Sunday, December 1, 2019

The Reorganisation of the State (1933)

Book Review from the January 1933 issue of the Socialist Standard

The Reorganisation of the State by P. J. Harwood, “Corona” Ovingdean, Sussex. Pp. 196. 1s.

In this book the author tries to explain what is wrong with the world and to suggest political and personal solutions. As a guide to the worker who seeks a way out of the morass in which he finds himself the book is worthless, owing to the failure of the author to approach the problem in a scientific manner. While offering his views on what the “State” ought to be, what ought to be the part played by “capital,” “individualism,” “socialism,” “ finance,” etc., Mr. Harwood clearly does not understand what the capitalist system of society is, how it works, and the way in which its parts are interdependent. This in turn is due to his inability to see that no useful examination and exposition can be made unless terms are properly understood and clearly defined. Most of Mr. Harwood's terms are not defined at all, others are given meanings which merely serve to confuse the issue. Thus capital is defined as “tools and necessary preliminary equipment” (p. 67), a misleading definition which would make every social system a capitalist system. Socialism is defined as “combinations of individuals” (p. 97), which would include every football team and every capitalist company. This is not a book which can be recommended.
P. J.

Notes By The Way: The Depression not Due to Gold Shortage (1933)

The Notes By The Way column from the January 1933 issue of the Socialist Standard

The Depression not Due to Gold Shortage

It did not take long for the facts to disprove the argument that gold shortage was the cause of the depression, and each month the mounting figures of gold production confound the forecasts of a progressive decline. According to the latest figures (Evening Standard, October 21st, 1932) it is estimated that the mining output this year will exceed that of 1931 and all recent years, and will be nearly equal to the record output of 1915. In addition to the increasing output of the mines, hoards of gold are being released from India, China, Russia and Australia.

The gold stocks of 48 central banks and governments are now about £2,500,000,000, which represents an increase of 16 per cent. since August, 1928. It is obvious that if a smaller quantity of gold was sufficient to carry the vastly greater volume of trade in 1928, the present depression, which coincides with a larger quantity of gold, cannot be due to gold shortage.

On the day following the above report about gold reserves, it was announced that a new 40-mile extension of gold-bearing ground on the Witwaterrand had been discovered (Evening Standard, October 22nd), promising a further increase in gold production.

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A Useless Sacrifice

The official policy of the Communist Parties, many times re-affirmed, is that the only road to the conquest of political power is by street-fighting, leading on to civil war. The S.P.G.B. rejects that view on many grounds. One of them is the useless sacrifice it involves for those who actively adhere to it, useless to the Communist Parties and to the working class. A recent Court case is worth notice. Mr. Sidney Elias, a Communist paid official, was charged with inciting other Communists to stir up “hunger marchers” to commit acts of disorder. The jury found him guilty and he was sent to prison for two years, which means that he will be prevented for that period from assisting his party to propagate its views, and when he is released he will be physically and mentally less fit to carry on that work than he is now.

Against this the Communists will argue that the case has a propaganda value in that it enabled Elias to gain publicity for his party's principles. In fact—as usually happens in trials of Communists —instead of boldly declaring his principles he allowed his counsel to repudiate them on his behalf. He said that there was no evidence that the letters written by him actually reached the Communists who were alleged to have been incited to disorder. He denied that they were incited. He said that when he used the words "fight" and “struggle" he meant them “merely in the political sense”; and that the letters only urged demonstrations, and “demonstrating was a perfectly legitimate way of manifesting one's sense of grievance." (Report in Manchester Guardian, December 13th). In short, the propaganda effect of the trial is merely to broadcast the impression that the Communists are misrepresented people who really stand by constitutional methods. In other words, the defence put up at the trial was a repudiation of the Communist policy of street-fighting and civil war.

The whole thing is futile and regrettable, both from the point of view of Sidney Elias and from the point of view of any unfortunate workers who may have been influenced by the stupid Communist propaganda.

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A Curious Sidelight on Empire

The conflict between China and Japan produced a strange incident, which is recorded in the New Statesman (October 8th). On March 11th, the League of Nations Assembly decided to set up a negotiating committee. The British Government, whose actions had shown distinct leanings towards Japan drew up a list of governments to be members of the Committee. The smaller powers, whose sympathies are with China, drew up an alternative list, including South Africa. The two lists were voted on, and although South Africa is in the Empire and Portugal is outside, Portugal was appointed and South Africa defeated by one vote, the vote of Sir John Simon representing the British Government. The “ties of Empire" are not allowed to interfere with the economic interests of the British capitalists.

