Frequently Asked Questions

A few questions we are often asked…

1) Didn’t Socialism and Communism fail?

The capitalist system has been in development for 500-600 years, whereas the first attempts to construct a socialist system were after 1917 in the Soviet Union.

Since then, many countries around the world have attempted to build Socialism in a variety of ways. Whether or not people judge their attempts as successful, human beings will continue to learn from them.

The building of Socialism and the ideas of Marxism-Leninism are always developing so that the Communists can continue to move forwards in the struggle for the interests of working people and for a better society, free from exploitation, oppression, inequality, poverty, unemployment and war.

The sabotage of Socialism in the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe was as a result of an increasingly out-of-touch Government, dogmatic interpretation of Marxism-Leninism, diversion of resources into the arms race with the United States and a failure to mobilise the Party and the people to solve these problems.

Nonetheless, people in the Soviet Union still tried to prevent Socialism from being dismantled. Today, a majority of Russians wish that the socialist system would return.

The development of capitalism led to all kinds of changes and upheavals. The development of Socialism is the same, except already in the course of this development, Socialism has defeated Nazi-Fascism, lifted millions of people out of poverty and demonstrated the success with which planned economies can meet human and environmental needs.

By contrast, capitalism is a system of in-built problems and inhumane tendencies, such as market crashes in the 1930s and 2008, the failure to provide for people’s needs, the drive to war and increasing monopolisation and resort to dictatorship and fascism in desperate circumstances.

All of these problems and inhumane tendencies are as a result of the capitalist system’s endless hunger for profit, derived from the exploitation of working people and the oppression of social groups.

2) What makes the YCL and the Communist Party different from other organisations?

The YCL and the Communist Party have played and continue to play a unique historic and political role in the British labour and progressive movement since their formation.

British Communists have consistently punched above our weight because of our maturity, our strong strategic thinking and our rich experience of struggle in defence of our communities, class and nation.

We continue to work in a broad, non-sectarian way with a wide range of different political forces, parties and organisations in Britain.

3) What is Socialism?

Socialism is the stage of economic development that follows capitalism, since capitalism provides the social basis, ie bringing millions of workers together in industries, whilst the ownership remains in the hands of a few capitalists.

Socialism extends the socialisation from the workforce to the management, in huge workplaces, bringing ownership to the workplace floor as part of a wider transformation of our society and economy.

The key features of the socialist system are:

  • State power is concentrated in the hands of the working class;
  • The means of production, distribution and exchange are socially and/or state owned;
  • Central and local control of economic planning;
  • Control of pricing and wages;
  • And an economic programme that continually increases output.

Socialism is a transitional state between capitalism and Communism, the length of time and the actual process would be driven by the economic and social conditions prevailing in that country at that time.

4) What is Communism?

Communism is a classless society that follows socialism, where the state has moved to ‘the administration of things’ rather than people.

Communism is summed up by the phrase: “From each according to their ability, to each according to their needs.”

A Communist society assumes that most production has attained a level of efficiency that provides for an overwhelming abundance of all the basic necessities of life, allowing for human beings to fully pursue their interests outside of the workplace.

All existing and former socialist countries have erroneously been labelled as ‘Communist’ but no society has ever achieved, or even claimed to achieve, this stage of economic development.

Communism sometimes refers to Scientific Socialism and Marxism-Leninism and the movement surrounding these, so a “Communist country” might refer to a socialist country led by a Communist Party in Government.

5) What is imperialism?

Imperialism is an advanced stage of capitalist development that developed in the 20th century and continues in leading European and North American capitalist countries.

Imperialism essentially was the result of:

  • The completion of colonial expansion;
  • The increasing monopolisation of capital;
  • The dominance of finance capital;
  • The export of capital rather than just commodities;
  • And the formation of international capitalist bodies and alliances such as NATO and the European Union.

6) What is Marxism-Leninism?

Marxism-Leninism is the guiding theory of Communist Parties and Communist youth organisations, primarily based on the theoretical work and practice of Marx, Engels and Lenin, as well as the experiences of Communist Parties and socialist countries.

However, Marxism-Leninism is a ‘living’ theory. It is constantly being examined, revised, expanded, re-applied and debated in the light of new experiences and knowledge.

For more of an introduction to Marxism-Leninism, take a look at our Back2Basics series.

Ed. July 2021