The electoral process is a fraud offering only capitalist choices. It will not end austerity for millions of workers. The working class has already discovered its own form of direct democracy but this can only become operative in the active struggle to step up our fight not just for better living standards but against the system which is reducing them.
The electoral trick – over and over again
In the last few years our rulers have laid on 2 Referendums, elections for Regional Mayors and Police and Crime Commissioners, elections for at least three levels of local Councils and elections for "national" Assemblies/Parliament in Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales. To crown it all the last General Election elected a Government bound by a law which was said to spare us the spectacle of a further such pantomime until 2020.
In reality, the law about a 5 year Parliament was not worth the paper it was written on. The Tory Party passed it to keep the Lib Dems trapped in the coalition arrangement from 2010-15. The ruling Tories since 2015 have not needed that little trick so when it suited their party political purposes they overturned their own law with a vote in the House of Commons which could only have passed with support from the Labour Party.
Principled parliamentary politics?
Of course, the Parliamentary Labour Party chose to play the game of having an extra electoral circus as they could not envisage the possibility of acting otherwise. Divided as they are, the right expect to get rid of Corbyn and his crew after the coming expected electoral shambles, whilst the left, who mainly occupy safe seats, expect to extend their grip over the rump of the Party.
Theresa May promised when she got the job as Prime Minister that there would be no early election so why the U-turn? The answer is short-term expediency. Far from being the strong leader, as her election campaign makes out, May has only a small majority. Currently the right wing of the Party could scupper any Brexit deal that looks too soft on Europe. Better to have an election now when Labour is in disarray and post-Brexit Ukip have become irrelevant. Playing the same nationalist, anti-immigrant card that won Brexit she can boost her majority. But most of all it means there will be three years after Brexit actually happens in 2019 before another election is due. Enough time, the Tories hope, for any economic damage that will do to be managed.
Since the election was called the parties have produced no surprises. The Labourists have called for a return to a "kinder capitalism" at a time when the world-wide system continues to be beset by the most severe and insoluble crisis. Their insistence that they will “balance the books” does not promise much in the way of relief for those suffering from that crisis. Outside England, the nationalists continue to peddle their core illusions while the Lib Dems and Greens hold on to the image of a capitalist Britain remaining in the capitalist European Union.
Election spectacles – reality versus illusion
As Marxists, we start from reality rather than the distorted ideological myths peddled by, and on behalf of, the minority who own and control the means of production. That minority – the bosses' class or bourgeoisie – like other ruling classes before them control the ideas which dominate society. In the 21st century that set of ideas is endlessly strengthened and reproduced by the digital and other media which penetrates into the majority of homes throughout Britain and other parts of the world.
The current prevailing myth peddled in North and South America, Europe, Australasia, India and many parts of Africa is that elections allow those who vote to have control. That story is the preferred narrative for the bourgeoisie maintaining control in the majority of states. As we know, it is readily ditched when national ruling classes can better maintain their position by other means. In what passes for normality in Britain – housing and health service becoming increasingly unavailable, employment becoming scarcer, lower paid and more precarious, benefits being cut and more people relying on charities and food banks - our bosses are still smug enough to wheel out their election roadshows.
Their continuing use of elections continues unabated even in circumstances where it is clear that most people feel no wish to be involved. For example, in the various local elections at the start of May many areas had turnouts well below 40%. Nevertheless , without a hint of shame, the media machine continues to roll out the tripe about democratic choices for the next round in June. Let there be no doubt, in modern times the democratic exercise to choose Candidate A or Candidate B is no more than a hoax. Whatever the composition of the Parliaments, Councils or mayoral offices the real decision-making lies elsewhere.
It is the increasingly opaque world of capitalist investment or disinvestment that dominates the conditions in which workers live. Whether they understand it or not the choices in the gist of the elected representatives are entirely choices within the boundaries of the capital system – a system based on production aimed at profit not meeting people's needs. Currently the decisions are driven by the need to try to maintain or even increase profit levels – an insoluble problem caused by the very nature of capitalist production, competition and the need to accumulate. For further explanation of the tendency of the rate of profit to decline see, http://www.leftcom.org/en/articles/2016-08-23/there-is-no-capitalist-solution-to-a-deepening-economic-crisis
Their socialism and ours
During the run up to the election much will be made of Labour being a "Socialist" alternative. We reject the idea that the Labour Party is either socialist or an alternative.
Since the First World War, Labour politicians have participated in or controlled numerous governments in Britain. In common with all the other parties their role has to been to maintain the capitalist order. The platform which the Corbynite Labour Party presents is entirely within that framework. The concept of nationalisation or state intervention have been prominent at many times in the past and merely serves to develop "state capitalist" solutions where the capitalist state and capitalist enterprises become increasingly intertwined. They have nothing in common with the self-emancipation of the working class - the real centre of the socialist path.
Likewise the promises about the level of the minimum wage or altering the laws about contracts of employment may or may not be feasible. What is beyond doubt is that all such proposals are about maintaining capitalist relationships between the owners and us wage-slaves. In contrast to the Labourist advocates of ongoing alienation and oppression we stick with the revolutionary slogan "Abolish the Wages System".
