1980s >> 1984 >> no-957-may-1984
Letters: Why Contest Elections?
In the February 1984 issue of the Socialist Standard you devote much attention to the socialist ideas of William Morris and comment on them as being very advanced considering the state of socialist thinking in the early 1880s. I found the articles most informative and in particular his rejection of the “parliamentary socialists” outlined in “the policy of abstentions”, with which I am compelled to agree.
This brings me to your election fund. You state that you support parliamentary action without reform and to this end the fund will be used. I do not believe that we have a large enough body of socialist opinion uniformly spread throughout the country to put a socialist in the house of commons under the present electoral system.
Thus would not the “making of socialists” by increasing socialist propaganda be a better use of all election funds?
The SPGB is a political party; we aim at the capture of political power through the democratic, conscious action of the world working class for the replacement of capitalism by socialism. We argue that this must be through parliament so that socialists must contest elections national and local. This asserts our nature as a political party as providing a valuable method of propaganda for the socialist case. We are well aware of the depressing fact that the level of socialist consciousness, throughout the world let alone in this country, is at present too low to elect socialist delegates to parliament. (This is of course due to the level of consciousness and not to the electoral system.) In our propaganda we constantly point out the fundamental difference between a socialist party and those parties which seek to get power on a programme of reforming capitalism. Such parties are the prisoners of the reform-minded non-socialists who elect them and can therefore do nothing to introduce socialism.
Our funds are used for our propaganda in all its forms. There is of course debate about the most effective way of using them but contesting elections is not only effective; it is essential to us as a socialist party.