Red Flag Express №37

Boycott the Elections!

In politics, the language of the bourgeoisie is now an old language, petrified, that doesn’t have meaning anymore and that fewer and fewer workers listen to with respect and submission. The proletariat needs more than ever to speak and act by itself. Today, it is sickened to vote for the bourgeoisie’s “single party.”

Whether this “single party” has two or three heads, is composed of a large obese liberal-conservative body and two sides (a left side and a more or less visible or discrete right side according to the times and circumstances): that doesn’t matter very much in the final analysis. What really counts is that the same interests (those of the capitalists) reign at the same time in the government and in the opposition. Thus, when the parliamentary representation changes from one election to another (and it must change to give the system a fake credibility), the nature of the Parliament still remains the same.

The actual bourgeois society seeks its breath, that’s obvious. But it’s certain that the bourgeoisie cannot find much air on the side of the democracy. Its parliamentarism seems more and more a work of the past, discredited in the present, and deprived of any utility for the future.

Today’s activists intend to renew the participation of the exploited and the poor in a radical social transformation. This is what is called revolution. By boycotting the elections, they clearly tell us two things. First: that there are no poor nor revolutionary workers in the Parliaments, and that it is useless to seek them there. We can certainly find there a lot of bourgeois, petit-bourgeois and “labor-lieutenants,” but not a single poor nor revolutionary worker.

That, in self, is significant. But still more significant is the fact that the revolutionary poor and workers do not seek to enter at all to the Parliament! Their interest rather go in the direction of destroying it, and with it, the other apparatuses of the bourgeois state which are, considered as a whole, the tools used by the ruling class to ensure the continuation of workers’ exploitation.

But then, if the poor don’t seek to enter to the Parliament, who are all those candidates who want to “overthrow the government” and install an alternative on the benches of the House of Commons? In fact, they only offer to replace the bourgeois, petit-bourgeois and labor-lieutenants who preceded them and were pushed aside by the circumstances. It is an offer of substitution, not of transformation, even less of revolution.

The communist movement (since 1920) disqualified these substitution attempts of organic parliamentarism. The movement back then severely criticized that practice and rejected it completely, but, with passing years, was mistaken on the way to fight it.

Organic parliamentarism is the fusion—through the members of Parliament coming from popular backgrounds—between the working class and the bourgeois democracy. It’s the bourgeois Parliament which assimilates and digests the representatives of subordinate classes. It’s the reclassification of the proletariat as a simple wheel attached to the mechanism of bourgeois society.

Organic parliamentarism is the liquidation of any revolutionary action. No wonder that all the opportunists and social-democrat reformists are literally obsessed, in Québec and everywhere in Canada, by the idea to penetrate the Parliament and to be molded there like formless polymers. In truth, they are especially afraid of the poor, afraid of the street, afraid of justice, afraid of change. Afraid of conflagration! They pretend to be unaware that only the proletarian revolution, like a fire which regenerates a forest, can regenerate the democracy.

Why boycotting the elections?

The activists who campaign for the elections’ boycott, like those from the Revolutionary Communist Party (RCP), don’t hide for one second that the options that will be offered to the electorate in the coming federal election would alone be enough to justify this radical slogan and guideline: proletarian boycott of the electoral circus!

The “single party” will take the power again. Big surprise! Its two wings, the Liberal Party and the Conservative Party are, among all the bourgeois parties in Occidental and imperialist countries, among the five or six parties at most which built the most durable bonds among the bourgeois networks. That bond is based on their implantation in capitalist backgrounds and the defense of the bourgeoisie’s common interests.

If each monopoly has its reserve, then in Canada the Liberal Party and the Conservative Party are the safe protecting the bourgeoisie’s politic monopoly on Canadian society. And this is a safe the proletariat really needs to blow up!

Besides them, the opposition consisting of the New Democratic Party and the Bloc Québécois, as well as the two translucent ghosts which hopelessly try to be seen as credible alternatives—the Green Party of Canada and the “Communist” Party of Canada—are each in their way confused parliamentary derivatives of the real struggles led by the workers and the poor. Even the more progressive among them are also obstinate electoralists and are harming the people’s struggle. Paradoxically, the successes of these oppositions (NDP and Bloc Québécois) serve as a guarantee for the single party monopoly and periodically force the bourgeoisie to focus on political interests common to its class rather than those of its various fractions.