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The I.L.P. and Electoral Reform

Mr. Tom Kirk, who a year or two ago confessed that his party—the Labour Party—had never preached Socialism, and that only the S.P.G.B. had stood by Socialist principles, is now in the I.L.P. (Maxtonite). He states in the Railway Review (November 18th, 1932) that the Labour Party agreed with the Liberals and Tories to the clause in the Representation of the People Act which compels Parliamentary candidates to deposit £150, because they saw that it would hamper 'the small and poor organisations (the S.P.G.B. for example). Mr. Kirk calls this a “dirty agreement," presumably because the I.L.P. (which has now lost those of its supporters who used to donate money by the £100 and £1,000) will itself be hampered by the clause in future.

It would, however, be interesting to . know whether the I.L.P., when it had plenty of money, ever protested against the dirty agreement.

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Is the Russian State “Withering Away"?

The Marxian view of the State has caused a good deal of embarrassment to the Bolsheviks in their efforts to square the actual situation in Russia with the idealisation of it which they offer in their propaganda. Engels’ words about the State “withering away" have compelled them to indulge in all sorts of contortions. Engels wrote:
  The first act by virtue of which the State really constitutes itself the representative of the whole of society—the taking possession of the means of production in the name of society—this is, at the same time, its last independent act as a State. State interference in social relations becomes, in one domain after another, superfluous, and then dies out of itself; the government of persons is replaced by the administration of things, and by the conduct of processes of production. The State is not “ abolished.” It dies out.
(“Socialism, Utopian and Scientific,” by F. Engels. Swan Sonnenschein Edition, 1802. P. 76.)
The Communists claim that they are building Socialism in Russia and that they have performed the act which—in Engels' words—should prelude the withering away of the State. Some of them therefore take the logical course of claiming that the State in Russia is indeed withering away. Thus the Labour Monthly (a Communist journal) claims in its September, 1931, issue, that
   There are, in fact, in the Soviet Union to-day, with the enormous development of the initiative of the masses, of their participation in the ordering of social life, and with the advance towards abolishing the distinction between town and country, elements of this "withering away" already perceptible. (p. 588)
Unfortunately for the Labour Monthly Molotov, Chairman of the Council of People's Commissars, admits that this is not the case. In a thesis presented to the 17th Conference of the Russian Communist Party early in 1932, he said, concerning Russia: —
  Not only does the class struggle not end, but in some sections and at some periods it may and will become considerably sharpened
(Labour Monthly, April 1932. P. 246)
Naturally, where there is a class struggle there is no possibility of a withering away of the State, and the Labour Monthly, summarising Molotov's discussion of this further point, says: —
  The Thesis also considers the question of the “withering away” of the State, but points out that while the establishment of the Proletariat Dictatorship has already transformed the State into a semi- State, the conditions of internal and external class-struggle demand a strengthening of the State in the immediate future. . . . (P. 246.)
It is amusing to be told that the Russian State—which is a fairly faithful copy of the Czarist Government in respect of its bureaucracy, its political police, and its arbitrary use of its repressive powers—is a “semi-State," whatever that is supposed to mean. But the cream of the jest is Molotov’s further remark that the Russian State is to be strengthened in the immediate future "as a condition for its eventual ‘withering away.' " Lloyd’s George’s “war to end war" has nothing on this.

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Can the Capitalists Afford Reforms?

Mr. George Hicks, in a pamphlet, “The Struggle for Socialism,” puts forward the incorrect notion so much favoured now by the Communists and the I.L.P. that the capitalists are so poor that they cannot afford to buy off working class discontent with any more reforms. Mr. Hicks says: —
  British Capitalism, in relation to World Capitalism, is in such a fix that it is sheerly impossible for it to grant ameliorative measures to the workers. It is in a condition of stagnation and decline. It can give no reforms, make no concessions. Gradualism, Reformism, Fabianism, Lib-Labourism—all those “isms” which enabled the Labour Party hitherto to make its broad appeals—have experienced a withering at the roots.”
In spite of being widely held among the reformists, this doctrine is utterly untrue. In spite of the impressive-looking figures which represent the cost of the so-called social services—education, old age pensions, unemployment pay, etc.—the capitalists spend only a very small part of their wealth on them. The absurdity of the argument can be illustrated in another way. Since 1921 wage reductions recorded by the Ministry of Labour total something like £600 millions a year, which far exceeds the whole cost of the social services. That is to say, the amount saved to the capitalists by cutting their labour costs far exceeds their total expenditure through taxation on protecting the workers against the worst effects of exploitation.

