The New Worker

The Weekly paper of the New Communist Party of Britain

Week commencing 26th March 2010

The following pages contain the text of the political opening given to the March meeting of the New Communist of Party's Central Committee. This meeting agreed to call on the working class to vote Labour in the forthcoming general and local elections. This opening was printed in it's entirety in the New Worker - week commencing 26th March 2010

Communists in today’s world

The revolutionary party, bourgeois elections and social democracy

by Neil Harris

Bourgeois elections

Since its formation in 1977, the New Communist Party has always refused to stand in bourgeois elections, not as a tactical boycott but as a matter of principle. Those who founded the party did so after a long battle with revisionism in the old Communist Party of Great Britain, going back to the 1950s. Part of that ideological struggle developed out of the old party’s shift away from workplace organisations for revolution to territorial branches based on election campaigns.

But it went deeper than that. For us there is a distinct difference between the state, which Marx described as “the organising committee of the bourgeoisie” and parliamentary government, which is merely an apparently democratic veneer, hiding the violent and coercive nature of the state underneath. The security services, police and army are only too ready to use force when capitalism is threatened.

For Marx and Engels, “Political power, properly so-called, is merely the organised power of one class for oppressing another”. This dictatorship of the bourgeoisie is the reality of our society and to replace it requires the overthrow of the bourgeois state and its replacement with a proletarian state and a proletarian dictatorship in its place. That is the reality of political power.

At one level, standing in bourgeois elections is a compromise with capitalism we are not prepared to make. At another, it fosters illusions amongst the working class that winning seats in Parliament brings the possibility of reforming capitalism, when in fact only governments acceptable to the bourgeoisie are able to win “power”. As ever the choice is between reform and revolution, social democracy and communism.

However, whether we like it or not, elections happen and it would be foolish to pretend they do not matter. The last campaign for the US presidency cost over $1,000 million, the bulk of it contributed by the bourgeoisie and their allies. It is rare that such people give their money away for nothing. When bourgeois politicians campaign for votes the campaign is not for the support of millions of voters but for the support of small numbers of the ruling class and their allies in the media.

As Andy Brooks, general secretary of the New Communist Party, has put it: “Bourgeois elections are the battle by the smallest number of people to manipulate the maximum number of votes.”

In Britain, Cameron and Brown have probably spent more time courting the support of one man, Rupert Murdoch, than they will devote to winning the votes of the whole electorate. In bourgeois elections the contest is actually between different factions and interests in a divided bourgeoisie, which is then projected as being a contest for the interests of the people as a whole.