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Building a socialist alternative
Capitalism is a system of shocking inequality. Almost half the world's population—more than 3 billion people—lives on less than $2.50 a day. Over a billion people are undernourished and go to bed hungry each night. Even in the U.S., the richest country in the world, one in five children is born into poverty. But amid this crying need, there is immense wealth. According to Forbes, the 80 richest billionaires possess more wealth than 3.6 billion people—the poorer half of the world's population.
And it isn't just that some people are rich and some people are poor. Because capitalism is organized around the ruling class' drive for more profits and power, some people are rich because other people are poor. Hunger, homelessness, chronic unemployment, the horrors of war, oppression, environmental devastation—these are the inevitable products of a capitalist system dedicated to profit before people, no matter what the cost.
The very first job of our organization is to make the case for socialism—for a revolutionary society that uses the world's vast resources to eradicate poverty, homelessness and every form of scarcity, and that allows the vast majority of people to control their world democratically.
The ISO believes that socialism must come through the struggles of the working class, the vast majority in society. Socialism cannot be handed down from above or imposed. Our socialism has nothing to do with the authoritarian, bureaucratic societies that have claimed to be communist, like China, North Korea or the former USSR—nor with the political parties in Europe and elsewhere that call themselves socialist, but preside over capitalist governments.
It is not enough to critique capitalism and explain why socialism is a better alternative. The power to achieve a socialist society lies not with the dreams of a small number of socialists, nor even their actions alone, but in the struggles of the working class majority of society to change the world. Therefore, the ISO is also an organization of activists.
Because we believe that workers, if they are united, have the power to transform the system, socialists are participants in the struggles of the working class—whether in workplaces, fighting for better wages and conditions, or in wider struggles to improve the living standards of the majority in society. But socialists are also, in the words of the Russian revolutionary Lenin, "tribunes of the oppressed," challenging discrimination, inequality and bigotry in every form, as a necessary condition of a united working-class struggle for socialism.
Wherever our members are located, the ISO is involved every struggle that we can be. We understand their importance in improving the lives of working people in the here and now. But in each of these campaigns and activities, we point out the connections between them and the importance of the principle of solidarity among the oppressed and throughout the working class. And we propose that all our efforts to change the here and now must become part of a wider struggle to win a future socialist society.
This is why the ISO is also dedicated to building explicitly socialist organization whose supporters can organize for, in the words of the Communist Manifesto, "the attainment of the immediate aims...of the working class; but in the movement of the present, they also represent and take care of the future of that movement."
For more to read on the socialist alternative, look for:
- Socialism...Seriously: A Brief Guide to Human Liberation by Danny Katch
- The Meaning of Marxism by Paul D'Amato
- The Communist Manifesto by Karl Marx and Frederick Engels
- The Future Socialist Society by Leela Yellesetty