Prophecy is dangerous, but it is safe to say that as soon as the capitalist parties find that the only way to win elections is to promise more “reforms,” they will vie with one another at it just as they have done in the years 1918 to 1929.

Already at a Midland town the Tory members of a Public Assistance Committee have found their activities so damaging to them in the local elections that they have refused to work it unless the Labour members of the local Council will sit on the P.A.C. with them.

Hardly was Mr. Hicks' pamphlet off the press when the Government announced its slight concessions over the means test.

Incidentally, if it were true, and the electors were aware, that capitalism could give no more reforms, Mr. Hicks—who got elected to Parliament by promising reforms—would stand very little chance of re-election on his reform programme.

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Lands Without Unemployment

Just at present, while the building of factories, railways and productive equipment of all kinds enables the Russians to claim that unemployment is at a minimum and that paying unemployment relief is unnecessary, the I.L.P. adds its voice to the chorus—of praise for the “land without unemployment.” Those who know the chequered history of the I.L.P. and its almost complete ignorance of the working of economic forces will be less impressed by what the I.L.P. says about Russia than by what it formerly said of America, France, Belgium, Australia, Italy and various other spots in which the I.L.P. has discovered capitalist “solutions” for the problem of unemployment.

The Socialist Programme,” published by the I.L.P. in November, 1923, tells us that
  general unemployment has nothing to do with tariffs or free trade. It is determined by the monetary policy pursued by a country and not by its tariff-policy. (P. 26.)
So they looked round to see if they could find some countries pursuing an I.L.P. monetary policy; and sure enough they found several.
  That is shown by the facts of unemployment in the world to-day. There is none to speak of in France and Belgium, very little in Italy, nor has there been ever since the war. Why? Because the Governments and central banks of those countries have never restricted credit and thus destroyed the purchasing power of a large part of their populations. (P. 26.)
America, according to the I.L.P., was not merely perfect, it was better than perfect; not only no unemployment, but a shortage of labour—
  The banks have lent freely, and there is now an actual shortage of labour . . . There is no unemployment and no depression in the United States today. (P. 27.) (Italics ours.)
The I.L.P. was, of course, largely wrong about its facts and wholly wrong about the effects of applying its capitalist credit theories. In due course they had to admit this, and a writer in the New Leader said of the American banking system:
  I gather from some enquiries that we in England have gravely over-estimated the scientific work of this banking organisation.
(Brailsford, New Leader. Feb. 24th, 192ft.)
In the same way the I.L.P. will discover before long that they have “gravely over-estimated” the possibilities of planning Russian production and distribution in conditions which both at home and abroad are essentially capitalistic and which therefore preclude planning and preclude the solution of the unemployment problem.

In Russia some phases of the problem have been the enormous number of workers constantly in process of leaving one job and travelling elsewhere to look for a better one, and the over-population of the villages. Recently the Government has tried to check the former by imposing penalties on workers who leave their jobs, and has at the same time drastically cut down the staffs of State concerns in order to make them more profitable. In due course Russia will again have to recognise and deal with the normal capitalist problem of serious unemployment, and the I.L.P. will have to set sail for some new mythical paradise.
Edgar Hardcastle

Highland Clearing (2019)

Book Review from the December 2019 issue of the Socialist Standard

Clans and Clearance. The Highland Clearances Volume One. By Alwyn Edgar. Theory and Practice. 2019.

In his introduction to this 700-page tome, Alwyn Edgar explains that he first became interested over fifty years ago in the Scottish Highlands and how they came to be depopulated but that he has only now got round to turning his research and notes into a book. Four more volumes are to follow.

In this volume he examines the origin and nature of the clan system as it existed up until 1750 and exposes some of the popular misconceptions about it, for instance that it was overpopulation that led to the later mass emigration from the area to the slums and industries of Glasgow and to North America and New Zealand and that the highlanders were Catholics (he produces figures to show that they were 96 percent Protestant).

We will have to wait for Volume Three to see his analysis of the clearances in the first half of the nineteenth-century by the Duchess of Sutherland, notorious throughout the world thanks to Marx’s mention of them in chapter 27 of Capital on ‘The Expropriation of the Agricultural Population’ as an example of what was required to allow capitalist development to take off.

