None Of The Above

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ajjohnstone
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Jan 20 2014 05:20
None Of The Above

Perhaps some anti- parliamentarians might be interested in offering themselves as political candidate.

http://notavote.co.uk/faq/

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cresspot
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Feb 3 2014 06:20

Seems like an impregnable defense against statism

slothjabber
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Feb 3 2014 08:20

Honestly, I'd rather stand on an SPGB platform.

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GerryK
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Feb 4 2014 16:49

I am going to join the police force in order to disband them. Then I am going to become Pope in order to dismantle the Catholic Church. Then I will launch a coup d'état in order to abolish the state. I thought of joining the anti-statist libcom admin in order to support a cop consultant in crowd control techniques but realised that this had already been done. So now I shall just have to content myself with pressing the "down" button on this post in order to prove how much I approve of it.

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Noah Fence
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Feb 4 2014 19:26
ajjohnstone wrote:
Perhaps some anti- parliamentarians might be interested in offering themselves as political candidate.

Perhaps some vegans might be interested in steak for dinner?

Spikymike
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Feb 5 2014 14:04

As an aside has anyone picked up on the so-called 'Peoples Parliament'? I must have signed a petition somewhere which resulted in my getting a 'personal' invite to this project from left-wing Labour MP John McDonnell and their first meeting addressed by the left's favourite personalities - Mark Serwotka, Caroline Lucas, Owen Jones and also David Graeber. Seems the SPGB didn't get an invite but I'm sure with their enthusiasm for Parliament and debates that they could get a look in on one of the follow-up meetings aimed at reviving interest amongst the prol's for the importance of participating in this institution!

The MDF meeting in Birmingham on the 15th of Feb will provide an opportunity no doubt to refresh the pro and anti parliamentary arguments amongst our milieu for those still interested.

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jondwhite
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Feb 5 2014 14:57

As William Morris once discussed, parliament should be used as a dung-heap.

ajjohnstone
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Feb 5 2014 16:15

Or, the anti-parliamentarians could join forces with the Thai Yellowshirts and discard the suffrage and just have an appointed 'popular peoples assembly'...Appointed by who and popular by whose count, well, who knows, eh?...

Workers having the vote has always been a problem for a ruling class and pre-occupies them in finding ways and means to undermine, co-opt and hoax people into not using this political power at the ballot box in their own interests. It even divides the elite as much as it sometimes divides the working class.

What's it they say...only when something is gone that you realise the value of what you have lost.

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Noah Fence
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Feb 5 2014 17:04
ajjohnstone wrote:
Or, the anti-parliamentarians could join forces with the Thai Yellowshirts and discard the suffrage and just have an appointed 'popular peoples assembly'...Appointed by who and popular by whose count, well, who knows, eh?...

Workers having the vote has always been a problem for a ruling class and pre-occupies them in finding ways and means to undermine, co-opt and hoax people into not using this political power at the ballot box in their own interests. It even divides the elite as much as it sometimes divides the working class.

What's it they say...only when something is gone that you realise the value of what you have lost.

I don't believe the ruling class give a flying fuck about the working class having the vote. Why would they mind when a vote holds no power whatsoever but gives many people the false impression of power? The whole sorry business, if it has any effect at all on class relations, is that of making the working class impotent.
You seem to be suggesting that there is no alternative that could be both fair and effective? If so, that is exactly the sort of myopia that keeps the majority of people falling for the same old bullshit over and over again. Exasperating!

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Noah Fence
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Feb 5 2014 17:24
Tommy Ascaso wrote:
Webby wrote:
I don't believe the ruling class give a flying fuck about the working class having the vote.

Not sure this is entirely true, they're desperately trying to encourage people to vote as they realise it is what gives them legitimacy.

Haha. Well I did kind of give my own argument a bit of a kick in the bollocks, so fair enough!
Your point is what I meant when I mentioned impotence. I stand corrected sir!!!

