"socialism" popular in the US

March 2023 Forums General discussion "socialism" popular in the US

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    Robbo, you are always looking for other peoples to answer your personal questions. I have seen organizations larger, more active, with more resources than the WSM/SPGB who have vanished from the face of the earth, and the WSM is still alive, and it is more known in England than in other parts of the world. When I encountered the SPGB the WSM was unknown for me and for many peoples and countries in Latin America, and I made a wide campaign in favour of the socialist party, and nobody wanted to join the socialist party and the WSM and the organization is still alive.

    The main problem is that the WSM/SPGB is a Euro centrist organization and it has not expanded itself beyond its frontier, and the only language spoken is English, and a few translations have been made in Spanish, Portuguese, French and Italian, but many Marxist Leninists organization have expanded their frontiers beyond their original home creation like the International Communist Current, the Labour Party of Albania, etc. etc. .

    When I was young I belonged to an organization of ML who was able to close schools, universities, factories, and offices and they do not exist any longer and some of their members are collaborating with the capitalist class. The SLP of America had branches in Puerto Rico and England the organization does not exist any longer. Many organizations used to have a weekly public meeting to debate about different topics and to propagate their own political line, and I  used to attend those meetings all of the time, they do not exist any more.

    Those were signs of the epoch, and that epoch is gone. Most of those organizations they had quantities but they did not qualify, even more, there were bookstores  in different places and they do not exist any more either many of those bookstores were run and managed by members of those organizations who were not part-time members they were full-time members. Nobody knew ( including myself ) that there was a genuine socialist group in Jamaica and then I learned about that and I read their works, and that group vanished



    Robbo is really saying is that we should pull our punches when it comes to cooperatives because they do have a popular sympathy with our fellow workers . No doubt employee co-ownership is indeed popular – don’t we even prefer to shop at the Co-op and get their divvy or go to John Lewis because of the best buy promise.

    I don’t know how many times i have read articles of Mondragon being depicted as a future business model for progressives

    Regards Bolivia read our blog explaining a bit about their background and how even USAID promoted them and how it has now completely back-fired.


    Yes, some co-ops have been successful. One is often totally ignored and was only brought to my attention in a online exchange – The American telephone and internet providers in parts of the United States. The mainstream providers – the telephone companies  in the early days – saw no profit in connecting up large parts of rural America so small businesses and consumers  had to do so themselves and when broadband arrived it was incorporated.

    And of course the other success story are those small individual producers held up as an example of individualism but couldn’t survive without being a part of co-operatives – the small farmers who built machinery sharing and marketing co-op networks around the world.



    In this organization most members are part-time socialists, in others organizations, most members are full time dedicated to their organizations, they run a campaign to collect money, to sell newspapers,  to write articles every month, or every day, to take care of their bookstores, to take care of the premises office and building ( in this organization they want to hire an office cleaner )  and some leave trusts and wills for their organizations, but their principles are based on wrong conceptions. I think we are moving away from the main topic, probably it belongs to the heading of the WSM. In this forum only a few members participated, I am very busy, but I type my responses little by little when I have free time, and at the present time I am not a member of the party, and every time I try to send my contributions, as well I send contributions to others organizations because I grew up  under a different organizational concept, for us the workers’ party was part of our life


    Just an example from today of the continuing popularity of co-ops as a solution to all our woes and troubles.



    robbo203, appreciate your thoughts!

    To be clear, I’ve been practising either common purse collectivism or essential community for 30+ years. I’m an old hand at this, and have invested political energies in the various iterations of socialism and communism over those years, for good or ill. I’d read Mao’s little book by the time I was 15, was raised by hippy Pinko parents, paid up member of Pinko Party in early adulthood, and an erstwhile Nearing fan. I’ve seen most of it .. if not all.

    No fan of the Mondragon model, since it’s a capitalist enterprise. Doesn’t matter who owns it, if they’re turning a profit excess to needs it’s not for me.

    Progressives are .. IMO .. the worst possible thing to ever happen to the Left. They almost exclusively live lives deeply wedded to the liberties, choices and purchasing power of capitalism, and they keep seeking more. More and more and more. It’s not enough to feed and house everyone, they want delicate feelings and pecadillos catered to as well. Meanwhile, people starve. I quite literally hate what they’ve done to the Left in the past 20 years.

    As regards ownership of the means of production, my position is that that is ALWAYS property. Specifically, smallholder. Whether land for food production and the housing of the collective, or small business premises. I’m entirely opposed to voluntary rent slavery, regarding it as the ultimate personal sell-out to capitalism, and submission of one’s power to the interests of those who would exploit us. It’s also increasingly the choice of those who should know better (Cafe Socialists), which does not auger at all well for the future of any kind of useful Leftism.

