* Socialism is for anybody who thinks the world would be a better place
        o Poverty
        o War
        o Sexism, racism, nationalism, and other forms of hatred
        o Environmental devastation
        o Bosses and politicians telling everyone else what to do
   * Socialism is for anybody who thinks the world would be a better place
        o Democracy meant more than an election every few years
        o Freedom meant real freedom, and respect, for everybody
        o People cooperated to satisfy human needs
   * Socialism is for anybody who wants real solutions, not repeated
        o The Left, Centre, and Right haven't solved anything that counts -
          and they can't
        o Real solutions may take a while, but that's better than never
        o Real solutions require rational thought, not hype
        o Real solutions require people to work for them


What Socialism Means

  O Socialism has never been tried 
  O When it is tried it must be established globally 
  O World socialism can only be brought about democratically 

We begin with these three points because they are vital to any 
kind of an understanding of what we mean by socialism. 

We reject the idea that socialism has been tried in countries 
sometimes referred to as socialist. Look below at our definition 
of socialism and ask yourself if this in any way describes the 
state capitalist, police states of modern China and Cuba or the 
old regimes in Russia and eastern Europe, or the past and 
present "social-democratic"; governments in many countries. 

We reject the idea of socialism in one country. National socialism 
equals non-socialism. The capitalist system is global and so must 
the system which will replace it. 

We reject the idea that people can be led into socialism. Socialism 
will not be established by good leaders or battling armies, but by 
thinking men, women and children.  There can be no socialism without 

So what does Socialism mean then? 

That's a straight question, so here's a straight answer. 

Socialism means a global system of social organization based on: 

Common Ownership: All the productive wealth of the world will belong
to all the people of the world. No more transnational corporations 
or small businesses and therefore nobody will own the world. 
It will be possessed by all of its inhabitants. 

Democratic Control By All: Who will run socialist society? We all
will. There will be no more government and governed. People will make 
decisions freely in their communities, in regions and globally. 
With the existing means of information technology and mass 
communication this is all possible. 

Production For Use: Instead of producing goods and services for sale
and profit, the sole reason for production will be to satisfy 
needs and desires. 

Free Access: A society in which everyone owns everything, decides
everything and only produces anything because it is useful will 
be one in which all will have free access to what is produced. 
Money will cease to have any function. People will not work for 
wages or salaries, but to give what they can and take what they need. 

Please note that many dictionary definitions of "socialism"; and
"communism"; are unreasonable  and we will not change our definition 
to conform to the common usage definitions that dictionaries present. 


                  Introducing the World Socialist Movement

The WSM consists of ordinary people who have organised themselves
democratically with one objective; to bring about a complete change in world
society. Although small, we are made up of companion parties and groups in
several countries.


Everybody in the WSM has equal value and equal power. Real democracy is
fundamental to socialists. The revolutionary transformation of society must
be brought about by the will of the great majority of the people if it is to

   * We have no leaders.
   * Every member can take part in making decisions.
   * Our democracy works both locally and party-wide.
   * All our meetings are open to the public.

The Task

All the necessary conditions of production and communication now exist for
establishing a world socialist society. What is lacking is the understanding
and will among those men and women who would most benefit from it. The task
for socialists is to spread the necessary information as widely and
thoroughly as possible. This often involves correcting a great deal of
misinformation put out by those who want society to remain as it is, with
all its poverty, oppression, and war.

   * We publish pamphlets, books, as well as regular journals and this web
   * We give talks and take part in debates.
   * We contest elections when practical.


We have a thorough analysis of the workings of present society, how it is
developing, and what needs to be done to make changes that would be
beneficial for the human race.

   * Discussion and debate are essential to the progress of the movement. We
     welcome them.
   * Everyone is encouraged to put their point of view.
   * We also welcome suggestions for new activities for spreading our
     information and all offers of help and financial assistance.

We are hearing increasingly from like-minded people around the world - new
socialist parties are being formed now. If you would like more information -
or if you would like to help with our work, please contact us.