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Red Marriott
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Feb 5 2014 17:42
SPGB propaganda minister wrote:
Workers having the vote has always been a problem for a ruling class and pre-occupies them in finding ways and means to undermine, co-opt and hoax people into not using this political power at the ballot box in their own interests.

Yeh the ruling class have had to put a lot of effort into the difficult task of trying to stop the working class voting for SPGB.

ajjohnstone
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Feb 6 2014 06:59

Have no idea where your organisational affiliation lies, RM, but i wager it has as much lack of success in convincing a significant number of workers to support it as the SPGB.

The schadenfreude attitude has little merit unless you can boast of better achievements.

Marx in 1852 “But universal suffrage is the equivalent of political power for the working class of England, where the proletariat forms the large majority of the population, where, in a long though underground civil war, it has gained a clear consciousness of its position as a class and where even the rural districts know no longer any peasants, but only landlords, industrial capitalists (farmers) and hired labourers. The carrying of universal suffrage in England would, therefore be a far more socialistic measure than anything which has been honoured with that name on the continent. Its inevitable result, here is the political supremacy of the working class.”

His meaning is clear - a working class majority in Parliament, backed by a majority of the population, can bring about the real transfer of power. Marx reaffirms “the way to show political power [in Britain] lies open to the working class. Insurrection would be madness where peaceful agitation would more swiftly and surely do the work.”

Several decades later Engels still argued for its use commenting that in the USA the workers "next step towards their deliverance" was "the formation of a political workingmen's party, with a platform of its own, and the conquest of the Capitol and the White House for its goal." This new party "like all political parties everywhere . . . aspires to the conquest of political power."

In Britain Engels continued to argue that the task of the British working class was not only to pursue economic struggles "but above all in winning political rights, parliament, through the working class organised into an independent party" (significantly, the original manuscript stated "but in winning parliament, the political power").

So we are in good company even if not the popular one at this moment in time.

It is indeed a long and winding road, but all the supposed short-cuts that have been proposed over the years led to cul-de-sacs. The SPGB will plod on until persuaded of another more viable route. So far, many of the previous road maps to an emancipatory society have been proved to be as fictitious as buried treasure maps and the SPGB has been confirmed correct in holding to its own compass.

Spikymike
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Feb 6 2014 12:54

Good grief ajj you've dragged me out of the bunker on this one!

I mean 1852 or 2014 anyone. It's true that both much of the ruling class and many socialists thought back then that the franchise resulting from working class struggle would automatically lead on to the assumption of actual working class power within short thrift but the ruling class soon found out that wasn't the case. Repeating Marx word for word in support of the SPGB on this doesn't wash as I know they pick and choose a good deal on other matters, (and they have hardly been consistent in their support of reformist campaigns for the franchise anyway).

Being anti-parliamentary communists does not equate to proposals for short cuts. Favouring, as our priority, forms of struggle along the lines of assemblies and 'worker councils' connects with the experience of workers own self-active pursuit of class struggle both day-to-day and historically and it is this which connects to our understanding of the potential for revolutionary change emerging from class struggle.

Since we have never experienced a successful communist revolution we none of us can prove the validity of our position on this but the anti-parliamentary position has a good deal more logic and current international relevance to it than the dogmatic parliamentarianism of the SPGB who have no ownership of the compass.

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jura
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Feb 6 2014 15:06

Marx and Engels were dead wrong on this, as they were on national liberation and taking sides in capitalist wars. Unlike them, today we have the advantage of decades of experience with all three.

ajjohnstone
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Feb 6 2014 16:01

2014 is not 1919 either, is it?

But we all tend to seek to detect a precendent. But i fully subscribe to your view that none of us should lay claim to be revolutionary oracles. Nor should we need to appeal to the authority of dead men who lived in different circumstances. Mea culpa.

All we can do is present our best evidence for our respective political positions.

