This article is intended as an introduction to the difference between democratic socialism and genuine communism for those who are already interested in democratic socialism.
Democratic socialists are generally people who want to nationalize private industries and abolish production for profit by using the ballot box. Their strategy is one of reform.
Genuine communists seek to use armed struggle in revolution to accomplish the goal of socialism, if there is a state or army of any size or threat as is the case in the United $tates. In addition, communists generally want to go further than most democratic socialists, because genuine communists want to abolish classes and the state in the long run.
To listen to the democratic socialists and their friends the social- democrats, communists are advocating a totalitarian system where freedom of the individual including the freedom of speech are repressed. (Social-democrats want to keep capitalism by imitating socialism through income distribution measures--a welfare state.) The democratic socialists say we communists don't trust the people; hence, we don't want to use the ballot box to accomplish socialism, which is the first step out of the sewer known as the capitalist system.
We communists understand these criticisms of us and many others since we are bombarded with them every day by the bourgeois press. Here we outline our differences and invite correspondence on the subject.
1. We communists believe the ballot box in the United States is fundamentally corrupted by money. Even Ross Perot, Jerry Brown and John McCain have noticed this.
The ballot power of the oppressed is not greater than the financial power of the capitalists. To participate in this system is to lose again and again--Humphrey, McGovern, not to mention more radical democratic socialists. Those who preach the ballot box only teach that it is useless to struggle, given the record of electoral losses.
2. Where democratic socialists DO succeed in coming to power, one of two things happens: a. Nothing. Witness Mitterand in France. Case closed. b. Something--followed by military coup. Legitimate and elected governments attempted to nationalize in numerous cases only to have themselves overthrown by U.S. imperialism.
In Chile in 1973, an elected socialist was killed by a military coup--perhaps by U.S. Green Berets if you believe some of them who brag about it. What followed was the killing of 30,000 people rounded up in Chile by the fascists. The whole U.S. involvement is documented by former CIA agents who talked about it in the television documentary: "The CIA: Inside the Company." (Contact MIM for the next showing of our CIA videos.)
In Iran, the Parliamentary government nationalized a British oil company, the only oil company in Iran. The United States sent military aid and money to military officers who overthrew the government. In 1954, the Shah of Iran (a king) was installed by the U.S. imperialists and the imperialists got "their" oil back.
In 1951, Jacobo Arbenz was elected as president in Guatemala. He called for land reform and union rights. The United Fruit Company and the U.S. government then sponsored one failed coup and then one successful one that occurred after C.I.A. planes conducted bombing runs in Honduras and Guatemala. Arbenz was ousted in 1954 for being too "communist" according to the United States.
In 1965, elected president Juan Bosch attempted a comeback when it appeared that rebel military officers would undo the U.S.-backed coup in the Dominican Republic. Juan Bosch had been president for seven months when military officers overthrew him. Instead of Juan Bosch coming back to power in his rightful office, the United States sent the Marines and kept him out.
The same general sequence of events of military aid, bribery and threat of U.S. military force occurred to oust two democratically elected presidents of Brazil in the 1960s until the Brazilian "miracle" started in 1964 in a military coup. The ousted government officials--Goulart and Janio da Silva Quadros--complained of U.S. destabilization efforts including efforts to have them assassinated. Each in their own way gave up rather than embroil the country in the kind of bloodshed that later happened in Chile in 1973.
The record is clear: the ballot box only leads to slaughter of the oppressed. Any Third World government seeking to put constraints on what the U.S. imperialists deem "their" private property will be overthrown with great violence. The communists are the only realistic choice because they advocate armed struggle against imperialism.
Since Exxon in 1984 was bigger economically than all but 20 countries economically, the multinational companies based in the United States can afford to bribe government and military officials to carry out U.S. interests. Where sufficient forces can't be bought, the Marines will come in and generally the U.S. government will fill in on behalf of the multinational corporations and provide the military aid and other bribery necessary to overcome "democratic" processes with fascism--"comprador" governments.
Those are the cases where democratic socialists actually try to do something, something naive that leads to mass slaughter. We are not counting the cases like Peru where social-democrats ingratiate themselves with a military that constantly threatens them and the oppressed. In these cases, social-democrats have been willing to be the figure-heads of military-fascist regimes.
In conclusion, it is the democratic socialists who do not trust the people. They don't trust the people to take up arms in their interests. Instead, they trust their ability to persuade fascists to allow democratic socialism to survive.
Source: William Blum, The CIA: A Forgotten History London: Zed Books, 1986.
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