In the recent French presidential election of the 35,467,172 who went to cast a vote, a near-record 25 per cent abstained from casting their ballot and some 4 million put a blank or spoilt paper into the ballot box. That's about 11.5%. Who says not voting for any of those on offer can not become a valid political tactic in the future? In a few weeks we will again be invited to attend at various polling stations to place our little cross to confirm your voluntary assent to the continuance of Capitalism, and your willing acceptance to be governed. The Socialist Party suggests as an alternative. If, where a socialist candidate is not running, you write the word "World Socialism" across your ballot paper so that you have signified that you are not a willing supporter of capitalism and its political parties. Is it foolish to show on the ballot paper what you do want? A ballot paper ‘spoilt’ for socialism is a happy ballot paper.
Socialists will be going to the polling stations to show that we consider the vote a potential weapon that the working class can use to dislodge the capitalist class and clear the way for the establishment in place of capitalism of a system based on the common ownership and democratic control of the means of production so that they can be used to turn out what people need. But, except in the few constituencies where they will be candidates standing for this, we shan't be voting for any of the candidates on offer but instead casting a write-in vote for world socialism by writing this across our ballot paper. We urge all fellow-workers to do the same.
The working class interest lies in the revolutionary overthrow of capitalism and the establishment of socialism. Whether they are merely self-serving careerists or they sincerely wish to change things for the better, the aspiring politicians will come up against the reality of an economic and social system where profits come before anything else. Instead of controlling capitalism, capitalism will control them as can be seen when George Osborne in his recent budget had to downgrade his previous estimates on future economic growth, due to the recent deterioration in the world economy. There are political groups that recognise this and call on workers to abstain from the electoral process. We reject this approach and argue that for a socialist working class to gain political power they will need to contest elections at all levels of government in order to capture the machinery of the state. Elections also provide an opportunity for the Socialist Party to make the case against capitalism and for socialism – a world of common ownership and free access to all that is produced. We are using this election to put forward the socialist proposition that the only solution of today's social problems is the establishment of a world community without frontiers based on common ownership and democratic control of the means of wealth production and distribution, with production solely for use not sale or profit. On this basis the world-wide productive apparatus could turn out the abundance that it is technically capable of but which it is prevented from doing today by the restrictions of capitalism and its rule of "no profit, no production". This would permit society to implement the long-standing socialist principle of "from each according to their ability, to each according to their needs". In other words, free access for every man, woman and child to what they need to live and enjoy life. This, we say, is technically possible; but first the means for producing wealth must become the common heritage of all mankind, the only basis on which the purpose of production can be changed from profit making to satisfying human needs.
So what's the catch? The catch is, we will not lead you and we can't do all the work for you. You have to be your own leader, else democracy is meaningless. So if you're prepared to stand up for yourself, don't wait for other people to do it first - get in touch with us and help out.
We cast a write-in vote by writing "SOCIALISM" or "WORLD SOCIALISM" across the ballot paper. What's the alternative? To not vote at all? More and more people are doing this, and it's not as bad as voting for one or other of the parties that stand for keeping capitalism going. But it's a bit of a cop-out. The anarchists like it, because they don't believe in electoral political action. We don't agree with their view. Our ancestors were right to struggle for the vote. The fact that up to now it hasn't been used properly is no reason for rejecting it as ineffectual. We say in this General Election, the working class should write-in for ‘WORLD SOCIALISM’.