The General Election – More Ruling Class Mystification

The electoral trick – over and over again

In the last few years our rulers have laid on 2 Referendums, elections for Regional Mayors and Police and Crime Commissioners, elections for at least three levels of local Councils and elections for "national" Assemblies/Parliament in Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales. To crown it all the last General Election elected a Government bound by a Law which was said to spare us the spectacle of a further such pantomime until 2020.

In reality, the law about a 5 year Parliament was not worth the paper it was written on. The Tory Party passed it to keep the Lib Dems trapped in the coalition arrangement from 2010-15. The ruling Tories since 2015 have not needed that little trick so when it suited their party political purposes they overturned their own law with a vote in the House of Commons which could only have passed with support from the Labour Party.

Principled parliamentary politics?

Of course, the Parliamentary Labour Party chose to play the game of having an extra electoral circus as they could not envisage the possibility of acting otherwise. Divided as they are, the right expect to get rid of Corbyn and his crew after the coming expected electoral shambles whilst the left who mainly occupy safe seats expect to extend their grip over the rump of the Party.

Theresa May promised when she got the job as Prime Minister that there would be no early election so why the U-turn? The answer is short-term expediency. Far from being the strong leader as her election campaign makes out May has only a small majority. Currently the right wing of the Party could scupper any Brexit deal that looks too soft on Europe. Better to have an election now when Labour is in disarray and post-Brexit Ukip have become irrelevant. Playing the same nationalist, anti-immigrant card that won Brexit she can boost her majority. But most of all it means there will be three years after Brexit actually happens in 2019 before another election is due. Enough time, the Tories hope, for any economic damage that will do to be managed.

Since the election was called the parties have produced no surprises. The Labourists have called for a return to a "kinder capitalism" at a time when the world-wide system continues to be beset by the most severe and insoluble crisis. Their insistence that they will “balance the books” does not promise much in the way of relief for those suffering from that crisis. Outside England, the nationalists continue to peddle their core illusions while the Lib Dems and Greens hold on to the image of a capitalist Britain remaining in the capitalist European Union.

Election spectacles – reality versus illusion

As Marxists, we start from reality rather than the distorted ideological myths peddled by, and on behalf of, the minority who own and control the means of production. That minority – the bosses' class or bourgeoisie – like other ruling classes before them control the ideas which dominate society. In the 21st century that set of ideas is endlessly strengthened and reproduced by the digital and other media which penetrates into the majority of homes throughout Britain and other parts of the world.

The current prevailing myth peddled in North and South America, Europe, Australasia, India and many parts of Africa is that elections allow those who vote to have control. That story is the preferred narrative for the bourgeoisie maintaining control in the majority of states. As we know, it is readily ditched when national ruling classes can better maintain their position by other means. In what passes for normality in Britain – housing and health service becoming increasingly unavailable, employment becoming scarcer, lower paid and more precarious, benefits being cut and more people relying on charities and food banks - our bosses are still smug enough to wheel out their election roadshows.

Their continuing use of elections continues unabated even in circumstances where it is clear that most people feel no wish to be involved. For example, in the various local elections at the start of May many areas had turnouts well below 40%. Nevertheless , without a hint of shame, the media machine continues to roll out the tripe about democratic choices for the next round in June. Let there be no doubt, in modern times the democratic exercise to choose Candidate A or Candidate B is no more than a hoax. Whatever the composition of the Parliaments, Councils or Mayoral Offices the real decision-making lies elsewhere.

It is the increasingly opaque world of capitalist investment or disinvestment that dominates the conditions in which workers live. Whether they understand it or not the choices in the gist of the elected representatives are entirely choices within the boundaries of the capital system - a system based on production aimed at profit not meeting people's needs. Currently the decisions are driven by the need to try to maintain or even increase profit levels - an insoluble problem caused by the very nature of capitalist production, competition and the need to accumulate. For further explanation of the tendency of the rate of profit to decline see leftcom.org

Their socialism and ours

During the run up to the election much will be made of Labour being a "Socialist" alternative. We reject the idea that the Labour Party is either socialist or an alternative.

Since the First World War, Labour politicians have participated in or controlled numerous governments in Britain. In common with all the other parties their role has to been to maintain the capitalist order. The platform which the Corbynite Labour Party presents is entirely within that framework. The concept of nationalisation or state intervention have been prominent at many times in the pasts and merely serve to develop "state capitalist" solutions where the capitalist state and capitalist enterprises become increasingly intertwined. They have nothing in common with the self-emancipation of the working class - the real centre of the socialist path.

Likewise the promises about the level of the minimum wage or altering the laws about contracts of employment may or may not be feasible. What is beyond doubt is that all such proposals are about maintaining capitalist relationships between the owners and us wage-slaves. In contrast to the Labourist advocates of ongoing alienation and oppression we stick with the revolutionary slogan "Abolish the Wages System".

