There is a Real Alternative

There’s one thing about the present crisis: the idea that there must be a better alternative capitalism is gaining ground. Day by day, as daily life becomes more and more gruelling, the need to find that alternative is becoming a practical necessity. Yes, the technological means and infrastructure exist to make another world possible, a world where everybody can make a contribution to society, where no human being is in a position to exploit another and where nobody need go hungry or without a roof over their head. But we should be under no illusion that such momentous - dare we say it, revolutionary, change - can be tolerated, much less introduced by any of the existing political and legal set-ups that comprise even the most ‘democratic’ capitalist state.

In fact, one of the things this crisis is highlighting is that parliamentary democracy has nothing at all to do with giving workers a say in how they live and work. Quite the opposite.

All over the advanced capitalist world parliaments and congresses, upper houses and lower houses, are passing austerity programmes, slashing health care, cutting pensions, reducing social security payments, loosening employment protection laws all of which mean sacrifices for the majority of wage workers for the sake of bailing out a system openly based on making profit. Under capitalism the well-being of the majority of people is incidental to that prime purpose. To any rational observer this is ludicrous.

Our “Democracy”

Workers can run things differently.

They carry the seeds of a new society within them every time they decide on collective action. In real independent struggles we organise from the bottom. Mass meetings elect strike committees to coordinate the strike and link up with others in the same boat. The committee is responsible to the mass meeting and can be immediately recalled by it. Committee members can be replaced if necessary.

Compare this to capitalism’s offer of a vote every 5 or so years for one or other party backed by the millions of capitalist money.

Our system would be based on delegates from local level going to regional level and electing delegates to go to higher bodies beyond that.

These are not like MPs who are “representatives”. In fact MPs don’t even represent the voters who elect them but only themselves or their parties. And they cannot be removed for years. A delegate system is entirely different. At every level the delegates can be quickly recalled if they fail to carry out their mandates.

This would be more “democratic” than the current set up. But that is only half the story. You cannot have real “democracy” without economic equality. At the same time as setting up a new political structure we have also got to get rid of the inequalities which capitalism needs to survive. Working people will have to take over the running of their own firms and run them for the community producing for the general good of all.At the same time money as a system of accounting will have to abolished and everything will be freely distributed according to need. This does not mean it would be shared out evenly so that we would have meaningful work for all without drudgery and wage slavery.

Such a world would be organised according to the original motto of Karl Marx “from each according to their ability; to each according to their need.” This is his original vision of communism - a world without classes, nations and states. It has nothing do with the nightmare that emerged in the USSR.

Some will argue that “human nature” will prevent us arriving at such a society.This forgets that human nature is not a static factor. It is fixed by the kind of society you live in. We have had 300 years of capitalist competition, war and greed but it can be shaken off. Revolutions have always altered people’s perceptions. They allow to “get rid of the muck of ages” (Karl Marx). The next one will be no different.

True, our alternative will not come to about overnight. It will have to be fought for politically. This is why we need an international revolutionary organisation which will coordinate our scattered struggles and challenge the capitalist power structure everywhere. This is not a government in waiting (we have no “leaders”) to put yet another set of exploiters in charge but a fighting organisation which leads the onslaught on capital.

We are committed to finding ways to work with other like-minded working class organisations in order to reach the wider working class. If you agree with the principles outlined here help to turn it into reality by joining in the fight. We have a world to win.


After todays public sector strike which all commentators admit was the largest action taken in thirty years we can see not only the travesity of so called parliamentry democracy, Cameron will simply ignore the strikes as all bourgeoise governments have done, but also the lack of accountabilty of the union leaders to their members was clearly on show. The unions seem to think that all they need to do is to simply march their members through the streets to make the capitalists stop their austerity programme. Where is the self connscious activity of the working class itself?

What makes it worse is that according to the news reports tomorrow some of the unions are due to meet the respective department heads where you can be sure that they will be looking for some sort of settlement which they can help to impose on their members. You can be sure that they will not involve their members in any shape or form in the discussions which is why workers democracy as outlined in the article is an absolute necessity if we are going to have any chance of getting rid of this crisis ridden system.

The right to vote is a bad joke when you cannot afford to pay rent, or when what gets produced and why it is produced is not considered political enough for our political democracy. Does political democracy end the minute you go to work? This seems to be the case, since as we are taught economy is not political but is the natural state of things, more natural than laws of nature themselves. So what is the role of our political democracy? It allows us the comfort of deluding ourselves into thinking we are free. Further, it validates the (rotten) paradigm of capitalism by giving it a democratic sheen. "Don't go messing with it! You'll just end up with totalitarianism." Is what they tell us.

Turning to the Marxist slogan "from each according to his abilities, to each according to his need": do we agree without flinching that the prerequisite for this is equal obligation by all adults to work, with all the social discipline this would require?

Also, I like the distinction made between delegates and so-called representatives. Do people think that these strike committees can be the precursor to an actual form of government -- where instead of decisions pertaining to political/economic struggle and direct action being made, legislative/executive decisions are made-- or is this to anarchic a form of organization for such purposes, in your best estimation?

"Turning to the Marxist slogan “from each according to his abilities, to each according to his need”: do we agree without flinching that the prerequisite for this is equal obligation by all adults to work, with all the social discipline this would require?" This from Anonymous above.

After the successful revolution, with huge bourgeois bureaucracies no longer needed, there would be a vast workforce available for real work ie work that set out to satisfy human needs rather than those of profit. But given the size of the workforce, working hours could be short. And what work would we do? I guess the first requirements would be to feed everyone, to house, provide healthcare, and make education available to all. Without the compulsion for profit, social existence would be unrecognizably different from what we know now. It is almost impossible to begin to imagine what it will be like, living in this present day hell - a hell, the like of which we may only come to appreciate the full horror of when we look back on it.

This sometimes makes me wonder why we, the working class, are so hesitant to take up arms against the bourgeoisie and their crippling exploitation. We have a world to win.

With regard to delegates versus representatives, the workers councils are initially ruling, with advice available from participating members of the communist party; and nobody will be "representing" anyone else, as this is true proletarian democracy in action. But this is only my view, not necessarily the understanding of members of the CWO or ICT, which I am not. And so will stop. .

Aurora (en)

Aurora is the broadsheet of the ICT for the interventions amongst the working class. It is published and distributed in several countries and languages. So far it has been distributed in UK, France, Italy, Canada, USA, Colombia.