I. Our Era
The present era is one characterized by the contradiction between a dysfunctional capitalism and the objective need for a revolutionary transition to communism.
Capitalism is the dominant social order on the planet, the result of bourgeois revolutions in an earlier historical period that overthrew feudalism and other pre-capitalist systems. In its revolutionary phase capitalism developed human productivity to hitherto-unheard of levels, transforming the world from one of material scarcity into one of material abundance – an abundance necessary but alone insufficient for universal human freedom. Even in its infancy, capitalism developed dripping in blood, from the trans-Atlantic slave trade to the genocide of the American Indians in the United States. Since the past century, capitalism has outlived its historically progressive function. War, social disintegration, economic crisis and catastrophic global warming are not aberrations but inbuilt features of capitalism in decay.
Society is divided between two main classes, the capitalists (or bourgeoisie, or ruling class) and the working class (or proletariat). The capitalist class, a small minority making up less than one percent of the population, derives its power from private ownership of the “means of production”: the corporate giants of manufacturing, retail and distribution, agriculture, finance, land, and communication. By contrast, the working class – the majority of the population, including those currently in employment and those without – owns no means of production and has nothing but its labor power to sell. That labor, along with nature, is what creates society’s wealth.
Unlike earlier systems based on direct chattel slavery or serfdom, the proletarian is not bound to any particular owner but rather is a wage slave in service of the bourgeoisie as a whole. The worker’s status is reduced to being a cog in a machine: under capitalism, production is socialized but appropriation is private. The workers generate enough value not only to cover their own wages and other operating costs, but an additional surplus value that is appropriated by the capitalist as profit. This exploitation, with the constant tension between the bourgeoisie’s desire to increase profit by pressing down wages and the proletariat’s efforts to raise them, is the class struggle in its most basic form. Our class derives its power by its separation from the means of production: its ability to withdraw its labor and its ability to take collective action.
Between these two great classes lies the petty bourgeoisie or “middle class.” Contrary to official ideology, the middle class is not based on income or what type of work one does but rather social position. Small-to-medium proprietors and managerial layers make up the middle class, a wide array ranging from natural allies of the working class to elite functionaries and hangers-on of the ruling class. The petty-bourgeoisie tends to between allegiance to the proletariat and bourgeoisie. A strong, organized proletariat can bring significant layers of the middle class to its side in struggle; where the proletariat fails to do this, the middle class will often fall under the sway of bourgeois populist and outright fascist demagoguery.
The present era of capitalism is the era of imperialism. The United States cemented itself as the world’s leading imperialist power after World War II, and today it stands as the world’s only superpower after the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991. Imperialism is not merely powerful countries doing bad things to less powerful countries, but the world hierarchy of states in conflict for the ever-increasing market reach and super-exploited labor in the neocolonial world that capitalism is compelled to penetrate. Just as each capitalist is in competition with other capitalists, the ruling class in each country fights a war of position against the ruling class elsewhere.
Capitalism cannot be reformed to put humanity over accumulation. Hence the need for socialist revolution.
The socialist revolution and the transition to communism represent humanity’s collective self-liberation. Socialist revolution requires active support from the majority of the population; a socialist society would radically extend democracy into every sphere of life. In place of the wasteful, anarchic market economy there is the democratically planned economy to rationally put humanity’s tremendous wealth to use satisfying people’s wants and needs, including the need to live sustainably with our planet. In place of the highly limited ‘democracy’ of capitalist states there is the democratic republic in which people exercise meaningful control over their lives – on the job, in the community, and in the world. A full flowering of science and culture would take place, freed from the war of each against all.
Not only are the end of war, exploitation and environmental destruction bound up with socialism, but so is the end of social oppression. Racism, national oppression and patriarchy serve our rulers’ interests by dividing sections of the working class against itself; fighting social oppression is an essential need for working class partisans. In particular, racism in the United States is a bedrock on which the repressive state apparatus is built which is then wielded against the people in general. And women’s oppression has propped up exploitative social relationships since the beginnings of class society. Under capitalism, the gendered pay gap and the free domestic labor women disproportionately perform acts as a subsidy to the state. Socialism means genuine equality for the first time in history for people of all genders, races, sexual orientations and national origins.
