Monday, June 05, 2017

Understanding elections

Where politics are concerned a lot of folk have stopped listening. They don't believe anymore in what politicians say or do. That's quite understandable after all the times they've been fooled and duped by phony campaign promises and let down by reforms guaranteed to cures for steadily worsening social problems.  Some though haven’t totally turned their backs on politics yet. They're watching the present General Election campaign. They still believe that hearing and weighing up what the various candidates propose can enable them to elect who will get this country's problems solved. The "believers" still hope to find the "right” person to put Britain's house in order. The "non-believers" have come to doubt that such people exist. The Socialist Party offers a third view which, besides agreeing that no "right” politician is available, goes further by denying that our country's desperate problems have been caused by the "wrong” leader chosen to run government in the past. Instead of blaming political office-holders, this view claims that the real cause of our social problems lies partly in the form of government we have and mainly in the capitalist system on which the government rests. It therefore also claims that the ballot should be used to fundamentally change both. Candidates for political office are but manifestations of class interests. Politicians are managerial strata who defend the status quo and are acting as its enforcers.  But a cardinal rule for a socialist is to tell the truth. The Labour Party is not our friend. Nor can it be reformed to do our bidding. Its purpose is to keep us enslaved. To pretend otherwise is to sow confusion.

No election would be complete without denial, delusion, deception, and those words: “the lesser of two evils.” At every election leftists argue about third parties and the ‘lesser evil’ and ‘tactical voting’. Truth is the bosses have both parties in the palms of their hands, while we need one of our own. Workers who are so hypnotised by the promise of reforms, those patches on a rotten social structure, that they neglect to observe the rottenness of the capitalist system itself, will naturally support that party whose program promises them most, providing that they retain enough infantile trustfulness to believe anything from the mouth of a politician. Suicidal though this is, and regrettable from the socialist standpoint, there is no doubt that the workers who want to vote for Corbyn believe they are acting intelligently. He might bring some seeming advantage to some sections of the workers. He might introduce measures bringing fleeting relief to the some of the working class who forget to ask themselves why reform legislation is necessary, and why, in spite of it, their conditions still grow steadily worse. Socialism distinguishes itself from capitalism by this fundamental requirement: the community shall own the means of production in common. Corbyn believes in the capitalist system. He might advocate reform of capitalism’s current excesses, but he is pro-capitalist. The Socialist Party doesn’t see capitalism as a reformable institution but the Labour Party does.  Corbyn and his left-wing cheer-leaders envision a “socialist” utopia built and operating on the back of a capitalist infrastructure. Not only do they fail to see the incompatibility they blatantly ignores the incongruity of the two. Like all politicians of the major parties Corbyn is selling a fantasy. We have seen "left-wing" governments elsewhere and how their electoral promises turn to nothing e.g. Syriza in Greece.

To build a socialist movement strong enough to defeat the power of the capitalist system will be a protracted struggle of historic proportion. It will take a sea change in thinking and understanding. Perhaps, and all socialists hope it is the case, we may well be moving into a good time to talk about revolution and socialism. But real change requires thinking beyond an individual General Election campaign. The tendency of reformers to place all their eggs in the Labour Party basket and all their hopes in charismatic leaders has prevented genuine social movements from gaining momentum. Revolution requires changing the political landscape. It means banishing the fantasy that the world’s problems can be solved if we just vote for the right Labour candidate. Socialists understand that the social ills demands an independent workers’ movement with a strong electoral component. The virtual disappearance of such ideas and goals in the last few generations is one of the reasons for the triumph of the right-wing populists. Real system change is always called too radical to be taken seriously. A workers’ party is one that builds its base of support among those who’ve seen their ideals betrayed and rejected by the major parties, by those who’ve realised that none of the parties serve their needs, and by those whose alienation has kept them away from voting booths. It engages working people in a way that enables them to represent their own interests. It runs candidates at all levels, from town councils to the House of Commons. The 1% fear more than anything else a permanent and well-organised working class party and have nightmares about finding such a new party seated in legislatures.