                 How the WSM is different from other groups

The World Socialist Movement:

   * claims that socialism will, and must, be a wageless, moneyless,
     worldwide society of common (not state) ownership and democratic
     control of the means of wealth production and distribution
   * claims that socialism will be a sharp break with capitalism with no
     "transition period" or gradual implementation of socialism (although
     socialism will be a dynamic, changing society once it is established)
   * claims that there can be no state in a socialist society
   * claims that there can be no classes in a socialist society
   * promotes only socialism, and as an immediate goal
   * claims that only the vast majority, acting consciously in its own
     interests, for itself, by itself, can create socialism
   * opposes any vanguardist approach, minority-led movements, and
     leadership, as inherently undemocratic (among other negative things)
   * promotes a peaceful democratic revolution, achieved through force of
     numbers and understanding
   * neither promotes, nor opposes, reforms to capitalism
   * claims that there is one working class, worldwide
   * lays out the fundamentals of what a socialist society must be, but does
     not presume to tell the future socialist society how to go about its
   * promotes an historical materialist approach - real understanding
   * claims that religion is a social, not personal, matter and that
     religion is incompatible with socialist understanding
   * seeks election to facilitate the elimination of capitalism by the vast
     majority of socialists, not to govern capitalism
   * claims that Leninism is a distortion of Marxian analysis
   * opposes all war and claims that socialism will inherently end war,
     including the "war" between classes.
   * noted, in 1918, that the Bolshevik Revolution was not socialist. Had
     earlier, long noted that Russia was not ready for a socialist
   * was the first to recognize that the former USSR, China, Cuba and other
     so-called "socialist countries" were not socialist, but instead, state
   * claims a very accurate, consistent analysis since 1904 when the first
     Companion Party was founded


                      Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

   * What is the World Socialist Movement (WSM)?
     The World Socialist Movement is an organization which began with the
     founding of the Socialist Party of Great Britain in 1904. The Companion
     Parties of Socialism, which make up the World Socialist Movement, are
     those parties sharing an understanding of what socialism means, how to
     establish socialism, and a scientific analysis of past and current
     society. For more information about the WSM, see Introducing the World
     Socialist Movement.
   * What makes the World Socialist Movement different?
     Other parties sacrifice almost any "principle" to get elected or stay
     in power. The sole object of the World Socialist Movement is to
     establish socialism and the Companion Parties in the WSM campaign only
     for socialism.

     The World Socialist Movement couldn't run capitalism any better than
     the other parties and so hasn't tried to get elected to run capitalism
     (even with so-called "socialistic" changes). Socialism will not come
     into existence by making incremental changes to capitalism until it one
     day becomes socialism, so the World Socialist Movement doesn't get side
     tracked into attempts to improve capitalism.

     The Companion Parties of Socialism base their arguments, objects, and
     principles upon a scientific understanding of society, not upon the
     latest trend or opinion poll or upon some utopian dream.

     Also, the World Socialist Movement is working for its own demise. In
     socialism there will be no need for any political parties.

     For a fuller answer to this question, see Why the World Socialist
     Movement is different from other groups.

   * Why doesn't the World Socialist Movement get involved in social
     By "social activism" most people mean demonstrating, protesting, or
     otherwise attempting to influence immediate events in society, and
     still under capitalism. These attempts to reform capitalism have a very
     long history: as long as capitalism itself. We call these actions

     Organizations which claim to want socialism, and which also promote
     reforms, ignore socialism and spend their time working for reforms.

     The Companion Parties of Socialism, in the World Socialist Movement,
     are socialist parties. They promote socialism because that is all a
     socialist party can promote.

     If you find a "socialist" party promoting "social activism," you'll
     have found a non-socialist party.

   * Who is your leader?
     The World Socialist Movement doesn't have a leader, and nor do any of
     the Companion Parties, because leadership is undemocratic. If there are
     leaders, there must be followers: people who just do what they are

     In the World Socialist Movement, every individual member has an equal
     say, and nobody tells the rest what to do. Decisions are made
     democratically by the whole membership, and by representatives or
     delegates. If the membership doesn't like the decisions of those it
     elects, those administrators can be removed from office and their
     decisions overridden.

