Voting Labour?

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S. Artesian
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Jul 15 2017 03:35

Removed in protest of Libcom policies allowing posting of texts by racists

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Serge Forward
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May 25 2017 17:19
S. Artesian wrote:
Re individual votes: who cares?

But what have your organizations been saying, arguing over the last couple months, or years, about a Labour government?

As far as the AF goes, basically "whoever you vote for, the bosses win" and it's a "vote for capitalism" or "Labour Tory, same old story" kinda stuff.

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Noah Fence
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May 25 2017 20:06

I swear I'll never understand you guys. You seem great in so many ways but this parliamentary thing is quite beyond me and the sticker is just plain daft.

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Craftwork
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May 25 2017 20:19
Noah Fence wrote:
I swear I'll never understand you guys. You seem great in so many ways but this parliamentary thing is quite beyond me and the sticker is just plain daft.

You can read about impossibilism here - https://libcom.org/library/impossibilism

potrokin
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May 25 2017 22:05
Spikymike wrote:
Where is ''the less anti-working class party'' - has it just arrived this election? In this discussion I presume that to mean the so-called Labour Party. Judged purely by the current LP manifesto's promise to roll back some of the more recent austerity measures that might appear to be the case

Yes I was ofcourse referring to Labour. I think they will do less harm than the Tories.

potrokin
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May 25 2017 22:08
Spikymike wrote:
We should do nothing to encourage people to think there is an easy way to roll back austerity simply by voting Labour and our own political practice should reflect that in a consistent manner. Protest votes are exactly that a cry in the wilderness - an expression of our defeat not the beginning of any fight back.

I did state that I don't think we should restrict ourselves to just voting.

ajjohnstone
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May 26 2017 02:11
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I swear I'll never understand you guys. You seem great in so many ways but this parliamentary thing is quite beyond me and the sticker is just plain daft.

You might disagree Noah but there is a logic to it and therefore not daft but foremost we adopt the position of the Chartist Ernest Jones.

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“It must, therefore, become manifest that unless the working classes fight this battle as a Class, that is, in one universal union by a mass movement, they will be inevitably defeated...”

How to conduct the fight, i think we can comradely disagree and most people on Libcom are aware of the pros and cons of the SPGB case.

Our "parliamentary thing" for some in the SPGB is merely applying the coup de grace to capitalist rule. What really matters is a conscious socialist majority outside parliament, ready and organised, to take over and run industry and society. It is not Parliaments that establishes socialism, but the socialist working-class majority outside parliament and they do this, not by their votes, but by their active participating beyond this in the transformation of society. The real revolution in social relations will be made in our lives and by ourselves, not Parliament. The SPGB said in 1915

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"The workers must prepare themselves for their emancipation by class-conscious organisation on both the political and the economic fields,the first to gain control of the forces with which the masters maintain their dominance, the second to carry on production in the new order of things."

The SPGB has never held that a merely formal majority at the polls will give the workers power to achieve socialism. It is the quality of the voters behind the vote that, in the revolutionary struggle, will be decisive.We have always emphasised that such a majority must be educated in the essentials of socialist principles and have a party democratically organised. In our Declaration of Principles we stress the necessity of capturing the machinery of government including the armed forces. That is the fundamental thing. The method, though important, is secondary to this. Historically, the SPGB had to answer many other groups who were presenting differing options for the working class and many have been discarded by the wayside...no-one these days seriously suggests armed insurrection, nor do they accept the original syndicalist /industrial union case of trade unions via a general strike assuming political power.

The capitalist class are the dominant class today because they control the State (the machinery of government). And they control the State because a majority of the population allow them to do so by consenting with their everyday attitudes and the acquiescence to the legitimacy of capitalist democracy. To receive that working-class sanction of capitalist society, our masters are reduced to numerous sleight of hands to fool the workers and to prevent the workers from becoming class conscious.

There has never been a question of the SPGB forming a government simply that the working class as a whole having demonstrated their will proceed to take over the means of production for which they will also have organised themselves at their places of work. This done, the repressive state is disbanded and its remaining administrative and service features, reorganised on a democratic basis, are merged with the organisations which the useful majority will have formed to take over and run production, to form the democratic administrative structure of the state-free society of common ownership.

No-one can be sure which form the revolutionary process will take but the SPGB has always held that making use of parliament is vitally important in neutralising the ruling class's hold on state power. Behind the ballot paper is real power. Thus the SPGB reasoning it is important to gain control of the political machinery because the political machine is the real centre of social control

Of course, many will argue what is now called the "Deep State", or as the products of the 60s and 70s used to call it,"The Establishment", would maintain their rule. The worst they are likely to achieve, however, is to bribe fools to do their dirty work for them.

