The difference between socialism and communism is often a point of confusion. In this piece, the author offers a materialist framework of history in order to understand the various stages of society and the struggles between them. This writing is meant for beginners.

Capitalism and socialism are stages of human society in which there is a struggle between those who own property and those who do not.  Examples of property include land, factories, machines, and other tools and resources necessary to produce food, shelter, electronics, medicine, or any other commodity.  The individual, or private, “ownership” of property is a relatively new concept in the greater history of humankind and necessarily emerged through violent means. Settler-colonialism (occupation, division, and privatization) in Turtle Island  and Israel provide one of the most recent and straightforward examples. The minority of people who own property, capitalists, have the ability to invest its value in order to accumulate profit. In one way, this can be done by hiring workers, otherwise known as buying labor-power, and using them to transform resources into commodities.  As an example, a capitalist who owns land rich in minerals may hire people to dig out iron ore, meaning that labor transforms earth into usable ore. The capitalist can then sell these ores for profit, without contributing any labor themself. Moreover, it is possible and even likely that the same capitalist also owns a steel mill and a railroad factory because of various processes of monopolization,…

Robert Reich crudely misrepresents socialism, ignoring that dictatorship and state intervention serve different social classes under socialism and capitalism. His analysis overlooks the historical roots of the capitalist state in the US and its development as a colonizing force extending its tentacles around the world in the service of the rich and powerful.

Robert Reich is a Democratic Party propagandist. He is a syndicated columnist and a well-known and influential political commentator. His political positions overlap those of Bernie Sanders, who has called Reich “one of the most important voices in America, fighting for an economy that works for all people and not just those at the top.” Reich positions himself as a defender of the workers and a harsh critic of corporate CEOs. For those reasons he appeals to left-liberal Democrats and the left wing of the Democratic Party. The points of view that he propagates serve as a line of defense for the US capitalist/imperialist order, appealing to people who may otherwise be prone to adopt more radical, even revolutionary political positions. Any analysis of social relations articulates a particular worldview. In capitalist society, the dominant “common sense” understanding of social relations is delimited by what the ruling class deems acceptable. Robert Reich does not stray beyond those bounds. Hence, it is important to unmask the true class interests behind his ideas, as they are widely promoted under the guise of defending the poor. Is liberation from oppression and want even possible under capitalism? In his book “The System. Who Rigged…