Once the dry ice of the election spectacle has cleared, the new government can get on with its job: defending capitalism at the expense of the working class.
After every election it’s the same, regardless of which party gets in. The indications are that, this time round, the ruling class prefers Labour to provide the best team for looking after its interests.
Millions of people will not have voted in this election; millions more will have voted without enthusiasm or conviction, feeling in their hearts that ‘all the politicians are the same’.
These feelings are soundly based. All the politicians are fundamentally the same because all the parties that take part in capitalist elections are in favour of maintaining the capitalist system. This goes from the British National Party and the Tories on the right to Labour and the Socialist Alliance on the left. All are united in their devotion to the interests of the British national economy, the British state, British imperialism. Not one stands up for the working class, which has no country, no state, no economy to defend.
A capitalist government can never be anything but the ‘executive committee of the ruling class’. A party which holds the reins of a capitalist government can never do anything but run it in the interests of capital.
Today the prime necessity for every national capital is to keep afloat in the face of an economic crisis which has been gradually but remorselessly deepening for the last three decades. The phoney US ‘boom’ of the last ten years, fuelled by massive debts, has already reached its limits. This augurs very badly for the world economy as a whole, which has been desperately clinging to the US ‘locomotive’. Like any company facing bankruptcy, the national economy, Britain Ltd, and its board of directors, the government, has to take drastic action: cut the wage bill, lay off workers, close plants, slash benefits. This is what the Tory government under Thatcher and Major did; this is what Blair’s New Labour did after 1997, and it has every intention of doing it again, but even more so, after this election.
One of the reasons why Labour is the best team for managing British capitalism at the moment is that it’s more skilled at presenting attacks on working class living standards as ‘reforms’ in everyone’s interests. It ‘reformed’ the unemployment benefits system by calling it the New Deal and forcing hundreds of thousands of young people into low paid, insecure jobs, or simply depriving them of benefits altogether. Now it’s hinting at wide ranging ‘reforms’ of the health service which will certainly involve massive cuts wrapped up in the ideology of decentralisation and privatisation.
Workers (the vast majority of us, because the unemployed are also part of the working class) have no interest in choosing which gang of politicians is going to lord it over us for the next four or five years. But we do have an interest, a very urgent interest, in defending ourselves against all the attacks that the new government is going to unleash. Defending ourselves means opposing wage cuts, redundancies, reductions in benefits, elimination of basic services. It does not mean fighting for state ownership as against privatisation, a false demand which the unions have already put forward to derail the struggles of tube and postal workers, and which will be used even more in future struggles around the health service.
State bureaucrat or private boss; Tory or Labour these are just the forms which capitalism takes on at different moments. They are all the guardians of exploitation, and the exploited can only defend themselves by fighting against all of them. WR 2.6.01