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Parliament

Book Review: 'The Greek Tragedy'

Not democratic

'The Greek Tragedy', by Constantine Tsoucalas. (Penguin. 6s.)

THE Socialist Party of Great Britain has always argued that in places like Britain where there is a more or less democratic State — that is, where the state machine, including the armed forces, is under the control of a popularly-elected government — a Socialist majority can win power peacefully in an election.

Others (few of whom really share our view that there must be a Socialist majority before there can be Socialism) argue that the capitalists will never allow their rule to be overthrown by peaceful means.

Letters: Socialists in Parliament

Letters to the Editors

Socialists in Parliament

Dear Friends.

In March 1986 issue of Socialist Standard you answer a reader's question by stating that the SPGB seeks to have candidates contesting every election both national and local. This puzzles me somewhat, because I can't see what such a candidate will do, once elected, as they would then have been placed in the position of either having to refuse to assist in administering capitalism (if a majority in the Commons had not been achieved) which would seem futile to me. Or they would be obliged to become reformist in their co operation with the elected capitalists, which doesn't fit in with the SPGB line on reformism, which I wholeheartedly support. After all, if it is not possible for one country to be socialist then it must be even more impossible for part of a government. local or national, to be socialist.

G. W. Dixon

Chatham, Kent

 

The Rise of Parliament in England

In considering the history of Parliament, it is convenient to commence with the events leading up to the Civil War in England, when the institution of Parliament was at a crossroad. In Europe, under despotic monarchs the old feudal Parliaments were falling more and more into neglect. In England, however, as in the Netherlands, Parliament could not only maintain itself against the trend but could also struggle for greater strength.

Parliaments, Kings and Courts are not, and certainly were not, abstract methods of ruling. These institutions represented the administrative power of various economic classes and groups with their different interests in the organisation of society.

The Parliamentary Road to Socialism

IN 1871 at a conference of the First International in London, resolution IX which had the support of Marx and Engels read: “Against the power of the propertied classes the proletariat can only act as a class by turning itself into a political party”. That is the reason for the existence of the Socialist Party of Great Britain and why we advocate the parliamentary road to socialism.

The “power of the propertied classes” exist by virtue of their control of the state machine. It is putting the cart before the horse to claim as some do that the political power of the capitalist class (and its representatives) derives from its economic ownership of the means of living. On the contrary, capitalism and the rule of the Capitalist class exist because the overwhelming majority of the population support this state of affairs.

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