Wednesday, 4 May 2011

Vote Labour & "None Of The Above"

Tomorrow provides an opportunity to destroy the Liberals as a political party, and to give the Tories a good kicking. Everyone should make sure that opportunity is not missed, by going out and voting Labour.
That is not because we have any confidence in the socialist credentials of Ed Miliband or other Labour leaders, or any belief that Labour Councillors, who over the last 25 years have become even more entrenched in the view of themselves as Managers of the local State, and who, therefore, are likely to see their job as to make Cuts in the most efficient way they can. It is because, Labour is the mass party of the working-class, and in large part all of those deficiencies are simply a reflection of the ideological, and organisational weakness of the class itself. It is because our duty is to support the working-class and its party, whatever that weakness, and, in doing so, to try to work with it to remedy that weakness. It is to put ourselves, at a time of important class conflict, in relation to the Cuts, on the right side of the class barrier. In the other vote tomorrow, over AV, no such issue arises. The choice between AV and FTP is merely a rigged choice between two undemocratic means of electing Capitalist Governments, and fails to even provide us with the opportunity to address all the other democratic changes required in Britain.

The March 26th TUC demonstration against the Cuts, was a marvellous confidence boost for all of us that were on it. To get more than half a million people to demonstrate against the Cuts was even more impressive than the 1 million plus who attended the Iraq War demonstration, precisely because that was a cross-class issue, the Cuts is not.
But, as I, and many more people, have written over the last year, demonstrations alone will not stop the Cuts. The co-ordinated strike action being planned by unions over Pensions takes it a step further, but if, as seems likely, these strikes remain at the level effectively of one day protest strikes, then they will have little more impact than large street demonstrations. In fact, to the extent that they piss-off other workers, who have to arrange child care etc. on odd days, they may be counter-productive. Indeed, as the experience of Greece shows, even longer duration strikes may be counter-productive. On the one hand every strike hits the consumers of the service being provided, and that is overwhelmingly other workers. Strikes in the State Capitalist sector do not even have the benefit of also hitting the profits of the particular Capitalist.
As Greece shows, at a time when the Government is trying to reduce spending, by cutting wages and provision of services, strikes which have precisely the effect of reducing the services provided and of saving the state money in wages and other costs, play into its hands. As Engels pointed out, the bosses had learned as early as the last half of the 19th Century how to provoke workers into taking such strike action that played straight into their hands. We need to develop new, smarter tactics, rather than simply responding with knee-jerk actions.

That is why the examples of the University Occupations, and of the occupation of New Cross Library are a better alternative to strikes.
It is a hark back to the lessons of Upper Clyde Shipbuilders, and in taking direct control over the property of the Capitalist State, it immediately challenges the basis of Capital. Even labour Councillors, who argue that they cannot vote through illegal budgets can be put on the spot to support such occupations.
In fact, the Tories too can be challenged in respect of their "Big Society", because what Bigger Society could there be than ordinary people in each community coming together to take over the facilities and services they see as vital to their interests? Of course, if they do that then they should expect that the Local State should continue to finance that provision, and if it doesn't then obviously the local community is entitled also to stop financing the local state via its rents and taxes. Local people would have every right to launch a Rent and Council Tax strike, organising themselves to pay the money into their own accounts, managed by local Committees of workers, and used to cover the costs of keeping those services running.
And we would expect the unions to ensure that their members working in the Accounts offices of local Councils, ensured that the wages of staff continued to be paid, ensured that industrial action was taken in solidarity with members defending those services, by refusing to do any work that might be used to prosecute people for a Rent and Council Tax strike and so on.

This is another reason to vote Labour tomorrow, because every single worker, who wants to fight the Cuts, can join the LP and put pressure on those elected Councillors, they can, through their Trade Union Branch, put pressure on the Constituency and Dustrict Labour Parties, to support the direct action of local communties. This would then be, not demanding that Labour Councillors engage in adventuristic, kamikaze tactics, in relation to the Budget, but a simple act of support and solidarity for others taking that action.

But, as I've set out previously in my blog AV - Why I'll Abstain, workers have no reason to make a choice between AV and FTP. Both of these systems of voting are undemocratic. Only a system of proportional representation could have a claim to be democratic even within the restricted terms of Bourgeois democracy. But, of course, the political elite are not giving us a choice about that.
At a time when once again the British State is engaged in wars, supposedly for the advancement of democracy, British people are not even allowed to have a say on basic issues of democracy such as a democratic voting system beyond the rigged choices the elite put forward. Still less are we being consulted about other basic democratic principles such as abolition of the Monarchy and House of Lords, on recall of MP's, on the election of top officials etc.

In other countries such as France and the US there were Constitutional Conventions called that allowed discussion on all these things in the process of formulating their Constitutions. The people of Britain have never been consulted on any of these things. At the very least, instead of this meaningless referendum on AV, there should have been moves taken to establish such a convention. But, as countries such as the US, that do have a more complete and consistent bouregois demcoracy show, even that is no grounds for beleiving that it is an effective means for controlling the real power in society, the power that comes from control of vast amounts of Capital.
In the US, you need literally billions of dollars just to run an effective election campaign! More billions of dollars are spent by large corporations on "lobbying" to ensure that the politicans they have paid to get elected spend money in the interests of those corporations. Huge media Empires such as that of Rupert Murdoch, via its Fox News, and other media are able to shape ideas, and provide huge propaganda for its chosen candidates. Bourgeois representative democracy will always be biased against working-class, socialist ideas for these and many more reasons. And as, Obama and countless Social-Democratic Governments show, even where Governments ARE elected supposedly on some kind of left-wing agenda, they never deliver on them, because there is no effective means of ordinary working people applying pressure upon them, whereas, those who really have the power, because they own vast sums of Capital, CAN exercise pressure on those Governments on a daily basis, not least through their full-time agents working within and controlling the State bureaucracy.

A real democracy can only be built by those kinds of actions described above where ordinary workers themselves come together and take over the running of Libraries, Schools and other facilities; where they establish their own local committees on their housing estates to control those estates, where they establish Factory Committees in their places of work, and so on. When you are directly taking the decisions that affect your life, the lies told by the media lose their impact; when the people you are electing to act, in some respect, on your behalf, are your workmates or neighbours, and when you can simply replace them immediately, if they fail to do the job - as you would with say a shop steward - then it is you that is able to apply effective pressure not the owners of Capital.

Forget about AV or FTP and simply write on the referendum ballot "None of the Above", and then begin that process of building a real working-class democracy that can meet our needs.

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