can’t just let the ruling class attack us and get away with it, just because we can’t immediately revolutionize society. But we’ve also got to understand that there is no foundation to make that concession permanent.
Generally, a reform cannot be taken back. The dialectic is that whatever reform is achieved today is going to come as the result of a revolution. The other part of that dialectic is, that the political and ideological preparation of the people for revolution can only come through the struggle for reform. There is no revolution without a struggle for reform. At the same time, no reform can be won without the political power to get that reform. We cannot get that political power without the destruction of the State apparatus as it exists today. America is at an important nodal line in history, and revolutionaries have to think this process through, to be able to fight forward and win. How do we develop the consciousness of those fighting for their food, shelter, and clothing, while at the same time showing them a vision and the necessity of gaining the political power to achieve it.
The ruling class knows what they are doing. They have ruled for a long time. They have what the army calls standard operating procedures for how to rule the country. The capitalist class knows that if they control the minds of the people, it doesn’t matter how militantly people fight against oppressive conditions. So, at the end of a particular struggle, the people may gain a concession but haven’t gained a reform that can be counted upon. No change is possible without a fight, but without new ideas and vision for a new future, the struggle will only go so far.
Revolutionaries have to use the struggle for reform in order to educate. Because of the anti-communist propaganda fostered over decades, putting forward the real solution to the poverty and oppression of today is rejected by the very people who need to think differently about their problems. Revolutionaries are going to have to find their way through this in spite of the difficulty.
The first step is to get an estimate of the situation. We have to understand what the strong points and weak points are of the enemy that we are fighting. We have to determine the weak point of the enemy and attack there. As long as the people believe what their enemy thinks, the ruling class has control over them. Developing consciousness is an intellectual process.
The economic well-being, and therefore the morality of the American people depends on the transformation to communism, the public ownership of the means of production, and distribution of the results of that production according to need. We can proceed from the poll where 37 percent of the American people believe that socialism is better than capitalism. Human history shows that the people will fight in their economic interest.
The capitalists are ripping the American people off right and left and shutting everybody up with one word: communism. This is not only their strong point. It is their weak point. It is their weak point because, if American people overcome their anti-communism, there is no way to stop them from destroying capitalism as it exists today.
What is the force that can be relied on to win this fight? A new section of the working class is being pushed to the fore. This section has been put in a very desperate situation, with no means to pay for homes, clothing, and food. Among this section are revolutionaries, those who have a sense of being part of a class. They see the need to not only fight for a home for some of the homeless, or to prevent a few families from being imprisoned as they cross the border, or for some children to be fed and educated. They are beginning to see that new answers are called for. With an economy based on electronic production, there is an abundance of everything humans need to thrive. The ruling class encourages the workers to attack their own class brothers and sisters. Any chance for a humane future rests on the unity of our class based on its common interests.
May/June 2019. vol.29. Ed3
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The age-old vision of a world without scarcity, without exploitation, class domination, organized violence, and stultifying labor has been the dream of millenia. The new completely socialized labor-eliminating means of production ... sets the basis for its realization. Now human history can begin, the light of the individual shining in the full brightness of liberated life, that can only be realized within true equality and cooperation: communism, a cooperative society.'Without Vision, the People Perish'
Rally, Comrades ! May/June 2011