Democratic control in socialism: extent and limits

June 2024 Forums General discussion Democratic control in socialism: extent and limits

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  • #104861
    steve colborn
    Participant

    I can fully share Adams sentiments. Some, such as Anarchist groups, are quite incorrect to blame "Parliament". Parliament is and of itself, only an adjunct to the "running" of Capitalism. The cause of working class problems is Capitalism, pure and simple. A society organised in and for the interests of a tiny, infinitesimally small fraction of the population of the Earth.When Arachist groups and others, recognise this truth, maybe we can move forward, maybe!!!

    #104862
    alanjjohnstone
    Keymaster
    Quote:
    I know it doesn't specifically mention parliament as an "instrinsically useful function", though personally I'd have thought a central, elected decision-making body would be …

    I do have trouble trying to define what would be a central decision making body and its constituency …geographic?… and what then would be the parameters of a geographic area?Or would it be industrial along the lines of the IWW/SLP?I think we may all suffer from a myopic view of the possibiities because we are children of our own time and with a limited imagination. Nor can we account for any developments/adaptations which may occur in the revolutionary situations that will be thrown up. Socialist Courier posted a speculative scenario on administrative structures herehttp://socialist-courier.blogspot.co.uk/2014/06/federated-freedom.htmlParliament for me is merely a tool to achieve socialism in the least disordered route and once that has been accomplished its role disappears…but i am not saying that certain department of the State would also vanish…agriculture…health…statistics…etc etc but Parliament as a decision-making entity and therefore by implication also a political civic power will become redundant. 

    #104863
    steve colborn
    Participant

    Within a couple of generations following societal changeover, those born into the new society, will think in totally different ways regarding the organisations and methods existant in this changed world. There will not be in the slightest, any thought of control of "people" but solely and only of "things".As someone who has spent all of my life, reading Science fiction and Fantasy, since the age of 8, I have a plethora of views on possible future structures of, not only "organisation" within the new world but also of the mindset of those living in it! As I have trust in my fellow human beings, I have trust and understanding, that those involved in the Social Revolution and it's future structure, will put in place, quite quickly, those things necessary for a changeover, not only of the raison d'etre of production, but structures to reinforce the understanding of how, why and with what consequences the Social Revolution was carried out.This is merely "my opinion" but one which I believe will come to fruition.

    #104864
    ALB
    Keymaster

    I thought I'd look up the position of the old Socialist Labor Party of America (now more or less defunct) on this issue. Here is what they said in Socialist Industrial Unionism: The Workers' Power by Eric Hass, first issued in 1940 (but this is from the 1977 edition):

    Quote:
    The mission of the political party of labor may be briefly stated:1. It is to agitate, educate, clarify the issue and lay bare the true nature of the class struggle;2. It is to place the issue of collective ownership squarely before the people by adopting a platform based on this single demand and by nominating candidates to contest elective offices; finally3.  It is to complete its mission the moment its candidates are elected, by adjourning the political State sine die and by itself disbanding.According to the biblical tale, Samson destroyed himself when he destroyed the Temple of the Philistines. Except for the fact that Samson was blind and the political party of labor has its eyes wide open, the parable holds. Instead of taking office to govern, the candidates of the political party of labor will take office only to abolish political office. It captures to destroy, in the same sense that a conquering army captures, only to destroy, the fortifications of the vanquished foe, though blood and treasures were poured out to secure possession of these fortifications. The political State is the robber citadel of capitalism, and can serve capitalist purposes only. The political State is a weapon of suppression and oppression — a weapon designed to enable the skinners to keep in subjection the class that is being skinned. The true Industrial Union is a tool designed to direct the processes of production for socially useful purposes. Hence the victorious workers will turn the reins of government over to the administrative councils of the Socialist Industrial Union!

    In other words, quite similar to LBird's scenario except that power is to be handed to the "Socialist Industrial Unions" rather than to "Workers' Councils" and they don't mention the armed forces.It is obvious that the SLP and us came from the same stable and outsiders might not notice the subtle differences in our position (but both them and us did at the time!), I still think they are wrong, if only because they are advocating a species of syndicalism. 

