Tag Archives: elections

Repost: Brief response to ‘4 Reasons Working-Class Radicals Should Vote Labour’ on the Novara Media Website | LibCom

Brief response to ‘4 Reasons Working-Class Radicals Should Vote Labour’ on the Novara Media Website | LibCom  (Click for full article)

Brief response to '4 Reasons Working-Class Radicals Should Vote Labour’ on the Novara Media Website

“…the only interest the Labour Party has in trade unions is a financial one. As long as the unions continue to spunk millions into Labour’s coffers, they will continue to pretend to represent working people. When then money is stopped – watch Labour run!”

Stop your preaching about voting – it relegates real struggle while supporting a sham that is destroying the world

There is a world beyond the ballot boxOne Glasgow AFed member writes:

Am probably not voting today. And I dare a single one of you to *seriously* tell me that’s because I don’t engage in politics. I might go along and chuck the greens a vote, but very firmly with my nose held and purely just to add to the proportion tallied against vaguely progressive politics. Elections are a sham and what we do in our every day life is a million times more important. In fact some argue that that elections act to entrench a system that I believe to be a part of why this world/society is such a frigging inhumane hole. So maybe not voting will be a more significant tally – of those disenfranchised from representative bollocks. And no, Labour winning is not progressive or better in any meaningful way. Though at least those who are gullible enough to vote for them are probably doing it for nice reasons. Unlike what an absolute selfish, heartless, stupid arsehole you’d have to be to actively vote Tory.

The thing that pisses me off most is those who tell me that I’m obligated or guilty if I choose to abstain from it. Some of those even acknowledge that the system is rigged, and yet still say we should engage! Just read a great comment on that : “If a race was rigged, you wouldn’t run it in the hope that you might make the organisers feel bad about illegitimately disqualifying you; if a game’s rules were unfair you wouldn’t play it and complain about how unfair it was. you find a different game, or you change the rules of that one.”

There’s a thing that happens when you’re vegetarian or vegan. You quietly order your dinner and don’t comment on anybody else’s, but anyway the meat eaters at the table start to chime in. Some of them are obv attempts to be friendly/assauge shame “I eat meat but I really enjoy vegetarian food too and have cut down on my meat consumption” whereas others (in my experience this is the absolute majority of comments) “I couldn’t give up meat. I love it too much. Vegetarians are so preachy.” And I try and ignore this and get on with my personal ethical choices, and wish they’d stick to theirs, or if they feel that guilty and defensive about it, try and get their absolution elsewhere. Because really, if you feel a nagging guilt that what you’re doing is wrong, and yet still do it just because you enjoy it, that’s pretty fucked up. Something is oppressive or not. Its fine to talk about how choices are compromised under capitalism – I would totally agree with you, and have similar qualms about not being vegan. But in that case don’t start pushing your meat into my face and telling me that its all ok. And if you’re fine about it, then why did you feel the need to bring it up with me in the first place?

Feels similar at election time. I don’t think I have a go at anybody about their political inaction for the 1824 days when there’s not an election. So why suddenly do I get all this bullshit around election time? This constant noise around the importance of voting plays just one purpose; it relegates down all the actual constructive politics people do in favour of something that is useless in ever effecting change.

Vote or don’t vote. I don’t care. But preaching about how important it is to keep the tories out, or how not voting is irresponsible is actively harming real moves to make actual progressive change. So STFU.

Compassionate voting…

It’s the general election today troops. We’re getting a say in who rules us for the next five years or so. If you have to vote then vote for your local rando and get them an MP’s job and off the benefits. Be kind and compassionate.

Repost: If you care about politics, don’t vote | Ray Filar

If you care about politics, don’t vote | RAY FILAR (Click for full article)

Ray don't vote
“Even where governments have been voted in on substantially different platforms – as with the 1945 Labour government – political power remains concentrated in the same place. Voting doesn’t change the current system, it maintains it. Political engagement isn’t voting, it’s dismantling party politics altogether. It’s abolishing parliament. And short of that, it’s having a truly participatory democracy where peoples’ choices feed through to representation. If you want to engage with politics, forget about the election.”

Repost: Vote With Your Feet! | SolFed

Vote With Your Feet! | SolFed (Click for full article)

protest_0

“Voting is a waste of time and only serves to dull our anger. On the other hand anarchist tactics – grassroots organising and direct action – are making a difference right now. If all of us who don’t vote got together and took action (voted “with our feet”), then we could take back all the rights and benefits we lost under the last Tory government, with more besides. So let’s get organised, get active, and give ’em hell!”

