Saturday, May 02, 2015

All change for no change

In the weeks of electoral excitement before polling day you will have been made to appreciate, at least a bit, that you are, for the moment, important people. Between elections you look up to politicians and big business men as important, but during elections it is they who go to endless trouble to influence you and win your support for them and their policies. It is you who can make or mar the career politician and you who can place power in the hands of a government which during its term of office can, by taxation or by subsidies, raise some industries to prosperity and bring others to their ruin. It is you who give power to governments in whose hands rest decisions about peace and war. Whichever of them, you, the workers, vote for in an election, it is a defeat for you, a betrayal of your own interests. Capitalism exists only because you, the workers, allow it to exist.

Despite being unable to find lasting solutions to workers’ problems, political parties must always try to combat voter disillusionment. Behaving like chameleons, they must search for ways to improve their image, reinvigorate old policies and give the appearance that this time things will be different, this time the electorate will be given exactly what it wants. Parties strive to  engineer their own metamorphosis, re-branding policies and redefining the agenda.

Today politics is about achieving political power, with the main political parties contesting to maximise their share of votes in a political market in the same way as competing corporations do. The reality of politics today is that political parties represent the corporate face of organised groups of career-orientated politicians whose cushy, well-paid jobs are dependent on selling old and failed political formulae dressed in worthless verbiage to a gullible electorate. It is not a question of honesty, sincerity or wise people elected to government may indeed be able to soften some of the nasty features that capitalism throws up, but a government endowed with wisdom could not make a system of economic anarchy and competition - a system predicated on the exploitation of the many by the few - run in the interest of the many. The socialist case is that the social and economic system that has got to be changed and not its particular political functionaries.

Voters vote governments out because they appear incompetent, incapable of finding solutions to the daily problems that confronts wage and salary earners. But government can never solve these problems because their permanent solution lies only in the abolition of capitalism and the wages system. Economic laws that politicians are powerless to change and leave little room for manoeuvre determine what politicians do and how they must react. It is not the deceitfulness of politicians that is the problem but rather the economic structure of society.
But it is not just political parties that refuse to think outside the framework of capitalism. Most people rarely question the structure of society and passively support the system that always works against them. In misguided expressions of defiance that flow from frustration and lack of understanding, voters repeatedly swap Labour governments for Conservative, or Conservative governments for Labour - as they have on seven separate occasions since the second world war – in the hope that it will somehow make a difference. They are always disappointed by the outcome. Mandating a political party to administer capitalism means that workers surrender political power to their class enemy and condone the continuation of their own exploitation, their insecurity and their poverty - a lesson that workers seem unable to grasp as the same mistake is slavishly repeated over and over again. Trading one group of careerist politicians for another can never be the answer, changing society’s economic structure is the only answer.

Yet another set of dishonest politicians will be after your vote at the general election. However, in some cases they are calling themselves 'socialist'. Our analysis of them is not based upon some narrow sectarianism—it's based upon principle. We do not, nor have we ever, supported capitalist parties, especially those that dress up in revolutionary garb in order to hoodwink the workers. Parties such as TUSC are an expression of all the political mistakes made by the working class last century—from the Labour Party to the Soviet Union. We do not doubt that well-meaning individuals get caught up in such chicanery for no other reason than a desire to see a better world. However, sentiment can never be a substitute for the class struggle.
The Green Party sees itself as the political arm of the wider environmental movement, arguing that it is not enough to be a pressure group, however militant, like Greenpeace or Friends of the Earth. Greens, it says, should organise as well to contest elections with the eventual aim of forming a Green government that could pass laws and impose taxes to protect the environment. We say that no
government can protect the environment. Governments exist to run the political side of the profit system. And the profit system can only work by giving priority to making profits over all other considerations. So to protect the environment we must end production for profit. Pollution and environmental degradation result from the inappropriate ways in which materials from nature are transformed into products for human use. But what causes inappropriate productive methods to be used? Is it ignorance or greed, as some Greens claim? No, it is the way production is organised today and the forces to which it responds. Production today is in the hands of business enterprises, all competing to sell their products at a profit. All of them—and it doesn’t matter whether they are privately owned or state-owned—aim to maximise their profits. This is an economic necessity imposed by the forces of the market. If a business does not make a profit it goes out of business. “Make a profit or die” is the jungle economics that prevails today. The Green Party is not against the market and is not against profit-making. It imagines that, by firm government action, these can be tamed and prevented from harming the environment. This is an illusion. You can’t impose other priorities on the profit system than making profits. That’s why a Green government would fail.

Capitalism is a splintered society; divided not just by sectional ownership of the means of production but by the economic rivalry of independent states striving to exercise authority over given geographical areas. Conventional political parties endorse the framework of capitalism and compete to win control over the state and to administer the economic system within its boundaries, which necessarily means perpetuating the wages system and the persistent hardship for wage and salary earners. The policies propounded by these parties are similar because they are manifestations of the same political imperative – a continuation of capitalism – and are distinguishable only to the extent that they propose different organisation methods to administer the same economic system.

UKIP can make huge gains in the elections proclaiming the merits of British sovereignty. We can only wonder at the mainstream parties fears of a surge in support for UKIP. Considering the views of the Labour and Conservative parties on asylum seekers and migrant their objections to UKIP do seem a little hypocritical. They may genuinely abhor the racists in UKIP but have been unsuccessful in confronting them where they have made political gains because to do so would mean acknowledging the shortcomings of a system which they champion and which gives rise to the politics of racism. If anything the rise of UKIP is the product of the total failure of all the reformist parties to make capitalism a fit society to live in. And this is not the fault of the mainstream parties, for they are controlled by the system and not vice versa despite their claims and promises. When capitalism fails to deliver, when despondency and shattered hopes arise from the stench of the failed promises and expectations that litter the political landscape, is it any wonder that workers fall for the scapegoating lies of nationalists and the quick fix they offer?

Governments do not have a free hand to do what is sensible or desirable. They can only act within the narrow limits imposed by the profit-driven market system whose rules are “profits first” and “you can’t buck the market”.

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