     Only when people have real, democratic control over their own lives
     will they have the freedom that is socialism.

   * Isn't socialism what they had in Russia, or in China or Cuba, or in
     No. Socialism, as understood by the World Socialist Movement, was never
     established in any country. A short definition of what we understand to
     be socialism:

     a system of society based upon the common ownership and democratic
     control of the means and instruments for producing and distributing
     wealth by and in the interest of society as a whole.
        o If there are wages and salaries, it is not socialism.
        o State ownership is not socialism.
        o Social programs are not socialism.
        o Socialism means democracy at all levels of society, including the
        o Socialism means a wageless, moneyless society.
        o Socialism means voluntary labour.
        o Socialism means free access to the goods produced by society.

     With this understanding of socialism, the Socialist Party of Great
     Britain noted in its journal, The Socialist Standard (August 1918, page
     87), that the supposedly "Marxist" Russian Revolution of November 1917
     was not socialist.

   * Wouldn't everyone have to be altruistic for socialism to work?
     No. Socialism isn't based upon altruism. Socialism will work even if
     everyone suddenly decides that they dislike everyone else. Supporting
     socialism involves recognizing the fact that the current system just
     doesn't work for most people. Socialism will be a society in which
     satisfying an individual's self interest is the result of satisfying
     everyone's needs. It is enlightened self-interest that will work for
     the majority.
   * How will socialism be established?
     Socialism can only be established by a vast majority of people deciding
     it wants to establish socialism. Therefore, the World Socialist
     Movement puts forward the socialist case so that people can decide for

     Once the vast majority makes the decision in favour of socialism, then
     it will elect socialist representatives or delegates to prove its
     majority, and to serve as a temporary focal point to administer the
     elimination of capitalism and the creation of socialism. But it won't
     be, and could not be, the elected representatives or delegates who
     create socialism, it will be the people of the world as a whole.

     The vast majority of the people of the world are working class, so
     socialism will be established by the working class. It also means that
     ordinary people will have to do all of the work required. The
     capitalist class isn't going to do it, and professional socialists
     (whatever they might be) aren't going to do it. The only way to
     establish socialism is for people to work for it.

   * What if one country establishes socialism and others don't?
     One country cannot establish socialism. No country is completely
     self-sufficient in the resources people need to satisfy their needs. No
     country can really isolate itself from the rest of the world in a
     peaceful manner, so a peaceful "socialist nation" would be easy prey
     for the outside capitalist world. Just as capitalism is a world system,
     socialism will have to be a world system.

     Socialism will be a world without countries. Borders are just
     artificial barriers that belong to a past and present that is best left

   * What will socialism be like, how will it be administered?
     The World Socialist Movement does not offer a blueprint for
     administering a socialist society. For a small group of socialists to
     do so would be undemocratic. It would also be dumb. Socialists don't
     have crystal balls to determine what the conditions will be when
     socialism is established. As the socialist majority grows, when
     socialism is within the grasp of the working class, then will be the
     proper time for making such important decisions.

     The only thing socialists can say now, about administration, is that
     socialism is only socialism if it is democratic.

   * The World Socialist Movement talks of a moneyless society, does that
     mean we'll use the barter system?
     In a socialist society, there will be no money and no barter. Goods
     will be voluntarily produced, and services voluntarily supplied to meet
     people's needs. People will freely take the things they need.
   * What about human nature?
     Humans behave differently depending upon the conditions that they live
     in. Even very short term changes in those conditions can change the way
     people behave. Most of what people refer to as "human nature" is
     actually human behaviour: reactions to the world around them.

     Human behaviour reflects society. In a society such as capitalism,
     people's needs are not met and reasonable people feel insecure. People
     tend to acquire and hoard goods because possession provides some
     security. People have a tendency to distrust others because the world
     is organized in such a dog-eat-dog manner.

     Under capitalism, and the previous systems, people have good reason to
     worry about tomorrow - they can lose their jobs, or be injured, or grow
     old, and need a cushion of wealth to fall back on. In a socialist
     society, everyone is entitled to have their needs met. They won't be
     kicked out onto the street, or forced to give up the pleasures of life.
     There will be no poverty. The "cushion" will be cooperatively provided
     by all.