    #104865
    LBird
    Participant
    ALB wrote:
    I thought I'd look up the position of the old Socialist Labor Party of America (now more or less defunct) on this issue. Here is what they said in Socialist Industrial Unionism: The Workers' Power by Eric Hass, first issued in 1940 (but this is from the 1977 edition):

    Quote:
    …finally3.  It is to complete its mission the moment its candidates are elected, by adjourning the political State sine die and by itself disbanding…. Instead of taking office to govern, the candidates of the political party of labor will take office only to abolish political office. It captures to destroy, in the same sense that a conquering army captures, only to destroy, the fortifications of the vanquished foe, though blood and treasures were poured out to secure possession of these fortifications. The political State is the robber citadel of capitalism, and can serve capitalist purposes only. The political State is a weapon of suppression and oppression — a weapon designed to enable the skinners to keep in subjection the class that is being skinned. The true Industrial Union is a tool designed to direct the processes of production for socially useful purposes. Hence the victorious workers will turn the reins of government over to the administrative councils of the Socialist Industrial Union!

    In other words, quite similar to LBird's scenario except that power is to be handed to the "Socialist Industrial Unions" rather than to "Workers' Councils" and they don't mention the armed forces.It is obvious that the SLP and us came from the same stable and outsiders might not notice the subtle differences in our position (but both them and us did at the time!), I still think they are wrong, if only because they are advocating a species of syndicalism.

    [my bolds]I agree with you that they are syndicalists, ALB, and that I disagree with them.To me, they confuse 'political office' with 'political state'. Politics is universal, and so there will always be 'political office', but not 'political state'. The difference is 'class' and 'exploitation'. Politics within a 'state' is 'class-based'; politics within Workers' Councils is not, it is democratic. They don't see 'power' being 'handed' over, but destroyed entirely. I think you are mistaken to characterise their position as otherwise.But power will always exist, which is why we have to be so aware of its holders. Even short mandates to delegates must be tightly observed and controlled.To summarise, they talk of 'administrative councils'.That is a mistake. Councils will always have power (not least because administration itself is a form of power) and to pretend that they won't is to fool both ourselves and the proletariat.This question of 'power' (eternal quality of human society or temporary class product?) is what I think separates Communists from Anarchists. Whilst on LibCom, I tried to get a discussion going on this issue, but just received the usual abuse by 'individualists' who won't discuss 'sovereignty' and was called a 'Leninist', etc.'Power' and its problems won't go away with Communism, comrades. That's why we have to be concerned to construct democratic relations, and always have a 'Plan B', etc.Factions 'R' Us.

    #104866

    I think I'd prefer to say that politics is about who gets to make decisions, not about the decisions that are made.  Electing a committee for a cake sale is apolitical, even if there is a hot dispute about whetehr to hodl the cake sale in a garden or in a hall (Aside: an example I use on the stump if the letters page of the Camden New Journal, where the debate raged ovr the siting of the 263, IIRC, bus stop in Hampstead.  Now, obviously, that's an area where people have the time, education, confidence and willingness to really through themselves into a debate like that.  It was viscious.  That's what I want socialism to be like, and endless debate about small things).

    Quote:
    bakunin wrote:
    Will the entire proletariat perhaps stand at the head of the government?
    Marx wrote:
    In a trade union, for example, does the whole union form its executive committee? Will all division of labour in the factory, and the various functions that correspond to this, cease? And in Bakunin's constitution, will all 'from bottom to top' be 'at the top'? Then there will certainly be no one 'at the bottom'. Will all members of the commune simultaneously manage the interests of its territory? Then there will be no distinction between commune and territory.
    Bakunin wrote:
    The Germans number around forty million. Will for example all forty million be member of the government?
    Marx wrote:
    Certainly! Since the whole thing begins with the self-government of the commune.

    https://www.marxists.org/archive/marx/works/1874/04/bakunin-notes.htm(Also:

    Quote:
    Election is a political form present in the smallest Russian commune and artel. The character of the election does not depend on this name, but on the economic foundation, the economic situation of the voters, and as soon as the functions have ceased to be political ones, there exists 1) no government function, 2) the distribution of the general functions has become a business matter, that gives no one domination, 3) election has nothing of its present political character.

