Friday, June 02, 2017

Vote SPGB

Capitalism stinks. It stinks of corpses. The millions starved to death, dead of preventable diseases, killed in war, worked to death: and the myriad mundane vicissitudes of class life, beaten to death in the petty squabbles of humans thrown together against their will, coughing out their final days with coal-dust on their lungs or dying of lung cancer from tobacco. In short, capitalism is a thing that should fill us with disgust and revulsion. Capitalism has reduced everything to the cash nexus. Why don't they just dispense with voting altogether and have an auction for all the offices of power between the capitalists and their puppets? The whole thing has become a farce and has no claim to the term "democracy".

The first thing to note is when most political pundits advocate voting for the ‘lesser evil’, they rarely describe the lesser ‘evil’ but rather endow the ‘evil’ with numerous virtues. Find the positive things to praise; point out how scary the opponent is. We are admonished by the experts and the commentators that politics is the art of the possible and to be reasonable in our expectations of those we elect, who all campaign on the impossible – reforming capitalism into a humane system that acts in the interests of the majority and not for the protection of the interests of the minority. The pragmatists tell us you have to have a seat at the table to enact real change but the real decisions are not made at the tables of government offices but in the board-rooms of the corporations and the floors of the stock-exchanges.

A wasted vote is voting for somebody you don’t believe in. That’s a wasted vote. Vote for what you believe in – that’s how you bring about change. It is better to have the vote than not to have it. The workers in the Chartist movement were no fools in wanting their chance to determine who will rule. The wealthy who opposed votes for workers on the grounds that the working class is many and the property-owning rich parasites are few and therefore the many might end the social power of the few had a point. Sadly, the working- class franchise has not yet justified those fears of real democracy. The workers have been persuaded to play the game: bought off by reforms and conned by leaders, the potential power of the vote has been wasted in every single election.

The answer is not to abandon the vote and ignore elections, but to work to create a politically educated electorate of working men and women who understand where their interest lies. The battle, not just when the electoral whistle blows, but at all times, is to win workers’ minds; to make class-conscious workers. Such workers, currently only a small minority, will never waste their votes on electing leaders, nor will they support any policy designed to run the profit system which exploits and dominates them. Socialists enter into the electoral contest, using it as a means of putting our revolutionary case for socialism to the widest number of fellow workers. It’s not just that things are bad. Voters are also losing confidence that things will get any better.  Capitalism causes crises and economic downturns and their burden always falls on the vast majority of the population, the working class. Calls for re-regulation, managed capitalism, begs the question: re-regulate what? As demonstrated by history, capitalism is intrinsically unstable. At every election, we're always told that if we don't vote for Tweedle Dum, Tweedle Dumber will be elected so we should hold your nose and vote for Tweedle Dum. 

Challenging capitalism demands a class and political struggle. The future of humanity depends on building a movement that once and for all ends the rule of a tiny elite and replaces it with the rule of the majority. The task of socialists should be to break illusions in the capitalist system and its politicians—not to strengthen those illusions.  Indeed, there is but one issue that concerns us when it comes to electoral politics and that is working-class independence. Change from below is the only change we can believe in.  Choosing the so-called lesser evil only makes things worse. Socialists, therefore, whenever possible in the electoral arena, and in everyday practice, pose a working-class alternative to the rule of the minority capitalist elite. We are advocates of real majority rule, rule by the people themselves in their own name and in their own interests, a socialist society free from oppression and exploitation.

The given level of consciousness is not a static and changeless thing. Class consciousness is steadily influenced by the shifting state of objective reality and the way people see themselves—that is, whether as isolated individuals as most now do, or as a social class with common interests that are in diametrical opposition to the interests of the capitalist class. The big question is what will change how masses of people think, and therefore, how they act, and what they fight for? Indications suggest that today’s deteriorating global economy and the changes now unfolding in the world are having their impact and causing a transformation in consciousness in the world. The class war goes on. And there will always be those among our class that will remember the lessons of defeats, as well as the victories. And most importantly, there will always be those who will go back into the history of class struggle that in order to know what must be done next, we must know what happened before. That’s always the way that the lessons of the past are kept alive and serve to guide the ongoing generations of workers. The task of the companion parties of the Socialist Party is to do everything it can to facilitate and accelerate this part of the historic process, admittedly realising that the present limitation of our organisation is to a largely educational function.  

The Socialist Party will be contesting three seats in the up-coming General Election: Islington North (Bill Martin), Battersea (Danny Lambert), and Swansea West (Brian Johnson).


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