Thursday, May 18, 2017

The ballot box and the brain box

 'You can have the truth, but you've got to choose it' - Bob Dylan

Many reformers suggest that our system of voting is flawed and propose some sort of proportional representation that more fully represents the views of the voters. However the Socialist Party view is that the present system of voting is good enough for the initial steps of their emancipation and it is not the business of a Socialist Party to spend time and energy in advocating improvements, but to educate the workers in how to use the voting power which they already possess; hence the business of a Socialist Party is to advocate socialism only. The working class is overwhelmingly in the majority at the ballot box.

 Since control of parliament is obtained via elections based on universal suffrage, a socialist majority can win control of the machinery of government and the state through winning a parliamentary majority via the ballot box. The state is the institution with the power to employ socially-sanctioned physical force, it is an expression of and enforcer of class society. On the eve of a socialist election victory, the working class would already be convinced of the need for socialism and would have organised themselves in parties, unions, councils and other bodies ready to keep production and administration going, and socialist ideas would also have penetrated into the armed forces. If die-hard capitalists attempted a coup against a socialist majority, the armed forces would tend to side with those who have the undisputed democratic legitimacy, ie. those who want socialism.  The majority of the military are working class, and regardless of how indoctrinated they are, we doubt that they will be prepared on the whole to shoot down their friends, neighbours and relatives.

The Socialist Party believes to hold out as bait, hopes of the amelioration of the condition of the workers, to be wrung out of the necessities of the rival factions of our privileged rulers, is delusive and mischievous. Faced with a social system which creates problems faster than its politicians can make promises, responses range from the stupidly complacent, to those whose self-righteous radicalism leaves no time for actually solving the problems they shout about.  Would-be "leaders" the world over, rush to defend the indefensible. Political parties compete to run a system of organised poverty and obscene contradictions, which has built weapons to destroy humanity while millions starve. The most political debate is as irrational as the system of class division and profit which, in one form or another, it seeks to defend.

Members of the Socialist Party are those ordinary workers who have seen through the nonsense of the profit system and who now stand clearly for the abolition of capitalism in any of its forms, whether private or state controlled and its replacement by a system of production for use, with human needs being met through free access to all goods and services. These socialists keep alive the vision of socialism as a society of personal freedom, communal solidarity, production for use and free access to goods. The  four key features to define of socialism are:
1. Production will be for use and not for sale on the market.
2. Distribution will be according to need and not by means of buying and selling.
3. Labour will be voluntary and not imposed on workers by means of a coercive wages system.
4. A human community will exist and social divisions based on class, nationality, sex or race will have disappeared.

The emphasis of Socialist Party has been on the democratic need for socialism to be established by a conscious majority since means must harmonise with ends. The "parliamentarianism" of the reformist political parties involves sending representatives to Parliament to run capitalism, whereas, the Socialist Party policy is one in which a socialist majority mandates recallable delegates in order to dismantle the state machine, from a position of control. Socialism does not come just through the ballot box, but through the "brain box" and it is clearly those who insist that ballot boxes and parliaments can play no part in the establishment of socialism and assert that socialism can only be established via industrial organisation alone, who are being dogmatic and historically fetishised in their thinking about the revolution. The consistency of principle is one merit which even its greatest enemies grant the Socialist Party.  The Left has always cared more movement than direction. Building the party has always meant more than spreading ideas. There may not be many of us, but at least we're in the party because we want socialism. Anyone who joins the Socialist Party must show political understanding. It is only in this way that the retention of principles can be ensured. Some will respond, 'So what? You're very principled, but destined to be no more than a footnote in history.'

There's nothing inevitable about socialism. Maybe the world will be blown up by nuclear war or burned up by climate change in the struggle for market domination before workers see that the means of wealth production and distribution is there for the taking. Capitalism will not collapse of its own accord. The world's workers will probably be persuaded to support the system which oppresses them for some years to come. But the fact that a theory has not been put into practice does not mean that it is impracticable. The fact that human beings have the unique ability to think rationally does not mean that they will do so at all times.

The essence of the socialist position on the use of parliament is summed up as once there is an organised, determined majority, the success of the socialist revolution is assured, one way or the other. It is then a question of the best tactic to pursue to try to ensure that this takes place as rapidly and as smoothly as possible. In our view, the best way to proceed is to start by obtaining a democratic mandate via the ballot box for the changeover to socialism. The tactical advantage is that, when obtained, it deprives the supporters of capitalism of any legitimacy for the continuation of their rule.

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