Another gang of advocates for a vote for Labour will be those who believed that the Soviet Union and its empire was "real existing socialism". These present an equally bogus interpretation of Socialism. Again they mislead their followers confusing state capitalism and socialism. The significant difference is that state capitalism in the Soviet bloc, alongside China and other imitators, emerged from the defeat of the Workers Revolution which started in 1917. The state capitalist system that developed in the first half of the 1920s continued to cause misunderstanding as the hollowed out and defeated Soviets (Russian for Councils) were replaced with repressive and reactionary agents of the state while keeping the same title. Adding to the problems of those trying to argue for a genuinely Marxist approach is the history of the revolutionary Bolshevik/Communist Party which helped to make the revolution in Russia and supported the worldwide proletarian revolution. In the historic tragedy the Party, with so many of its best elements slaughtered in the Civil War, retained the name Communist but became the core of the ruling class in the imperialist state that was one of the two "great powers".

Their Democracy and ours

The June election is another cynical sham to con people that they have a "stake" in the system. Whatever rosettes the 650 MPs wear, the reality for the working class will be increasing misery as the capitalist crisis continues and deepens.

When we understand that the electoral machine changes nothing then we grasp the real nature of the world we live in. The reality is that elections, referendums and the rest of the democratic rigmarole is no more than smoke and mirrors. Democracy within capitalism is designed specifically to be unable to alter the fundamental class relationships. Behind the facade, the minority class dominates society in its own interests to maintain their own power, wealth and control. The reality is that the democratic circuses merely obscure the reality of class rule – a dictatorship by the bourgeoisie.

The working class has already discovered our alternative to the bosses' political structures. Instead of Parliaments we need a system based on structures such as Workers Councils where recallable representatives are directly accountable to their fellow producers. Where struggles take place we encourage Assemblies outside the control the capitalist parties and structures to agree and fight for their own demands again with any representatives being recallable and accountable.

Many millions who can see no point in the bosses' political games will not be conned into the voting booths. Amongst them will be the class conscious minority of workers who want to see a future based on satisfying human need for all.

Alongside that minority we appeal to workers:

Don't vote!

Begin the fightback in our own communities and workplaces!

Work to grow the seeds to overthrow this system – a future for all humanity is possible!

KT

May 10 2017

Saturday, May 13, 2017

Comments

But I wonder if there is an aspect to this that works against us. Many of the people who would take an active part in revolutionary transformation are unaware of that potential. They are stuck under the yoke of ruling class ideology. The responsibility of voting is one many take seriously. Is it possible that we could accept the voters into our ranks?

What I am saying is I accept the validity of the abstentionist position, but somehow we must be talking to those who are not at that level yet.

“You think that Corbyn and any of his future versions offer something better than nothing and you want to vote. Well, go ahead. We don’t want to know or we won’t stop you; it is your affair. We don’t agree with you but it is not a deal breaker. You are not a member of any of those parties or a trade union bureaucrat, right? As long as you agree that there is a need to strengthen the revolutionary embryo in the here and now, then we will work with you.”

Is such a position possible?

I read this from electoral participants Class war;

Ultra Left

The ultra left is unknown to most people in this country. They have important critiques of the Leninist-Trotskyist left but like those they criticise they seem unable to progress beyond some bygone age. Their language, style, dogmatism and sectarianism offer nothing towards the creation of a new revolutionary movement, however important a large majority of their politics remain. These include keeping alive the fact that non-Leninist revolutionaries were vital to the revolutions of the post-WWI era; that workers historically have supported non-Leninist revolutionary communism; in their opposition to nationalism in all its forms; and in their constant emphasis on the total destruction of capitalism.

To be fair I thought it was fairly pleasant, given the source. Could have been worse, let’s say.

We know we could list their faults in a hefty volume, but I doubt there’ll be any crystal clear revolutionary organisation of any weight. It is going to be a messy affair. Revolutions dont start with a class conscious army. There will be some bright lights, but not all will be tip top revolutionary theoreticians. It is a case of setting some sort of minimum threshold, one allowing coherence, yet not restricting entry to a dozen pensioners who have somehow navigated a thousand volumes of revolutionary theory.

Tell me all of this is opportunist shite, fair enough. But if it is useful, I thought I would air it.

This is not so much opportunist as confused. Communists don't make the class struggle (its the other way round) but those who have become conscious of the fact that only overthrowing the current system don't live up to their responsibilities (and ideas) if they kowtow to any passing whim or phase. The initial revolutionary outburst in Petrograd in 1917 was largely spontaneous (see our article on the February Revolution) even though there were thousands of class conscious workers in various political organisations leading it. But when the parties of the middle class (aided and abetted by mechanical Marxists like the Mensheviks who thought only a "bourgeois revolution" was possible) tried to steal that revolution and force it down a parliamentary road rather than the self-discovered form of proletarian democracy, the workers councils, a struggle took place in which ONLY the pro-soviet parties (headed by the Bolsheviks who had most clearly stood against the tide) represented the aspirations of the working class and ultimately this was what brought about the October Revolution. Contrast this with Poland in 1980 - the workers go on strike, occupy plants and a crisis ensues but there was no revolutionary body there to give an indication as to what was the next step. Up step Solidarity, the Catholic Church, the CIA and we get a movement that goes only for "democracy" in Poland.