Voting in general elections is an essential bit of the tool-kit for making a democratic revolution and that the ballot is the enemy's weakest spot.

Not daft, at all but up for debate, for sure.

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Entdinglichung
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May 26 2017 06:22
jondwhite wrote:
In Islington North you could vote SPGB against Corbyn specifically. Also in Battersea and Swansea West you could vote SPGB against Labour.

let's see if you get more votes there than the Communist League ... they're good boys too

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Chilli Sauce
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May 26 2017 07:29
Quote:
What really matters is a conscious socialist majority outside parliament, ready and organised, to take over and run industry and society. It is not Parliaments that establishes socialism, but the socialist working-class majority outside parliament and they do this, not by their votes, but by their active participating beyond this in the transformation of society. The real revolution in social relations will be made in our lives and by ourselves,

While I don't want to make this a thread about the SPGB, I just want to say that the above is spot-on - and really beautifully written as well. However, given that this is the SPGB's position, I just don't see why in the world you all participate in parliamentary politics at all.

If the above is true, engaging with parliamentarianism at all is, at best, a waste of time. More likely, you're put in a position where your actions undermine your words. At worst, you'll end up participating - even to a small degree - in the administration of the capitalist state.

ajjohnstone
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May 26 2017 08:36
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While I don't want to make this a thread about the SPGB

The debate has been engaged ad nauseum on Libcom and really anyone really interested should use the search facility. I'm not saying much different from what i have said before on other threads and those who have read this will be bored to tears with its repetition.

Obviously, your 3 points are contested by the SPGB - but not entirely. The first that it is a waste of time is debated within the party at the present time in the current context and you would find a receptive ear to that. Some members patiently await different circumstances that would be more fruitful for the SPGB.

Your second point, i am not sure how electoral participation would undermine what you quoted. We envisage involvement in a yet-to-be-built mass socialist party and engaging in electoral process is not necessarily a passive spectator affair that many assume it to be.

Your final point is certainly valid when the Socialist Party is a minority within Parliament and again this is often debated within the SPGB regards attitudes towards reforms and reformism.

My own view is that I don't think a caucus of SPGB (or their ilk) MPs would be idle but would be at the beck and call of those outside Parliament, carrying out their wishes and i cannot imagine they will not try to extract as many concessions as achievable from the growing threat of socialism...(which obviously there would must be if the SPGB is being elected...)

But broadly the issue is between the SPGB and its anarchist critics is, should we avoid challenging the rule of the capitalist class on every field of the class war battle-field? The ruling class uses their political power as much as their economic power as a weapon against us.

I'm a bit of a De Leonist in that i have sympathy for the sword and shield analogy.

The SPGB has always argued that political action is the primary force we possess and that determines our activities when it comes to elections. Our choice to take part in General Election as i said is a cogent consequence of this analysis - and not simply daft. Basically, that's all i'm trying to refute.

Spikymike
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May 26 2017 10:53

For those who really don't want to make this a thread about the spgb see this very short exchange of views here: http://libcom.org/history/democracy-ballots and a longer discussion here:
http://libcom.org/forums/announcements/midlands-discussion-forum-workers... , though mainly between the spgb and various assorted left/council communists rather than anarchists.

Battlescarred
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May 26 2017 13:17

Yeah, I thought this thread was meant to be about Labour, not about plugs for the Small Party of Good Boys

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Zanthorus
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May 26 2017 21:56

I think our answer to the original question depends on how we frame things.

If we reduce the question of capitalism versus communism down to an ethical question, then we end up with formulas like, we are communists because we want to improve the living conditions of the working class, labour also wants to improve the living conditions of the working class by increasing funding for public services, renationalising various key industries and opposing cuts to welfare. In this context, although still 'evil' within the general framework of anti-authoritarianism, they are 'less' evil than the Tories.

We have to leave the misty realms of ethics and enter the very real world of capitalism as a definite mode of production, and it's historical tendencies, and pose the question differently. The capitalist production process is not an unethical system that nevertheless works, whose evils can be blunted by changes in the mode of distribution. It is inherently contradictory, it produces crises as a result of an inherent feature, the tendency of the rate of profit to fall. The Tories might be 'nasty', but they aren't necessarily nasty arbitrarily, their social policy constitutes an attempt to manage the current crisis of profitability while shifting the burden onto the working class.

Corbyn represents a kind of vaguely intuited reaction to this. The class basis of the movement is vague, Labour has never been a straightforward 'working class' party, inasfar as their current manifesto even mentions class it does so from a sort of harmonist perspective in which all classes contribute in some measure to society, it is only the balance between them that needs to be redressed. And references to small business indicate petit bourgeois tendencies. But the fact is that the strategy outline by Corbyn will do nothing to solve capitalism's existing state of crisis.

