8. THE MYSTIFICATION OF PARLIAMENT AND ELECTIONS
As the capitalist system entered its decadent phase, parliament ceased to be an instrument for reforms. As the Communist International said at its Second Congress: "The centre of gravity of political life has now been completely and finally removed beyond the confines of parliament". The only role parliament could play from then on, the only thing that keeps it alive, is its role as an instrument of mystification. Thus ended any possibility for the proletariat to use parliament in any way. The class cannot gain impossible reforms from an organ which has lost any real political function. At a time when its basic task is to destroy all institutions of the bourgeois state and thus parliament; when it must set up its own dictatorship on the ruins of universal suffrage and other vestiges of bourgeois society, participation in parliamentary and electoral institutions can only lead to these moribund bodies being given a semblance of life no matter what the intentions of those who advocate this kind of activity.
Participation in elections and parliament no longer has any of the advantages it had last century. On the contrary, it is full of dangers, especially that of keeping alive illusions about the possibility of a ‘peaceful’ or ‘gradual’ transition to socialism through the conquest of a parliamentary majority by the so-called ‘workers’ parties’.
The strategy of ‘destroying parliament from within’ through the use of ‘revolutionary’ delegates has been decisively proved to have no other result than the corruption of the political organisations who undertake such activities and their absorption into capitalism.
Finally, to the extent that such activity is essentially the concern of specialists, an arena for the games of political parties rather than for the self-activity of the masses; the use of elections and parliament as instruments for agitation and propaganda tends to preserve the political premises of bourgeois society and encourage passivity in the working class. If such a disadvantage was acceptable when the revolution was not an immediate possibility, it has become a decisive obstacle in a period when the only task on the historical agenda for the proletariat is precisely the overthrow of the old social order and the creation of a communist society, which demands the active and conscious participation of the whole class.
If at the beginning the tactics of ‘revolutionary parliamentarism’ were primarily an expression of the weight of the past within the class and its organisations, the disastrous results of such tactics show that they are profoundly bourgeois.