Cooking the Books: Fantasy politics (and economics) (2019)

The Cooking the Books column from the December 2019 issue of the Socialist Standard

You can tell it’s election time. The parties are making all sorts of extravagant promises. The Tories are promising to spend an extra £20 billion a year on hospitals, schools and other infrastructure. Labour is promising an extra £55 billion. The Greens are promising £100 billion but, as they have no prospect of being put in a position to honour this, they can promise what they like.

It is not that the physical resources don’t exist to improve hospitals, schools, transport or to do what is needed to combat climate change. They do but, under capitalism, mobilising them has to be paid for, so it’s legitimate to ask where the money will come from.

The Tories say it’s going to come from the government borrowing it. Labour and the Greens say it will come from borrowing and also from increasing direct taxes on the profits of businesses. Neither of these two is suggesting conjuring the money out of thin air – which they might have done given that Richard Murphy, once one of Corbyn’s economic advisers, adheres to so-called ‘modern money theory’ which, in his words, ‘says governments can make money out of thin air’. And the Green Party is on record as wanting the power to create money out of thin air (that they believe the banks possess) to be transferred to a public body that will issue ‘debt-free’ money. The government could, as these theories in effect advocate, simply print the promised amounts of money but, as most people know this would cause roaring inflation, the leaders of these two parties don’t see this as a vote-catcher.

The Tories know well that capitalism runs on profits and that anything that impedes this risks provoking an economic downturn. While Labour and the Greens are saying that most of the extra money will come from borrowing, the Tories say that all of it will.

When a government borrows – and given the amounts involved here, it will have to be from capitalists – the interest payable has to come from taxes. This is not a problem as long as the economy is expanding; if this is the case even an increase in the interest rate won’t cause a problem as the increased revenue from taxes will be enough to cover this without requiring a reduction in other government spending. If, on the other hand, the economy is not expanding, as regularly happens from time to time, interest payments will eat into other spending.

The Tory and Labour spending promises both assume a continuously expanding economy; Labour’s is even supposed to bring this about. When, as proposed, a government spends money on infrastructure there will be some initial economic expansion through construction firms and other contractors having money to extend their business and take on workers. However, there is no guarantee that this will be sustained as the capitalist economy is not driven by government or consumer spending, but by capitalist investment in profitable productive activity. This is not something governments can control as, among many others, the last Labour government discovered.

Because the economy happened to be expanding, Gordon Brown assumed that this would continue indefinitely. He even proclaimed the end of the boom/slump cycle. He was wrong and, when the boom inevitably ended, his and subsequent governments found themselves in financial difficulty and, to protect profits, had to cut back their spending.

Aware of how capitalism works and of past experience of how it has worked, we can confidently predict that neither the Tories nor Labour will be able to honour their election promises. Eventually, for reasons beyond their control, the capitalist economy will stall and they will be forced to renege on them. History will repeat itself.

Wood for the Trees: The stable doors of instability (2019)

The Wood for the Trees Column from the December 2019 issue of the Socialist Standard

Very occasionally an outrage occurs within the capitalist system that even the ruling class cannot ignore. In the wake of the Grenfell Tower Inquiry perhaps it’s time to look at the history of British Public Inquiries and assess their place within the body politic of this country. Let’s look at the origin, motivation, reality and effectiveness of this very British institution.

Having its origins in the 1920s the PI was initially set up to deal with public unease concerning natural or technical disasters such as train crashes and floods etc. but in 1957 there was a great scandal involving corrupt dealers making fortunes out of ‘inside information’ concerning bank rates. A public tribunal was set up and successfully managed to assure the public that it would not happen again – which, of course, it has and continues to do so. This probably gave the elite the confidence that this was a way of seeming to do something about political scandals while also covering up any major implications for themselves and the capitalist system as a whole.

However when the next great scandal exploded (the Profumo Affair) they chose the wrong ‘pair of safe hands’ in the form of Lord Denning. Although not initially a public inquiry the wide-ranging nature of his investigation shone a light on the meaningless and decadent lifestyles of the parasite class that fed the increasingly prurient 1960s media. The establishment, in its haste to cover the thing up, had chosen a moral crusader who lifted the veil on the reality of class society that helped accelerate the ‘end of deference’.