    )Charlie is particularly clear in this document, and it illustrates socialism/anarchism nicely.

    #104867
    ALB
    Keymaster

    Surely concerns over "power" are more an anarchist concept whereas Marxists are more concerned about "ownership".  When you argue with them an important part of their case, for instance, against using parliament is that socialist MPs would inevitably abuse this position and betray the workers. But why "inevitably"? Only if you think that there is some propensity for humans to want to exercise some power of others, i.e, the human nature argument.It is the same in socialism. Why would those elected or delegated to positions in socialism abuse or want to abuse their positions? In fact, how could they? With everyone having free access to what they needed they wouldn't be able to allocate themselves any material privileges. And they wouldn't have any armed forces at their disposal to enforce their will.Having said this, of course I'm all in favour of checks and balances on elected people or delegates, eg shorter terms, rotation, recall, regular reportback meetings, etc. That's part of what a genuine democracy is and socialism will be a participatory democracy. It's just that I think the danger of abuse of "power" may be exaggerated and that therefore we won't need to prioritise direct democracy as the ideal to be resorted to as much as possible.Anarchists see this as the ideal because they don't want individuals to have to "obey" any decision that they haven't taken part in deciding. I agree with YMS on this one. I don't want to wake up every morning in socialism and switch on my computer to be confronted with hundreds of decisions to vote on. I'm prepared to delegate all but the most important to elected councils and committees and get on living my life rather than voting all the time.

    #104868
    SocialistPunk
    Participant

    I'm curious about an aspect of the DoP. It speaks of democratic and political organization by the working class in order to take control of the state, but no mention of using a parliamentary route. It's an aspect I never really scrutinized before, as during my quarter of a century or so association with the SPGB, I had assumed the parliamentary route to socialism originated with the party in 1904. My assumption was such that I never really questioned this idea in all those years and when reading the DoP now and then I always took for granted that number 6 below meant using parliamentary route. 6. That as the machinery of government, including the armed forces of the nation, exists only to conserve the monopoly by the capitalist class of the wealth taken from the workers, the working class must organize consciously and politically for the conquest of the powers of government, national and local, in order that this machinery, including these forces, may be converted from an instrument of oppression into the agent of emancipation and the overthrow of privilege, aristocratic and plutocratic.It's pretty obvious why no mention of parliament is spoken of, as in Britain, it wasn't until 1918 all men over twenty one got the vote and 1928 that all women over twenty one got the vote.So as parliament was not the route of obvious choice for the workers to bring about socialism in 1904, does anyone know what the SPGB had in mind then? 

    #104869
    ALB
    Keymaster
    SocialistPunk wrote:
    It's pretty obvious why no mention of parliament is spoken of, as in Britain, it wasn't until 1918 all men over twenty one got the vote and 1928 that all women over twenty one got the vote.So as parliament was not the route of obvious choice for the workers to bring about socialism in 1904, does anyone know what the SPGB had in mind then? 

    I don't think that that is correct. There are, in the end, only two ways to gain control of political power: the ballot box or an armed uprising. Since the early party didn't contemplate an armed uprising the only alternative was the ballot box. The early party accepted that adult suffrage would be best but argued that, even on the basis of the restricted franchise of the time, the working class made up a majority of voters and so could win control of the state via elections and parliament if they wanted to. This reply to a correspondent from the November 1913 Socialist Standard explains this:

    Quote:
    We have received the following questions from Mr. John Drysdale. Our reply is appended.(1) Would you kindly let me know your attitude toward Adult Suffrage?(2) Do you think the working class have a majority at the ballot box with the franchise they have now?(3) Do you think the working class should use the franchise they have got in their own interests before the Socialist Party should fight for more? (1) Our attitude towards Adult Suffrage is as follows :While Adult Suffrage would be a useful measure for the working class, to enable them to more quickly and completely take control of political power when they understand how to use their votes, yet as the working class have a franchise wide enough for the initial steps of their emancipation, it is not the business of a Socialist Party to spend time and energy in advocating the extension of that franchise, but to educate the workers in how to use the voting power which they already possess; hence the business of a Socialist Party is to advocate Socialism only.(2) The working class are overwhelmingly in the majority at the ballot box, as is shown by the following figures :According to "White Paper" No. 478 on " Parliamentary Constituencies (electors)" for 1913, there are 8,058,025 voters on the Register. Of these 4,895,840 are in the Counties and 3,111,062 in the Boroughs, while the remaining 51,123 are University electors.In the Counties the Owners number 637,608, the Occupiers 4,086,829, and the Lodgers 171,402.In the Boroughs the Freeholders and Freemen number 54,854, Occupiers 2,824,923, and Lodgers 231,285.It may be accepted that the Owners, Freeholders, and University electors are members of the capitalist class. They number 743,585.The Lodgers may be taken as members of the working class, the few exceptions to the contrary in this case being probably balanced by the few very small property owners in the first case, and they number 402,687.We have left, the Occupiers, who number 5,911,752. Who are the Occupiers? An answer is found by looking at the rent of private houses is given in the In. Rev. Report. Of the 1,473,214 houses that come under their survey only 1,088,631 are of the yearly rental of £25 and upwards. It is a poor capitalist whose house is not estimated at more than £25 per annum, while plenty of slum property is rented above his amount. In addition, many houses that are let out in tenements are returning a total rental of £60 or £70 a year. Still others are Occupiers under the Service Franchise who are servants.We will, however, suppose that all the occupiers of Houses of £25 and upwards are members of the capitalist class, even then we get:Total Electorate …… 8,058,025Owners, Freeholders, University Electors and Capitalist Occupiers 1,832,216Working-class Occupiers & Lodgers 6,225,809 Or more than 3 to 1.(3) Certainly. In whose interest should they se it if not in their own ? It would be absurd to urge them to use it in anyone else's interest.

    The full article is here:http://www.worldsocialism.org/spgb/socialist-standard/1910s/1913/no-111-november-1913/franchise-questionsSee also this manifesto for one of the 1910 general elections:http://www.worldsocialism.org/spgb/socialist-standard/1910s/1910/no-76-december-1910/general-election-our-manifesto-workers

    #104870
    alanjjohnstone
    Keymaster

    The case presented by the SLP against a parliament in socialism is not simply one of power but also of competence.

    Quote:
    when Labour elects candidates to power these represent geographical areas, i.e., constituencies, which are in no way connected with the industrial functions of society. Political representation, therefore, cannot solve the real problem of society, which is the industrial organisation of the community. The S.L.P. contends that the industrial problems of society will never be solved until the industrially organised workers, representing every phase of industrial and agricultural activity, band themselves together into a class union and elect their own local and national industrial administrative councils. These councils will be organically and functionally adapted to organise and control industry on behalf of every worker in the community. Around such a social structure would spring up committees which would serve the social and cultural wants of every individual in society. Such would be the basis of the Soviet Republic.

    But ALB is well aware of this since he transcribed the article for the internethttps://www.marxists.org/archive/paul-william/articles/1918/11/melting.htmI think there is also some ambiguity with the above – how can class-less socialism possess a class union?!! i think it should read "Such would be the basis of creating the Soviet Republic"But i think the core of the argument…that Parliament's remit as a decision making body and how it is selected are not fully compatable. While we accept the parallel course of political struggle…parliamentary and extra-parliamentary, i don't think this will also apply after the successful revolution…parliament in any recognisable form will not have a function and many alternatives to it in a plethora of variants will function, some will be geographic and the areas i feel will not reflect current countries (or even counties), some industrial and perhaps cultural too. 

    #104871
    LBird
    Participant
    ALB wrote:
    Surely concerns over "power" are more an anarchist concept whereas Marxists are more concerned about "ownership".

    I find this a very 'economistic' argument, ALB. Surely the events surrounding the Russian Revolution and the founding of the Soviet Union, and its political results, ended forever the 19th belief that once the problems of 'ownership' (ie. private property) were removed, that 'political freedom' would inevitably follow. I think that the Anarchists are correct to ask questions about 'power' in itself: not all power is rooted in 'ownership'.