The first thing you have to take account of is material reality. The working class in the UK has been in retreat for decades and is only slowly reforming itself. As I write the papers are telling us that joblessness is lower than at any time since 1975 but that wages have fallen yet again (the two are connected - the employers take on more if they don't have to pay much). We are however not yet in a situation where people are so desperate that they have taken to the streets (atomisation and powerlessness are tremendous weapons for the ruling class). Some (but not as many as our opportunist narcissists of Class War think) will see the Corbyn Labour Party as a source of hope, given that the alternative is likely to be even worse, but the aim of the Labour Party is precisely to carry out enough reform to keep the system going. State capitalism has never been anything but a barrier to class consciousness and the fight for socialism. One day the worm will turn but it will only turn to those who have all along consistently fought against all factions of the ruling class and posed a clear way forward. We can only point that way but as we all know the real transformation has to be carried out by millions of workers actively fighting for it since that is the only way we will arrive at a new form of society.

As usual, a measured response.

If the crisis is indeed going to mature, that there is no way of patching capitalism up outside of a worsening scenario for the majority, then we should expect confused movements which attract workers to arise. It is the question of our participation in such movements that I am thinking about. Obviously, we now have Momentum, the Jesus Corbyn phenomenon. It is as we know an entirely capitalist perspective, despite rhetoric, but it does attract a number of workers who are far from a clear concept of working class power through its own organs. I have engaged with them on social media heavily. I have circulated many ICT texts in this process.

In the future, we may well see other movements arise. These could be confused, entertain all sorts of illusions, but we could be part of them and influence them.

I think it possible that we get a broad revolutionary movement after Corbyn. It would be deformed by those wishing to impose ideology but could serve as a vehicle for a pro workers councils perspective.

I think we need to think in terms of a minimally restricted revolutionary organisation.

This would not stop those who hold a more sophisticated perspective contributing. It would mean that they were part of a wider movement.

There is only one real requirement that I can see, and you are saying something similar above.

This quote maybe sums it up as well as any;

“Since the only purpose of a revolutionary organisation is the abolition of all existing classes in a way that does not bring about a new division of society, we consider an organisation to be revolutionary if it consistently and effectively works toward the international realisation of the absolute power of the workers’ councils, as prefigured in the experience of the proletarian revolutions of this century.”

Everything else can be put aside as detail, contradictions which can be tolerated.

Apologies if I previously gave the impression that Class War had a solution, or that the efforts of the ICT to clarify matters were in vain. I aspire to be a pensioner who has navigated a thousand revolutionary texts, I have about 950 to go.

A good response from Cleithsbottom in which I would only add that the problem any Marxist organisation will face that places the self emancipation of the working class as its centre of perspective is the strength in the consciousness of the working class is of both parliamentary organisation and the inevitably of capitalism as a socio economic system. This has bedevillied Marxist organisations from their inception during the 1870's. There is no easy answer to this problem apart from patience and being involved in whatever way in the ongoing struggles of the working class around wages, the NHS, wages, anti war etc. To be involved is not to peddle reformist illusions, which I have been responsible for in the past, there are enough reformists for this to ensure. No what Marxists need to do is patiently explain why the problem is capitalism and the long lasting problem in the decline in the rate of profit.

On elections its a complete waste of time to be involved as not only history shows in the UK from the Socialist League to todays Socialist Equality Party. The votes when they do stand is humiliating a couple of dozen is to beleive that this means support for socialist revolution. Also the recent poll where young people across Europe responded to a question of whether they would be willing to support and be part of an uprising. The majority said that they would be. On paper a safe response when it comes to the real thing and lives are at risk then at the present moment of confusion and anger then I would be surprised if they would actually person the barricades.

Finally I also think that those who wish to join a Marxist organisation needs to at least see the impossibilty of reforming capitalism and be willing to remain in the minority of a minority. One thing is certain in the case of Corbyn should he be elected as PM then he will quickly fold when the bankers demand that the cuts in the social wage continues. After all Corbyn in his heart beleives that political change comes through parliament and that is why he is in the Labour Party. Although the Labour Party historically has defended the rights of capitalists to make a profit from the labour of workers. It happened in 1924 and will continue to happen.

I will finish this ramble now and look forward to Corbyn either winning or loosing the only constant is the exploitation of our class the working class and the only solution is the conscious organisation by the class through its revolutionary Marxist Party to overthrow capitalism globally and replace the capiatlist state with a global network of workers councils as the first step to the abolishment of a state and class rule.

Good comments.

I would be very surprised if Corbyn won. And it won't be by my vote. Never voted in a capitalist election or referendum in my life.

At the end of the day whether Corbyn wins or losses the general election imperialist wars will continue and the dismantling of the inadequate welfare state will continue. The only difference will be the thousands of younger people/workers who will be disillusioned. Whether they can be won over to a revolutionary position remains to be seen.

Even before being elected as PM the Labour Party shows yet again why they will let their supporters down.

theguardian.com