In 1972 on ‘Bloody Sunday’ 28 people were shot (14 fatally) by the British army during a peaceful demonstration against internment in Northern Ireland. Such was the level of outrage at the murders that the establishment was forced to hold an enquiry but this time, in the safe hands of Lord Widgery, it produced the expected whitewash and the army was exonerated. The story did not end there however as the bitterness lingered for decades leading to another inquiry headed by Lord Saville which began in 1998. This overturned almost all of the conclusions of Lord Widgery and led to an apology from David Cameron in the House of Commons – however only one ‘scapegoat’ was ever prosecuted for murder.

In the wake of the race riots in 1981 Lord Scarman was called to head an investigation into their cause. He made several recommendations emphasising ‘community’ policing which were subsequently ignored and it took another report by Sir William Macpherson (as a result of the racist murder of Stephen Lawrence) to finally force an admission that a major cause of both racist violence and the subsequent cover-up was the institutional racism within the police. Investigations can drag on for years and even, as with the Hillsborough Disaster, for decades because of the tension between ‘getting to the truth’ and the desire to protect the integrity of institutions like the political establishment, army and police. . Let us now turn to a very different type of institution – the NHS.

Two scandals were to shake the always beleaguered NHS in the early 2000s. Dr. Harold Shipman became Britain’s worst serial killer whose victims numbered into the hundreds over many years. Dame Janet Smith was given the task of finding out why his crimes had gone undiscovered for so long. She was to recommend many changes to the protocols of death certification and drug prescription but as a result of dealing with endless bureaucratic ‘red-tape’ she was later to say, with exasperation that trying to implement change within such an establishment was like ‘attempting to herd cats’. In 2007 the terrible events at Stafford General Hospital resulted in a PI under Robert Francis but only after he had complained about the limited and restrictive nature of his former investigations. It is estimated that up to 1,200 patients died due to neglect between 2005 and 2008 at the hospital. Only two nurses were subsequently ‘struck off’ the medical register.

Of all the disasters that have brought forth public enquiries none have been more shocking than that of the Iraq war of 2003. Sir John Chilcot chaired this investigation which centred on the fantasy that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction. Although widely condemned as a ‘whitewash’ the report did show many deficiencies in the quality of ‘intelligence’ and how it was used to support a war that had already been politically decided upon by Bush and Blair. The deaths of tens of thousands of innocent Iraqis represent one of the greatest crimes in British history and the failure of a Public Inquiry to bring anyone to justice for this underlines the true nature of such investigations.

Although used primarily as a safety valve for public catharsis these inquiries always have a limited government remit and many are no longer content for members of the establishment to ‘self regulate’. The Grenfell Tower investigation is already showing signs of being another establishment whitewash. Perhaps with its failure this ‘Public Inquiry’ might be the last of its kind. Any investigation into major disasters within capitalism will usually fail to find the ultimate cause unless they become investigations of capitalism itself. From the perspective of our rulers the PI has been very successful in diverting attention from the capitalist system and finding scapegoats to blame. We are not suggesting that there will be no disasters within a socialist society but we can say with certainty that there will be no vested interests to protect, no corners cut to endanger safety and no protection of the guilty from being held responsible.

50 Years Ago: Hippies: An abortion of Socialist Understanding (2019)

The 50 Years Ago column from the December 2019 issue of the Socialist Standard

Ever since the explosion of “Flower Power” in Summer 67, the world’s working-class has been aware of the Hippy movement, or as it is now more frequently called, “The Underground”. Attitudes to the hippies have varied from amused fascination to angry revulsion. Many people have grown more hostile to them over the past two years, as their emphasis on such harmless-sounding words as “Love” and “Beautiful People” has declined, and their tendency to smoke pot has become more widely publicised.

In Britain the occupation of 144 Piccadilly confirmed the hippies’ bad reputation—though the occupiers were not typical of the Underground by any means. TV news announcers put on their frowns for this item, were careful to identify the occupation with soccer hooliganism (both were “violence to property”), and equally careful to avoid dragging in irrelevant details like the fact of empty houses alongside homeless people.

A wave of horror swept the country at the realisation that there were people who not only wore long hair (and obviously smelt foul, as anyone could see by looking at their TV screens), but actually believed they had a right to live without working. In one television programme, David Frost, Hughie Green and Robert Maxwell—those highly productive labourers who toil so usefully to justify their existence—led an attack on the hippies for their conscientious objection to work. When Richard Neville (editor of the Underground magazine Oz) suggested that the idea of work as a duty hadn’t a very ancient historical pedigree, that work in the modern world was “really a form of slavery,” and that with today’s productive techniques there could easily be more than enough wealth for everyone, he was devastated by Frost’s crisply intelligent retorts: “Very high‑ flown I’m sure” and “I really am an old fuddy-duddy you know.”