 Lesser evilism encourages a race to the bottom. The future doesn’t depend on a successful Labour Party and Corbyn as prime minister. It depends on all of us who support political revolution. Do we want to change direction or are we content to rubber-stamp the political status quo every election day. If the former, then it’s imperative that we build The Socialist Party now. We must cease feeding the beast. Corbyn may well re-distribute some wealth to benefit the poorer and his campaign has pulled the word ‘socialism’ out of the garbage can of history and initiated a debate about both capitalism and socialism. But when those policies implemented by a supposed socialist fail it will be socialism that will be discredited. When the workers want socialism they will not be deceived into believing that support of the non-socialist programme of Corbyn's Labour Party will give them it. For sure, many people demonstrate their faith in the radicalism of Corbyn by joining in their tens of thousands yet how many of his supporters have any idea of what real socialism is?

Capitalism has to be superseded if humanity is to survive. Capitalism, by all indications, is intent upon destroying decent life on the planet in the not so distant future. This is not merely the judgment of apocalyptic catastrophe cranks. We either figure how to remove capitalism and radically reconstruct society into an ecologically sustainable post-capitalist society or we can forget about a future. Once we can eliminate the profit motive, the door is open to rational use of natural resources for the first time in human history. We must turn our efforts to exposing capitalism for what it have become, a malignant threat to the very future of life on earth. The capitalist system is a time-bomb. Mankind is in a race with catastrophe. The threat is growing ever closer. Let us choose freedom, socialism, and survival while we can. 

As the general election approaches the whole of the mainstream media machine is in over-drive to convince people that they will be really shaping their own destinies by using their vote. This election campaign is largely a television advertising war. Unlike the anarchists, the Socialist Party does not put forward mass abstentions as a principle. We point out that the capitalist state machine will continue to function whether people vote or not. The failure of Parliament to promote the interests of the people effectively must be explained in a class way, that is to say, we must combat the belief that it is all just a matter of the weakness of human nature that power corrupts the politicians. We do not say that all is needed is the correct leader in order to exercise control over us lesser mortals - for our own good, of course. Instead we try to help people to draw the conclusion from their own experience that all governments in capitalist society are for the express purpose of maintaining the privileged position of all those who own the wealth. What is very clear is that whichever party forms the government they serve the interests of the capitalist ruling class. Capitalism is a system that offers no future for any worker. As socialists, we support no capitalist side in this election. Voting for Labour or Tory means supporting both parties’ attacks against the working class.

The Socialist Party candidates are conducting their election campaign for the purpose of rallying our fellow workers to the idea of socialism. The purpose in their standing is not to make the system work but to carry on agitation and education around the issues of the day. The other parties, however, are not bothering about anything but seats in the Parliament, and do not care whether the voters have any clear principles. Socialist ideas take root and grow in circumstances where people decide to organise and do something to change their circumstances. Voting for the Socialist Party is an opportunity to make use of your democratic rights and will put new heart and spirit into those who desire a new society. Our candidates are standing not to further their own careers. In these elections the seeds of socialism will have been sown and hopefully germinate, sprout shoots and grow.

Working people need to throw the capitalist parties out of office and the entire apparatus of government must be replaced. The needs of working people can only be met by creating a socialist economy, where ownership and control are taken from the tiny minority of capitalists and placed in the hands of the working people, to be run democratically. Reorganised on a socialist basis, our world can be free of racism, sexism, poverty, economic insecurity and exploitation. When the vast resources available to us are used to serve the needs of all instead of the profits of the few, and with a world socialist commonwealth, then the way will be opened for unparalleled growth in culture, freedom and the development of every individual. Such a society is worth fighting for. The only way we can get a rational society, based on the needs of the majority, is by organising and fighting for it. In this general election campaign we will be advocating for social change. We will be passing out our leaflets, answering questions and just generally "talking” socialism. We take every opportunity to convince people of the need to do away with the repressive, unjust capitalist system, and replace it with socialism. Nor will we be closing up shop after polling day. We know that a better world is not only possible, but absolutely necessary. The capitalist system is run for the profits of the few, not the needs of the majority. Workers are thus continually forced to fight to defend their interests.

The Socialist Party participate in these elections to spread our case for socialism. Our intention is to prove to workers that their problems cannot be solved without the overthrow of the capitalist system.

The Socialist Party Candidates
Islington North - Bill Martin; Battersea -  Danny Lambert; Swansea West - Brian Johnson

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