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(en) zabalaza #4 - A Workers Party: What For?

From Worker <a-infos-en@ainfos.ca>
Date Sun, 29 Jun 2003 09:25:06 +0200 (CEST)

A - I N F O S N E W S S E R V I C E

With growing disillusionment and anger at the ANC, talks have
once more started about forming a new workers party. Is this the
way to go? Can a new workers party provide us with a decent
standard of living? Can it give us control of our lives at work or in
the communities? We think not.
> Lets Have A Look
In Belgium, the workers recently found it necessary to take to the
streets in a general strike to protest plans by the coalition
Socialist-Social Christian government (each closely linked to the
two largest labour federations) to enact a "social pact" to hold
down wages and slash social spending. A similar pact was
recently pushed through by Spain's socialists.

In Canada, the labour-backed New Democratic Party lost nearly all
its seats in national elections in the past, apparently because of
widespread disgust with its role in enforcing capitalist austerity in
the provinces under NDP rule. In Ontario local unions refused to
allow the provincial NDP government to participate in Labour Day
celebrations. The NDP won provincial elections in 1990 on a
platform of labour law reform, pay equity, progressive tax reform
and public auto insurance. But when corporations threatened to
use their economic power in a sort of general strike by capital, the
government quickly threw in the towel. The "labour" government
abandoned public auto insurance, abandoned most of its labour
law reform package, and gutted social service spending. Ontario
workers understandably concluded that they could get these sorts
of anti- worker policies from any capitalist government, and so did
not vote for the "socialist" NDP in the federal elections.

These are not isolated examples. Every worker and socialist party
in the world that workers have voted into office has ended up
betraying them. This is because worker parties are incapable of
addressing the real cause of anti-worker governments.

As Sam Dolgoff, an American anarchist labour activist and author
of "the Cuban Revolution: a Critical Perspective" wrote in his book
The American Labour Movement: A New Beginning:

"A capitalist democracy is a competitive society where predatory
pressure groups struggle for wealth and prestige and jockey for
power. Because such a society lacks inner cohesion, it cannot
discipline itself. It needs an organism that will appease the
pressure groups by satisfying some of their demands and prevent
conflicts between them from upsetting the stability of the system.
The government plays this role and in the process... the
bureaucratic government apparatus becomes a class in itself with
interests of its own....

Labour parties are no more immune to the diseases inherent in the
parliamentary system than are other political parties. If the new
Labour Party legislators are elected they will have to "play the
game" according to the established rules and customs. If they are
honest they will soon become cynical and corrupted... Most of
them, however, will find their new environment to their taste
because they have already learned to connive when they were
operating as big wheels in their own union organisations... A
course in the school of labour fakery prepares the graduates for
participation in municipal, state and national government...

Tactics must flow from principles. The tactic of parliamentary
action is not compatible with the principle of class struggle. Class
struggle in the economic field is not compatible with
class-collaboration on the political field. This truth has been amply
demonstrated throughout the history of the labour movement in
every land. Parliamentary action serves only to reinforce the
institutions responsible for social injustice - the exploitative
economic system and the State.

The strength of the labour movement lies in its economic power.
Labour produces all wealth and provides all the services. Only the
workers can change the social system fundamentally. To do this,
workers do not need a labour party, since by their economic power
they are in a position to achieve the Social Revolution... As long as
the means of production are in the hands of the few, and the many
are robbed of the fruits of their labour, any participation in the
political skulduggery that has as its sole purpose the maintenance
of this system amounts to both tacit and direct support of the
system itself."

Rather than diverting workers' resources and energies into
forming yet another political party, sincere working-class activists
would do far better to build genuine, class-conscious unions and
to work with their fellow workers to build a new society through
direct action in their communities and at the point of production.
Worker parties can play no part in this struggle.

Based on an editorial for the Anarcho-Syndicalist Review by
Mikhail Tsovma (translated by Jeff Stein)
Recommended reading on this topic would be The Failure of
Socialism by Alexander Berkman, available for R1,50 from
Zabalaza Books

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