Monday, May 04, 2015

Vote The Socialist Party To Get Socialism!

“Are not the dominant parties managed by the ruling classes, that is, the propertied classes, solely for the profit and privilege of the few? They use us millions to help them into power. They tell us, like so many children, that our safety lies in voting for them. They toss us crumbs of concession to make us believe they are working in our interest. Then they exploit the resources of the nation not for us, but for the interests which they represent and uphold. We, the people, are not free. Our democracy is but a name. We vote? What does that mean? It means that we choose between two bodies of real, though not avowed, autocrats. We choose between Tweedledum and Tweedledee. We elect expensive masters to do our work for us, and then blame them because they work for themselves and their class.” The original deaf, blind and dumb kid, Helen Keller, Manchester Advertiser, March 3, 1911.

The defenders of capitalism always make two claims: 1) That it increases prosperity for all. 2) It creates a more secure and democratic world.  Both are self-evidently false. The main argument defending capitalism is that the poorest of every generation are doing better than they were before, and living standards always increase. That is no longer true. We have the first generation where everybody expects to be poorer than their parents. We’ve got more unrest and international tension than we had 30 years ago. But one thing that capitalism is very good at, is that whatever critique you throw at it, it adopts it, and then throws you back some horrible nightmare of the same thing. So with they say: okay, you want flexi-time and flexible working, we’ll give you flexibility, watch this: you’re all casuals on zero-hour contracts which are now rebranded as “flexible-hours contracts” by Iain Duncan Smith, the Conservative work and pensions secretary defending contracts which do not guarantee any hours of work for an employee.

There are those who criticise the Socialist Party for participating in elections and we are accused of advocating parliamentary action. Indeed we do but at no time do we envisage getting elected on a reform programme which we would then try to get parliament to implement. Our case against parliamentary reformism is that firstly many of the reforms that can be achieved are reforms that would strengthen capitalism and would only be passed with this end in view; and secondly, campaigning for reforms would corrupt a socialist party and relegate the establishment of a socialist society to a secondary purpose. Socialism can only come through the efforts of an organisation having that as its goal, and in a capitalist society that organisation must find expression as a political party – a socialist party.

The Labour Party has long hauled down their tattered, torn, dishonoured Red Flag and instead nailed to their masthead, the yellow banner of peaceful co-existence between worker and capitalist. “Make capitalism work,” reads their manifestoes. In the distant past some have supported the Labour Party not because they had any illusions that Labour was a socialist party but because it represented in British politics with its trade union links the principle of independent working class political action. Today, this has required a tactical adaptation of their views so that they would not fall under the one-edged disciplinary axe of the leadership—an axe that only cuts against the Left. The pressures to vote for Labour are massive. Trade unions are actively campaigning for Labour. This is not so much due to people being attracted to the policies of the Labour Party government. People are scared of a Tory victory. However, "holding your nose" while voting Labour is not an option. The working class can only establish its political independence and fight for its own class interests by carrying through a thorough political break with the Labour Party. 

Running Socialist Party candidates is all about exposing the agenda of the employing class, challenging the false promises and policy lies of the pro-capitalist candidates, and putting forward socialism as the alternative for working people. Running candidates is about providing a platform to gain support for the idea of socialism. Elections are an organising tool to expose the powers that be and to confront the ideology of the bosses. There are some who believe that the elections were created as a trap to ensnare the socialist movement. In reality, the ruling elite have systematically looked to deny anyone that dispute their right to exist the right to vote. f we limit our struggles just to the workplace, schools, and the streets, then that allows the 1% to dominate the other arenas available in society. They already control the courts, the police, and the mass media. But we can battle them in the political arena. The idea that boycotting or abstaining from the election is the best way to resist the 1% neglects this fact. That’s why we need to challenge them in the elections as well as in every other arena. Also, if we do not try to win support from those angry at the system’s failures, then the right wing will endeavor to do so by tapping into working people’s legitimate frustrations and anxieties. But their solutions will amount to not much more than populist scapegoating.

It is true that we do not have a strong political party and this may well be explained by decades of lesser-evilist campaigns arguing for so-called stepping stones towards socialism. Many workers, particularly that older, on 7th of May will reluctantly vote Labour as "the least worst" option. We need to question the validity of throwing valuable resources into electing candidates for reformist and ultimately pro-business parties. Voting for the lesser-evil parties will only bolster the justification they give when they face opposition to their policies, the fig leaf of electoral 'legitimacy'. The Green Party leader, Natalie Bennett, when asked "would you back Labour's decision to make cuts every year to current spending through the next parliament?" if the Greens held the balance of power, admitted that "we would have to, in the end, make a choice between that and even worse Tory cuts". The Greens would be accomplices in austerity.

The real question is - where is the political voice of the working class? The Socialist Party say it is in the clarion call of our candidates and our members. 

The Socialist Party has kept alive lessons from the past that today we should all be learning from. Today more than ever, our problems are global. Capitalism is a global system. Not only is it attacking living standards around the world but, due to its insatiable drive for profit with no regard for social consequences, it is threatening the survival of life as we know it on the planet. There has been a groundswell of resistance and a growing disillusionment with “politics as usual”. Our experience on the 2015 general election campaign trail has been that people are more open to alternative ideas and visions. Voters are genuinely looking around for a serious alternative, for a party they can identify with and one that articulates what they have been feeling and thinking.

So, is a vote for the Socialist Party a wasted vote? The answer is no. A socialist in parliament can amplify the voices of community, workplace and social campaigns and activists, so they have a better chance of being heard. We have to use all avenues at our disposal, including parliament, to build the movements to defend and mobilise our class. Direct and participatory democracy is all about empowering people so they become the organised force for social change.


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