But as one SPGBer on another thread pointed out, our position on workers councils and parliamentary action is not an either/or one but that there will be overlaps and parallel movements taking place. But as in some debates views seem to get polarised to highlight differences. I grant i am prone to that and in the past so was the party as a whole, imho

Another thread, not the Yellowshirt one, but the Ukraine (and in the past, the Occupy) show many problems with an unorganised and unstructured protest movement being rail-roaded, hijacked or diverted. i also remember an earlier discussion on permanent unions V transient temporary work-place organisation.

Its ideas that are vital not simply just organisational forms and on this the SPGB and AF are little different in placing education about our aim for a new society and not the reform of the present one as our reason for being. The way to achieve it, the means to the end, certainly is important but one particular road should not exclude other paths. We all have the same compass that points the same direction, however, some are going to opt for the bus and others the train or plane to get there. We'll argue over which is the most expedient form of travel.

Heretical, perhaps but i am influenced by the SLP 'sword and shield'. Ultimately, the Russian and German workers councils lost out to the party that held state control and could impose its political power and dismantle any independence.

The SPGB argues that the vote to acquire control of the State still possesses a revolutionary value. You know the cliches as much as i do...it is not the X itself but the person behind it at the ballot box which is more important, knowledge is power..blah blah

Anyway, in response to an upcoming meeting, this was recently posted at one of our blogs which is an attempt to clarify thoughts.

http://socialist-courier.blogspot.com/2014/02/the-spgb-are-for-soviets.h...

Spikymike
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Feb 7 2014 15:36

ajj,

A few points:

1.alb on the other MDF thread brings up Lenin in defence of the SPGB's position on Parliament and use of the franchise but only in terms of measuring the quantity of socialist support rather than the quality and certainly not on the basis of 'controlling the state'.
2. Yes, in it's time the old DeLeonist SLP had a more plausible strategy than the SPGB but unfortunately shared many of the same weaknesses of the SPGB's impossibilist tradition.
3. The 'assembly' and 'workers council' form is not specific to 1918 but is a recurrent creation of working class self activity up to the present day, though not any guarantee in itself of either success in the immediate partial aims of struggles or the longer term success of communism, but it chimes more readily with the aims of 'meaningful revolutionary activity' (as for instance defined here in point 7 - http://libcom.org/library/as-we-see-it-solidarity-group ) than participation in capitalist elections which fit more readily into a definition of 'sterile and harmful' activity. We can agree however that it is 'class and communist consciousness' which is the critical factor whatever the forms of organisation.
4. Of course I cannot predict how an escalating class struggle and a growing communist conciousness might express itself, and if the capitalist franchise is still available in some places, then it is at least conceivable that some political parties claiming to be genuine communists might get elected but from my point of view in such circumstances a commitment to the primacy of workers own self created organisations is essential to avoid conflict between the two and ensure the practical progress of transforming society.

PS: Not sure why you referenced the AF in particular. I could access the blog but not the whole text for some reason.

alb
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Feb 9 2014 17:48

I think James Connolly (while he was still a revolutionary socialist and before he became an Irish Catholic Nationalist) put it rather well in 1908 when, after leaving the De Leonist Socialist Labor Party of America to join the IWW:

Quote:
He was asked if he approved of its repudiating the principle of political action. He laughed, "It will be impossible to prevent the workers taking it. (C. Desmond Greaves, The Life and Times of James Connolly", end of Chapter XII).

That's exactly right. When the time comes the workers will take political action, will stand candidates in elections, whatever some might think today and those who then argue against it will be ignored.