And the fact is that if Corbyn wins the election, he will be at the head of the British state. A state which in it's current form, with it's monarchy, house of lords, court system, police, military and secret service is nothing but a monstrous apparatus for the protection of the interests of the British capitalist class. A state moreover that will be at the beck and call of international capital. We have already seen in Greece with the situation surrounding Syriza's election what happens when a national government tries to fight a capitalism which is international in scope (One of the primary weaknesses of reformist movements is their national scope, only proletarian internationalism has a chance of even winning small concessions from capital at our current historic juncture).

Having said which I have a little bit of sympathy for Corbyn supporters. He says things about the nature of society which haven't been openly voiced on such a public stage in a very long time, and his opposition to British imperialism and the clear connections between the actions of the British government in the middle east and contemporary terrorism was brave. Inasmuch as media criticisms of Corbyn revolve around criticisms of radical opposition to contemporary society as such, this needs to be addressed. But I cannot in good conscience support any group that seeks to manage the bourgeois state, nor should anyone who self-describes as a Marxist or Anarchist who has any shred of self-respect.

The only solution to the crisis of capitalism is socialism, and the emancipation of the working-class must be the work of the workers themselves. On the basis of history I feel confident in saying that the Labour party will never be the vehicle for that emancipation.

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cantdocartwheels
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May 27 2017 08:04

meh i used to take a harder 'i don;t vote on principle, they're all the same'' line on it all but seeing the extent to which eu migrants like my wife, being largely unable to vote, could have no affect electorally on right wing populism directed against them and also notably little or no voice in the media, i'm not so sure that said principles don't blur into more of a grey area a bit for me now as with the referendum.

pi
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May 27 2017 08:50

Pensioners shoplifting food. Families nearing eviction. The wheelchair user sleeping rough smoking smack. This is my neighbourhood. Presumably yours too. Sure, bring on the revolution, use your time for it, but it seems to me a no brainer to take two minutes to make some real imrpovements now, no matter how built on sand, to the lives of those most struggling to survive.

On another tack: might a failed popular left government recruit revolutionaries? Won't some reformist lefts be converted when confronted with the impossibility of social democracy to tackle capitalism. Is there any evidence for this? I guess I'm thinking of syriza.

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May 27 2017 09:19
pi wrote:
Pensioners shoplifting food. Families nearing eviction. The wheelchair user sleeping rough smoking smack. This is my neighbourhood. Presumably yours too. Sure, bring on the revolution, use your time for it, but it seems to me a no brainer to take two minutes to make some real imrpovements now, no matter how built on sand, to the lives of those most struggling to survive.

On another tack: might a failed popular left government recruit revolutionaries? Won't some reformist lefts be converted when confronted with the impossibility of social democracy to tackle capitalism. Is there any evidence for this? I guess I'm thinking of syriza.

Just spotted on FB, seems relevant to your post.

Quote:
People forget how much they loved Blair. They forget how they formed a big gang and demonised anyone who didn't follow the herd. They forget pontificating that Blair was the only chance for real change we'd see in our lifetime. They forget cheering on a gang of capitalists gyrating awkwardly to Things Can Only Get Better. They forget that the champagne socialists of the 'old labour,' government before Blair's feathered their own nests as gleefully as any Tory. Basically, people just forget and keep on maintaining the same cycle in the name of, 'real change.' People are too weak, frightened and self-absorbed to see that it's us that need to change, not the masters we choose. Delegating that responsibility to politicians is true apathy.

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Steven.
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May 27 2017 10:31
pi wrote:

On another tack: might a failed popular left government recruit revolutionaries? Won't some reformist lefts be converted when confronted with the impossibility of social democracy to tackle capitalism.

That is possible. However what is equally possible and perhaps more likely is that seeing the failings of "the left" in government pushes lots more people to the right. For example under Labour the BNP grew to the point of getting around a million votes

pi
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May 27 2017 10:34

Noah

OK but I declared no love for no one. I don't long for any parliament to save us. I don't see quietly voing as any part of a long term solution to capitalism.

However, I don't believe politicians are entirely without power and that a labour government will slightly alleviate the immediate pressure on those struggling the most. The slim diferenes between the two, things like the housing bill, does make a difference to lives.

So. Don't expend any effort in it except the 2 minutes it takes to vote. Don't be deluded that this will achieve anything revolutionary. Maybe I'm struggling more to shake off my unthinking liberal/lefty old self than I realise but I don't get the problem with voting like this.