   * But why will people work if they don't have to?
     People will have to work, but it will be voluntary. If people didn't
     work society would obviously fall apart. To establish socialism the
     vast majority must consciously decide that they want socialism and that
     they are prepared to work in socialist society.
        o Work is part of human life. Today rich people work when they don't
          have to, because they, like many of the rest of us, enjoy working.
          Many people work harder at their hobbies than they do at work. It
          is the nature of employment that makes it "work" instead of
          pleasure. Work needn't be a part of the day that we wish would
        o People enjoy creating useful things. Instead of producing junk
          that people only buy because they can't afford quality, every
          worker will be able to produce quality products for themselves and
          others, and know that other workers will be doing the same.
        o The workday will be shortened. Many jobs (such as those dealing
          with money, or war, or poverty) will not be required at all. The
          people doing those jobs now, will perform work that actually
          produces goods and services that people want.
        o People will gain respect for doing jobs that others might find
          unpleasant, or the unpleasant jobs might be shared around. Many of
          the unpleasant jobs could be made more pleasant and some could be
          done away with.
   * Does socialism mean equal shares for everyone?
     No. People are different and have different needs. Some needs will be
     more expensive (in terms of resources and labour needed to satisfy
     them) than others.
   * What if people want too much?
     In a socialist society "too much" can only mean "more than is
     sustainably produced." If people decide that they (individually and as
     a society) need to over-consume then socialism cannot possibly work.

     Under capitalism, there is a very large industry devoted to creating
     needs. It tells us we need toilet seat warmers, nifty gadgets (that
     don't work), new this and that, and attempts to convince us that our
     human worth is dependent upon our material wealth. Capitalism requires
     consumption, whether it improves our lives or not, and drives us to
     consume up to, and past, our ability to pay for that consumption. On
     top of that, goods are not built to last because that would interfere
     with profit making.

     Socialism will be a very different society. Goods will be built to
     last. The buy-buy-buy advertising industry will no longer exist. People
     may decide that they have better things to do rather than produce goods
     that are widely seen to be extravagances. And people may discover that
     more material goods don't make them happier.

     Society already has the knowledge and technology to satisfy all of our
     basic needs sustainably. There is every reason to believe that
     socialist society will supply every human being with all the material
     goods that they need for a comfortable, pleasant, enjoyable life.

   * What about the environment?
     The environment that is pleasant for human beings is being destroyed
     because of economic factors inherent in capitalism. At best, with the
     best intentions of everybody, capitalism can only do too little, too
     late. Government cannot stop the destruction, it can only slow down the
     worst of it for a while. If environmental protection rules make
     production less profitable, then production may move out, the economy
     will take a nosedive and the environmental rules will be relaxed.

     The solution is to change the economic system. In a socialist world,
     there will be no profit. Production will be democratically decided. The
     human need for a livable eco-system will be considered as a normal part
     of all decision making.

   * How will people who disagree be treated in socialism?
     Those who disagree will be treated like anyone else. If a person or
     group decided to start promoting a return to capitalism, or some other
     class-divided social form, they would be free to do so. If however, a
     person or group, was damaging society (beating people up, or blowing up
     buildings, etc.) then society will take appropriate action against

     Freedom must include allowing disagreement with the status quo and
     spreading unpopular ideas, but freedom does not include hurting people
     or destroying the common wealth of humanity. Exactly what methods a
     future socialist society will democratically choose to use, if people
     need to protect themselves, are beyond the ability of the World
     Socialist Movement to predict, but one can expect that those methods
     will be more humane and less dictated by blanket policies than the
     methods used today.

   * How will problems be handled in socialism?
     Many of today's problems, such as poverty, will not even exist in a
     socialist society. Of course, no human society will ever be without
     problems. A socialist society will have to deal, democratically and
     cooperatively, with the problems as they arise.

