Sunday, January 16, 2011

Socialism: A World Without Oppression

Published Jan 15, 2011 10:03 AM

Following are excerpts from a talk by Caleb T. Maupin on Nov. 13 at the national Workers World Party conference in New York City. He is a member of the WWP Cleveland branch and Fight Imperialism, Stand Together.

Karl Marx was not the first socialist. He was not the first person to envision a communist future, one without the oppression and degradation people face.

However, Marx was the first to understand that socialism could only come about as a result of class struggle. The capitalist class, which owns the banks, factories and vast wealth of society, is constantly in struggle with the working class, those with nothing to sell but their labor.

Karl Marx also pointed out that “the ruling ideology of every epoch is the ideology of the ruling class.” Just as the ideas that dominated in the time of feudalism were the ideas of kings and nobles, the ideas that dominate the world now, through private ownership of the media, are the ideas of capitalists and bankers.

Because of this, blatant falsehoods become passed off as reality.

One lie that has been commonly accepted is that socialism is a good idea, but it has failed everywhere it’s ever been tried. In reality, it’s the exact opposite. Everywhere socialism has been implemented the results have meant great victories and advances for the people.

In the Soviet Union, where our class first held power, illiteracy was abolished. Unemployment was obliterated. Workers were guaranteed several weeks paid vacation every year. The first spacecrafts to orbit the earth were launched, making the people of the USSR the first to “conquer the heavens,” as some would call it.

All this was accomplished, despite the fact that the imperialists never gave the USSR a moment of peace. Whether it was the forces sent immediately afterwards to put down the revolution, the Nazi invasion or the threat of nuclear annihilation from former President Ronald Reagan, the Soviet people accomplished all they did while under extreme threat from the ruling classes of the world.

Today, Cuba stands tall as an example of a socialist society. Cuba has the highest life expectancy in Latin America and a lower infant mortality rate than the United States.

In January Cuba will be celebrating its 50th year without illiteracy, because after the revolution the Cuban government sent the youth into the countryside to educate the people. [In April 1961, Cuba launched the National Literacy Campaign.] The goal was to arm the people with the ability to read and be educated, so they could rule society, not an exploiting capitalist class or a bureaucracy.

Where’s the failure in this?

Another lie they tell us is that imperialism is helping the world. We have just heard about the crimes that imperialism is committing against women around the world.

When you compare the various countries where imperialism holds power, you see brutal oppression. In Nigeria, where Shell Oil owns the government, the result is massive unemployment, malnutrition and lack of basic necessities.

However, the highest life expectancy in Africa is in Libya, where the nationalist government has taken control of the oil and used it for the good of the people. I agree with Vince Copeland, a founder of our party, that it is time we do the same thing because oil belongs to the people!

Another lie they tell us is that this is the greatest country in the world and that workers in the U.S. are better off than workers anywhere else. This is false.

In countries with strong trade unions and strong socialist and communist parties, many workers have won countless more concessions for themselves. National healthcare, better wages and free college education are enjoyed by workers in other imperialist countries, the results being longer life expectancy, lower infant mortality rates and a better quality of life.

The great revolutionary Frederick Douglas said, “Power concedes nothing without struggle.”

We, as a revolutionary party, have to be involved in every struggle for basic rights and justice. In addition, we must bring to the people our revolutionary message that workers can rise up, seize control of society and build the future that everyone deserves.

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1 comment:

Julia Riber Pitt said...

I guess my biggest problem with marxism (or maybe, my only problem with it) is how it tries to accomplish anti-authoritarian ends through authoritarian means. If the end goal is to abolish the state and establish autonomy, why should it be done through statist measures? I know that advocates of marxist socialism claim that the state under marxism is much different than under capitalism since it's a proclaimed "workers' state", but that still doesn't disregard the fact that under marxist-style socialism the state has a total monopoly on the means of production. This is why us anarchists call marxist socialism "state capitalism" since the state is basically acting like a giant capitalist. If capitalism is defined by monopolization of the control of the means of production, wouldn't the same definition be applied to the marxist state? I know I'm in the minority here, but I just don't think oppression can be ended by the state. Anti-authoritarian ends can only be achieved through anti-authoritarian means. That's why I advocate a decentralized network of worker-controlled firms and co-opts using participatory decision-making instead of a monopolization by a "socialist state". Just my criticism.