Frequently Asked Questions
How do you advocate change?
By speaking, writing and discussing on the basis of logic, peoples’ life experiences, historical example, and our own experiences.
We advocate the revolutionary overthrow of capitalism throughout the world and its replacement with a socialist workers’ democracy. And to guarantee the success of socialism in other countries, we assert that the American working class must unite to take power in this country; otherwise, U.S. imperialism will maintain and deepen its stranglehold on and perversion of revolutionary developments around the world.
Further, we assert that only by defending the struggles of the most exploited and oppressed workers — women, people of color, and gays — can the U.S. working class overcome the sexism, racism, and homophobia that divide it, and achieve the solidarity to make the American revolution.
Is the Freedom Socialist Party like the Democratic and Republican Parties?
No. The Democrats and Republicans both uphold capitalism and imperialism, and are unalterably opposed to socialist revolution. We are exactly the opposite.
Do you think that human nature is basically good?
Human nature is an open, changing thing that is shaped predominantly by its social environment. Human nature is stunted, suspicious, hostile, competitive and violent in a society where dog-eat-dog is the rule. Where mutual cooperation and support are in effect, human nature is just the opposite. Parents know that babies and small children who receive love and tenderness are friendly, loving, sociable and generous — and have to be taught aggression.
What is the basis for FSP’s doctrine?
We are a Trotskyist, socialist feminist party. We are Marxists and Leninists.
Marx and Engels outlined the historic laws of capitalist origins, development, decline and downfall. They proved scientifically that the overthrow of capitalism has to be carried through by the very class created by the bourgeoisie to labor in offices, agriculture, and factories for the profits of the few who own the means of production.
Engels laid the basis for modern socialist feminism in Origin of the Family, Private Property and the State, which explained the communal, matriarchal social system that preceded private property, class society, patriarchy, slavery, the state, and “civilization.” He pinpointed the primary role women played in the economic, social, cultural and political life of the matrilineal tribes, and the egalitarian relationships enjoyed by all its members.
Lenin, the founder and leader of the Bolshevik party that led the working class to power in the great Russian Revolution of 1917, made his chief contribution by recognizing the need for a centralized and democratic party of full-time professional revolutionaries to coordinate and lead the masses in the seizure of state power. And the combat, vanguard party, he taught, must be scrupulously independent of bourgeois and petty bourgeois parties, and must demonstrate international solidarity in practice.
Trotsky was the leader of the 1905 Revolution and the co-leader of the 1917 Revolution. After Lenin’s death, he led the fight against Stalin and the bureaucracy that seized Soviet state power during the dark days of civil war, famine, social chaos, and economic disintegration that afflicted the U.S.S.R. in the early 1920s. Stalinism throttled the revolution in order to maintain its privileges amidst the poverty, disorder and demoralization that prevailed when it became apparent that the German and Western European revolutions would not happen quickly enough to bring support to the isolated U.S.S.R.
Trotsky, almost alone, kept alive the idea of workers’ democracy after the Stalinist bureaucracy smashed it. Trotsky’s great concept of Permanent Revolution showed that the continual social, national and proletarian (workingclass) upheavals of the 20th century were part of an uninterrupted and interconnected process of anti-capitalist warfare which constituted the birth pangs of the emerging socialist order. He saw the bourgeois revolution and Stalinism/Social Democracy as transitional detours that would be superseded by workers’ democracy when the permanent revolution gathers enough steam and support.
Marx, Engels, Lenin and Trotsky represent the ongoing line of development of basic Marxist theory and practice. They, together with the great feminist teachers, are the forebearers of the Freedom Socialist Party.
How does socialism differ from communism?
Socialism, for Marxists, is the transitional period between the overthrow of capitalism and the attainment of communism, when “each shall produce according to their ability and receive according to their needs,” when the state will have vanished, and economic progress and cultural/personal freedom will have reached a stage far, far higher than ever attained under capitalism.
In popular parlance, “communism” is now associated with Stalinism, and socialism with a non-Stalinist ideology.
Lenin’s State and Revolution clearly delineates the differences between the two stages of socialism and communism.
Do you see the need and inevitability of revolution?
Yes and no! The need is absolute, or nuclear holocaust and fascism will prevail. But nothing in politics is inevitable unless people make it happen.
No ruling class in history has ever given up power without a fight and U.S. imperialism is no exception. The capitalists have currently set in motion a systematic onslaught of rightwing attacks against the rights of workers, the poor, and the specially oppressed; everything from abortion and affirmative action to Native treaties, gay rights and unionism is under siege, and Uncle Sam has resurrected a virulently racist patriotism to fuel armed conflict in Iraq and Afghanistan, anti-immigrant sentiments and acceptance of an all-out assault on the Bill of Rights.
