"Do Socialists Fight for Reforms?"



As revolutionary socialists, we want the working class to overthrow capitalism; but does that mean we "wait 'til the revolution" to fight for anything?

Hell no. Socialists have always been in the forefront of struggles for bread and butter, to fight the death penalty, to organize unions; in short, to win better conditions for workers and oppressed people under the present system.

In fact, socialists are the best fighters for reforms, for two reasons. For one, we understand how the system works; for two, we aren't afraid to upset the powers that be. Reformists - or people who think the system can be fixed - have illusions about how the system works, and how it can be fixed. "If more people voted, then the system would change" is something a reformist would say. But a revolutionary would say, "We have to get into the streets, we have to rally, we have to make noise and raise hell if we're going to get anything from this rotten system."

Reformists are under the illusion that if what we need to do is convince (or lobby) the rulers of the righteousness of our cause that they will listen to "reason" and "see the light". Revolutionary socialists understand that movements need to push and coerce the rulers from below.

Revolutionary socialists always argue in the midst of partial struggles from the system that ultimately, in the long run, what we need is a revolution. But we also argue that the best way (or rather the only way) we'll ever get anything from the system is if we fight for it, and if we fight in a certain way (strikes, protests, etc).

Socialists fight for reforms not only to improve people's lives in the here and now (and in the long run, which is why we're revolutionary socialists), but also because we understand that when people take on the system and win, that opens them to our ideas, the idea of overthrowing the whole system and not just changing this or that aspect of it. Fighting for reforms is good insofar as it raises the confidence of the working class to take on the capitalists. As Rosa Luxemburg wrote in her famous Reform or Revolution?: "Work for reform does not contain its own force, independent from revolution."

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