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May 27 2017 13:17

Marx always makes the analogy, and I think it is a good one, between the political and economic action of the working-class. Let's say that there is a strike or some form of industrial action, which results in capital in one particular industry or branch of industry agreeing to better pay and working conditions. Do we condemn the workers for tacitly consenting to the rule of capital by going back to work afterwards? Do we insist that every strike or industrial action has to lead to the workers' seizing the means of production? No. But equally, do we then go on go give support to the capitalists themselves, thank them for being a nice bunch of chaps really? No.

It is the same with politics.

Are we going to stand here with folded arms and tell the workers that fighting for better living conditions is pointless because it leaves capital and the state intact? No. But equally, are we then going to go on to give 'critical support' to whoever is running the state? Again, no. What we have to bring out is the fact that any gain we can make in this field is not the result of the good will of capital, or the state, but of the struggle of the working-class. Theoretically and practically we have to decouple the support for immediate improvements with becoming cheerleaders for the 'Labour Left' or whichever group is promising these improvements in exchange for a license to become the managers of the bourgeois state.

I think this is an inherently emotive issue. And lord knows I would also like to see a rise in wages, a more robust public infrastructure, a better welfare system. But we also have to keep clear in our minds the nature of capital and the state. If we need proof of what can happen by following this path (of reducing your politics to 'oust the nasty Tories') to it's logical conclusion, all we need to do is look at the contemporary filth of British Trotskyism.

S. Artesian
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Jul 15 2017 03:53

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pi
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May 27 2017 12:09
S. Artesian wrote:
You expect that if Corbyn wins, it's not going to lead to what it has always lead to in the past?

Well I guess I do. The management of capitalism. The continuation of exploitation, oppression and and war. But with Labour my neighbour wouldn't have to steal to eat. It's not the revolution, it's spending 2 minutes doing something that might bring about a small but needed improvement for the most oppressed.

I don't imagine that you reject all non-revolutionary action (perhaps I'm wrong). So is it that you see something uniquely corrosive about voting no matter the thinking behind it?

Zanthorus

Sorry, I'm not an experienced reader, I don't fully understand your comment and I'm not even sure it is particularly meant for me. But is it a typo when you said you wouldn't want to see a rise in wages etc?

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Zanthorus
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May 27 2017 13:19
pi wrote:
Sorry, I'm not an experienced reader, I don't fully understand your comment and I'm not even sure it is particularly meant for me. But is it a typo when you said you wouldn't want to see a rise in wages etc?

Yeah, it was a typo, thanks for pointing that out.

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May 27 2017 14:53
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with Labour my neighbor wouldn't have to steal to eat

That's quite a claim comrade. What makes you so sure?

pi
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May 27 2017 16:01

Noah

She's been stung by the bedroom tax which labour say they'll undo. Maybe I was over the top with certainty of my claim. There's a ton of other things which could also change her situation.

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May 27 2017 19:03
pi wrote:
Noah

She's been stung by the bedroom tax which labour say they'll undo. Maybe I was over the top with certainty of my claim. There's a ton of other things which could also change her situation.

As others have noted, improvements for one section of the working class will probably lead to deterioration for others and then as S. Artesian pointed out history shows us that every single ncoming party makes promises that it doesn't keep. Labour has a long history of being anti working class, it just that it mostly makes more effort to disguise it than the Tories. Superficially it's having a real good go at it at the moment.

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May 27 2017 19:07

Oops. DP.

pi
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May 27 2017 20:56
Noah Fence wrote:
improvements for one section of the working class will probably lead to deterioration for others

I accept that. I guess I still cling to the notion that, for whatever reason, labour tend to not attack the poorest quite as viciously as the tories.

S. Artesian
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Jul 15 2017 03:53

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Red Marriott
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May 27 2017 22:48
pi wrote:
I still cling to the notion that, for whatever reason, labour tend to not attack the poorest quite as viciously as the tories.

It was the Labour govt. that originally brought in the vicious benefit sanctions regime - leading to foodbank dependence etc - and the ATOS assessments of the disabled that led to 90 people a month dying after being found fit for work; https://www.theguardian.com/society/2015/aug/27/thousands-died-after-fit... Labour might reverse that in the unlikely event they won (according to one recent poll though surprisingly they've narrowed the gap to 5 points with the Tories and it could get closer) - but their manifesto pledges to reverse only £2 billion of the Tories' planned further £7 billion in benefit cuts.

ajjohnstone
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May 28 2017 01:46

The vaudeville show
Labour - Good cop, Tory - Bad cop

Every general election for decades and decades produces the same debate...voting Labour with or without illusions for what Chomsky once described as the cigarette-paper thickness difference between the Democrats and Republicans.

The lesser evil argument has always been mistaken