Socialism is the Best Medicine

Socialism is the Best Medicine

UK election: A sickening, unnecessary defeat

December 13, 2019

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“A commanding majority” and “a striking victory” gushed the New York Times as it celebrated Boris Johnson’s Tory Party crushing Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour Party in yesterday’s national election.

As the capitalist class breathed a collective sigh of relief, the British pound surged higher against both the US dollar and the Euro.

In contrast, millions of ordinary people felt despair as Corbyn’s promise of a better society was vanquished by a vicious Tory Party that will grind them deeper into the dust, and enjoy doing so.

Defeat is rich in lessons. One question we must answer is why the working class and the political left were so divided over whether the UK should remain in or leave the European Union.

Both Remain and Leave were strategies pushed by competing sections of the capitalist class on how best to increase productivity, profits, and capital accumulation.

The revolutionary left proposed a third option, Lexit – a left exit from the EU that would advance working-class interests. This proved to be a mistake.

In general, the working class are wise to reject whatever the ruling class want because it will likely increase exploitation and oppression. Many people voted Remain on that basis. However, when capitalists are divided over what they want, then workers must decide what they want:

• Do they want to take sides in a capitalist dispute over how best to structure the capitalist system?
• Do they want to propose a worker-friendly version of how capitalism should be structured, like Lexit?
• Do they want to challenge the right of the capitalist class to decide how society should be structured and how people should be treated?

The capitalist system is stuck in a prolonged crisis of profitability, and the ruling class will continue to quarrel over how best to resolve it in their own interests. Workers can take sides in such disputes or they can call for an end to capitalist rule.

In the lead-up to the UK elections, the demand to end capitalist rule, and all of the vile oppressions that go with it, was the only demand that could have united the working class.

The lesson is tragically familiar: Corbyn’s defeat proved that capitalism cannot be reformed in favor of the working class solely on the basis that such reforms are needed, are wanted, are popular, and are the right thing to do. Such reforms can be won only from a capitalist class that is threatened by class revolt. And a working class that can put the capitalist class on the defensive has the power to keep pushing to take complete control of society.

Think about it. Who would do a better job of shaping the education system – teachers, students and their families – or a capitalist class whose prime concern is the bottom line? Who would do a better job of managing the medical system – medical workers, patients, and their families – or a capitalist class whose prime concern is the bottom line? Who would do a better job of running the trains, the busses, or the subways – workers and passengers – or a capitalist class whose prime concern is the bottom line? You get the picture.

The conditions for socialist revolution already exist:

• the capitalist class can no longer rule in the old way
• the working class are no longer willing to be ruled in the same way
• humanity cannot survive unless present conditions are dramatically changed.

What is missing, what is holding us back, is a lack of revolutionary socialist organizations with the clarity and the courage to stand up and tell the truth:

There is only one way forward. Workers of the world unite!

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