Another gang of advocates for a vote for Labour will be those who believed that the Soviet Union and its empire was "real existing socialism". These present an equally bogus interpretation of Socialism. Again they mislead their followers confusing state capitalism and socialism. The significant difference is that state capitalism in the Soviet bloc, alongside China and other imitators, emerged from the defeat of the workers revolution which started in 1917. The state capitalist system that developed in the first half of the 1920s continued to cause misunderstanding as the hollowed out and defeated Soviets (Russian for councils) were replaced with repressive and reactionary agents of the state while keeping the same title. Adding to the problems of those trying to argue for a genuinely Marxist approach is the history of the revolutionary Bolshevik/Communist Party which helped to make the revolution in Russia and supported the worldwide proletarian revolution. In this historic tragedy the Party, with so many of its best elements slaughtered in the Civil War, retained the name Communist but became the core of the ruling class in the imperialist state that was one of the two "great powers".
Their democracy and ours
The June election is another cynical sham to con people that they have a "stake" in the system. Whatever rosettes the 650 MPs wear, the reality for the working class will be increasing misery as the capitalist crisis continues and deepens.
When we understand that the electoral machine changes nothing then we grasp the real nature of the world we live in. The reality is that elections, referendums and the rest of the democratic rigmarole is no more than smoke and mirrors. Democracy within capitalism is designed specifically to be unable to alter the fundamental class relationships. Behind the facade, the minority class dominates society in its own interests to maintain their own power, wealth and control. The reality is that the democratic circuses merely obscure the reality of class rule – a dictatorship by the bourgeoisie.
The working class has already discovered our alternative to the bosses' political structures. Instead of Parliaments we need a system based on structures such as Workers Councils where recallable representatives are directly accountable to their fellow producers. Where struggles take place we encourage Assemblies outside the control the capitalist parties and structures to agree and fight for their own demands again with any representatives being recallable and accountable.
Many millions who can see no point in the bosses' political games will not be conned into the ballot boxes. Amongst them will be the class conscious minority of workers who want to see a future based on satisfying human need for all.
Alongside that minority we appeal to workers:
Begin the fightback in our own communities and workplaces!
Work to grow the seeds to overthrow this system – a future for all humanity is possible!
May 7 2017
Good article, thanks for
Good article, thanks for posting.
The only thing I had a question about was this:
On this, rather than getting a bigger majority to avoid the Right causing problems, I thought it would be more to scupper the more moderates causing problems, especially as they could combine with Labour or the Lib Dems to force a more soft Brexit, and it seems that May wants to head for the hard Brexit the Right wants anyway. Or have I got the wrong end of the stick?
Stephen Thanks for that
Thanks for that comment. The sentence you picked out was not in the original but added at the editorial stage. In this area of speculation about the machinations of the ruling class I don't think any of us would claim to have inside knowledge but our reasons for arguing as above are as follows. May is an opportunist (as her unelected rise to power after Brexit demonstrates despite being a faint Remainer) and possibly she does not yet know what she wants from Brexit (she is also a notorious procastinator) but all indications are that she does not tolerate other opinions well and being boxed in by any faction would be anathema to her. Hence her change of mind over calling an election. The Tory pro-EU have been largely silenced by the vote and their own constituency associations it seems. The right, on the other hand, have made several menacing noises that they would prefer no deal and this threatens to tie May's hands. After the election was called Brexit Minister David Davies recognised what was happening and went public saying that the EU were trying to get him sacked. This looks like a coded message for his fear that in the formation of a new Cabinet after the election he might be shuffled off somewhere else. May's one problem here is that the expected large Tory majority will deliver a load of new MPs but who will choose them - the very Conservative Associations who had demanded a referendum on the EU in the first place! On the other hand she will have huge amount of patronage to hand out minor ministerial posts to those who toe the line. Whatever the final outcome we are convinced that despite the prospect of a whacking majority for one party our ruling class are living by the seat of their pants because they cannot solve the fundamental problems of the economic crisis.
That's a decent text. I might
That's a decent text. I might plunder bits of it for a talk I'm doing soon at a public AF anti-election meeting ;)
Hey there, good article. I
Hey there, good article.
I think the points about the economic conditions setting the parameters of government policy could be elaborated on a little further though. They are the strongest arguments in the piece, IMO.
The only thing that i would really contest, is that the "don't vote" proclamation. I am an anarchist and i fundamentally believe that social revolution is the ultimate solution to a great many of our contemporary political problems. i just think that, out of desperation, one could make a tactical vote.
Don't get me wrong, i think they are all in the same ball park of capitalism. I just think that if they represent different factions of how to manage capitalism, then maybe there could be some small changes in the way things are managed that could actually benefit the working class, and that if that is true, or just might even be true, then maybe one could cast tactical vote of some sort. i think i will, but i doubt that I will see a success out of it.
Anyway, the labour party is planning of keeping most of the fucking welfare cuts, which is fucking disgraceful with a million people or more going to fucking food banks!
I am not in any way a fan of the labour party, but i think those fucking cunts, and occasional well intending reformers ( who cannot do anything other the perpetuate the system as it is), i think these fuckers might have my reluctant vote.