We Cannot Rely On Reformism

This essay was written by Celine Qin on the 14th of November, 2021.

Reformism is a political doctrine that advocates for the reform of an existing system or institution rather than abolishing or replacing it. It attempts to make gradual changes within the current framework in an attempt to improve it or provide better equity without any radical transformations.

Reformism aims to utilize the methods provided to people in the current system in hopes to better their interests. However, reformists fail to recognize how the system and all its apparatuses (including the “choices” given to the people) are fundamentally built to keep the oppressed in control. Essentially, there is no path to liberation if the masses continue to abide by the oppressors’ rules.

The most popular example of reformism today is electoral politics, or voting. Especially in Amerikkka, voting is romanticized to the extreme. It is no coincidence that the U.S. also happens to be the most violent and oppressive country on countless playing fields.

Standing as the richest country in the world, capitalist Amerikkka upholds vast wealth inequality, commits imperialist wars and atrocities across all corners of the globe, and dominates and dictates nearly all military, economical, and social policy. Not to mention, white supremacy, patriarchy, and other forms of marginalization and violence run rampant, as these are the ideals that the system was built upon.

Why is the “choice” of voting so emphasized in Amerikkkan culture? Electoralism is a tool employed by capitalists and politicians to provide people with the illusion of choice. It maintains that, no matter which candidate wins as an outcome, the system that has cultivated, maintained, and expanded the long-standing oppression will structurally flow by the same current.

Electoralism is nothing more than a rotation of oppressors. It thrives on the idea that a change in party or figure is equivalent to a change in the flow of wealth, or a transformation in the treatment of marginalized communities, or an eradication of issues present in previous terms.

Motivating people to act through the means that are meant to suppress them is exactly the purpose of the system.

Reformists fail to understand that systems are built to maintain themselves, and that the system’s core structure, its intrinsic way of functioning, is the root behind all possible issues today. These issues cannot be abolished if the core is still intact.

Capitalism, for example, requires impoverishing a large body of people in order to allow certain individuals to accumulate wealth. Wealth accumulation for the few on one end comes at the expense of creating a permanent class under the system that suffers from dispossession, unable to access basic needs such as food or water. Without this essential repression of the lowest class, without poverty, capitalism loses its power.

By voting, or creating minor adjustments through state-endorsed and encouraged methods, the impoverished population receives absolutely no help. Therefore, eradicating capitalism and creating a socialist society cannot be achieved by obeying our rulers. Capitalism and equality cannot coexist.

“Reformism regards socialism as a remote goal and nothing more, and actually repudiates the socialist revolution and aims at establishing socialism by peaceful means. Reformism advocates not class struggle, but class collaboration.” J.V. Stalin

The revolution cannot be achieved through the ballot box. The revolution will certainly be violent, as violence is necessary to overthrow those who have been violent against the people for far too long.

“A revolution is not a dinner party, or writing an essay, or painting a picture, or doing embroidery. It cannot be so refined, so leisurely and gentle, so temperature, kind, courteous, restrained and magnanimous. A revolution is an insurrection, an act of violence by which one class overthrows another.” Mao Zedong






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The Teen Convo Project

The Teen Convo Project


A multi-media organization engaging young people in radical anti-oppression politics. Instagram: @theteenconvoproject