From the July 2017 issue of the Socialist Standard
Modern politics is a grotesque circus. An openly evil, insane, pantomime defender of the privilege and power of the one percent is placed opposite a reasonable, fairer-minded option. Today, all those with the basic common sense to put the needs of the majority first, have been enthused by the promises of Corbyn and Labour, swept up in a wave of optimism.
We would not want to pour cold water on that hope and desire for positive change, we feel it too. But there is one nagging problem. Albert Einstein sensibly defined insanity as repeating the same actions but expecting a different outcome. Not to act on what history teaches us would be criminal irresponsibility in the current global crisis. The fact is, the current world system of capitalism is the root cause of every social problem, from poverty in all its forms, to climate change, to impending nuclear war. And a vote for Labour is as much a vote for this social system as a vote for the Tories or Greens or UKIP or SNP or Liberals etc.
Corbyn has made it explicitly clear that he believes that capitalism can be modified but not ended. He and May are absolutely in agreement about one key belief – which they are both wrong about : that there will always be this system of wage slavery, of employment/exploitation, of profits and power for a tiny minority, because that’s what we have now, and profound change must be kept off the agenda permanently as ‘unrealistic’.
This same facade of picking the more ‘decent’ candidate rather than the absurd ogre has succeeded in keeping real change off the agenda in every election for over a hundred years. It was the received and accepted agenda with Trump and Clinton, with Blair, Thatcher, and especially with the Labour landslide victory of 1945. But if these well-meaning reform campaigns to soften capitalism rather than get rid of it had been even remotely successful, then we wouldn’t be back here yet again today, faced with all of the problems which incoming governments similar to or more radical than Corbyn swore they would solve.
Without exception, within months of getting in, such governments have been forced to abandon and reverse their promised policies, because unless we end the capitalist system entirely, its uncontrollable market forces continue ultimately to direct policy rather than vice versa. This may be an unpalatable fact, it will certainly be scoffed at by many, and we may be accused of pessimism or worse. But this is realistic, it is the inexorable lesson of history. A vote for any of these parties, however nice and well-meaning their profile, is actually giving your political consent to a global social system which is the most exploitative and murderous in history, and may destroy us all.
The tiny minority with vast wealth and power delight in this bullying pressure, this gross assumption that our democratic responsibility simply consists of selecting who should supervise our exploitation, whilst real change is derided by all sides as ‘unrealistic’. Real change would mean all productive resources being held in common, with the production of wealth socially organised, directly for meeting all human needs rather than to be sold in a market for profit; the beginning of real, total social and economic democracy.