The transition from capitalism to socialism is an inevitable development, a function of social evolution. Where we can exercise some agency in this process is how it plays out, how violent or non-violent the different steps will be. Just as imperialism is a stage of capitalism, socialism seems to go through stages. The U. S. and most developing nations are in the first stage, with the state providing minimal protections for workers, compared to the fully capitalist stages of chattel and wage slavery. Britain, France, Germany, Italy, are at a more advanced stage, with Cuba, China, and the Scandinavian counties at a still higher level. The stages are not necessarily discrete, divisions between them are blurred, nor are they consistently progressive, eg. the USSR, which had advanced socialism in the 20s and 30s, a less advanced stage under Stalin, and back to stage one after the 1989 collapse. I will humbly predict that after the current pandemic, socialism in the U. S. will move up a stage. What if the collapse of capitalism was inspired by the sense we are experiencing through this crisis that what’s important is our relationships with our family and our communities? Sharing is the essence of socialism that we learn in kindergarten but forget by second grade.
Maybe the development of socialism is an evolutionary process, with revolution being one, but not the only one, of its methodologies. The primary variable in this process, one we do have some agency over, is the relative power of the working class.
Marx said that one aspect of the dialectical method was the idea that quantity at some point changes to quality. There is really only one way to have the world we want and that’s to work for working class power. We might still achieve a qualitative amount of power in the coming election. Bernie still has a chance to win the primary. After all, look how quickly the primary flipped toward Biden. It can flip back to Bernie.
At this point, what we need to do is build Bernie’s movement. Even if he ultimately loses the primary, we can treat the forthcoming primaries from April 2020 on as a referendum on Medicare for All. Since everybody thinks Biden has this thing sewed up, we can take the “electability” issue off the table. We should encourage people to vote for Bernie if they want free universal health care like most everyone else in the world as a way of showing whoever is elected to any office how much support there is for this program.
The question as to whether we support Biden or not should he win should depend on how close he – and his centrist cabal – are to committing to fight for free universal health care.