    Finally, I’m fundamentally opposed to State Socialism in any form. There is nothing ‘equal’ about being forced to fund others via the work of your hands, when those others are contributing less or nothing. For me, that’s about as ‘capitalist aristocracy’ as it gets. The peasants (the productive) funding the lords (the non-productive). I would much rather see gradually adjusted social programs, with significantly increased accountability and limitations. This is far more likely to lead to voluntary self-reliance .. and thus obviate the injustices and inequities of State Socialism. The terrible failure of First World democracies to compel mutual obligation in welfare, has created an era of very high reliance on the capitalist machine.

    Upshot ….. if you live a life predicated on mutual (collective) benefit, in which the ‘work to eat’ proviso is adhered to and surplus is avoided or not sought, and you own the means of production, you’re a socialist. I’ve lived in various parts of the world over the years, and have seen more lived and globally beneficial socialism outside of the Western political philosophy. I’ve seen it in every agrarian subsistence village, in multi-generational family compounds throughout Asia, small businesses run out of shop-houses, inherited farms (continuing to feed and house successive generations), religious groups, etc etc etc. Ten people living in collective use a quarter of the resources of ten people choosing to live separately according to the First World dream. And at the same time that collective ten are dramatically reducing their likelihood of dependence upon the State.

    PS:  If you’ve (general you) chosen the First World capitalist dream, you’ve chosen not to give a damn about burdening your fellows. You’ve literally chosen your own comforts and freedoms (which can only be secured via capitalism) over the people.  Irregardless of what you call yourself, if you fail that first basic hurdle, you’re no socialist. You’re not even a socialist’s afterthought. This is the thing it took me longest to understand, incidentally. I couldn’t see the elephant in the room, for far too many years.

    • This reply was modified 2 years, 6 months ago by Headbutt.


    This is not the first time that in Argentina they have tried that type of project, it has been tried thru the different crisis that has been experimented for several years, and it won’t be the first time that they will go in bankruptcy and it will not be the first time that the government will take them over. The coop was stronger in the Caribbean way before the USA, and all of them are under the management of the banking system at the present time. Big workers unions had a big coop


     “…and have seen more lived and globally beneficial socialism outside of the Western political philosophy. I’ve seen it in every agrarian subsistence village, in multi-generational family compounds throughout Asia…”

    Headbutt, we should not under-estimate the existence and extent of mutual aid which is vital among the poor to survive.

    I recall from my childhood living on a scheme (projects to Americans) and when someone died, there was the white-sheet street collection, neighbours  tossing whatever cash they could spare on to the sheet.

    I was reminded of that when my wife died and my work-place  did a collection. I had no life insurance for funeral costs but they never knew that so it didn’t matter even if i had. They were following the custom of our work-place.

    And where i live now, the custom is again for the local community to contribute to the funeral costs with voluntary donations, also helping out with the expenses of house building and weddings by giving what they can afford.

    I have referred to the rise of co-ops in rural America and i have seen a few documentaries depicting the tradition of barn-raising. People are naturally cooperative  and collaborative even when the ruling ideology is claimed to be individualist.

    We socialists simply wish to generalise these relationships and run our world on those principles of sharing and caring.

    As Eugene Debs answered that question in  scripture, we are indeed “our brother’s keeper ”

    And we do honor our fathers and mothers, finding fault with a society that farms out the elderly and infirm to care homes then deprive them of any pandemic protection.

    (apologies to all for being too biblical)



    Headbutt. As Robbo has pointed out, we don’t criticise your lifestyle choice to live on a commune but you don’t seem to reciprocate but criticise fellow workers who work for wages. But most workers have no choice.

    The basis of capitalism is the minority class ownership of the means of living, which leaves the majority no choice but to sell their mental and physical energies to the owners for a wage. You describe this as voluntary slavery but it is not really voluntary except in the sense that workers support capitalism when they could get rid of it if they wanted but, given capitalism, workers don’t have much of a choice. Some  individual workers can choose to lead a life of crime or to become professional beggars or to drop out but the vast majority can’t. We have to work for wages.

    Everybody dropping out wouldn’t work. In fact if a majority had come to reject wage slavery they could end capitalism and replace it with a society based on common ownership, democratic control, production directly to satisfy people’s needs and distribution on the basis of “from each their ability, to each their needs”. That would be a much more sensible thing for a majority to do.

    In other words, society-wide communism not isolated and inevitably limited and stunted colonies within capitalism.

    Matthew Culbert

    Upshot ….. if you live a life predicated on mutual (collective) benefit, in which the ‘work to eat’ proviso is adhered to and surplus is avoided or not sought, and you own the means of production, you’re a socialist.

    Producing surplus (widgets, food,) over and above small local collective requirements is essential in an interdependent world, which we are and still will be.

    Others would do the same (tractor, parts-medicines etc) as long as they are all owned in common and accessed according to needs the interdependence will be a shared one commited to satisfyng human needs as opposed to profiting from them.

    We won’t need a state to organise this locally, regionally, globally.

    Insisting upon the ‘work to eat’ proviso is an ideological hangover from quasi-religious ‘human nature’ arguments and unnecessary, as work is a normal function of human behaviour.

