How will we get from here to there?
So far, we've covered how capitalism works (or doesn't work, depending on your point of view) and we've talked about the alternative to capitalism, which is a socialist society. But how do we get from here to there?
Let's get one thing straight: to go from a capitalist society, a society whose production occurs for profit, to a socialist society, whose production would occur on the basis of human need, is fundamental change. In other words, we are going to have to one way or the other, get rid of the capitalist system.
Again the question remains: HOW?
Can we vote for socialists into Congress and the White House and they'll pass socialist laws for us? Can we get from capitalism to socialism in gradual increments?
No. Even if by some miracle, every seat of Congress was won by socialists, that would not be enough. Most of the government is NOT elected. State bureaucrats, civil servants, police chiefs, officers in the army, etc are all unelected and unaccountable to anyone but those above them. This is where the real power of the state lies; not in the scraps of paper that legislators debate over, but in the physical power of coercion and force. On top of that, the section of the government that is elected, is elected only every 2 or 4 years! The politicians are only accountable to the people that elected them 1 day out of every 2 or 4 years! This is why Marx wrote in the Communist Manifesto that "the modern state is but a committee for managing the common affairs of the whole bourgeoisie."
The answer to the second question is also no. Like I said before, capitalism and socialism are totally incompatible at a fundamental level. All the reforms that workers have won under capitalism (trade unions, labor laws, etc), remain just that. They do not, they will not, they can not touch the core of capitalism. In fact, they presuppose the core of capitalism: a tiny minority own the means of production; as a result, everyone else must sell their labor power to them and are subsequently exploited.
In Reform or Revolution, Rosa Luxemburg wrote, "... people who pronounce themselves in favor of the legislative reform in place of and in contradistinction to the conquest of political power and social revolution, do not really choose a more tranquil, calmer and slower road to the same goal, but a different goal. Instead of taking a stand for the establishment of a new society they take a stand for surface modification of the old society."
So if we want to change the system at a fundamental level, we can't settle for reforms. What we need is a revolution. Capitalism, which is based on the exploition and oppression of the many by the few, cannot be reformed, it must be overthrown.
But revolution is necessary "...not only because the ruling class cannot be overthrown in any other way, but the class overthrowing it can only in a revolution succeed in ridding itself of all the muck of ages and become fitted to found society anew." Marx and Engels wrote this in the German Idealogy.
So a revolution is not only necessary to get rid of the old order, it is also necessary to train those in command of the new order, the working class.