Like capitalism, socialism must be a world system. When the proletariat takes power in one country or in several countries, it will need its own state form (albeit a far more democratic state form) to defend and extend the revolution. While the working class can make revolution in any country, socialism in one country is an impossible utopia. This was illustrated in the 20th century when Soviet Russia was consumed by counter-revolution from within the revolution; Stalinism was the logical result of the revolution’s isolation in the backward former Russian Empire. The final victory of international socialism is only secured when the working class, in alliance with all oppressed people, has taken power in the advanced imperialist countries. Socialist revolution in the United States or the European Union would rapidly signal capitalism’s death knell. When the clear majority of the world is part of the socialist republic, the need for the workers’ state itself will fade away along with other inherited vestiges of capitalist society. This is the transition to communism – the stateless, classless, moneyless society that marks humanity’s rise from the “kingdom of necessity” to the “kingdom of freedom.”
II. For a Communist Party
The political landscape of the United States is dominated by the two-party system. The ruling class finds its representation through the Republican and Democratic parties. They are, as the great 20th century socialist leader Eugene Debs said, the political wings of the capitalist system. Millions of working people support the Democratic Party with sincere illusions in its ability to deliver change on their behalf, or as a lesser evil to the GOP, or in the hope that it can be reformed in a left-wing direction.
Communists oppose the Democratic Party as an institutional component of the U.S. capitalist state. Despite its name, the Democratic Party is not democratically structured – even in theory – the same way a trade union is, where even a bureaucratized union can be collectively reclaimed by the workers. In power, it delivers the same imperial foreign policy and anti-worker domestic policy as its counterparts across the aisle, differing only in detail and not substance. In opposition, it acts as a break on struggles from below rather than political representation for those movements – evidenced in recent years by the 2011 Wisconsin uprising and the 2015 Baltimore rebellion. Even progressive icon Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s ‘New Deal’ programs were enacted not from the good conscience of the liberal bourgeoisie but to stave off the threat of socialist revolution from a combative proletariat. As the abolitionist Frederick Douglass observed, power concedes nothing without a fight.
In order to oppose capital at a higher level than ephemeral, elemental outbursts, the working class needs its own organizations – its own political wing. Historically there have been attempts at building political parties based on sections of the workers’ movement in the U.S. The Farmer Labor Party of the 1920s and the short-lived, stillborn 1996 Labor Party aimed to create parties based on the trade union movement, akin to labour and social-democratic parties in Europe and Canada. Then there are periodic calls for a so-called “broad left” party or “party of the 99%,” which would encompass any force to the left of the Democrats.
Today the far left is exists as an alphabet soup of small, mutually hostile sects. While these radical groups of a few dozen or a few hundred members do valuable work, their energies are largely wasted and their potential capped by the sect form of organization. Hyper-activism with little sense of strategy and proportion, undemocratic internal regimes (bureaucratic centralism) and a lack of roots in the working class characterize this form. The impulse toward left unity felt by those who promote the “broad left” party is correct, but ultimately such halfway houses between reform and revolution are doomed to failure. In practice such formations do not act as a stepping stone toward a revolutionary party, because the revolutionary left continues to lack its own banner under which it can fight for a Marxist program. “Broad left” parties in power, like the Greek Syriza or the Brazilian Workers Party in recent years, end up not only failing to transcend the existing order but actually administering neoliberal capitalism. For its part, the Green Party – the largest existing party to the left of the Democrats today – does not even claim to present a systemic alternative to capitalism, nor represent the interests of the proletariat as a class within the confines of capitalism as a social-democratic party would.
The Red Party’s central task is campaigning for principled revolutionary unity in a Communist Party, the highest form of working-class organization. With its party, the working class is no longer simply a class in itself – a class that objectively exists with only potential power – but rather a class for itself, organized in conscious pursuit of its interests. The raw material for a party can be found in the already-existing organized left in this country.
Rebuilding a Communist Party worthy of the name will require a revolution on the revolutionary left. We fight for a Marxist program as the unifying basis for the future party: in other words, a program guided by the three principles of working class political independence, internationalism and radical democracy. While the Red Party works toward and engages in any concrete steps toward unity, we do so on the basis of this kind of principled unity around a Marxist program.
Without class-political independence the working class cannot act as an independent social force. Internationalism is not just a moral claim but our indispensable strategic need – an injury to one is an injury to all. A worker in the United States has far more in common with their fellow worker in Syria, or with their immigrant brothers and sisters, than they do with an American capitalist. The interests of the working class in every country are bound together. Despite its internal conflict the ruling class organizes globally; the proletariat must do the same. Therefore the Red Party calls for increased international trade union organization and a Communist International, to be composed of communist parties in individual countries – a world organization with a world strategy for world revolution.
For its part, extreme democracy is both the life-giving oxygen of our movement and the only way the working class can become the ruling class. Radical democracy in our movement means reorienting the far left away from the model of bureaucratic centralism and toward a model enshrining free, open discussion and debate while still preserving unity in action – in other words, democratic centralism. Both rigid ideological uniformity and eclectic disorganization are unnecessary for and in fact incompatible with a party capable of winning millions to communism. In the broader workers’ movement, communists cannot effectively oppose the class-collaborationist labor bureaucracy without first getting their own house in order.
