Back to Front - Whose democracy?
WORKERS, DEC 2005 ISSUE
When asked by visiting British doctors why Cuba could not have multi-party elections, the president of a major Cuban medical institution replied, "If we permitted an opposition party, it would be funded by the US. However, we would beat it in a fair election, and then the US would step up its funding again and four years later we would win again in a second election. By the third election, the US funding may be sufficient to secure the opposition victory. They would then have to repay the US and we would have a US puppet government, and then we would have to have our revolution all over again, and we would win."
Democracy is about class power. Working class democracy is about ensuring working class power, and capitalist democracy is about ensuring capitalist class power. The drive by Bush and Blair to spread democracy is a drive to ensure capitalist power, whether in the US, Britain, Iraq, Russia or Cuba.
In Britain's last general election, we were expected to vote on a manifesto that nobody saw or read, that was produced by a party with no functioning membership base and whose leader is more at home with Berlusconi (an admirer of Mussolini),Aznar (a fan of Franco), George Bush and Rupert Murdoch, than he is with his own remaining party members, or with trade union leaders.
When trade unions inflict defeats at the Labour Party conference, they are dismissed as unrepresentative compared with the constituencies – the empty rotten boroughs of the Labour Party – and then threatened with rule changes to reduce their influence while conference decisions are ignored. Only 60% of Labour Party constituencies were represented at the conference, and regional officials handpicked many of those delegates. There is no longer any pretence of social democracy.
Blair has created a house of cards, an empty vacuous political structure that is easy to control because of its emptiness. Some would describe this as a dictatorship.
On the rare occasion that the opposition opposes Blair, it is dismissed as opportunist, or accused of putting the security of the nation at risk. If a conference delegate heckles, he is forcibly evicted and placed in the hands of the police under anti-terrorist legislation. If the police tell us we need 90 days internment for terrorist suspects, then we must do as the police say. If it looks like the police may not get their way, then Rupert Murdoch's newspapers will vilify and intimidate any opposition. It comes to something when the Tories appear to be our last defence against a police state.
At the same time, leaders of some of our biggest unions still argue that it is their role to save the Labour Party . Why and from whom, may we ask? Some have recreated the Labour Representation Committee to recreate the Labour Party and with it, the biggest mistake our class made 100 years ago. Others argue for the formation of a new trade union based party, again repeating the old mistake. Rather than a campaign to save the Labour Party, it needs to be allowed to die.
Rather than trying to create something to replace it, we need to reassert ourselves as a class in our unions and act collectively as a working class.
Rather than allow our working class democracy to die, we need to strengthen our democracy by participation in our unions at the workplace. And we should be under no illusions where capitalist democracy is taking Britain.