The hippy phenomenon is a movement, a set of attitudes, a subculture or a nuisance, according to your point of view. It consists of several hundred thousand people, drawn mostly from the working class, in the advanced regions of Capitalism. It is vaguely defined, fuzzy-edged—no one can draw up a hippy manifesto; no one can specify who is a hippy and who isn’t.

(From the Socialist Standard, December 1969)

Liberal Democrats: Power Hungry Opportunists (2019)

From the December 2019 issue of the Socialist Standard
A former Lib Dem member writes.
The enlightenment idea of Liberalism is based on equality before the law, consent of the population, and on liberty. ‘Liberalism sought to replace the norms of hereditary privilege, state religion, absolute monarchy, the divine right of kings and traditional conservatism with representative democracy and the rule of law.’ (Wikipedia)

The foremost exponent of liberalism historically is John Stuart Mill who was a British contemporary of Karl Marx. Mill rejected the labour theory of value of Karl Marx (and economists Adam Smith and David Ricardo) and the class struggle. The class struggle aspect was elucidated in our 1911 pamphlet ‘The Socialist Party versus the Liberal Party’ where we also said ‘society to-day, with its rules and regulations, is shaped by those who are in possession of political power, and … Parliament. It is here the crux of the situation lies … The control, therefore, of political power means the control of society’.

The Liberal Democrat Party today adopts the mantle of liberalism. In theory party policy is made democratically by conference, but in reality, by the Federal Policy Committee chaired by the leader. If that seems cynical, readers are invited to recall the Lib-Dem-Tory coalition government between 2010 and 2015 and their abandonment of their pledge to abolish student tuition fees. The Socialist Party is committed to hostility to all other political parties and the fullest democracy, and this is important because without it, backroom-deals are made behind the backs of ordinary members. Expect the current Lib Dem leader Jo Swinson (who was former leader Nick Clegg’s Private Parliamentary Secretary and later a junior minister in the Coalition government), despite her denials, to politically trade principles for power too. We will not.

What Elections Mean (2019)

Editorial from the December 2019 issue of the Socialist Standard

By the time this issue of the Socialist Standard comes out, we will be halfway through a general election campaign. We will all have had leaflets through our letter boxes full of vote-catching promises and extolling the merits of some candidate. The media will have been concentrating, day after day, on the claims and counter-claims of the groups of career politicians known as ‘parties’.

But it’s a charade. People know from experience that ‘changing governments changes nothing’ and that their daily life of going to work, paying the bills and bringing up their family continues much the same whichever group of politicians forms the government. They listen to the politicians’ promises without really believing them and vote for one or other of them without illusions. They don’t consider this central to their lives; it’s something they do because they have been asked to.

However, there is a more serious side to elections. They are a time when groups of politicians compete against each other for a chance to run the capitalist state. This state is there to uphold the capitalist system, based on the ownership and control of productive resources by a few who are thereby enabled to enjoy a privileged lifestyle. Due to past pressure from the excluded many and splits in the ruling class, those who run the capitalist state have to pass via winning an election where almost the whole electorate is made up of the many. Winning an election gives them – and the capitalist system – the legitimacy of popular endorsement.

This means that elections are a time when the many are being asked to endorse capitalism by voting for politicians who, if and when they get into office, will uphold the capitalist system, even if to try to improve people’s lives. But, as capitalism is a profit-making system that can only run in the interest of the few who own society’s productive resources, no government can make it work for the many who don’t. This is why all reformist governments have failed, and will fail. From the point of view of improving people’s life, elections are irrelevant as, while governments propose, it is capitalism, via its relentless economic law of ‘profits first’ imposed by the market, that disposes.

This is why socialists refuse to participate in the charade of pretending to believe in the politicians’ promises and voting for one or other of them without illusions or as a ‘lesser evil’. We won’t vote for any of them as that is to give the legitimacy of popular approval to the continuation of capitalism. Which we refuse.

To show that we think that voting could and should be part of the process of replacing capitalism with socialism we do go to the polling station and cast a write-in vote for ‘WORLD SOCIALISM’. Where we can, we also put up candidates standing for socialism and nothing but – in this election there are two, whose election addresses can be found in this issue. There, those who want socialism can vote directly for it.