While a principled unity would not immediately create a mass Communist Party, even a party encompassing the thousands of existing socialist militants would greatly strengthen the workers’ movement. Its existence would be a pole of attraction for class-conscious workers and oppressed people. It would be an organizing locus for the most politically advanced sections of our class, a vehicle to spread Marxist ideas throughout society, and a center from which the proletariat can rebuild and regenerate its mass organizations – not just the trade unions but cooperatives, mutual aid and youth organizations, et cetera. In short, a Communist Party is the precondition for building a mass systemic opposition force in society.
III. Minimum Demands
The nature of the present social order naturally compels the working class to struggle to defend and improve its conditions, on an elemental and limited basis. But in order to overthrow capitalism, the working class must win the battle of democracy. Therefore we present the following demands – our minimum program. While these demands all advance the position of the workers and oppressed, this minimum program is by no means the “final word” on economic, political and social emancipation. Portions of this program may be achievable under capitalism through mass struggle, but their totality can only be reached when the working class comes to power. While the workers’ party is in opposition, the minimum program points toward an alternative to the capitalist system, subordinating the profit motive to human need. When the workers take power, fully implementing the minimum program becomes the first step of the transition to communism.
1. All Power to an Extended House of Representatives
1.1. Abolition of the Presidency and Senate.
1.2. Executive and legislative powers to be invested in the House of Representatives.
Therefore, that body shall:
1.2.1. Be composed of a single assembly.
1.2.2. End the separation of powers. The assembly shall be executive and legislative at the same time.
1.2.3. Powers to include Constitutional revision, administration, and judicial oversight.
1.2.4. Executive officials elected from the floor.
1.2.5. Provide streamlined procedure and speedy votes.
1.2.6. Meet regularly.
1.3. Constitutional Court.
1.3.1. To be comprised of no more than 11 members of the House of Representatives elected by lottery.
1.3.2. Have the power of constitutional oversight on all legislation to protect the various rights and protections of the Democratic Republic.
1.3.3. Members shall serve a set term no more than one term in the House of Representatives.
2. The Democratic Republic
2.1. Governmental bodies shall be organized on the basis of radical democracy.
Therefore, those bodies shall:
2.1.1. Be reconstituted as a unitary republic. All bodies shall abide by the following principles:
18.104.22.168. No requirements of previous office shall be required for election to any body.
22.214.171.124. Be subject to regular elections on a period no less than biennially.
126.96.36.199. Subject to popular recall and re-election.
188.8.131.52. Organized for maximum representation in proportionality.
184.108.40.206. Be elected directly by means reflecting proportionality.
220.127.116.11. The conversion of the several states from distinct governments into administrative districts, with the possibility of reorganization.
2.2. All elected officials to be people’s representatives on a worker’s wage.
2.2.1. Share the same term limit among all elected officials.
2.2.2. Shall receive a salary, after official expenses subject to public scrutiny and formal audit, to be equivalent to the average skilled worker’s wage.
2.2.3. Shall be subject to comprehensive audit of all public and personal correspondence and finances upon leaving office.
3. Freedom of Information
3.1. True freedom of information and communication. This requires:
3.2. The end of all forms of official and state secrecy, including all deliberations and correspondence.
3.3. Careful record keeping of all official correspondence and deliberation, which are to be made freely accessible.
3.4. Abolition of trade secrets, patents, and all other Intellectual Property.
4. People’s Control of Mass Media.
4.1. At least 50% of large information capacity (bandwidth, printing output, RF bands, etc.) shall be nationalized in each sector.
4.2. Freedom to criticize officials and policy in public media.
4.3. No censorship except for advocacy of violent opposition to the constitution.
5. Making Government Accessible to All
5.1. People’s control of the state administration.
5.1.1. All state specialists to be paid no more than the prevailing wage.
5.1.2. All state specialists to be regularly rotated between positions.
5.1.3. No more than 2 consecutive terms in office.
5.1.4. All specialists subject to elective confirmation or selection by their subordinates. All specialists shall be instantly dismissible by a majority vote of their subordinates.
5.1.5. All specialist correspondence and papers shall be accessible at-will by subordinates and popular authorities.
5.2. Abolition of political careers. Therefore:
5.2.1. Officials shall be elected at minimum once every other year.
5.2.2. Limits on consecutive terms shall be imposed at all levels of government.
5.2.3. Intensive society-wide education programs shall be established to disseminate specialized skills/knowledge so as to enable rapid turnover in official/professional positions.
