Wednesday, October 30, 2019

Our Attitude to Elections

Barring accidents the General Election will be held in a matter of weeks on the 12th December. Elections are important because the party—and the class—that wins them thereby controls political power. It is a sad fact that ever since workers have had the vote the vast majority of them have chosen to support capitalist political parties and so helped to keep in being the system which exploits them and deprives them of liberty, abundance and security. t the moment the majority are expressing their preference—for capitalism. They vote for representatives of capitalism who go to the various legislative bodies throughout the world to run society in the interests of the capitalist class, to protect their property rights and to administer the state machine to maintain their privileges. The workers have one of the essential tools for their own liberation—they have the vote. The capitalists fully recognise the importance of elections; that is why they at first opposed universal suffrage and why they now spend vast sums of money in hoodwinking the voters. If we take a look at elections today, we find that the candidates of other political parties pander to a variety of tastes and requirements, and play off one group of people against another. “Something for everybody” might well be their motto. Since the majority of workers think along capitalist lines, it is quite simple for the other candidates to come along with plenty of promises – promises that they can in no way fulfil.

Once again you are called upon to register your vote in a General Election. Before you vote this time think very seriously about what you are doing. Pay no attention to glib pledges about a prosperous future. The well-intentioned, the knave and the fool will all give you wishful promises. You must look to the facts. Why are you voting? Because you want to better your standard of living and the conditions of your life. You and your ancestors have been voting for this purpose for a hundred years and how much better off are you? Apart from some niggardly and hard won reforms you are still as your fathers and grand-fathers were, forced to work for a wage that at best does little more than keep you and your families going from day to day. For many of you misery has been a constant feature of your lives.

In order to survive you must get a job. It does not matter what work you do, whether you have to wear overalls, a uniform, or a pin-striped suit, you must still get a job in order to live. That is why you are called the working class. You are the class that works, that depends for a living upon selling their ability to toil either physically or mentally for wages. These are the facts. Do you want to live under a free social system, owning your own means of production and using them for the equal benefit of all, or are you content to remain a human beast of burden, fettered to the insecurity of life as a wage worker? The choice is before you and your vote will register it. The politicians are at it again. Over the coming weeks, urged on by the media, they will bombard us with promises, polemics and their own puffed-up personalities. We are supposed to be impressed and to vote for one or other of them. Despite the competing candidates, there will be no real choice in the election. The main parties all stand for the same thing. They all support the minority ownership of the means of production, whether through stocks and shares or through state control. They all agree that the aim of production should be sale with a view to profit. They all insist that the majority of us should get a living by working for an employer and that we should have to buy rather than have access as of right to the things we need to live. In short, they all stand for capitalism.

All governments, whatever their original intentions, inevitably end up administering the system on its terms, giving priority to profits, restraining wages and salaries and cutting benefits and services, and generally presiding over the economy as it staggers through its boom-slump cycle. Governments dance to the tune of capitalism, not the other way round.

We in the Socialist Party decisively reject this approach to politics. An election in which the issue is which particular gang of politicians is to preside over the operation of capitalism is a meaningless irrelevancy. What is required is a fundamental change in the basis of society.

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