Sunday, October 20, 2019

Canadian's Decide

Canadians will go to the polls to elect a new Federal government. Mocking politicians is alright to a certain extent but it can give rise to the mistaken idea that it is because of corrupt and self-seeking politicians that we suffer from the social problems we do. It's not. It's the fault of capitalism. Even if all politicians were saints they still couldn't make capitalism work in our interest. Nor is it true that all elections are a joke and a waste of time. While what the professional politicians who currently dominate politics get up to and the antics they engage in to get votes do deserve to be mocked, especially as the media give them so much publicity, there is a serious side to elections.

It is unfortunate that the Socialist Party of Canada cannot be on the ballot paper. The elections is focused on political candidates, parties, and alternative policies around issues which are all related to how the capitalist system is organised and run but never on a discussion regarding the differences between capitalism and alternative economic systems or even the possibility of a totally different and truly democratic system. That is why supporters of capitalism appreciate elections. Well-controlled elections do not question, let alone threaten, capitalism. In a nutshell, capitalism is NOT democratic, capitalists are NOT interested in democracy, capitalism's politicians are there to protect the interests of capital and there is NO nice way to conduct capitalism in the interests of the majority. Politicians and the media insist that we have democracy, that we have free elections which allow us to choose whatever form of government we wish, unlike countries where a single-party dictatorship exists. Ritualised elections now offer a choice between heavily marketed political brands rather than competing aspirational visions.

For power to be lodged in the hands of the people does not mean merely that they are to have the widest possible franchise and equal voting power. It implies that the people are to have control of all social institutions, a say in all social activities, the self-management social life. Such a condition of affairs presupposes at the very outset the common ownership by the people of all the means of life. Across the world there are countless examples of sweeping changing to political landscapes from one election to the next. Political freedom offers the best means to make that change, and the tools are to hand were the workers to take them up. Nothing short of fundamental system change will bring about an end to the economic exploitation, corporate control and perpetual wars. 

Our time and our energy should be spent in educating, agitating, organizing our co-workers in the workplace, in the neighborhood, in the schools. For socialists, it eventually comes down to the need to take sides. Whose side are you on? The upside of an almost total disenchantment on the part of the electorate with politics-and business-as-usual or an authentic message for real change that will make a difference. There are only two paths to the future. One is in the service of capitalism. The other is a democratic revolt for socialism.

Are elections and voting a waste of time? After all, don’t anarchists say that if voting changed anything it would be illegal?  Many anti-parliamentarians in their criticisms, tend to argue that all "parliamentary" parties, (within which they include the Socialist Party of Canada,) have in the past, and in the present, betrayed the working class; that Parliament in Ottawa is not the real seat of power but a "talking-shop"; that when the Socialist Party contests elections it perpetuates what they see as harmful illusions about law, the state and parliamentary democracy and are therefore no different from any other political party. For sure, voting has not changed the most fundamental reality that needs to be changed - the reality that is capitalism, for it is this economic system that is ultimately responsible for the despair and desperation that currently exists in so much of the world.

Nevertheless, the critics of the SPC's position fail to appreciate the different content of the term "parliamentary" as applied to orthodox parties and to the SPC. We indeed hold it essential that the transformation to a new society be started by formal democratic methods—that is, by persuasion and the secret ballot. For there is no other way of ascertaining accurately the views of the population. While elections may seem to be irrelevant, people should not turn their back on the electoral system as such. The result of a properly conducted ballot will make it clear, in the event of an overwhelming socialist vote, to any minority that they are the minority and that any attempt to oppose the desires of the majority by violence would be futile. The formal establishment of the socialist majority's control of the state avoids the possibility of effective use of its forces against the revolutionary movement. An attempt to establish a socialist society by ignoring the democratic process gives any recalcitrant minority, the excuse for possibly violent anti-socialist action justified by the claim that the alleged majority did not in fact exist or that the assumed majority was not likely to be a consistent or decisive one. The electoral system can be used to effect the revolutionary act of abolishing capitalism by signalling that a majority of ordinary people fully understand and want to effect that change. 

Despite their shortcomings, elections to a parliament based on universal suffrage are still the best method available for workers to express a majority desire for socialism. The ruling class who monopolise the ownership of wealth do so through their control of parliament by capitalist parties elected by workers. Control of parliament by representatives of a conscious revolutionary movement will enable the bureaucratic-military apparatus to be dismantled and the oppressive forces of the state to be neutralised, so that socialism may be introduced with the least possible violence and disruption. The institution is not completely at fault; it is just that people's ideas have not yet developed beyond belief in leaders and dependence on a political elite. When enough of us join together determined to end destitution and deprivation we can transform elections into a means of doing away with a society of minority rule in favour of real democracy and equality.

The SPC adopts a policy of trying to gain control of the machinery of government through the ballot box by campaigning on an exclusively socialist programme without seeking support on a policy of reforms; while supporting parliamentary action they refused to advocate reforms. This has remained its policy to this day. Mandating delegates, voting on resolutions and membership ballots are democratic practices for ensuring that the members of an organisation control that organisation – and as such key procedures in any organisation genuinely seeking socialism. Socialism can only be a fully democratic society in which everybody will have an equal say in the ways things are run. This means that it can only come about democratically, both in the sense of being the expressed will of the working class and in the sense of the working class being organised democratically – without leaders, but with mandated delegates – to achieve it. The socialist movement must stand firmly by democracy, by the methods of socialist education and political organisation, and the method of gaining control of the machinery of government and the armed forces through the vote where possible and only with the backing of a majority of convinced socialists.

We appeal to those who are committed to the concept of a self-organised majority revolution without leaders to abandon their dogmatic opposition to the working class forming a political party to contest elections to eventually win control of political power, not to form a government but to immediately abolish capitalism and usher in the class-free, state-free, money-free, wage-free society that real socialism will be. The socialist message is that workers should think long and hard before casting their vote. it would be difficult in one short article to prove any case beyond question, especially a case as big as this. All we can do is give you the bare bones so we won't be surprised if we haven't convinced you straight off. We're not magicians. If you don't have questions to ask then we're not doing our job properly, or you're not giving it a sufficient thought. We hope you do have questions and will contact us to answer them. It's all up to you. The future is in your hands.  

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