As the crisis surrounding MPs’ expenses exposes the level of blatant fraud in Britain’s parliamentary system Simon Basketter looks at why capitalist democracy fails us Continue reading
The government hammers those most affected by the poverty and misery of Gordon Brown’s Britain with hypocrisy and draconian laws. Every week people are jailed for not paying their council tax or are dragged in front of the courts for not paying their TV licence.
It is a cliché to say that there is one law for the rich and another for the rest of us. But as it turns out there is no law for the politicians – except the rules they set for themselves.
If you are a government minister you can avoid tax, double claim expenses, have your council tax paid for you and even get the bill for a council tax summons paid for by us.
The easiest way to see the depth of the corruption, and it is corruption, is by looking at the New Labour cabinet. Continue reading
It is not a success. It is not intelligent, it is not beautiful, it is not just, it is not virtuous — and it doesn’t deliver the goods. In short, we dislike it, and we are beginning to despise it. But when we wonder what to put in its place, we are extremely perplexed. What do we want instead?
It is time to take the power back? To do this we need a system where the workers are in control and the means of production are owned by the workers not by a rich minority of capitalists…
In a socialist society the means of production  are owned by the workers rather than by a rich minority of capitalists or functionaries. Such a system of ownership is both collective and individual in nature.
It is collective because society can control production unlike the economic anarchy of capitalism and because production is for the common good rather than for individual profit.
At the same time it is individual because workers are no longer a ‘collective’ mob of alienated non-owners employed by a minority of owners. Work becomes a free and self-affirming activity for each worker and they receive the full fruits of their labor. The capitalists and their servants no longer control production nor grow rich from other’s toil. Everybody is an owner. Socialism is genuine free enterprise.
The personally empowering and cooperative nature of socialist ownership underpins similar changes in other aspects of life. Socialism means far healthier individuals and human relationships. It means full participation by each individual in the intellectual, cultural and political life of society.
Socialism requires a revolution with three main stages: firstly the emergence of a workers’ movement committed to socialist revolution, secondly the achievement of political power and the expropriation of the capitalists and thirdly a period during which workers learn how to be owners and rulers and cast off the psychological and ideological dross of the past.
Socialism will not be an utopia simply created in people’s minds. It will be the product of economic and social development. In developed countries it is now possible for everyone to live a reasonably affluent life and be free of long hours of routine toil. This creates a better basis for cooperation and mutual regard. Historically, where equality would have meant shared poverty, it was inevitable that a minority would plunder, enslave and exploit the majority. At the same time rank and file workers are progressively acquiring through their experiences, the abilities to do without an elite. Their general level of education and training has advanced significantly over the last couple of generations. The work they do, while still totally oppressive, has an increasingly mental and conceptual content. And they now have extensive access to cultural and intellectual resources and the diverse experiences of living in a modern society. So while socialism was impossible in the past, these emerging conditions make it inevitable in the future.
Footnote . The means of production comprise everything, except labor, that is used in production, namely, factories, plant, equipment, offices, shops, raw materials, fuel and components.
It is time for the public to wake up. Time to open our eyes. The expenses scandal. The killing of Ian Tomlinson. Heavy handed police aggression during recent legitimate protests. The banking crisis. The Credit Crunch. The huge debts that have been put on future generations shoulders.
Enough is enough.
It is time for real change and to put people first. The only system that will truly do this is socialism.
Find out more. Visit the Socialist Worker.
As the Commons’ standing falls to a historic low, with news of MPs claiming expenses for everything from piles of manure to tennis court maintenance, from cleaning moats to pruning wisterias, there are now legitimate calls from all sections of the public for drastic action and change. Is it time to dissolve parliament, kick out all the MPs and for the public to brick by brick to build a new democracy? Let us look at democracy and what it really means:
Democracy: The Idea
Deriving from the Greek, Demos Kratos – People Power – Literally, direct self government and decision making by the people.
Today this idea is widely interpretated as indirect or representative democracy, where voters elect representatives to make decisions on their behalf.
Democracy implies varying degrees of people power, participation, representation, responsible government and consent. Democratic participation may take many forms, from voting and standing for political office to meetings, marches, demonstrations, peaceful lawbreaking and violent political opposition. Even riots and terrorist attacks have democratic claims, since they are ‘people power’ in the literal sense – although all states and governments will deny those democratic claims when such activities are directed against them.
Democracy: The Reality Continue reading
The stench of corruption surrounds the House of Commons. “Clear them all out,” is the popular sentiment.
Newspaper editorials and “constitutional experts” have responded by saying that, despite its flaws, the system is the best on offer and needs to be reformed rather than replaced.
Westminster is a gentleman’s club. It has been forced to admit women and a few black and Asian MPs, but it operates as a private club, with its own rules. It looks after its own.
It can vote to go to war, in defiance of overwhelming popular opinion, as it did over Iraq in 2003.
Whenever there is any questioning of how the parliamentary system or the state operates, those in charge kick dissent into the long grass with inquiries and reports carried out by people with a commitment to the system.
Former Labour minister Patricia Hewitt’s suggestion that citizens’ juries could decide on how MPs’ expenses are paid was met with laughter from the rest of parliament.
The speaker then told her to shut up.