Friday, May 7, 2010

The election: who wins?

Editorial from the May 2010 issue of the Socialisr Standard

By the time most read this, the election will be over and our new “leader” will have emerged from the deal-makings that follow it. We cannot predict the exact outcome – whether Tweedledum or Tweedledee won or whether neither of them emerged as the outright winner – but we can say that, unfortunately, the capitalist class will have won.

Elections to national law-making assemblies are ultimately about which class is to control political power. Capitalist political control is essential to the continuation of capitalism as, while this does not give them control over how the capitalist economy works, it does give them control over what laws are made and over the deployment of the armed forces.

In Britain for nearly 150 years now wage and salary workers have formed the majority of the electorate, so the capitalist class have been obliged to win working class assent to their political control and rule. Of course it is not presented in such a crude way. Capitalists do not come before the working-class electorate and say “Vote to hand over political control to us”. They have intermediaries, professional politicians, who present the election as a choice of which team of politicians – these days, even which leader – can best further the interests of the “nation” or the “taxpayers” falsely portrayed as a community with a common interest.

While there are historical reasons for the existence of the separate parties into which these career politicians are organised, the differences between them are superficial and often sham. All of them stand for capitalism, its wages system and its production for profit. The capitalist class are not particularly concerned over which of them wins as long as one of them does (even if they don’t like one party to stay in power too long in case the politicians involved overdo the cronyism and the corruption). It doesn’t matter to wage and salary workers either, even if many are tempted to choose the “lesser evil” – Tweedledum in preference to Tweedledummer – generally perceived by critics of capitalism to be the Labour Party despite its dancing to the tune of capitalism every time it has been in office.

It is true that the Labour Party did not start as the openly capitalist party it is today. It was originally a trade union pressure group seeking improvements within capitalism for trade unionists and workers generally. But, as they began to take more and more votes from the Liberals, it was not too long before it was taken over by professional politicians and became the alternating government party to the Tories. Tweedledee to their Tweedledum.

Here we can venture another prediction: the miserable failure of RMT leader Bob Crow and Militant and the SWP to launch a Labour Party Mark II with their “Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition”. We are not disheartened by this since if this ever got off the ground the result would be the same as last time.

Reformism is a dead-end. What is required is an openly socialist, anti-reformist party aiming at socialism and nothing but. In view of yet another capitalist victory at the polls the working class still needs to organise into such a party to challenge the capitalist parties for political control and use it to usher in socialism.