     An example of a major problem: even under capitalism, natural disasters
     generate tremendous volunteer effort and people donate huge amounts of
     goods, services, and money to help those who are suffering. It is not
     conceivable that this human response will decrease in socialism.
     Without the profit constraints of capitalism, such major problems can
     be dealt with quickly and satisfactorily.


                    Other "socialist" parties and groups

First we list some specific points which we think are important and
differentiate the World Socialist Movement from the others listed. Our ideas
are listed, and under each point some comments on the other "socialist"
parties and groups. After this we list, in four categories, some parties and
groups which claim to be socialist, with some specific comments on the
parties and groups in each category.

Clearly this is a "broad brush" approach. If this results in minor errors in
our assignment of ideas to these groups, we apologize and are willing to
make corrections. Overall, however, the comments will give a good
perspective of how they differ from the World Socialist Movement (WSM).

   * Socialism will be a wageless, moneyless, free access society
        o None agree with this.
        o Most support a market system. Some suggest that a non-capitalist
          market is possible. These suggestions show a lack of understanding
          of market economics. While non-capitalist market systems have
          existed, they are impractical in a modern world. If a
          "non-capitalist" market system was established it would eventually
          become a capitalist market system.
   * Leaders are inherently undemocratic and socialists oppose leadership
        o All support leadership.
   * Socialists don't work for reforms to capitalism, because only a
     movement for socialism itself can establish socialism
        o Those which work for reforms hold either that reforms to
          capitalism will eventually result in socialism, or that supporting
          reforms is an appropriate way to convince workers to support
        o Some put forward a reasonable analysis of capitalism, but then
          work to give capitalism a "human face". Some claim that they want
          to end capitalism. Their bottom line is, however, just capitalism
          with reforms. Democratic Socialists of America is a good example
          of this.
   * Socialism will be a cooperative, world wide system, and it has clearly
     not yet been established
        o Most, perhaps all, of them support nationalism, which is closely
          akin to racism (which they explicitly claim to oppose), and in any
          case hinders worldwide working class solidarity. Nationalism is a
          concept only useful to separate people, and is therefore
          anti-working class.
   * Scientific approach and understanding by the working class are
     necessary to establish socialism
        o Generally support emotionalistic campaigns, in which logic and
          rational analysis are ignored.
        o Any group which wants people to follow their leadership is
          unlikely to promote real understanding. What needs to be
          understood if one is just following the leader and doing what one
          is told?
   * Democratically capturing the State through parliamentary elections is
     the safest, surest method for the working class to enable itself to
     establish socialism.
        o Most seem to support this, parliamentary, approach at some level.
          But their commitment varies so that some support both
          parliamentarism and anti-parliamentarism at the same time.

               Parties and groups which claim to be socialist

This list is by no means complete. It is only intended to put some real
names to parties claiming to be "socialist". If you have a specific interest
in one not on the list, send us some of their literature, or preferably a
few issues of their journal, and we'll consider adding them - and our

   * Leninist organizations
   * Trotskyist organizations
   * Socialist International and other "labour parties"
   * DeLeonists

   * Leninist organizations:
        o Communist Party of Canada (CPC)
        o Communist Party of Canada (Marxist-Leninist) (CPC-ML)
        o Progressive Labor Party (PLP) (in U.S.)
   * Trotskyist organizations:
        o Fourth International (international)
        o International Communist League (international)
        o International Socialists (IS) (in Canada)
        o Socialist Action (in U.S.)
        o Socialist Challenge (in Canada)
        o Socialist Workers Party (SWP) (in U.K.)
        o Spartacist League of the U.S.
        o Trotskyist League (in Canada)

     These comments apply to both the Leninists and the Trotskyists.

     * Free Access: No. Support a market economy.

     * Leadership: Noted for their vanguardist approach (the idea that a
     small group of leaders - the vanguard - will lead the working class to

     Lenin said that if workers were not led by a vanguard, it would take
     them 500 years to understand and establish socialism. This apparently
     justified the brutal subjugation of the Russian people (and later all
     of eastern Europe), because they had to be led to socialism against
     their will.

     * Reformism: Campaign explicitly for reforms.

