It was with a curious mix of shock and amusement that we observed the tragicomedy of British social democracy’s response to the re-election of George W Bush and the defeat of John Kerry.
On the day the election results were announced, 3 November 2004, at a Stop the War Coalition public meeting in London entitled After the US elections, What next for Iraq?, ‘left’ worthy after ‘left’ worthy (including George Galloway and Lindsey German of the SWP) waxed lyrical about their deep regret in relation to the Bush victory. Galloway, on fine form, served up his characteristic mix of oratorical skill and notable lack of political understanding (or just plain dishonesty), telling the audience in no uncertain terms that the anti-war movement had suffered “a terrible, terrible defeat”. One by one, the speakers came up to the podium and announced that it was a terrible shame; that Bush was really very awful; that Kerry had lost because he was too much like Bush; that the whole thing was an opportunity missed.
It occurred to no-one among these ‘left’ celebrities to mention that bourgeois elections are a farce; that the whole parliamentary system under imperialism is simply an elaborate game; that the election of Kerry or any other candidate would not have made the slightest bit of difference in any real sense. The US government – Republican or Democrat – must represent US capital, just as the British government – Conservative or Labour – must represent British capital: “To decide once every few years which member of the ruling class is to repress and crush the people through parliament — such is the real essence of bourgeois parliamentarism, not only in parliamentary-constitutional monarchies, but also in the most democratic republics.” (Lenin, The State and Revolution, 1917)
Behind the transparent charm of a Blair, a Kerry or a Clinton there lies the willingness to do the dirty work of capital with every bit as much ferocity as Bush or Thatcher.
Can our social democrats really claim that the prevailing Labour administration is in some way an improvement upon the Conservative regime of Margaret Thatcher and John Major? After major military offensives against Afghanistan, Yugoslavia, Sierra Leone and Iraq, increasing privatisation, daily-decreasing human rights and civil liberties, attacks on the unemployed, elderly, hospitals, education, etc, etc, only the most shameless lackey could pretend that Labour are any better than the Tories. Unfortunately the ‘left’ movement is overflowing with such Labourite apple-polishers.
We would have to disagree that Bush’s victory was a terrible loss for the anti-war movement. The war continues, regardless of who is in office and, in fact, with his marvellously candid quasi-fascist neo-colonialist Christian fundamentalist ideology (not to mention his many PR gaffes), Dubya has unwittingly served as an important focal point for the anti-war movement around the world! One could easily conjecture that, had Kerry won the elections, he would have been far better equipped than Bush to put the public mind at ease and quell the anti-war movement, whilst still continuing along the barbarous path of imperialist aggression.
There is no democracy for the workers under capitalism. Join the fight against it!