Editorial: Why vote for politicians?

Since the last election capitalism has to begun to become a dirty word again. All over the world people are protesting against the profit system and the effect it is having on the environment and the poorest parts of the world and on the quality of life generally. There have been anti-capitalist protests in Britain too. Maybe you’ve taken part in them, but what to do in the coming election?

Vote Labour-you must be joking!
Needless to say, Labour wants nothing to do with these protests. They are as committed to the profit system and to serving the interests of Big Business as are the Tories. In fact, at the moment, they have more support in business circles than do the Tories. This is not surprising since Labour has never aimed at anything more than managing the capitalist system-which inevitably means putting profits before people-and business judges that they have done this well enough over the past four years.

So, no self-respecting anti-capitalist can vote Labour.

Vote Green?
The Greens are not anti-capitalist either. Certainly, they criticise Big Business and some of the ways the profit-driven market system works, but from the point of view of small business. For them, Big Business is Bad, Small Business is Beautiful. But a return to smaller businesses is neither desirable nor in fact possible, and it wouldn’t help the environment either. And Green Party Ministers in Germany, France and Italy haven’t made any difference to the way capitalism works.

So, voting Green is out too for the consistent anti-capitalist.

Follow the Leaders?
But what about those calling themselves socialists, such as the Socialist Alliance and the Scottish Socialist Party, surely they deserve the votes of anti-capitalists, don’t they?

Do they? We think not.

First, there’s the people involved. They’re mainly Trotskyists from the SWP and the Militant Tendency who see the Russian Revolution as a model to follow and who have appointed themselves a “vanguard” to lead “the masses”. The Russian Revolution as a model? No thank you. It only led to state capitalism, and anti-capitalists shouldn’t want to go down that road again, not that many of you do anyway.

Second, look at their programme. It doesn’t even go beyond private capitalism. “Tax the Rich and Make Them Pay” sounds anti-capitalist, and the capitalists certainly wouldn’t like it, but it assumes that the rich continue to exist. It’s the old illusion that you can use taxes and government intervention to make the capitalist system work for everybody’s benefit. You can’t, as has been proved time and again and not just by the failure of Labour governments in this country.

That those behind this alliance of would-be leaders should encourage this illusion is not surprising because, up to now, they’ve always told us to vote Labour. For them, the “Socialist Alliance” is just a tactic to get disillusioned Old Labourites-who still think capitalism can be reformed-to join their ranks.

If we can see through this tactic, then hopefully so can you.

Don’t Vote?
So what’s left? Not vote at all. More and more people are doing this, and it’s not as bad as voting for one or other of the parties that stand for keeping capitalism going. But it’s a bit of a cop-out. The anarchists like it, but they don’t believe in elections and have threatened “direct action” to disrupt this one. We don’t agree. Our ancestors were right to struggle for the vote. The fact that up to now it hasn’t been used properly is no reason for rejecting it as useless.

Write-in vote for Socialism
We suggest something else: a write-in vote for socialism. Real socialism, that is, not the failed state capitalism that collapsed in Russia ten years ago, but a society where there’s common ownership and democratic control of the means of production, where goods and services are produced for use not profit, and where the principle “from each according to their abilities, to each according to their needs” applies.

It is all very well being anti-capitalist but if this is to mean something more than merely protesting against the effects of capitalism, it has got to also mean having an idea of an alternative to capitalism. Ours is a world without frontiers in which the natural and industrial resources of the Earth become the common heritage of all humanity and are used to provide enough for everybody in an ecologically-acceptable way.

Because we think that, in future, the election system could be used in a constructive way we shall be exercising our right to vote. We shall be going to the polling stations and casting a write-in vote by writing “SOCIALISM” or “WORLD SOCIALISM” across the ballot paper.

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