Why I Support Dual Power
by Miguel O.
This text was written as part of the LSC Pamphlet Program. It reflects only the opinions of the author(s) and not the consensus of the Libertarian Socialist Caucus.
When I speak to friends about socialism, they often tell me that socialism is incompatible with the human spirit. Humans are naturally competitive, naturally want to dominate others. If we shared resources in common and lived freely, people would eventually hoard resources for themselves and grow powerful, and we’d return to capitalism or feudalism.
While I don’t agree with this strain of thought, there are good questions to ponder within this argument. If our society’s organization would change overnight from capitalism to one of libertarian socialism – common ownership and democratic control of businesses, land, local governments, etc. – would humans thrive under this environment? Would we successfully coexist in this new society?
I am certain that we would not. Capitalist ideology permeates our culture, spread through news media and television, advertising, etc. We are taught to be competitive and to put our individual wellbeing and success first. If the US became socialist overnight, it is almost certain that chaos would ensue, because so many in the US are poisoned by capitalist ideology. Socialism cannot exist solely at the organizational or ‘state’ level – socialist thinking and cooperative ideas and behavior must exist within ourselves as well.
When I used to think of socialism as a more top-down project, something instituted by a winner of an election or a revolutionary party, I worried over this dilemma often. How could a socialist project succeed without mass support and a change from a more competitive to a more cooperative culture? The truth is that it cannot. Political power is not isolated; it is supported by bases of power and interacts with our economic model and many other facets of society. Without socialist thought and support in all levels of society, a transition to socialism would be difficult or impossible. But although I had determined that socialism from above could never work, I was not left hopeless.
I had researched less hierarchical visions of socialism before I encountered the Libertarian Socialist Caucus’ manifesto, Dual Power: A Strategy To Build Socialism In Our Time. When I read Dual Power, many of the questions and worries I had about a transition to socialism were resolved. The plan outlined in Dual Power is democratic, nonviolent, and resolves concerns over the feasibility of socialism. As we build new modes of governance and spread cooperative decision-making to businesses, housing organizations, town governments, schools, and more, people will learn to be more cooperative and learn how to exist in a socialist world before we do. People will learn how to be managers as well as workers, how to focus on bettering life for everyone and not just for themselves, and how to live in harmony with nature and peoples of all backgrounds and cultures. And as socialist forms of governance will spread throughout society, so will socialist thinking proliferate, causing more socialist forms of governance, and so on and so on. Of course, it will not be so simple – nothing ever is – but at its core, dual power ensures that the citizens of a future socialist society will be prepared with both the skills and mindset to succeed in such a world.