Spikymike
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Feb 10 2014 12:09

To clarify my comment above on the DeLeonist SLP and in response to alb's Connolly reference I would only say that both the SLP and SPGB (and Connolly presumably) continued to define 'political' as primarily a matter of standing in capitalist elections and seeking 'to capture' the capitalist state and the 'economic' as a matter for the trade or industrial unions. That is they both separate after the fashion of their Social Democratic origins the political and economic into separate spheres of organisation and activity that deny the practical reality of social life and the experience of class struggle. To the extent that such groups actively propagate such a division (and their members have not, and do not, always do so) they may actually act as a barrier to the development of the class struggle and class consciousness. I stand by my opinion as expressed in my point 4 above.

alb
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Feb 10 2014 14:29
Spikymike wrote:
4. Of course I cannot predict how an escalating class struggle and a growing communist conciousness might express itself, and if the capitalist franchise is still available in some places, then it is at least conceivable that some political parties claiming to be genuine communists might get elected but from my point of view in such circumstances a commitment to the primacy of workers own self created organisations is essential to avoid conflict between the two and ensure the practical progress of transforming society

I hadn't read (or digested) thst properly. That's quite a concession. But one question: why couldn't/wouldn't the socialist/communist political party also be a "workers own self-created organisation"?

Spikymike
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Feb 10 2014 16:44

alb,

Well a communist party or other political groupings can, and are, created by 'workers' but it comes down to a difference in our assessment of how class struggle develops practically and the likely 'minority' nature of such organisations in relation to 'mass based' organisations created in the course of rapidly escalating struggle in a response to an 'objective' crisis within the system. In addition there is the related matter of whether in such a situation the conditions allowing for the effective exercise of the capitalist franchise, or even it's existence, will exist in many places.

I think it is perhaps this area of discussion that might be most useful in the MDF meeting though I'm sure I have had this discussion with various SPGBers before.

alb
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Feb 10 2014 19:24
Spikymike wrote:
In addition there is the related matter of whether in such a situation the conditions allowing for the effective exercise of the capitalist franchise, or even it's existence, will exist in many places.

Even its existence? This is a matter of opinion or rather of what is the more likely. As the capitalist class at present rule via universal suffrage I would have thought that them abolishing it (but how?) would be a last act of desperation. But at least you seem to be conceding that it could still exist, and could even be effectively exercised, in some (if not "many") places. I'd put it the other way round, that it is likely to exist in "many places" but not all. But where it exists, what then? Are you saying don't use it? I don't think that would get support; which I think was the point Connolly was making. I'd concede that, where it didn't, then some other means would have to be used, probably mass demonstrations and political strikes.

Spikymike wrote:
I think it is perhaps this area of discussion that might be most useful in the MDF meeting

Yes, hopefully. See you there.

proletarian.
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Feb 11 2014 02:17

Can I drop a spanner in the works? I think the capitalist class rule via capital not universal suffrage. It's a deception. A powerful one, still.

alb
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Feb 11 2014 06:34
proletarian. wrote:
It's a deception. A powerful one, still.

Precisely, they rule, i.e control the state, because they have been able to deceive workers into voting for their representatives. But what if workers see through this and are no longer deceived?

Incidentally, they exploit via capital but rule through the state.

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Feb 11 2014 09:24

Alb #24
‘Precisely, they rule, i.e. control the state, because they have been able to deceive workers into voting for their representatives. But what if workers see through this and are no longer deceived?’

This is true in a liberal democracy, though this voting for representatives evolved to meet the needs of the ruling class and subvert the rise of democratic ideas in the working class. This form legitimized their rule, however every time the section of the ruling class (1), who have their hands on the levers of power are seriously threatened (2) it will suspend their said democracy until they are ousted or the situation is normalized.

So if the workers see through this and are no longer deceived, what will the ruling class do? They will see them coming from a long way off and how many ballot papers stops a bullet?

(1) The ruling class has competing sectional/regional interests – like the mafia.

(2) Witness fascism, or as farce – the Obama dilemma, ‘When is a military coup not a military coup?’, when we like it - Egypt. Or the British army officers, who approached the UK royal family to propose getting rid of wee Harold Wilson’s government.

alb
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Feb 11 2014 12:12
Auld-bod wrote:
every time the section of the ruling class (1), who have their hands on the levers of power are seriously threatened (2) it will suspend their said democracy until they are ousted or the situation is normalized.

