Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Don't vote for what you don't want

Two people commented on our election manifesto we posted yesterday, asking in effect what do we think they should do where there is no socialist candidate standing, as in Lewisham (sorry, Anomymous, we're not standing there or anywhere else in London, we just don't have the resources) and in the mayoral election. Basically, we never tell people how to vote but let them decide for themselves. We just say what we'll be doing: either abstaining or (better) writing "WORLD SOCIALISM" across our ballot paper.

The logic of this position is explained in the editorial in this month's Socialist Standard (see http://www.worldsocialism.org/spgb/standardonline/index.html ):

Don't vote for what you don't want

We don't have to accept the self-fulfilling prophecy that "capitalism is the only game in town".

Imagine that all the people in the world made a set of informed, collective and democratic decisions about what kind of system would best meet their needs and solve global problems. Would they choose a money and property system that forced nearly half their total number to try to survive on a dollar a day? Or would they prefer to organise production and distribution of goods and services on the basis of what they need, without the profit system?

Would they, if and when given the chance to vote, do so overwhelmingly for candidates who -- whatever labels they attached to themselves or their parties -- stood for the continuation of some form of capitalism? Or would they elect delegates, from among their own number, to initiate the process of setting up and running a fundamentally new form of world society, a system based on the common ownership and democratic control of the means of wealth production and distribution?

Would they embrace nationalism, involving armed forces paid to kill and injure other groups ("the enemy") with whom they have no quarrel? Or would they regard themselves and behave as citizens of the world, regardless of any geographical, cultural or philosophical attachments they may feel?

Would they divide themselves into classes, rich and poor, leaders and led, privileged and unprivileged, dominant and submissive, superordinate and subordinate, master and servant, powerful and powerless? Or would they, despite individual differences in abilities, personalities, interests, tastes, likes and dislikes, think and behave as members of the one human race, not perfect, sometimes fallible or irrational, but never deliberately cruel or anti-social?

Whatever words they use to explain or sloganise their ideologies, all parties except the Socialist Party stand for the continuation of some form of capitalism. From their point of view, a vote for their own candidate is best; a vote for one of their competitors is second best. Not voting could be a worrying sign of alienation from the system. Worst of all, a vote for the Socialist Party candidate -- or, where none stands, writing "Socialism" across the ballot paper -- would indicate the beginning of a resolution to replace capitalism with socialism.

Don't forget:

Before the first Labour government came into power, and when some members and supporters used to profess socialism as their eventual goal, there was some justification for the argument that: "The Labour hell is one degree cooler than the Tory hell." So "Choose the lesser of two evils."

Today, after successive administrations of the same system, the difference in temperature is too small to get excited about. The same applies to others lining up to be our government -- the Lib Dems, etc. We don't want them and we don't need them.

Support for socialism isn't a matter of campaigning to make the poor rich in today's terms of material consumption. That wouldn't be environmentally sustainable. The socialist aim isn’t even equality in the sense of sameness, like amounts of work contributed or goods and services consumed. Socialism is essentially about social equality, encouraging and enabling every human being to realise their full potential as giver and taker, not buyer and seller, in the context of society itself moving towards reaching its full potential.


Anonymous said...

Do you realise what will happen if you scrawl 'World Socialism' across your ballot paper? One person will read it (the teller) and no one else, and it will be counted as a spoilt paper. It will do no good to anyone at all, and you may as well not wear out your shoe leather walking to the polling station. If it makes you feel better, fine, be like that, but what a waste. Check out the Green Party's policies - they are on the national site in exhaustive detail in the policy section. You may find that you agree with enough of it to vote for them.

londonsocialist said...

I'm sure the Green Party is making some attractive promises. In the winter 2007 issue of "London Green News" their candidate for mayor promised "to put cutting the cost of living at the heart of her campaign", and to "Cut Tube and bus fares" and "to boost the availability of affordable housing and cut utility bills". Who could be against that? But the point isn't what politicians say they will do, but what they will be able to do within the framework of capitalism. We say capitalism can't be reformed so as to work in the interests of the majority. The experience of Green parties government ministers in Germany, France, and Italy (and now Ireland)confirms this. So it's a vote for a party that accepts capitalism that's a wasted vote. You won't get what you think you voted for. As the American socialist Eugene Debs put it: "I'd rather vote for something and not get it than vote for something I don't want, and get it."
Anyway, I'm not voting for somebody who allows themselves to be described as "pure environmental viagra" and as a "Green goddess". I thought the Green Party used to be against leaders. We still are.