Labour and the unions

Ed Miliband addresses the Trades Union Congress

The infatuation of the trade unions with the Labour party should be nothing other than mystifying for ordinary workers. Whether it is ‘Unions Together’ or TUC voter registration drives, trade union members amongst us should feel deeply insulted at being asked to prop-up the Labour party as the best available solution, argues the Anarchist Federation.

The Labour Party was set up in the early twentieth century as a political wing of the trade union movement. Despite the rose-tinted view of history, it has continually regulated workers under capitalism. It is not a case of Labour having ‘lost its way’ and needing recapturing. To echo the anarchist Rudolf Rocker, political parties and elections haven’t brought workers “a hair’s breadth closer to socialism.”

The ‘Special Relationship’

The TUC and parts of the left continually present us with a picture of Labour which has nothing in common with its actual actions. They tell us that we still have a ‘special relationship’, and that despite its failings, the Labour Party stands-up best for ordinary working people. So we should support it ‘without illusions’, because it is better than the Tories. Not that you would notice! All the major parties support austerity against the working class. This is irrefutable, and Labour even says as much.

What remains of the dwindling trade union movement is essentially shackled by harsh restrictive anti-union laws and a totally compliant TUC leadership. These laws tell us how to manage our affairs, seriously restrict our ability to withdraw labour, and tell us who we can and can’t expel, which means that we have to accept scabbing in our own unions. They restrict free association in a way that no other organisation can under British law and are regularly condemned by the International Labour Organisation, which is hardly a hotbed of radicalism. The only time Labour repealed anti-union laws was when its hand was forced by a mass grassroots workers movement in the 1970s.

Overturning these present laws and rebuilding a militant culture around the workplace is going to require not the politics of the ballot box, but sheer will and the determination to oppose so-called ‘representatives’ in both the Labour Party and the TUC. Their class interests under capitalism are intimately linked; our interests begin and end with us.

What the Suffragettes did for us

Suffragettes march in Bermondsey, south London, 1911

An anarchist responds to the guilt-tripping of women which occurs every election time about how suffragettes fought for women’s’ right to vote.

It’s election time again, and anarchist women are once more being lectured on doing our duty to those who died for our vote.

For the record, the suffragettes’ demand was that women should be balloted wherever men were. They weren’t fighting for every woman in perpetuity to be guilt-tripped into supporting any political system that used the ballot box to legitimise itself. They trusted future women to make their own decisions. Sylvia Pankhurst, for one, lived to reject parliamentary democracy as an “out of date machine” and refused to cast a vote or stand for election herself. This election, she’d be angry with every party’s participation in cuts to essential women’s services, not the women who spoil their ballots or stay away.

More than the vote

There was a lot more to the suffragettes than just the vote. They were about women’s solidarity, our ability to work and fight together, to write and speak from our own experience, not just on the vote but on sexual, social and vocational freedoms, like fair pay and reproductive rights. Being denied the vote was an insult to women as intelligent, rational human beings, regardless of how much use the vote itself was. Using the vote was almost beside the point compared to what it would mean for women to have the vote, to not be seen as mere extensions of their husbands.

Getting the vote was a victory largely because of what women achieved through the process of fighting for it. The speeches, publications, smashed windows, battles with police, martial arts training, imprisonments, hunger strikes, resistance to force-feeding and refusal to give in: these did more to raise the status and confidence of women, as public and political people, than the vote itself ever has. Much more than having women MPs or careerists who have cynically used women’s struggles to promote themselves.

Telling us that we have to vote because votes for women were hard won, is condescending, paternalistic shit. Working class men also fought for the right to vote, but are much less criticised if they suggest that there are more effective means of change than the ballot box. For women, voting is turned into an issue of conformity rather than conscience, in direct opposition to who suffragettes were and what they fought for. The suffragettes never intended their campaigning to stop with getting the vote. Many continued fighting when their leaders were co-opted. They weren’t satisfied, and they didn’t intend us to be.

Co-option

The suffragettes achieved their aims because they were a radical, inspirational and effective direct action movement. They achieved incredible things for themselves and for future generations of women. Yes, they deserve our respect and our gratitude. But more than that, they deserve our study and our effort to comprehend the full enormity and complexity of their struggle. They deserve better than to be reduced to a single-issue sound-bite.

So this polling day, whether you vote or organise or both, consider honouring the suffragettes’ memory by not using them as a stick to beat women with when they treat their vote exactly as the suffragettes did: as their own, to use or not, on their own terms.