Correspondence on the left’s electoralism and reformism
We're publishing a letter from a sympathiser about the current efforts of leftist groups like the Socialist Workers Party to form a new electoral alliance, above all to combat the rise of the BNP.
We agree entirely with the essential point made in the letter. Elections and parliament have long ceased to be an arena in which the working class can express its interests, and the groups of the ‘extreme left', by trying to inject new life into these institutions, provide further proof that they are actually the extreme left of capitalism's political machinery. In this sense, while these organisations certainly recruit many naïve and well-intentioned people, the organisations as such are not being "naïve" in pursuing such policies: they are simply carrying out their function for capital.
Dear ICC Comrades
After reading in June's issue of World Revolution ‘Euro elections: nationalism of left and right' there is one point I thought I would make regarding the response from some of Britain's leftist parties. Following on from the poor showing in both the Euro elections as well as the local elections not only in Britain but across Europe of Social Democratic and leftist parties, combined with the resurgence of far right and fascist parties it appears that leftist parties in Britain have been thrown into some sort of panic. For instance in Britain on the respective websites of Socialist Workers Party, Communist Party of Great Britain and Workers Power there has been a call for a campaign to establish a new workers' party to replace the British Labour Party. The thinking behind the call appears to be that there is a vacuum on the left which allows the right especially the fascists to grow both electorally as well as in membership. These organisations seem to believe that the reason for such growth of far right and fascist parties such as the BNP is that they are able to appeal to the anger and discontent felt by workers especially in the present economic crisis. To neutralise such a threat leftists argue that the creation of a new independent mass working class party will act as some sort of antidote to the fascist menace.
What surprises me about such a call is that as workers are beginning to turn away from voting Marxists should be encouraging such abstention while at the same time appealing to the independent political activity of workers as workers rather than be flailing around on a doomed project of trying to resurrect parliamentary politics. Not only is such a project doomed to fail as the trade unions are not suicidal minded to cut their links with Labour.
The leftists are also unable to see that the bourgeoisie, of any country, is unable to fund the social wage that they were able to do during the post war period leading up to the late 1970's. This refusal to fund a social wage to the same extent as the 1970's has little to do with their lack of compassion rather that in today's period of capitalist decomposition they are simply unable to fund a social wage due to the depth of the capitalist crisis.
This situation of capitalist crisis on a global scale means that the task of Marxist revolutionaries is to both clarify the consciousness of workers to go beyond a reformist perspective and to participate with workers in their struggles while arguing for forms of organisation such as workers' councils, general workers' assemblies etc. This form of participation combines and demands from Marxist revolutionaries both theoretical as well as practical clarity. This means that to demand a new mass workers party that is committed to participating in parliamentary struggles is naive in the extreme and highlights the inability of these organisations to give political leadership to the working class.