Recently, the social networks across Britain have been full to the brim with derogatory comments about the stupidity, ignorance and apathy of “the electorate”, a term focussed upon the working classes who voted Tory in last week’s elections. Indeed, the spokespeople for the Party of Labour appear to speak of the working class as if we’re an alien species, with many activists repeating this bile.
The emotional bile of these supposedly left-wing supporters of some semblance of socialism in the Labour Party has erupted in a splaying of projectile hatred against working class Tories.
Yet even the most part-time amateur psephologist would be quick to point-out that 70%-ish of the electorate didn’t vote at all, and that only a minority of those who did vote, voted for the Tory Party of the Boss Class.
Whilst much is made of the 52% vote for Tory MP in the one by-election, the focus of the bosses media and the walking dead of New Labour, the proportion Tory votes across the electorate is a minority. And yes, the Tories have a 70-seat majority in Parliament from the 2019 election yet more people voted against them and a third of the electorate didn’t vote at all.
Call this a democracy? No? Then why are you playing the game?
The unspoken and ill-addressed issue for those on “The Left” who choose to engage in the fraud and illusion of Parliamentary Democracy is that the majority of the population consider themselves less-than-enfranchised: “whoever you vote for the self-seeking capitalist supporters win, and they do-for-themselves and their like, not us”.
My experience of a lot of the social democratic left is of higher-educated, largely middle-class, absurdly self-opinionated (rather than fact-based and enquiring) moral-highground self-promoters seeking a place in the current scheme-of-things – plaudits and formal recognition – rather than any real change to the System that is Capitalism.
Occasionally as now, I’m moved by their own arrogance to turn the tables on them. They exhibit all the emotional intelligence of a peasant, seeking to defend their tiny allotment of political life against all challenges. The opposite way of seeing and emotional interpretation of reality stems from the proletarian recognition of strength through the collective, the power for change being based at the point of production. The reformists are forced by position to deny this, promoting instead pessimism and passivity.
As a life-long socialist, the day I lose my faith in the working classes of the world is the day I give-up on life itself. I was born and raised working-class, and maybe that makes a difference. As an under-educated and angry teenager living by my wits I instinctively understood and sought-out collective identity and power rather than the self-promotion and status that I had been assured since birth was beyond my level of entitlement. Being part of Us versus Them was, and remains, not some over-intellectualised ideological position but a question of survival.
My faith in the working class is not an intellectual blind spot for me. Nor is it a metaphysical question of faith over fact.
Everyone is quick to point out the iniquities of the 1% versus the 99%, that’s easy and obvious. Billionaires exist and flaunt their power. Most of us can point to Bezos exploiting the Amazon workforce and the Pandemic, or Gates’ false green washing over NET-Zero. But follow that trail and you quickly end-up recognising the courtiers of the Ruling Class – including those who wish for reforms that maintain their current class position and entitlements – include many activists restraining themselves in spite of any acknowledgement of the science of climate catastrophe.
Contemporary courtiers, every bit as sycophantic as those sucking-up to Henry the Eighth or the Russian Tsars, include the elected politicians of all tiers of government, alongside the small-and-medium-sized business owners, each and all sharing secret aspirations of becoming multi-millionaire partners of the corporate Transnationals. Entitled and positioned supporters of Capitalism, furthering the System, not challenging it.
Social Democrats, including many socialists and Greens, court the courtiers. The idea being that winning the confidence and votes of the middle-classes will build a sufficient vote to get them into Parliament and then do justice for-and-on-behalf-of the masses. Maybe they could even file-off the sharpest edges off Capitalism itself. In all this, their fundamental misunderstanding of how Capitalism works together with a complete lack of faith in the working class is as palpable as it is hypocritical.
Indeed the all-but full-on disparaging damnation of working people on less-than sufficiency-incomes – the bottom 70% of society – in today’s stream of holier-than-thou text outrage at the election outcomes is nothing short of anti-working class.
To those I shout, until there is democracy in the workplace – those who produce having a collective say over how and what we produce, for what good purpose we work and at what life-affirming payment rate we are valued – we cannot say we live in any real semblance of democracy.
