The Peace and Freedom Party, born from the civil rights and anti-war movements of the 1960s, is committed to socialism, democracy, ecology, feminism, racial equality, and internationalism.

The opening sentence of the Party platform has provoked questions such as, “Why are you for socialism?” or “What is socialism?” The answer is not simple, because the Peace and Freedom Party is a ‘multi-tendency’ party.” People from different organizations, as well as those without other affiliation, can be members of the Peace and Freedom Party.

We asked members of the PFP to provide their definition of socialism, both to answer the question and to illustrate the range of opinions within the party and the Socialist movement in general. Below runs the fifth short essay in our continuing series, “What is Socialism?”

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Providing for human needs is an essential feature of a socialist system, but achieving socialism entails a lot more. Some capitalist countries have free education, healthcare, and childcare. Their workers enjoy long vacations and adequate break time. Such governments are called “welfare states,” although their workers organized to achieve a decent standard of living and created the wealth to fund them.

Under capitalism, industries, resources, and financial institutions are privately-owned and run from the top down. To survive, capitalist enterprises must constantly increase profits. As companies become more intertwined in the global marketplace, the profit-driven system’s demands clash with efforts by the workers to sustain their gains.

Capitalist exploitation of people and resources go hand in hand with military invasions, disrupting societies worldwide. And the market cannot seriously address the environmental consequences of reckless development, despite attempts like “cap and trade.”

Under socialism, the whole society is owner (or caretaker) of natural resources, industry and institutions. All are equal members and take part in a democratic system which provides for basic needs and respects the rights of all. We need a change of consciousness and a lot of cooperation to create a socialist society, but it is imperative.

–written by Marsha Feinland


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