     * One country socialism: Claim that socialism was established in Russia
     in 1917, even though Lenin correctly noted in 1920 that state
     capitalism would be a step forward for Russia.

     * Democratic approach: When the Bolsheviks lost the first election in
     Russia after their 1917 revolution, they dissolved the new constituent
     assembly as soon as it met, in January 1918. By the middle of 1918 the
     Bolshevik government had arrested leaders who opposed the Bolsheviks,
     expelled their delegates from the Soviets, and driven the parties
     underground, making the Communist Party the only legal party in Russia.

     For more information on Trotskyists, read WSM on Trotsky(ism).

   * Socialist International (well over 100 members, associates, etc.), and
     other "labour parties":
        o Democratic Socialists of America (DSA) (in U.S.)
        o Labour Party (in Australia) [has formed national government]
        o Labour Party (in New Zealand) [has formed national government]
        o Labour Party (in U.K.) [has formed national government]
        o New Democratic Party (NDP) (in Canada) [has formed provincial
        o Socialist Party (PS) (in France) [has formed national government]
        o Socialist Party (USA) (SPUSA) (in U.S.)

     * Free Access: No. Support a market economy.

     * Reformism: Usually do not, or cannot, distinguish between reforms and
     socialism. Most of them explicitly consider socialism and capitalism
     compatible (usually by defining "socialism" so that it means

     * One country socialism: Claim the existence (past or present) of
     socialism in at least one country.

     Some of these parties have, on occasion, been the national governments
     in several countries. If they do not claim to have established
     socialism, after apparently being elected to do so, then they have no
     justifiable claim to be socialists, even using their own, flawed
     definitions of socialism.

   * DeLeonists
        o De Leonist Society of Canada
        o De Leonist Society of the United States
        o Industrial Union Party (IUP) (in U.S.)
        o Industrial Workers of the World (IWW) (mainly in U.S.)
        o New Union Party (NUP) (in U.S.)
        o Socialist Labor Party (SLP) (mainly in U.S., also in Canada, U.K.)

     Inclusion of the IWW as DeLeonist is admittedly questionable, but the
     IWW is a "socialist industrial union," which is usually considered a
     DeLeonist approach.

     * Free Access: No. Support labour vouchers, which although not exactly
     the same as money, are very similar in some ways. Labour vouchers were
     supported by Marx to accommodate the real shortages that existed in
     1875. Even if they were appropriate in 1875, and that is at least
     questionable, they are not now. For a description of labour vouchers,
     please see the article on Labour Vouchers.

     * Leadership: Appear to recognize that only a working class that
     understands the problems can build the solution, but there have been
     occasional concerns raised by ex-SLPers and others over what has been
     perceived as autocratic leadership in the SLP (which is the largest
     DeLeonist organization). In fairness, these concerns may be just
     disagreements blown out of proportion.

     * One country socialism: Vary on their position. DeLeonism is generally
     a U.S. phenomenon, and this may be partly responsible for the tendency,
     by some, to talk about establishing "socialism" in the United States.
     Nevertheless, this approach fosters a nationalist approach which is
     opposed by the WSM.

     The SLP says that "socialism" can be established in one country. As
     evidence, we quote from the SLP journal, The People (1 May 1993), in
     answer to an unprinted letter:
        o what would a socialist America do about the wages, or capitalist,
          system in the "third world"?
        o you are wrong when you say that socialism in America would leave
          Europe and Japan unaffected. Today, capital is increasingly
          international. What affects capitalism at its heart affects all
          its limbs.

     * Parliamentary approach: Support the socialist industrial union (SIU)
     model, which we claim is somewhat at odds with their stated support for
     a parliamentary approach. The IWW is sometimes considered to oppose the
     parliamentary approach.

     The SIU model has some clear attractions. It is easy to explain and
     understand, it builds upon recognizable, existing structures, and it is
     worker oriented. However, the SIU model creates or continues as many
     problems as it addresses. The SIU model deserves a longer discussion
     than is appropriate for this immediate discussion (of differences), so
     if you want to review a longer article, please see the article on
     Socialist Industrial Unions.