Wednesday, December 14, 2022

Editorial: We can put a stop to their games (2022)

Editorial from the December 2022 issue of the Socialist Standard

Those who like epic dramas have had a good show this year as prime ministers came and went, with other ambitious politicians supporting one or the other and changing sides as they calculated what was best for them in their bid to climb the greasy pole. On the other side of the House of Commons, the leaders of the ‘Opposition’ couldn’t contain themselves at the prospect this in-fighting opened for them to get to enjoy the fruits of office instead. It’s been a despicable spectacle.

As would-be administrators of the political side of capitalism — dubbing themselves ‘the government in waiting’ — the leaders of the Labour Party know that if they were in office their policy would not be, could not be, much different from that of the present Tory government. They criticise the government noisily but mainly for the personal behaviour of some of its ministers.

Even during the brief Truss interlude they agreed with some of what she did but balked at her crass decision, in the midst of a cost of living crisis for most people, to reduce income tax on the rich and remove the cap on bankers’ bonuses. Here too they merely echoed the views of her critics in the Tory party and who are now in office. Can anybody tell the difference between Starmer and Sunak?

The Truss interlude brought out the constraints that the operation of capitalism places on what the politicians in charge of the political machine can do when it comes to economics. They can’t do what they want. They must do what the operation of the market dictates. Given a chance to implement free-market ideology Truss failed spectacularly. Perhaps that will make her type less cocky for a while.

A Corbyn government would have failed too. When Corbyn was elected leader of the Labour Party, his opponents within the Party, realising that this ruined their chance of becoming ministers, immediately started to plot his downfall. They got their way and have since restored the Labour Party as a credible alternative management team for capitalism, a profit-driven system that can only work as such in the interest of the few who live off profits.

The result is that politics has been reduced to a competition between two rival bands of careerist politicians as to which is the more honest, competent and cost conscious. No wonder ‘I’m not interested in politics’ has become a widespread view. If that’s what politics is, we aren’t interested either.

Meaningful politics is a struggle about which class — the capitalist few or the wage-working many — should control political power. At the moment the capitalist few are winning. But if a majority wanted, they could do something more than just regard with contempt the politicians of capitalism and their antics. They could stop electing them and replace them with delegates mandated to use political control to help bring in a society based on the common ownership and democratic control of society’s productive resources, with production directly to meet people’s needs, rather than for sale or for profit.