This is a bit of a conspiracy theory of society and politics, isn't it, in assuming that the ruling class can simply turn on and off political democracy just like that? Political democracy is not just a constitutional matter. It's also, more so in fact, a sociological, even a cultural fact, the product of historical evolution reflecting past struggles. It can't be done away with by decree.

Auld-bod wrote:
So if the workers see through this and are no longer deceived, what will the ruling class do? They will see them coming from a long way off and how many ballot papers stops a bullet?

In that cause we've had it since they would presumably do this faced with whatever workers do when they've become class-conscious. I'm rather more optimistic and don't see a prolonged civil war as being either on the cards or necessary to get to socialism.

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Feb 11 2014 14:54

alb #26

The ruling class acting in its own interests is not a conspiracy. From their point of view a threat to their nation state, and/or its economic system, appears to be the end of civilisation. It therefore justifies all sorts of criminal behaviour.

I’m not particularly optimistic as capitalism is insatiable in its greed and has been largely successful in ‘naturalising’ its behaviour – witness the lack of popular protest over the massive internet snooping.

It would seem to me that the more violence the less revolution – therefore I would not advocate a war with a worker’s militia standing toe to toe against a band of professional killers. On the other hand to expect the guardians of the state to stand idly by while they are being dismantled by a legally elected government is wishful thinking.

Many people do not now vote, and the people I know who bother cast for the ‘least bad’ option. A parliamentary road therefore supposes a reversal of strategy into ‘positive voting’ and an increased numerical involvement. I am sympathetic to Spikymike #17 point 4, as a growth in the class struggle could spark the manifestation of dual track approach to organisation. Revolutionaries alone do not make revolutions so to hell with prophets - to be alive is to struggle.

proletarian.
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Feb 11 2014 16:14
alb wrote:
proletarian. wrote:
It's a deception. A powerful one, still.

Precisely, they rule, i.e control the state, because they have been able to deceive workers into voting for their representatives. But what if workers see through this and are no longer deceived?

Incidentally, they exploit via capital but rule through the state.

I'm not sure exploitation which takes place through wage-labour is the same as what I meant when I said ruling via capital. Or maybe it is? However, you now say the ruling class rules through the state which is slightly different from saying via universal suffrage. I see the state as the enforcer which lacks control, it attempts to control but can't due to the anarchy of the market, economic and class forces, imperialism etc. I think they rule via capital because of the strength and power of ownership over property and production and what that means for the great mass of people.

Maybe it's easier to ask how would the working class rule, via what? The obvious answer is councils (some might say democracy?), but that's just a form it's not the power. The ruling comes from having control over land, material, production, what gets done and how. In essence, ownership.

Maybe I'm just playing word and mind games. I could just as well say the ruling class have power because of private property, they rule via the state?

alb
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Feb 11 2014 18:04
proletarian. wrote:
you now say the ruling class rules through the state which is slightly different from saying via universal suffrage. I see the state as the enforcer which lacks control, it attempts to control but can't due to the anarchy of the market, economic and class forces, imperialism etc. I think they rule via capital because of the strength and power of ownership over property and production and what that means for the great mass of people.

The question is how do they control the state. You seem to be arguing that it is because they own the means of production, but you don't think, do you, that, for instance in Britain, the Confederation of British Industry apppoints or directs the government?

I suggest that it is the other way round: that they own the means of production because they control the state. It is the state that grants and upholds their right to own. Without state backing their ownership titles mean nothing. Certainly, their (state-backed) wealth gives them power to influence the great mass of the people including how they vote.

At present most people, holding or influenced by pro-capitalist ideas, vote for pro-capitalist politicians and it is this that gives the capitalist class control of the state. In other words, they rule (control the state) indirectly through universal suffrage and pro-capitalist politicians and parties. They don't rule directly by (somehow) appointing the government and the top state officials.

