Although capitalism has generated massive increases in productivity and provided extravagant wealth for some, most people still struggle to make ends meet. We have heard repeated countless times that quote from Emma Goldman, who said, "If voting changed anything, they'd make it illegal." It is expressed in many ways such as "elections are pointless," that "voting never makes a difference," or that "the game is rigged." It's quite an accomplishment that the ruling class have gotten us to believe exactly what they need us to believe to maintain our own oppression - that the one mechanism which can legally threaten their legitimacy, supposedly holds no power. And that's how the economic elite rule. The simply enforce their control solely by authoritarian means. It has to be covert, giving the public a means to influence the government, but doing everything it can to sway the elections in their favour. Business and political elites would certainly love to rule the country without the people getting in the way but a dictatorship isn't realistically feasible. Every government rests on legitimacy. That's why most dictatorships sooner or later get overthrown in popular uprisings. The smart way to rule is to market the system as fundamentally democratic while swaying outcomes via "soft power" measures and more sophisticated persuasion techniques. The capitalist class well understands the significance of the ballot box. They are only too willing to invest millions to ensure only candidates representing their interests appear on the ballot paper and prevail.
The more dysfunctional a government appears, the more people will want to avoid politics like the plague - and yet, despite this level of dysfunction, the government is highly functional when it comes to bolstering corporate welfare, tax breaks for the rich, and maintaining military spending. The government is working great when you consider who owns it and who benefits from this state of affairs. Instead of apathy, disgust and despair, we should recognise that the vote is our greatest weapon. To win, we have to throw off decades of learned helplessness and defy the claims that we are powerless.
Those of you who choose to vote for a different politician or different political party and call it change, do not understand how the system works. Politicians of the mainstream parties hand out a few sugar pills and hope to get votes by promising to lead “the people” to the promised land. But as Eugene Debs explained:
“I do not want you to follow me or anyone else; if you are looking for a Moses to lead you out of this capitalist wilderness, you will stay right where you are.”
Workers are too close to the facts of life to be fooled all of the time. Workers cannot wait for relief and there is a struggle between those workers seeking to move forward, and their “leaders” who want to hold them back but in the end it is as the old truism says “I am their leader, I have to follow them.”
The Socialist Party does not recognise two types of socialism, one revolutionary and the other not. We recognise only one socialism, which is revolutionary socialism, since socialism is a movement of ideas and actions that leads to the total transformation of society, and the revolution, by definition, is that transformation itself. Revolution means the transformation of an economic regime founded upon private property into one based on common ownership of property. The Socialist Party think that the revolutionary transformation of property can be accomplished only when we have conquered political power. No socialist, however moderate he or she may claim to be, has ever expected political power to come only through electoral success. Voting alone accomplishes little but when combined with a mass movement our efforts are collectively powerful. If the people who believe are pointless suddenly threw off those chains of powerlessness, and started to get engaged, not just on election day, but each and every day you can bet we would see a revolution unseen in the history of the world. Voting by itself never has nor ever will be a silver bullet - but when combined with building a strong independent workers’ movement, we possess a power that is truly threatening to the ruling establishment.
In the upcoming London Assembly elections we have three socialists standing:
Lambeth & Southwark - Kevin Parkin
North East (Islington, Hackney, Waltham Forest) - Bill Martin
South West (Hounslow, Kingston, Richmond) - Adam Buick