5.3. Rule of the people, not the rule of law. This requires:
5.3.1. Election of the judiciary.
5.3.2. Judges, elected officials, and specialists to be directly responsible to institutions of popular power.
5.3.3. Abolition of all legal protections on major industrial and commercial property, including corporate personhood.
5.3.4. Abolition of the federal system.
5.3.5. Guarantee of a democratic republican form of government at all levels.
5.3.6. Simplification and streamlining of the law as much as possible.
6. Ending the Rule of Money
6.1. End the ‘buying’ of politicians and policies.
6.1.1. Abolition of individual political contributions.
6.1.2. Ban political finance except by mass organizations or political parties.
6.1.3. Strip NGOs and religious organizations of tax-exemption.
6.1.4. Non-partisan public financing of political and/or mass organizational activity.
7. Participatory Democracy
7.1. For mass assemblies and councils. Therefore:
7.1.1. Freedom to occupy and make political use of public spaces, free from harassment.
7.1.2. Freedom to form mass assemblies and councils, subject to agreement with the constitution.
7.1.3. For freedom of association, collective action, self-management, and autonomy for such bodies.
8. Dismantle the Deep State
8.1. Abolition of the intelligence and state security apparatus.
8.1.1. Dissolve all intelligence and security agencies.
8.1.2. Publish all intelligence and security documents.
8.1.3. Prosecute all exposed official crimes, war crimes, and crimes against humanity, past and present.
8.1.4. Surveillance repurposed to supervision of officials not citizens.
8.2. Abolition of the standing army; to be replaced by the armed people and a people’s militia. This means:
8.2.1. The collective right to access, bear, and be trained in arms, shall not be infringed.
8.2.2. Establishing a democratic people’s militia composed of all able-bodied citizens.
8.2.3. Supervision of all officer activity and correspondence by organizations of the infantry.
8.2.4. For democratic rights to the infantry, including right to committees/councils, union & party rights, and freedom of speech & assembly outside of active combat engagements.
8.2.5. Unconditional withdrawal of troops abroad, including foreign bases.
8.2.6. Universal & compulsory military training, including on combined arms, of able-bodied at age 18.
8.2.7. Including, equal opportunity of specialist training, education, and assignment.
8.2.8. Combined arms training and operations to be advised or managed henceforth by military specialists on temporary and rotational assignment.
8.2.9. Unilateral disarmament for all weapons of mass destruction (nuclear, chemical and biological).
8.2.10. Immediate closure of all military bases on foreign soil.
8.2.11. End all foreign aid to repressive, reactionary regimes abroad.
9. Abolition of Police and Ending Mass Incarceration
9.1. Abolish the police as separate from local authorities and the people’s militia. To accomplish this:
9.1.1. Professional police will be replaced by public safety commissions checked by right to jury trial.
9.1.2. No militarization of public safety officials.
9.1.3. Formation of a people’s militia.
9.2. Prison abolition, corrections based on rehabilitation. Therefore:
9.2.1. Corrections to be localized & downsized, and repurposed for rehabilitation.
9.2.2. Free training & education to be made available.
9.2.3. Universal release and expungement for all prisoners, probationers, and record-holders persecuted for non-violent ‘crimes’, including vagrancy, sex work, or small-scale drug possession/sale.
9.2.4. Labor in corrections shall be at fair market wage, with full union rights.
10. Ending Structural Oppression
10.1. End structural discrimination and oppression in society. Therefore:
10.1.1. Ban discrimination in employment, in the state, and in mass organizations.
10.1.2. Encouragement of the widening of civil service laws to all sectors of the economy.
10.1.3. Aggressive affirmative action shall guarantee end to division.
10.1.4. Right of self-defense and collective action.
10.1.5. Disarm and dismantle all reactionaries and their organizations.
10.1.6. Workers’ right to caucus by community.
10.2. End patriarchal attitudes and oppression.
10.2.1. End institutional oppression of women, youth, and LGBTQ+ people.
10.2.2. No compulsory and public classification by gender or sex.
10.2.3. Fully paid maternity leave of 12 months, which the mother can choose to take from 6 months into pregnancy.
10.2.4. The parental figure (or figures) to be provided with six months’ fully paid parental leave – three months of which should be compulsory – to encourage equality and bonding with the child.