    ALB wrote:
    Only if you think that there is some propensity for humans to want to exercise some power of others, i.e, the human nature argument.It is the same in socialism. Why would those elected or delegated to positions in socialism abuse or want to abuse their positions?

    There are plenty of reasons why some humans want to exercise power over others, besides the 'human nature argument'. For example, there are always some people who think that they 'know better' than the majority, and will attempt to get their 'own way' for 'the benefit of the majority' (as the elitists see it). We've seen strands of this sort of thinking on the 'Science for Communists?' thread, where there is a strong tendency by some to want to place 'power' into the hands of an unelected elite of academics, mathematicians and 'proper scientists'.

    ALB wrote:
    In fact, how could they? With everyone having free access to what they needed they wouldn't be able to allocate themselves any material privileges. And they wouldn't have any armed forces at their disposal to enforce their will.

    Unless everything is 'free access' (and I think we all know that some things will be restricted, because of rarity, worth or danger for example, and allocated according to whatever parameters we decide) then this would provide a 'material basis' for influence and favours, at least. This doesn't necessarily require 'armed forces' (although surely there will be some coercive mechanisms, if we are to retain prisons/asylums/hospitals for some socially dangerous categories of people), but just the power of distribution and patronage. All societies, including pre-class societies, have had these issues to be dealt with ('Big Men' or 'Chiefdoms', at least).

    ALB wrote:
    Having said this, of course I'm all in favour of checks and balances on elected people or delegates, eg shorter terms, rotation, recall, regular reportback meetings, etc. That's part of what a genuine democracy is and socialism will be a participatory democracy. It's just that I think the danger of abuse of "power" may be exaggerated and that therefore we won't need to prioritise direct democracy as the ideal to be resorted to as much as possible.

    I, of course, agree with most of what you say here, but I still think that you underestimate 'power' and its negative potential. I think that your stress on 'participatory democracy' is spot on. But then…

    ALB wrote:
    I don't want to wake up every morning in socialism and switch on my computer to be confronted with hundreds of decisions to vote on. I'm prepared to delegate all but the most important to elected councils and committees and get on living my life rather than voting all the time.

    This seems to undermine the precisely 'participatory' nature of Communist democracy. It's a simple fact that this will require 'decisions and voting all the time'. I take your point about 'morning hundreds' and 'delegation', but I think that it's often very underestimated just how much time we'll have to spend on 'living our lives as voters'. That is the nature of 'participatory democracy'.On LibCom, there seemed to be a lot of posters who seemed to think that Communism will involve them doing exactly as they please, getting up whenever they liked, and never going to meetings or internet exchanges. Whenever I asked who is going to be doing the running of society, or how their duty to others (from each according to their abilities…) is to be organised, they seemed to be stumped by the question.To them, Communism was lying in bed all day, partying all night, never doing any unwelcome work in rota, and some seemed to think that they would do no work whatsoever. They certainly weren't going 'to attend boring meetings, man'.How this fits with the notion of 'participatory' was never explained to me. They really just wanted to see the myth of bourgeois individualism come to fruition for them.To me, the nature of 'getting on with living our lives' needs much further discussion. Unless we're going to just leave it to those nice people in parliament to organise production, distribution and consumption (and science) for us?I can't believe that the working class, once it's organised and educated itself and carried out a revolution, will become a disconnected crowd of '60s hippies and 'layabouts'.Production will eternally remain the natural basis of any society, and we have to deal with that, collectively and democratically.

    #104872
    ALB
    Keymaster
    alanjjohnstone wrote:
    The case presented by the SLP against a parliament in socialism is not simply one of power but also of competence.But ALB is well aware of this since he transcribed the article for the internethttps://www.marxists.org/archive/paul-william/articles/1918/11/melting.htm

    Here's another transcribed article from the Marxist Internet Archives, also concerning William Paul. It's typical of the polemics that used to go on at that time (and for some time after) between the the SPGB and the SLP.http://www.marxists.org/archive/fitzgerald/paulbook.htmThe relevant part to the discussion here is the second part, especially where the idea of forming now, when most workers are non-socialist, the economic organisation to run production in socialism is criticised. Note that the need for such organisation in the future is not denied:

