"But socialists are just a tiny minority..."

The fact that socialists are a minority shouldn't be a surprise; in fact, it couldn't be any other way, or else capitalism would've been overthrown by now, and my website would be a website about peace, love, and flowers. But the reality is most people accept most of the ideas of the rulers; and almost everyone accepts their right to rule, either openly or in a more disguised, subtle form. For example, the idea that "workers are too stupid to run things," or that "the rich earned their wealth by working hard" both amount to the same thing - the bosses have the right to rule.

So if most workers accept the bosses' right to rule, how are they going to liberate themselves and win a socialist society? Ideas are not the fixed eternal property of individuals or classes. The higher the level of struggle, the more movements against the system are growing and winning victories, the more workers go on strike and exercise their class power, the more people are going to be open to the ideas of revolutionary socialism. In the process of changing the world, the changers themselves undergo tremendous change. White, liberal college students travelled to the South to organize against Jim Crow, and many came back convinced revolutionaries because of their experiences with the cops, the feds, and so on.

Today, in the here and now, revolutionary socialists are a tiny minority. But that is no reason to despair - it couldn't be otherwise. But as isolated individual socialists, we can't do much. Can a single drop turn the mighty river of the class struggle? Isolated individuals, disconnected from any organization, can't compare notes or "talk shop" with other people in similar situations.

This is one reason why it's important for socialists to unite together. We don't want to influence the conflict between workers and management in just one workplace, we want to influence it any/all workplaces so that all working people can have good jobs, affordable quality health care, and their other needs met.

How socialists should organize has been a subject of divisive debate ever since Marx and Engels wrote the Communist Manifesto way back in 1848. Back then, most people who called themselves revolutionaries thought that the best way to organize was to create secret, underground military-style organizations that would one day stage an insurrection, declare themselves the new government, and announce to the people that they had been liberated.

Marx and Engels spent the better part of their lives fighting against elitist notion of an enlightened, super-smart minority taking action on behalf of the "uneducated" or "brainwashed" masses. They believed that the working class was the only force that could liberate itself, that workers' ideas and organizations would evolve in the course of fighting against corporations and the governments that back them up, and that this process eventually would lead to the majority of the working class staging an insurrection and creating a new government. They called this "the dictatorship of the proletariat," meaning the entire working class would dictate how society would be organized, what decisions would be made in the economic and political realms.

The first time this became a reality was during the Paris Commune of 1871. The second time it happened in Russian in 1917.

Most revolutionary socialists today hope to recreate the Russian experience by building parties modeled on the Russian Bolsheviks. For a variety of historical and methodological reasons, they have been unable to reach their goal -- why this is the case is too long to explain here.

The bottom line is that the question of socialists should organize and what they should do right now varies tremendously depending on the country, the context, the time period, and so on. The main thing is this: to organize the struggle of your own working class to win. That might mean having a rally against a local slumlord who stole someone's deposit money, handing out leaflets at the church of a manager who is abusing his/her employees, having a sit-in in the lobby of a company office, putting together a strike for union recognition, or passing around a petition.

All of these activities may seem small and insignificant in the bigger scheme of things, but their outcome makes all the difference in the world to the people involved to get their security back from the landlord, to stop harassment at work, and so on. If workers can't stand up for themselves over these small issues, they won't be confident enough to overthrow the government and push aside their managers to create socialism. Only by accumulating "small" wins will workers begin to build their own confidence and draw revolutionary socialist conclusions.

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