I know Marx's views on political action generally get short shrift here, but he coined the slogan "Turn universal suffrage from a means of trickery (duperie in French) into an agent of emancipation". Of course it won't be the only such agent, but it can/will be one. Why not? What objection can there be, since we've got the choice, to voting out pro-capitalist politicians and replacing them by socialist delegates (in addition to whatever else is decided should be done)?

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Agent of the In...
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Feb 11 2014 18:32

Your advocating an instrumentalist theory of the state, which is not quite popular here on libcom. I suggest you give this a look: http://libcom.org/blog/socialist-electoralism-capitalist-state-30122013. I could have given this a more in depth response. But I've got no time right now.

The point is, you should try to look at how the state operates as a structure, before making assumptions that aren't too historically sound.

alb
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Feb 11 2014 20:08
Agent of the Fifth International wrote:
Your advocating an instrumentalist theory of the state

I had to think for a moment whether this was directed at Proletarian or me, but I suppose it must be directed at me. But I'm not advocating that the state should be used to try to reform capitalism, which is the position the author makes it clear he is arguing against:

Quote:
I think electoral optimists are mistaken in their belief that they can still use the state for worthwhile radical political purposes in a non-revolutionary time.

Quote:
being optimistic about elections in the capitalist state in non-revolutionary times

Quote:
As far as I can tell, the comrades I’ve called electoral optimists believe it is possible to make some kind of politically worthwhile use of the capitalist state at a time like today, when there's not a revolution happening.

Quote:
The idea that the capitalist state can be used for radical political purposes outside of revolutionary times seems to involve this kind of understanding of the state: under the right circumstances, the state can be used for other purposes than just serving capitalists' interests.

I'm an "electoral pessimist" about this too. I was advocating the revolutionary, not the reformist, use of elections. As part of the revolutionary process during revolutionary times and to capture a tribune from which to spread socialist ideas in non-revolutionary times, but not to try to get reforms of capitalism as leftists like that trotskyist in Seattle do. That only encourages the illusion that capitalism can be reformed to work in the interest of the wage and salary working class (it can't be reformed to do this by "direct action" either, as some "electoral pessimists" seem to imagine).

KHM
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Feb 11 2014 22:53
alb wrote:
The question is how do they control the state. You seem to be arguing that it is because they own the means of production, but you don't think, do you, that, for instance in Britain, the Confederation of British Industry apppoints or directs the government? [You know that is not what people mean when they say that the state is the social/public form the bourgeoisie give their rule.]

I suggest that it is the other way round: that they own the means of production because they control the state. It is the state that grants and upholds their right to own. Without state backing their ownership titles mean nothing. [?! This is meaningless] Certainly, their (state-backed) wealth gives them power to influence the great mass of the people including how they vote.

At present most people, holding or influenced by pro-capitalist ideas, vote for pro-capitalist politicians and it is this that gives the capitalist class control of the state. In other words, they rule (control the state) indirectly through universal suffrage and pro-capitalist politicians and parties. They don't rule directly by (somehow) appointing the government and the top state officials.

I know Marx's views on political action generally get short shrift here, but he coined the slogan "Turn universal suffrage from a means of trickery (duperie in French) into an agent of emancipation". Of course it won't be the only such agent, but it can/will be one. Why not? What objection can there be, since we've got the choice, to voting out pro-capitalist politicians and replacing them by socialist delegates (in addition to whatever else is decided should be done)?

That full quote actually reads:

Karl Marx wrote:
That a such an organization must be pursued by all the means the proletariat has at its disposal including universal suffrage which will thus be transformed from the instrument of deception that it has been until now into an instrument of emancipation.

But perhaps you could allow Marx more than a slogan and actually read his work and learn from his understanding of the state. Although it is quite funny to read your 'anarchist' view of the state. (I don't mean offence to anarchists here by that. I know most don't see the state in the vulgar Max Stirner way.)