Australasian Spartacist No. 200
Class Struggle and Bourgeois Parliament
Whichever government is in power under capitalism it is nothing but the executive committee of the capitalist class. As Lenin remarked in 1917: “To decide once every few years which member of the ruling class is to repress and crush the people through parliament—such is the real essence of bourgeois parliamentarism...” (State and Revolution). While during the elections the fake socialists declared that the “battle is on the streets,” in reality along with the “left” union tops their overriding concern was for a Labor government and the Greens winning the balance of power in the Senate. Thus these parliamentary reformists served to legitimise the deeply undemocratic electoral system in Australia, where compulsory preferential voting means the working class is compelled to cast votes for the class enemy or have their vote not count. We say: Down with compulsory voting! Down with the compulsory preferential system!
Marxists are not opposed to participating in elections. Alongside utilising, when appropriate, the Leninist tactic of critical electoral support, communists may themselves stand candidates and, if elected, participate in bourgeois parliaments in order to use this institution as a rostrum for revolutionary agitation. However just as it is unprincipled to give political support to any capitalist party or politician, it is entirely unprincipled to stand for and assume executive office or serve as a bourgeois minister, either on a local or national level. To assume such a position necessarily means enforcing the bourgeois order, including using the cops and army to repress the struggles of working people and the oppressed. (See “Down With Executive Offices!” Spartacist [English-language edition] No. 60, Autumn 2007.)
This perspective is far removed from that of the Socialist Party, affiliated to the Committee for a Workers’ International (CWI). In the mid-1980s in Britain, the CWI-led Liverpool council distributed some 31,000 redundancy notices to city workers! Led by SP National Secretary and Yarra City councillor, Stephen Jolly, the SP in the recent federal elections simultaneously called for a “new workers party” and “to vote for socialist candidates where possible, then the Greens.” Given that the SP are prepared to call for a vote to the bourgeois Greens and argue, for example, that the capitalist police are part of the workers movement, one can see that the party they project would have no qualms about supporting the Australian capitalist state. Thus there would be nothing “new” about the SP’s workers party. It would just be another left Laborite obstacle to workers revolution.
Unlike the reformist opponents of Marxism, we Trotskyists fight to build a genuine revolutionary workers party. Basing itself on the lessons of history, such a party would model itself on Lenin and Trotsky’s Bolshevik party which 90 years ago led the Russian Revolution of 1917, the greatest victory ever achieved by the working people of the world. Committed to organising the working class independently of the capitalist rulers and for internationalist class-struggle solidarity with the working masses of the Asia-Pacific region, such a party would act as tribune of all the people and take up the fight against every expression of capitalist injustice and tyranny, in the struggle to sweep away the capitalist system through victorious workers revolution.