    Quote:
    In addition to the claim that the Industrial Union furnished the “might” and “power” to overthrow capitalism, the S.L.P. claimed that these unions were the “embryo” of the Socialist Republic; that they provided the “framework” or “skeleton” of Socialism.This silly and childish “Utopianism” the absurdity of which we exposed long ago, would hardly require notice here but for the change of attitude that is now adopted. To lay down here and now the details of what the organisation of production will be under Socialism is on a par with Bellamy’s Looking Backward.In the first place we have no means of knowing at what particular step in the development of capitalist production and methods a sufficient number of the working class will be converted to Socialism to carry through the revolution. The details of the economic organisation must depend upon the particular stage of development at that period. Moreover, the majority of the working class will then be Socialists—otherwise the attempt at revolution will be a fiasco—and they will have the requisite knowledge and ability to construct their economic organisation in conformity with the conditions then prevailing. It is, therefore, easy to see how foolish is the attempt to settle now the details of an organisation that will be called upon to act then. Even when the I.W.W. was first launched we pointed out that capitalism then was outgrowing the “Industrial” sub-division and large combinations of capitalists were controlling whole groups of industries. The increase of this factor that has since taken place and which looks as though it will extend still faster under the form of National and Municipal control as a result of the war adds further strength to this point. In addition it has to be remembered that economic organisations formed now have to fight the battles of wages and conditions of employment now. But to do so with any hope of success they must enrol as many as possible of workers in the particular businesses they are dealing with. This means the enrolment of Socialists (a small number of the workers at present) along with the passive and active anti-Socialists, all in the same union. This fact shows the utter impossibility of forming a Socialist economic organisation until a majority of the workers in a particular occupation have been converted to Socialism. Hence the farcical failure of the various attempts to form “Industrial Unions” before a sufficient number of the workers have accepted these particular teachings.In the book now under review the question of Industrial Unionism takes so subordinate a place and is so watered down, compared with the former claims of the S.L.P., that if the term “Industrial Unionism” were left out the ordinary reader of the Socialist would fail to recognise this attitude as being the one taken up by the S.L.P. How much has been given up the following quotation will show:"We see, therefore, that the function of the future administration of society will be industrial. The constructive element in the social revolution will be the action of the Industrial Union seizing the means of production in order to administer the wants of the community. True to the dictum of social science, that the embryo of the future social system must be nourished within the womb of the old system, the revolutionary Socialist movement sets out to build up within capitalism the industrial organisation of the workers which will carry on the administrative work under Socialism on behalf of the community. Thus Industrial Unionism is the constructive weapon in the coming social revolution."(Pages 197-8.)This very general and greatly modified position of the S.L.P.’s claims for Industrial Unionism shows how far they have come—implicitly, at any rate—to admit the correctness of our attitude on economic organisation. What the title of the future economic organisation will be is really guess-work now and is only of small importance, though the misleading, anti-Socialist, and Utopian associations covered by the term “Industrial Unionism” will certainly go far to discredit it in the minds of the workers as they become Socialists. Much more educational work requires to be done, however, before such an organisation can be started, for it is only as the workers learn that they are slaves, and clearly grasp that the essential factor in their emancipation is the control of political power, that they will build up the Socialist organisations, political and economic, necessary for the establishment of Socialism.The nucleus of the political organisation exists now in the Socialist Party of Great Britain. The economic organisation cannot be started until numbers fulfilling the conditions laid down above have been converted to Socialism.
    #104873
    alanjjohnstone
    Keymaster
    Quote:
    The nucleus of the political organisation exists now in the Socialist Party of Great Britain.

    Do members still stand by this statement? Do we expect the working class in their masses to muster under our banner? If we don't, just what do we envisage the socialist movement to be and our particular role within it?However, this is derailing from the question of the exercise of democracy inside a socialist society to the issue of the means that we achieve socialism. I think it re-states in its own words what i have said previously.