All of this signals the inability of the U.S. ruling class to reverse the disintegration wrought by capitalism and to keep workers docile, through use of the normal democratic process.
This system’s only recourse today is outright, police-state dictatorship and wars of aggression to maintain profits and prolong its survival. The only alternative is socialist revolution, which must be waged and won. International class struggle is on the order of the day, and the workingclass and its allies can win if they are correctly and firmly motivated, guided, organized and unleashed.
What form of government would FSP advocate in a socialist U.S.?
A government elected by a council of workers, people of color, soldiers, women, farmers, etc. (soviets). These councils, which differ from legislatures in that they combine executive, administrative, legislative and judicial functions, would comprise a network of decision and policy making committees or communes at the neighborhood, local, regional, national, and, eventually, international level. Decisions on economic, social, political, cultural, etc. issues at each level would be arrived at through open and free discussion and majority vote. A reversal of any decision would be made through the same process. Council decisions would be subject to review and could be overruled by a council at a higher level.
Delegates to all councils would be nominated by the membership and elected by majority vote. All representatives would be subject to immediate recall upon a majority vote of the membership. And no representative would receive a wage greater than that of the highest paid workers in their communities.
The rights of all racial, ethnic, national, and sexual minorities, and those of any specially persecuted or long-harassed group, would be absolutely guaranteed under constitutional law. Minority groups would be guaranteed at least equal representation with the majority at every level of government, and would be allowed the right to autonomous organization and/or settlement if they desired it.
Is democracy a part of your socialism?
Democracy is essential to real socialism. Without the right of the entire membership of any body to freely discuss, debate, decide key questions by majority vote, hold the leadership to account, recall the leadership or reverse any policy, and be guaranteed full rights if a political minority, socialism will be corrupted by the bureaucratic and dictatorial rule of an elite caste accountable to nothing and no one but its own narrow interests. Degeneration and betrayal, a la Stalinism, will be inevitable.
Such bureaucratic rule can only lead to disaster, because its policy is not made, shaped, reviewed or checked by the people.
Is the opposing and minority view respected?
The capitalist point of view, which seeks the destruction of socialism, will be neither respected or protected by a revolutionary people. Bourgeois ideology will be dealt with by education and the power of socialist example—or by force—should it seek military overthrow of the workers state.
All points of view that accept and reflect the basic framework and principles of socialism will be respected, protected and encouraged in the interests of a healthy socialist democracy. All questions of policy—agricultural and industrial production, distribution of goods and services, education, administration, technology, ecology, civil rights and liberties, health, culture, housing, etc.—will be subjected to the widest range of ideas before decisions are made.
Nobody has all the answers to these and the host of other questions that arise in a workers state, and socialism benefits from the cross-fertilization of ideas, from the fierce and joyous struggle over policy in every sphere of life that characterizes a living revolution.
Would it be better to support a Democratic or Green Party candidate who comes close to socialist ideals? Why back a losing horse and never infiltrate the system?
A Democratic candidate “who comes close to socialist ideals” is a contradiction in terms. Democrats who promise to implement a socialist platform invariably sell out on their campaign promises, as they maneuver and wheel-and-deal in compromises to stay in office.
The party is a treacherous swamp. When Democrats campaign, they are friends of the working class; once in power, they abide by the “political realities” of a system run by Wall Street and giant multinational corporations. The Green Party does likewise. There is little difference between the two parties, so little, in fact, that Green Party candidates who win elections are indistinguishable from Democrats and often join the Democratic Party.
The great American socialist, Eugene V. Debs, said, “It’s a whole lot better to vote for what you want and not get it than it is to vote for what you don’t want and get it.”
The FSP campaigns in order to teach and to proclaim principles, so there is no question of “losing horses.” What’s the point of supporting a “winner” who doesn’t need us and opposes us? We gain nothing and lose our lobbying power that comes from our independence. We constantly do “infiltrate the system” but never as capitalist party representatives.
Is atheism part of the FSP doctrine?
Yes. We believe that the concept of God and the heavenly after-world are put forth as a substitute for a decent life in this world. Organized religion is a pacifier, a hoax, and a defender of the status quo and the bourgeoisie.
At the same time, we uphold the right of anyone to believe and worship as they choose. Religion is a private affair which we expect to vanish as humanity increasingly controls its own destiny. In the meantime, we oppose the ill-gotten wealth, tax cuts, privilege, reaction and political influence of the institutionalized church.
What are some other socialist parties? How does FSP differ?
Parties that claim to be socialist fall roughly into three general categories: Trotskyists, like ourselves, who believe that socialism can only be built on the foundation of workers’ democracy and defended by the power of the international proletariat; Stalinists/Maoists who claim that full “socialism” has been realized in one country alone (like Cuba); and social democrats who labor under the illusion that socialism can be attained exclusively through reforms of the capitalist system.
