You’ve probably seen the memes purporting to show just how socialist the United States already is by listing a bunch of government programs, services, and agencies. The idea that any government activity is synonymous with socialism has major political and strategic implications. After all, if our country were already at least partly socialist, then all we would have to do is keep gradually expanding government.

But simply electing politicians to office or watching the government expand by its own momentum has never been, and never will be, enough. Economic power is political power, and under capitalism the owners of capital will always have the capacity to undermine popular democracy—no matter who’s in Congress or the White House.

This is the last episode of The ABCs of Socialism, a four-part series taking up some of today's common questions asked about socialism. Each of those questions is also a chapter in The ABCs of Socialism, which was produced by Bhaskar Sunkara and the editors of Jacobin, and published by Verso Books. You can buy the book for just $5 at the Jacobin store: https://www.jacobinmag.com/store/ The sessions are recorded at the Verso loft in Brooklyn, New York, in front of a live audience.

Chris Maisano is a contributing editor at Jacobin and a union staffer in New York.