By Eugene Ruyle

Posted on May 8, 2013 by the Communications Committee

Socialism: Word of the Year for 2012

Two words, socialism and capitalism, shared the top spot for lookups in 2012, shedding light on “topics and ideas that sparked the nation's interest,” according to a recent report from Merriam-Webster, Inc.  The dictionary publisher cited the healthcare debates and presidential race as contributing factors, but interest in socialism and capitalism is bound to increase as Americans feel the continuing pain of economic crisis.

Unfortunately, Merriam-Webster does not provide a reliable guide to the meaning of these important political concepts. A better place to look for guidance is the Platform of our nation’s oldest and largest ballot qualified socialist party, the Peace and Freedom Party of California. Here, you’ll find the following:

The Peace and Freedom Party, founded in 1967, is committed to socialism, democracy, ecology, feminism and racial equality. We represent the working class, those without capital in a capitalist society. We organize toward a world where cooperation replaces competition, a world where all people are well fed, clothed and housed; where all women and men have equal status; where all individuals may freely endeavor to fulfill their own talents and desires; a world of freedom and peace where every community retains its cultural integrity and lives with all others in harmony. We offer this summary of our immediate and long-range goals:

Socialism: We support social ownership and democratic management of industry and natural resources. Under capitalism, the proceeds of labor go to the profits of the wealthy few. With socialism, production is planned to meet human needs.

To us, socialism is workers' democracy, including the principle that all officials are elected, recallable at any time, and none receives more than a worker's wage. Socialism can only be brought about when we, the working class, unite and act as a body in our own interests. Our goals cannot be achieved by electoral means alone. We participate in mass organization and direct action in neighborhoods, workplaces, unions and the armed forces everywhere.

As an open, multi-tendency, movement-oriented socialist party, Peace and Freedom does not impose on its members a single, rigid view of socialism or the strategies and tactics of how to achieve socialism. We agree, however, that socialism is necessary and that it will open up a democratic decision-making process for appropriate use of resources and distribution of labor.

While Americans may be mis-educated and mis-informed about socialism, this is not the case in the rest of the world. The world’s two most populous countries, China and India, have both incorporated socialism into their constitutions, while socialist and communist parties regularly get strong support throughout Latin America, Europe, and Asia. Most recently, we have seen the electoral victory in Venezuela of the successor of Hugo Chávez, Nicolas Maduro of the United Socialist Party. Socialism is not dead, contrary to some pundits, but remains alive and very much on the global agenda.

As socialists in the heartland of global imperialism, we have a special responsibility to our comrades around the world: shut down the war machine and make the transition from capitalism to socialism as rapidly and painlessly as possible.

Eugene Ruyle, Emeritus Professor of Anthropology and Asian Studies at California State University, Long Beach, was the Peace and Freedom candidate for State Assembly in 2012 in the 15th District (Oakland, Berkeley, Richmond), winning 25,167 votes, or 13.2% of the total. Ruyle is preparing another campaign for 2014. For further information, visit his campaign web site at or contact him at cuyleruyle [at] mac [dot] com or 510-428-1578.

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