Never the coloration brought to the House of Commons by a party like the NDP (and this would be the same with a new socialist party or any progressive or “citizen” alliance) produces anything but this: much-needed help for the bourgeoisie to assume its functions and to govern, officially in the name of the entire society (!), while remaining comfortably inside its general guideline which is to ensure the best conditions for the reproduction of capital.

The reality of a thing, including the reality of an unpleasant thing, is always what it is objectively and it’s useless to embellish it by means of artifices or speculative chimeras, especially if it’s only to modify the impression produced by this reality rather than the reality itself.

Within this context the reality of the Canadian electoral system is so sinister that it can’t create any illusion. The illusion rather comes from the recurring temptation to embellish the ugly impression produced by this reality.

And what this reality tells us? That democracy is stability since the power never changes. That capitalists are always on top. That politicians speak all the time even if they don’t have anything to say. That elections are 36 days of publicity. That democracy is to watch television and to go vote. That there is apathy and democracy. Apathy is when the youth, the poor and the proletarians shout, fight and demonstrate but don’t vote; and the democracy is when they vote but don’t shout, nor fight nor demonstrate!

This sinister reality makes less and less illusion. All the bourgeois in the country were astounded after 2000’s elections to note that only 61.2% of the electorate voted, the lowest result since 1926’s election (with a 62.9% participation rate). Since then, that tendency accelerated, with 58.8% of participation on October 14, 2008. Studies were ordered by politicians to help them understand what occurred, more especially because disaffection has been constant for the past several elections.

Mandated by Elections Canada, professors Jon H. Pammett of Carleton University and Lawrence LeDuc of University of Toronto, with help from Decima Research, said in March 2003 to bourgeois politicians (and their quite as anxious little friends from the Bloc and the NDP): …caution, the voters are slipping between your fingers like sand.

Asked by Decima’s investigators on the reasons of their abstention, 59.4% of the non-voters gave as reason a negative attitude toward politicians, government, candidates, parties and/or chiefs of party; 24.2% mentioned apathy and indifference; 14.5% the uselessness of their participation and 8.6% lack of competition. In addition, only 5.0% gave as reason a lack of knowledge or information, 1.2% an administrative problem and 0.5% an unsatisfactory electoral system.

Those statistical data conducted bourgeois politicians to lead a battle to reconquer the Canadian youth and to give the illusion that a major renewal of the political practices is already going on in Canada.

So, it is to say that apart from the battle inside the Parliament between the parties and the bourgeoisie’s various wings, another battle takes place, perhaps more important, deeper, more complex, more dangerous, which is explained by the historical tendency under the bourgeois democracy of separation between the Parliament and the masses, that is the problem for the bourgeoisie of its political isolation.

Then, shall we fight or encourage that tendency?

Which attitude must the proletarian activists adopt? We do not speak here about organic parliamentarism partisans who, it is well known, feel sick about this situation, because it threatens their wish to encrust at the Parliament like fleas in a carpet. But for others, the sincere activists, anti-capitalists, who have the workers and oppressed people’s liberation on the horizon?

It appears obvious, in the way the RCP’s activists talk about the boycott of the elections, that this is the introduction and the development of a major impulse contesting the almighty bourgeois power in the country’s politics.

It’s not only an answer to the insufficient offerings of the existing parties (like… there is no satisfying alternative!). That would still be to remain both feet in cement, well inside the agreed limits of organic parliamentarism.

Election boycott rather appears like a coherence found again in action, a clear and powerful class perspective. It is a new will in Canadian politics to start the inexorable march of the poor and exploited towards the people’s and revolutionary power in the country.

It is a content change instead of a simple change of form. But at the same time, it also causes change in the means of the struggle because of the renewal of their revolutionary content!

The proletariat exists only towards and against its own exploiters. To boycott is to exist! To boycott is to fight!

(Adapted from People’s War Digest No. 2, Summer 2005)
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