Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Building Solidarity by Standing Up for Socialism

It is clear that no fundamental change will happen as a result of this election on 8the June. Only the Socialist Party promises a challenge to capitalism. Socialism is a system of social organisation that has never been tried and, these days, rarely explained.

For many left-wingers activists the Socialist Party's notion of engaging with electoral politics has long been anathema and described as a diversion. They remain adamant that building protest movements remains the key to social change and that electoral politics is a curse to be avoided at all costs. From past history, there is, of course, some validity to this anti-parliamentarian stance. But it neglects any self-criticism of traps and delusions of a direct action strategy that sets about changing the world without taking power. Choosing between socialist electoral politics and social movements is a false choice.  Sectional movements cannot win on their own against the combined power of capital and the state. If protests inevitably come up against the limits of ‘throwing stones’ at the state; if the state needs to be entered to effect change and block reaction; and if insurrection is discounted as a way of coming to power; then parliamentary processes and the struggle over remaking state institutions cannot be avoided. It is, however, clear that socialist political action cannot deliver unless backed by the deepest mass movements, not least that of a renewed and revitalized labour movement. Parliamentary and extra-parliamentary activity are not in opposition but inextricably intertwined in the struggle over power and revolutionary ruptures. The point is that elections remain critical moments of political mobilization, of tests of organizational capacity, and of ideological contestation. But they are still far from, in capitalist democracies, the sum total of all politics. The challenge for the working class is to contemplate and put in motion organizational forms and political parties of a new kind, committed to transcending capitalism and realising an alternative society no longer governed by the logics of profit and endless accumulation. Socialists need to do education on the limits and realities that make it impossible for the reformist political parties to become an instrument for the kind of social transformation we need. Wherever we are active, we have to build an understanding of common working class interests and of the capitalist system. Inside our trade unions, in our workplaces and communities socialists need to contribute to the eventual creation of a socialist political presence, in the larger working class, and eventually as a participant and reference point in the electoral and larger political system.

Reformers believe that capitalism can be humanised. They use phrases like “crony capitalism” to suggest that capitalism is only bad when bad people are capitalists. Reformers think that if we encourage employers to be better people, this exploitation will not occur. But socialists understand that exploitation under capitalism is inevitable and that the real issue is to get rid of capitalism. This cannot be brought about through the crazy oscillations of the floating voter nor by the expedient manoeuvres of the tactical vote. It needs a stable political awareness that capitalism cannot be reformed. A voter who has that knowledge does not drift or wriggle; they cannot be tempted to vote for any of the capitalist parties under the delusion that this is a useful thing to do because it keeps one of the others out or lets another in. The socialist vote cannot be bought or manipulated or netted. Socialists vote applying their knowledge, which means they use their vote to the limits of its awesome power to establish the society of freedom.

 The ruling class feel their strength and the screw is being tightened still further. Workers who were barely surviving are having what were called their ‘benefits' (a prime example of Orwellian double-speak) cut. Workers in need of the ‘safety net' of the Welfare State are enduring an extremely humiliating experience. These are times of exceptionally blatant degradation for the working class.

Yet through all this the political party which openly and arrogantly proclaimed its support for capitalism maintains its popularity. The Conservatives appear strong and united, apparently entrenched in power for ever. And it is predicted that at election time, the workers will give them a hearty vote of confidence. The Labour Party is in disarray, intent upon stabbing Corbyn in the back.

Capitalism today is the same society as it was in the 1930s. It is similarly anarchic. It produces the same desperate, devastating problems. Its leaders are as impotent now as they were in 1930s. In fact, capitalism cannot change. When it produces a war, or famine, or mass unemployment, it is not behaving in a wayward fashion but exactly in character. There can be no escape from the results of the system, short of abolishing capitalism itself. That is the crucial issue in this General Election, and the lesson to be gained from looking back at our history. At present the working class absorb a staggering amount of punishment from the workings of capitalism and they dumbly accept that this must always be. But the future is in our hands. We have the power world wide to end capitalism and all its problems. We can have a world of common ownership and free access—a world of abundance and harmonious cooperation. If there is one lesson for the working class to learn and it is of the urgent need for the new social system— socialism. Workers need a political party to build a democratic movement designed to oppose and end a system based on the exploitation of the majority by the minority – vote for the Socialist Party.

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