    “From each according to ability to each according to needs”, will be more than adequate  proviso, as needs and abilities will be self assessed and predicated upon the immense majority having developed the political maturity to have made the revolution in the first place and therefore be willling to make it work.


    alanjjohnstone … we agree. Community and mutual interdependence is a lost art in the First World. I blame the Left for eroding that, via indiscriminate Welfarism.


    we agree. Community and mutual interdependence is a lost art in the First World. I blame the Left for eroding that, via indiscriminate Welfarism.

    Which left? Who is the left?  The concept of the first world does not exist any longer, as well the concept of the third world does not exist either


    Matthew Culbert .. we don’t agree. The very reason we’re in the state we’re in today, is that accountability has been abandoned. The privileged rushing to ‘feed the masses’ in the whatever manner silenced them fastest .. means that no genuine concern was involved. The equivalent of allowing our children to eat whatever they want, because training them to make better choices would impact our own comforts and freedoms.

    “Owned in common” is bad news unless every one of those owners has earned that place, and continues to earn it. Indiscriminate ‘ownership in common’ is exactly what I’m referring to above. It leads to gross inequity, and is therefore a step backwards in any progress towards collectivism. There’s nothing quasi-religious about ‘work to eat’ .. it’s a survival fundamental common to all social mammals.

    “For each according to ability” is another outrage, IMO. It’s entitlement and privilege, and completely unrealistic. It’s a bourgeois expectation of freedom of choice, in a context which cannot possibly support that. It demands First World privilege, at the cost of wider equity. And “each according to needs” is in some senses even worse. What about the overweight First Worlder living alone? What is his need compared to the shanty dwelling Bangladeshi who scrapes together just enough rice and veg each day to feed (barely) his family of five?

    I offer all the above with respect.


    ALB … we’re not on same page, I don’t think.

    I have no issue with the wage earner. None whatsoever. It’s not about how the individual acquires their income, it’s about what they do with it. Voluntary rents (and all rents are voluntary, given we don’t live in a totalitarian state) are just one example of the choice to avoid the work of self-reliance, in preference for the luxury of paying someone else to shoulder that burden. When we rent, we’re saying we don’t care for the self-discipline of the years of frugality needed to save a down-payment, nor the ongoing obligations of mortgage and maintenance. We’d rather someone else handle that stuff (ie the landlord), and we’re happy to pay through the nose for that luxury. Further, if you can spare a lifetime of monthly rent payments knowing you’ll have nothing to show for it at the end, you’re clearly very very privileged .. either of mind or means. The working classes cannot afford to waste that much money, obviously. If they are doing so, then they’ve chosen to live a champagne life, and can’t rightly be regarded as anything but champions of capitalism.

    And I don’t agree that workers have fewer choices when it comes to owning the means of their survival. If you run the stats you’ll find that working class people have a much higher rate of home ownership in places other than big cities. Regional cities, large towns, rural etc all have better outcomes for those on modest incomes.

    And a paid for home is a significant bulwark against things like job loss, pandemics, recession, etc. As long as it’s not a studio apartment (and it rarely is, outside the big cities), the average family home can house quite a few people – people who might otherwise be struggling trying to live alone. If these people have earned the right to that owned property via full commitment to the work of the collective, they’ve themselves then acquired ‘worker owned means of survival’.

    The problem is that the capitalism-minded will not sacrifice their privacy and autonomy, and are prepared to fund those luxuries to the point of burdening the working stiff (aka, taxpayers).


    Marcos, I agree that the concept of a First and Third World sucks.

    But try telling that to your average Urban Progressive. They expect every possible First World privilege and advantage, and are constantly demanding more. They want perfect safety, unlimited choices and freedoms, privacy, autonomy, a massive safety net, a low cost house in a location of their choosing (and it’s always somewhere expensive), free tertiary education, and protection from all insult and slight.

    They are an absolute nightmare for socialism, and for any effort to bring us all together in the ‘Second World’. They won’t stand for it, not for a minute. They want constant increase of their privileges.


    That is not the concept. The first world was those countries allied to NATO which were against the Soviet bloc, and the third world were those countries which were not aligned with any one of them, and the division between three worlds was created by Mao Tse Tung, and according to Mao the second world ( France, Germany ) were oppressed by the first world (the USA and the Soviet Union )  therefore, those concepts are not applicable any longer, and they are wrongfully used at the present time. The third world has no relationship with economical backwardness. Having a house, education, and protection has nothing to do with leftism or being progressive which was a political movement which emerged in Europe during the time of the enlightenment, in the USA any political movement that it is not in accordance with the norm is called leftism or progressive. The workers’ party of Brazil is also called progressive, and probably they are more leftists because it is a social democrat movement and some of their leaders claimed to be Marxist, the Democratic Party of the USA is considered a leftist institution which is completely wrong too. The USA is the country of the political confusions and the conspiracy theories

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