Friday, February 25, 2005

Passivity or Involvement

An election looms (in the UK). The election, the vote, democracy: political involvement. We are urged to vote, to give voice to our political preferences. We are urged to remember the brave struggle waged to secure the vote. We are urged to view politics as a vital process for us to enage in and with.

Much of the "Left" will still, despite its war-mongering, advise a vote for Labour. A commentator such as the (sci-fi) writer Ken Macleod will, because of unease on the "Left" about the record of Blair's government, talk openly of his fear that "This country is sleepwalking towards a Tory government": now is not the time to undermine Labour, he is saying.

Is this a coherent view? Should the Labour government be supported by "progressive" people?

Anarchists and the ultra-left have always opposed voting and, perhaps, I should rehearse some of the reasons why here (I will do in a later post). But there is a wider critique of democracy itself that, I think, is worth explaining. This critique needs to be articulated on at least two levels: a critique of Democracy (democracy as the essential political face of capitalism - I've capitalised the word Democracy, here, to make this distinction clearer); and a critique of democracy as the embodiment of the politics of the individual, as (inherently) an anti-communistic practice.

Before this, however, it is perhaps worth asking more simple questions. Putting to one side our critique (of Democracy or of wider democratic practices), can we really be comfortable voting for any party that supports the war on Iraq? No? Then all the main parties are out. The Greens, Respect? This is what is left of the Left and it is risible. (Why the Left has disintegrated is something else I will return to.) The SPGB (the only party with a truly anti-capitalist programme)? Well, here we need to articulate more clearly an anti-electoral stance.