10.2.5. Free sexual healthcare and contraception on demand and full sexual education in schools.
10.2.6. Healthcare to include abortion and gender reassignment surgery.
10.2.7. Provision for either parent to be allowed paid leave to look after sick children.
10.2.8. Maximum four-hour working day for all mothers.
10.2.9. Decriminalization of sex work.
10.2.10. Full support for women facing domestic violence.
10.2.11. Abolition of the wage gap.
10.2.12. Establishment of free day care centers for those that wish to return to work.
10.2.13. Adoption to be made available for same-sex couples.
10.3. On national equality and oppression
10.3.1. Right of colonies to secede.
10.3.2. Reparations to colonies should be provided as requested in the form of infrastructure, education, technical aid, etc.
10.3.3. End the quota system of immigration.
10.3.4. Abolition of discrimination based on nationality or country of origin.
10.3.5. Equality of nationalities.
10.3.6. Right to work and interact with the government in desired language.
10.3.7. The right of self-determination and sovereignty to Native American and First Nations Territories, Hawaii, Puerto Rico, and America’s imperialist holdings in the Pacific. Voluntary union as the basis of the democratic republic.
10.3.8. Increased autonomy rights and right to self-control for communities composed of racially-oppressed peoples by democratic referendum.
10.3.9. Reparations provided as requested in the form of infrastructure, education, technical aid, etc.
10.4. All registered mass organizations, including parties, to be organized on democratic republican forms. Rights to:
10.4.1. Organizational democracy.
10.4.2. Public financing.
10.4.3. Election and recall.
10.4.4. Limits on political careers.
10.4.5. Association and faction.
10.4.6. Free speech, publishing, and transparency.
11. Defense of the Republic
11.1. Immediate Emergency Protective Measures.
11.1.1. Border controls intensified over movements of goods and capital.
11.1.2. Potential imposition of emergency measures to fight asset stripping, capital flight, and brain drain.
11.1.3. Close inspections of exports.
11.2. Defense of the republic via regional unity and solidarity.
11.2.1. To combine the capabilities of the working classes of the entire continent by advocating for and planning a Convention of the Americas for the purpose of combination of the administration of the democratic republic internationally.
11.3. Solidarity with all supporters of a democratic republic, and already established sister republics, worldwide.
12. Defense of the Constitution in the Workplace and Economy
12.1. Workers’ supervision
12.1.1. All workplaces with more than 20 employees to open all their books, including inventory and liabilities, to their workforce.
12.1.2. Audit of personnel, including credentials and work-experience, and accounting/tax reported finances, for all workplaces with greater than 20 employees employed.
12.2. Punitive measures for managers and specialists.
12.2.1. Compulsory apprenticeship to provide for their potential replacement.
12.2.2. Punitive layoffs for specialists’ and managers’ strikes.
12.2.3. Managers and specialists to be required to sign contracts forfeiting their personal property or wealth upon desertion of their posts.
13.1. Full nationalization of major financial sectors.
13.1.1. Nationalization without compensation.
13.1.2. Nationalization of all private wealth, asset, and equity management.
13.2. Nationalization of major sectors of the economy.
13.2.1. Nationalization of large-scale rail, trucking, maritime shipping, air transport, electrical, communications, and natural gas utilities.
13.3. Defensive nationalizations.
13.3.1. Punitive nationalizations for redundancies, lock-outs, and asset-stripping.
14. Guaranteed national living minimum wage & job-seekers’ benefits plus Universal Basic Income-supplement, indexed to inflation.
15.1. Nationalization of urban and all vacant real estate; distribution on basis of need.
15.2. The right to quality housing and utilities without debt, with nominal rent.
16. Abolition of private health care.
16.1. Establish a socialized health service to provide free, universal, high-quality care.
17.1. Free comprehensive education, with a stipend for duration and work flexibility.
17.2. Abolition of all student debt.
17.3. Full sexual education in school.
18. Working conditions.
18.1. Six-hour working day and a thirty hour work week with no loss in pay.
18.2. Ban layoffs without cause.
18.3. Repeal of the Taft-Hartley Act and all other anti-union laws. Establish simple card-check unionization.
19. Small proprietors to be incentivized to voluntarily collectivize and join the socialized sector of production.
20. Establish a planning commission to coordinate local, regional, and national economies.
20.1. Economic planning should prioritize sustainable development and help counteract the damage done under capitalist development.
20.2. Planning should prioritize equalizing socio-economic development in all under-developed communities.
These demands are not communism itself, but the minimum conditions necessary for the development of communism; capitalism is able to adapt to some of these demands temporarily but their collective implementation would mean the political rule of the working class. As markets and money are slowly phased out of society, rational planning and administration on a global scale will become the norm, and the state as we know it would disappear. Communism is not a scheme, a blueprint, or a policy, but the real movement that abolishes the old repressive ways of life; it is the full flourishing of humanity. How quickly we achieve communism depends on the pace of communist political victories across the globe.