Stop playing your silly games! It’s perfectly reasonable to not take part in a sham election where what you actually need, not to mention what you’d actually like, is never on offer. And the pragmatism associated with a vote for the devil-you-know rather than the devil-you-don’t know is, at the very least, recognisable across time.
When life requires all your energy just to get through, pay the bills, raise your kids and get sufficient food and sleep to keep going, the falsehood of a cross on a piece of paper is not worthy of much effort.
I have faith in the working masses because human history offers an unchallengeable pattern of revolts by the producers over those who seek to rule them.
The constant heartbeat of history proves the point. Periods of stasis followed by the severe jolt of a fresh pumping of life blood through the body of society. “The history of all hitherto existing societies is the history of class struggle”, wrote Marx and Engels as the very starting point of the Communist manifesto.
Any analysis of the actions of the world’s ruling classes today suggests they’ve read that phrase and understand it’s truth very well indeed. Those born and raised to rule in our rotten class societies are taught such history from an early age – the despotism of Kings and Queens as a blueprint for how to keep the masses in their place.
Of the 12,000 years of large-scale static societies, the struggle for rights, life and liberty has been a constant. Yet only in the last 300 or so years have we experienced any real semblance of democracy – the rule of the people, slaves as well as citizens – and then as a pale shadow, a mere flickering of the light that would shine in a society of full human suffrage, equality and self-determination.
Today, we wage-slaves have no voice, and the self-anointed “citizens” above them don’t care to look at the truth of what it would take to ensure actual universal suffrage. System Change. Revolution.
Indeed, in today’s deepening and accelerating plunge into climate catastrophe, revolution is the only solution.
There have been short sparks that show such potential flame is possible. The most obvious is the short period after the overthrow of the Tzar and his Court in the Russian Revolution, 1917, before it was corralled and, in today’s terms, kettled by 14 invading armies and a counter-revolutionary civil war funded by the international Capitalist Class.
But human history is peppered with such revolts, happening with a constancy somewhere on earth at all times.
This is the real story of today. Right now 250 million small-holding farmers in India are defying the total might of the Indian State machine. Prime Minister Modi operating on behalf of the world’s richest billionaires is facing the largest collective strike in human history, despite his murderous and torturing Police force.
The indigenous Peoples of Canada have stopped, through self-sacrifice and sheer collective power, not one but two gas and oil pipelines. The working class organised into trade unions have come to their call and stood alongside, shutting transport hubs and blocking commerce to a point where today’s Caesars and Pharoes in the earth-destroying carbon industries have had to retreat.
Every continent has its news stories of collective challenge to the exploitation, oppression and repression of its rulers. Even in the UK we have large protests for the Climate – Thunberg’s Fridays for Future and our own Extinction Rebellion; against racism – Black Lives Matter; and against additional police powers intending to further clamp down on the working class – Kill the Bill!.
Yet the social democrats are out-on-the-streets applauding their own efforts to canvass for Labour candidates who have shown in word and action that they will do nothing for the poor, nothing to challenge institutional racism, nothing to put the climate emergency into action, nothing to force through the sexist glass ceiling or challenge all aspects of male-dominance.
And then, when these charlatans lose their seats, those proclaiming themselves as socialists blame the working class for not voting “Labour”. It’s beyond parody.
There is a proletarian consciousness. It does not contain the individualism of the middle classes. We are less judgemental because we see the frailty of others in ourselves. We understand each other’s contradictions between action and intent, all born out of getting-through-the-day, laughing-off our shared rough edges and intermittent bad behaviours. We don’t tolerate high-minded proselytisers promising pie-in-the-sky. We are, above all, forgiving of each other because we share the harshness of insufficiency.
Yes, we are distorted by property-relations that deepen our alienation from Nature, each other and ourselves. But we struggle every day to find solace, to join together in fun and laughter, to shrug off the assaults and find our way through. We are interdependent in our communities and workplaces. We have to rely on our workmates. We don’t suffer fools gladly or put-up with being lied to. And when the baton is wielded too harshly, whether at school, on the streets or in the workplace, we fight back. Together. As a global human base behaviour.
Real socialism does not and cannot come through Parliament. It comes through struggle. Put your limited energy where it counts. Stop putting false hope and faith in representation from above. Build collective fightback from below and the political organisation to organise, agitate and initiate. Time is short.