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April 19, 2011

There’s been a lot of talk recently about the so-called Alternative Vote. People-particularly middle class liberals- seem to take great pride about their stand on it. Ed Milliband assured us that it is “a vote for hope over fear”-he must be using Obama’s speechwriter again. But really, should we honestly care?

We live in an extremely revolutionary period, one where the students have completely changed the game, showing the banality of party politics and kick starting a new movement in the process. And what’s the raging debate on the political scene at the moment? In the middle of insurrection in Greece, in the Arab World, in Spain, what’s the liberal response? Asking whether or not we should tinker with the voting system so we can carry on electing these parasites.  AV is a frivolous distraction and a sickening one at that. To see Vince Cable- who is responsible for locking many young people out of higher education- breaking bread with Ed Milliband- who spoke at the Anti-Cuts Rally last month- simply shows the emptiness of parliamentary democracy. Not one of these men has any principles and all have shown they are quite happy to play ball with the so-called opposition if it means a few more votes.

What’s the Alternative? Take your pick! Every area has an anti-cuts group so get involved. Start a newsletter; start a blog; occupy a shop; open a social centre, but what ever you don’t vote in this little game our leaders are playing. There’s no alternative for direct action.

This article is reprinted from a member of Liverpool Solidarity Federations blog which can be found here

  1. JimmyJones permalink
    April 19, 2011 10:11 pm

    I agree that simply trying to substitute our current electoral structure for AV is a rather poor answer to our problems. It would almost inevitably lead to the same scroundrels running our lives as before, even if the election is somehow ‘fairer’.

    But as with all these amarchist/left-wing groups I am still at a loss as to what your viable alternative is. You say ‘what ever you don’t vote in this little game our leaders are playing…’ – fair enough, but presumably people are going to have to vote for something sooner or later?

    Personally, I support the government cuts in all areas. This is greatest opportunity in a generation to finally roll back the frontiers of the government and weaken the bloated monster that is the British state. Whether or not DC has the balls to see it through remains to be seen.

    • April 19, 2011 11:04 pm

      But they’re not rolling back the frontiers of the state, are they? The ruling class are rolling back all the concessions that the power of the organised working class has won from the state. The state is just the enforcer of capitalism, and making that enforcement more naked at the expense of ordinary people doesn’t benefit anybody except those with political and economic power.

      The real alternative is a world without either the state or capitalism – libertarian communism. To get to that, we need to replace state-provided social welfare with voluntary cooperation and mutual aid. But you can’t have that in a profit system founded on private property, and so in the present its state services or a privatised nightmare-version of 21st century feudalism.

      As far as the alternative to the vote, what has the ballot box gotten us? Even the vote itself was won through direct action, and the greatest gains of the 20th century – the welfare state and the NHS – were not a result of putting an x in a box. They were concessions offered to appease the strength of our class. “If we don’t give them reforms, they’ll give us revolution,” in Tory MP Quintin Hogg’s words.

      The alternative to the vote is that threat. The willingness to use direct action, not only for concessions in the present but also to push for a better world in the future.

  2. JimmyJones permalink
    April 26, 2011 10:28 pm

    You’re quite right that the new government is not rolling back the frontiers of the state – simply because they can’t. The public sector in this country is so vast that we have literally millions of people completely dependent on state expenditure for their very lives and livelihoods, so no government can reduce the size of the state without massive opposition from those with a vested interest in the status-quo. I’m all for liberating the tax-slaves like you and me, but I’m not sure if and how you can’t simply replace the welfare state with
    ‘voluntary cooperation and mutual aid’.

    I’m afraid I completely disagree that the state is somehow capitalism’s ‘enforcer’. The state is an artifical construct, a man made creation through which special interest groups – be it trade unions, big business lobbies etc – seek to gain special economic or social power over the rest of us by using the state’s supposedly ‘legitimate’ monopoly on force to pursue their agenda. Any government no matter what its political affiliations always works by using the threat of force to expropriate wealth from people.

    Capitalism by its very nature is the mirror opposite of government control. Nobody invented or owns capitalism, it is simply a system of economic self-organisation which emerges in the absense of abritrary centralised control, through voluntary co-operation between individuals. You guys always talk a lot about workers’ self-government etc, and I personally have no problem with that, as long as everyone involved does so voluntarily and you’re not living off other people.

    But realistically I think the society you describe would never, or could never be possible without reverting the statist tendencies that you currently claim to hate.

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