The political crisis that has erupted in Britain following the general election provides a window of opportunity to bring the most basic of questions – who rules the country and in whose interests – right to the top of the agenda.
That is the focus of our ‘Taking the Revolutionary Road’ conference on May 22, which couldn’t be happening at a more opportune moment.
It is all too easy to be sucked into the drama around the frantic efforts being made to put together a coalition government of one variety or another. But behind the to-and-fro in Westminster, as the major capitalist parties jockey for power, is a profound political and economic crisis.
The political system is broken in a deeply significant way. A new system of weighing and distributing votes in the shape of proportional representation wouldn’t even begin to address the heart of the matter.
Many voted reluctantly last week. And a large proportion of those who dragged themselves to a polling station last week have no faith or trust in the parliamentary system. And for sound reasons that go way beyond the expenses scandal of the last parliament or the inadequacies of the first-past-the-post voting system.
As our Manifesto of Revolutionary Solutions points out: “Full-on globalisation has resulted in an unholy alliance between the state, political parties, corporate and financial power in all the major capitalist countries. From London to Washington, from Berlin to Rome, from Tokyo to Seoul, the reality is essentially the same.
“Democracy is reduced to a sham, a façade behind which real decisions are made and power exercised over ordinary people. The right to vote counts for little and the aspirations of ordinary people are denied by state systems that primarily function in the interests of big business.”
This analysis is borne out by the events since it became clear that the election had produced deadlock. The tell-tale phrase is how all parties at Westminster have pledged to rule in the “national interest”. What this means is all to clear once the patriotic rhetoric is stripped away.
The “interest” in question here is not that of ordinary working people struggling in their daily lives to make ends meet. What Brown, Cameron, Clegg and others are prattling on about is something quite different. The “interest” they will protect at all costs is vested in the financial markets and corporate boardrooms.
So irrespective of the make-up of the next government, it will come down on the interests of ordinary people like a ton of bricks, imposing savage cuts in living standards and services to satisfy the money markets who fund the British state’s massive deficit. The answer to the question about who rules Britain and in whose interests suddenly is made clearer as a result.
The financial and economic crisis can only worsen. At the weekend, the eurozone countries and the International Monetary Fund pledged €750 billion in rescue plans to try and reassure the markets that debts will be honoured. It merely serves to postpone the inevitable.
Whatever government emerges in Britain is certain to provoke large-scale resistance by trade unionists and communities as the full horror of the cuts becomes apparent. One of the immediate lessons from Greece, however, is that strikes and protests have not prevented the government from voting the cuts through the country’s parliament.
To fight to win means actually defeating and removing the government of the day, and in the process creating alternative structures to those of the capitalist state such as People’s Assemblies. In this way, ordinary people would get to rule in their own interests, replacing those of the money markets and boardrooms. By registering for the May 22 conference you would give this strategy a real boost.