Many differences, of course, prevail in each sector.
The Socialist Workers Party (SWP) is the original Trotskyist party in the U.S. In the last four decades it has moved swiftly towards reformism, opportunism, laborism (a non-revolutionary orientation to the labor bureaucracy) and sectarianism. It is conservative, ultra-cautious, and maniacally single-issue. The SWP operates bureaucratically and follows the lowest level of political thinking in the labor movement, hoping to win a cheap popularity while avoiding having to deal with the complex issues of feminism, people of color, and queer liberation. Today the SWP is an adoring PR firm for Cuba and a publishing enterprise with no interest in making a socialist revolution anywhere.
Socialist Alternative (SA) is a Trotskyist organization that, like FSP, describes itself as socialist feminist. However, SA merely tacks on issues relating to women rather than offering a multi-issue analysis. It does not seem to appreciate that women, people of color, queers and immigrants are not only the combined majority of the working class, but also provide essential radical leadership due to their experience of the worst that capitalism has to offer. SA’s seriousness about revolution has to be questioned by their support for Ralph Nader’s three presidential campaigns which call for reforming capitalism rather than overthrowing it.
International Socialist Organization (ISO) also grew out of the Trotskyist milieu. It is based mostly on college campuses. Until 2013, ISO defined feminism as intrinsically bourgeois, though it said it supported women’s liberation. It is now examining this position and also its stance that race privilege does not exist within the working class. After decades of abstaining from any electoral or legislative activity, the ISO backed Ralph Nader’s Green Party campaign for president in 2000. But it rarely endorses other socialist candidates.
Party for Socialism and Liberation (PSL) comes from Trotskyist origins but has a history of supporting Stalinist and “anti-imperialist” authoritarians over movements for workers power or democratic rights. Currently, they support the Syrian regime’s bloody crackdown against the democracy movement. PSL is competitive toward other left parties, refusing to support any but their own socialist candidates and instead backing non-socialists such as Roseanne Barr and Ralph Nader for the sake of popularity. PSL is connected with two formations, ANSWER (Act Now to Stop War and Racism) and WORD (Women Organized to Resist and Defend). Neither are democratic coalitions, and both are generally strong on sectarianism and weak on solidarity.
The Revolutionary Communist Party (RCP) is the only Maoist party left in the U.S. adhering to “Mao Tse Tung Thought” as opposed to the present Chinese leadership. RCP theory and practice are simplistic, confused, and ultra-left. They want to fight the revolution now, without first organizing for it. This kind of mentality tends to get people over-extended and hurt, because RCP never bothers to get any outside support for their political adventures. They are dangerously irresponsible and reckless. They talk a lot about “the workers,” but don’t have anything to do with the living labor movement.
The Communist Party was the first Leninist party in the United States. Today, it organizes liberals to stay liberal, and has been completely sunk in the mire of the Democratic Party and the U.S. labor bureaucracy for decades. It is hopelessly reformist and unrelentingly bureaucratic in the mass movements, especially Jobs with Justice.
Social democrats, such as the Democratic Socialist Organizing Committee (DSOC) and the New American Movement (NAM), long ago disappeared into the Democratic Party. The Socialist Party is a hodgepodge of leftists and liberals without a clear political line or cohesive organizational structure.
The Green Party attracts liberal-minded political activists, but its program isn’t anti-capitalist. Its candidates tend to switch parties once elected and become Democrats. It lacks the strength of its own convictions as evidenced in several presidential elections where the party faithful were asked to vote for the Democrat rather than the Green Party’s own candidate. In Germany, the Greens joined a capitalist government and became indistinguishable from other bourgeois parties.
The basic differences we have with all these parties is our socialist feminism—our insistence on the actual and potential leadership role of women, especially women of color, in the mass movement and the revolution (Iran, Honduras, Venezuela, Africa, etc.), and the role played by feminism in every movement and every land in unifying the people and advancing the struggle.
How does one become a member of the FSP?
First, by agreeing with the general line of the party’s program. Second, by agreeing to become as active as possible in pursuing the party’s work and goals, and contributing financially to its coffers.
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Feb 11, 25 & Mar 10, 24, 7:00 PM - 8:30 PM
Reading and Discussion Circle – Talking Back: Voices of Color
Wed, 3 Feb, 6:30 pm
Study Circle – An introduction to James P Cannon
Sat, 6 Feb, 2:00 pm
Touch one, touch all: Racism, the fascist threat and how unions can fight it
Wed, 24 Feb, 6:30 pm
FSP Meeting: Indigenous Australia, racism and national oppression
New York City
Sat, Feb 27, 7:00 PM
Black History Month Film: Freedom On My Mind
Sat, Feb 27, 7:00 PM
Black History Month Film and Discussion: Arresting Power: Resisting Police Violence