Voting Changes Nothing, Not Voting is Not Enough: For the Resumption of the Class Struggle!

It’s election fever! Following on from South Africa, India, and the EU, this year will also see the parliamentary pantomime play out in France, Iran, the UK and the USA. With the wars in Ukraine and Gaza and a refugee crisis in the background, it is issues of “national security” which will dominate the headlines.

The “choice” is, as always, which capitalist party is best suited to represent the capitalist interests of “our” capitalist state. In that sense, nothing new under the sun! But, in a world entering an “age of chaos” – as the UN chief recently put it in response to the threat that wars, debt, and pollution now pose to humanity(1) – this time around the stakes seem a bit higher. As such, the working class are under pressure by the whole gamut of parties, from tweedledum Con and tweedledee Lab and their media accolytes to critical Left and ultra-nationalist Right: we need to register to vote, get out on the hustings, get involved in the debates.

Yet, according to the latest polls, confidence in capitalist politicians is at an all-time low. The story is similar everywhere. In the UK, 45% now say they “almost never” trust governments of any party.(2) In France, nearly two thirds believe that democracy is not working well.(3) In the USA, trust in institutions has “never been lower”.(4)

No surprise: after 40 years of declining real wages and over a decade of austerity to pay for bailing out the banks (i.e the system), it is difficult to muster the enthusiasm. And with inflation making a comeback, the fantasy that casting a vote will somehow improve our lives is unravelling.

Many workers will still vote. Hoping for some stability they might choose the status quo, or the protest vote, in the belief that some party with a slightly more “radical” agenda (be it on the Right or Left of capital) might at least shake things up. However, global voter turnout has been in decline since the 1960s(5) and this year’s elections are scheduled to confirm the trend. Many workers can no longer find an attractive option on the electoral marketplace, often because they actually recognise parliamentary “democracy” for the sham that it is.

Either way, we know the result: some capitalist party will win the election, and the capitalist system – with its imperialist wars, economic crises and ecological destruction – will continue to drag humanity towards the abyss.

So what can we do?

There is no quick fix – the only solution lies in the overthrow of the capitalist system. But that requires the awakening of the "sleeping giant" – the international working class. We have seen some promising signs already, as thousands of workers in France, the UK and the USA took strike action to demand pay raises that keep up with inflation and better working conditions. But, without real self-organisation and a political alternative beyond the capitalist horizon, these struggles failed to truly change the balance of forces between the contending classes and were easily reabsorbed by the system.

For the resumption of the class struggle, workers have to organise autonomously, outside the control of institutional parties and trade unions, forming their own committees and assemblies in their communities and workplaces to take the fight forward. By electing our own recallable delegates, we can demonstrate the difference between their “democracy” and ours: not the passive submission of casting a vote in a ballot box every five or so years, but active solidarity in struggle!

The interests of the working class are the same all over the world. Whether in the “West” or the “East”, whether we live under “democratic” or “non-democratic” regimes, it is the exploitation of our labour which creates the profits for “our” ruling classes. And in the wars currently going on, and those yet to come, it is us who will be expected to become cannon fodder for nations we have no stake in.

Above all, we need our own class party, an international party to promote the real interests of workers everywhere: an end to wage labour and capitalist profit-making and instead community involvement from the ground up in a society without borders, where production is first and foremost about sustainably meeting human needs. Our message is: abstain from capitalism’s election pantomimes, yes, but anyone who wants a viable future can’t abstain from the serious political fight. Those of us who recognise the need for an international movement of the working class need to organise politically to build the foundations for it in the here and now. Join us.

Communist Workers’ Organisation
21 June 2024







Friday, June 21, 2024