    Quote:
    the future economic organisation will be is really guess-work now and is only of small importance

    My only caveat would be that i would qulify it "the future economic and civic organisation is guess work now" 

    #104874
    SocialistPunk
    Participant
    ALB wrote:
    SocialistPunk wrote:
    It's pretty obvious why no mention of parliament is spoken of, as in Britain, it wasn't until 1918 all men over twenty one got the vote and 1928 that all women over twenty one got the vote.So as parliament was not the route of obvious choice for the workers to bring about socialism in 1904, does anyone know what the SPGB had in mind then? 

    I don't think that that is correct. There are, in the end, only two ways to gain control of political power: the ballot box or an armed uprising. Since the early party didn't contemplate an armed uprising the only alternative was the ballot box. The early party accepted that adult suffrage would be best but argued that, even on the basis of the restricted franchise of the time, the working class made up a majority of voters and so could win control of the state via elections and parliament if they wanted to. This reply to a correspondent from the November 1913 Socialist Standard explains this:

    Quote:
    We have received the following questions from Mr. John Drysdale. Our reply is appended.(1) Would you kindly let me know your attitude toward Adult Suffrage?(2) Do you think the working class have a majority at the ballot box with the franchise they have now?(3) Do you think the working class should use the franchise they have got in their own interests before the Socialist Party should fight for more? (1) Our attitude towards Adult Suffrage is as follows :While Adult Suffrage would be a useful measure for the working class, to enable them to more quickly and completely take control of political power when they understand how to use their votes, yet as the working class have a franchise wide enough for the initial steps of their emancipation, it is not the business of a Socialist Party to spend time and energy in advocating the extension of that franchise, but to educate the workers in how to use the voting power which they already possess; hence the business of a Socialist Party is to advocate Socialism only.(2) The working class are overwhelmingly in the majority at the ballot box, as is shown by the following figures :According to "White Paper" No. 478 on " Parliamentary Constituencies (electors)" for 1913, there are 8,058,025 voters on the Register. Of these 4,895,840 are in the Counties and 3,111,062 in the Boroughs, while the remaining 51,123 are University electors.In the Counties the Owners number 637,608, the Occupiers 4,086,829, and the Lodgers 171,402.In the Boroughs the Freeholders and Freemen number 54,854, Occupiers 2,824,923, and Lodgers 231,285.It may be accepted that the Owners, Freeholders, and University electors are members of the capitalist class. They number 743,585.The Lodgers may be taken as members of the working class, the few exceptions to the contrary in this case being probably balanced by the few very small property owners in the first case, and they number 402,687.We have left, the Occupiers, who number 5,911,752. Who are the Occupiers? An answer is found by looking at the rent of private houses is given in the In. Rev. Report. Of the 1,473,214 houses that come under their survey only 1,088,631 are of the yearly rental of £25 and upwards. It is a poor capitalist whose house is not estimated at more than £25 per annum, while plenty of slum property is rented above his amount. In addition, many houses that are let out in tenements are returning a total rental of £60 or £70 a year. Still others are Occupiers under the Service Franchise who are servants.We will, however, suppose that all the occupiers of Houses of £25 and upwards are members of the capitalist class, even then we get:Total Electorate …… 8,058,025Owners, Freeholders, University Electors and Capitalist Occupiers 1,832,216Working-class Occupiers & Lodgers 6,225,809 Or more than 3 to 1.(3) Certainly. In whose interest should they se it if not in their own ? It would be absurd to urge them to use it in anyone else's interest.

    The full article is here:http://www.worldsocialism.org/spgb/socialist-standard/1910s/1913/no-111-november-1913/franchise-questionsSee also this manifesto for one of the 1910 general elections:http://www.worldsocialism.org/spgb/socialist-standard/1910s/1910/no-76-december-1910/general-election-our-manifesto-workers

    Thanks AdamThat makes sense.I'm still at a loss as to why number 6 of the DoP is not explicit about this?

    #104875
    steve colborn
    Participant

    I can envisage ways in which, as we approach a societal changeover, neither Parliament nor the "Barricade" will appertain. As class consciousness grows, it would throw up perceptions and understandings, we cannot percieve today. So, lets not straight jacket the discussion. As we continually say, workers at the time of the "revolution", will be the ones to set parameters and boundaries. We can only sit here agaog at the possibilities of the future. We today, cannot proscribe, nor circumscribe, nor should we!!!

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