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August, 2006

The Future is Up to Us!

What Is Communism?

Editor's note: This column is based on excerpts from the book, "The Future is Up To Us: A Revolutionary Talking Politics with the American People ," by Nelson Peery. We encourage our readers to join the discussion. Send your thoughts to info@peoplestribune.org. Order the book by sending $12 to Speakers for a New America Books, c/o People's Tribune, PO Box 3524, Chicago, IL 60654-3524.

Nelson Peery

I finished an interview on "Good Day, Atlanta," a popular morning television show. From there, I went to Underground Atlanta, the old railroad station that has been converted into a popular eating and shopping center. I had started eating my lunch when the waiter said, "Hey, I saw you on TV. I thought that stuff you were saying was right on, man." Then I noticed a white guy standing to the side of me patiently waiting for me to notice him. Southerners are still polite. I stood up and invited him to please sit down. He declined, saying his family was waiting for him. Then he went on to say he had seen the interview. "I'm from Vicksburg, Mississippi and there is no way for me to be a communist. I'm not going to agree with you, but I want to tell you that this was the only sensible resolution of this problem that I've heard so far and we'd better resolve the problem, soon." We all agree on what the problem is: something must be done to guarantee people at least the means of survival.

I think he summarized the attitude of a large number of people, who, for ideological reasons, are not prepared to accept communism, but understand there is no other way. Either the method of distribution is changed to guarantee the necessities of life to those without employment, or we will have to coexist with growing numbers of bodies in the streets. In the winter of 1998 in Chicago, there were 40 or 50 bodies a month found along the roadsides and in the shelters. The numbers are growing and either we deal with it or it will reach epidemic proportions.

Many people think communism is a political system. It is difficult to tell them that it is an economic system. Computerized production is making fifty cars today with five workers. Fifty industrial workers are making five cars. The workers cannot reproduce their wages. Therefore, the capitalist class is getting wealthier and the people of the earth are getting poorer. They are going to organize to get what they need for their daily lives. We have to show that given the automated character of production, the goals of peace, freedom and social democracy are only attainable with a collective or communist system.

What is communism? First, it is a system that allows every person to contribute to society. I place this first because self worth, the foundation of happiness, is based on social contribution. Secondly, it is the rational distribution of' the necessaries of life according to need.

What is needed today is educators who will help the people understand what they already know. More than that, we need speakers who are capable of explaining the situation and the inevitable resolution in such a way as to excite people for their historic revolutionary tasks.


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