Monday, 27 April 2015

Angry not apathetic: what anarchists do instead of voting

As the 2015 general election approaches, the Anarchist Federation explains the anarchist alternative to voting for social change. The general election is here, and once again the parties are all over us like a rash, promising that they will fix things. But you don’t have to be an anarchist to know that nothing changes, whoever gets in. This is why politicians are keen on new methods such as postal voting. Labour, Tory, Liberal Democrat, nationalist (Plaid Cymru, SNP, Sinn Fein), ‘principled’ or ‘radical’ (Green Party, or leftists in some alliance), or nationalist-racist (UKIP etc), the fundamentals of the system are the same. Whether we have the present electoral system or proportional representation, or however many people vote or don’t vote in an election or referendum, as we have just seen in Scotland, capitalism is at the driving wheel globally. As working class people, we are exploited whether we can take part in ‘free’ elections or live under an authoritarian regime. Capitalists and property owners continue to control the wealth that we create, and they protect it through the police, legal system, and military. You can’t complain Non-voters are told that, “If you don’t vote you can’t complain”. But voting under these circumstances is just pretending that the system we have is basically alright. It lets the winning party off the hook. The fact is, we have next to no say in the decisions that get taken by the people we elect. This is called ‘representative democracy’. Anarchists organise by ‘direct democracy’, where we can have a say in every decision, if we want to. We don’t put our power in someone else’s hands, so no one can betray us and abuse it. This really could work globally! Ask us how… Campaigning against voting A “don’t vote” campaign on its own is just as much a waste of time. The same goes for a protest vote for a leftist or novelty candidate. The time and money spent campaigning could be better used fixing some of the problems we face in our lives. Protesting, whether it is spoiling a ballot paper or marching in the street, fails to offer any real challenge. So, anarchists say, vote, or don’t vote. It won’t make any difference. What is more important, is to realise that elections prop up a corrupt system and divert us from winning real change. Don’t vote, organise! We should organise with our neighbours, workmates, other people we have shared interests with, and others who don’t have the privileges that some people have. We are the experts on what we need, and on the best way to run things for the common good. We need to use direct action to achieve this. Direct action is where we solve a problem without someone else representing us. By this we mean, not just protesting and asking for change, but things like occupying, sabotaging, working to rule, refusing to pay their prices or their rent, and striking (but not waiting for union leaders to tell us when we can and can’t!). For example, when workers aren’t paid the wages owed them, rather than asking the government to give us better legal protection, we take action to force employers to pay. The Department for Work & Pensions has even named the Anarchist Federation and the Solidarity Federation among groups that are a serious threat to workfare, because we have shut down programmes. This was achieved with only a few hundred people. Imagine what could be done with thousands! Taking it back In reality, people are understandably afraid of taking the state on. But direct action doesn’t have to mean an all-out fight to defeat capitalism in one go. Anarchists do think that ultimately, there has to be a full revolution. But by confronting the system directly at any point we can start to take control. In fact, all the good things we think of as having been created by the state – free health care, free education, health & safety laws to protect us at work, housing regulations, sick pay, unemployment benefits, pensions – came about historically to put an end to organised campaigns of collective direct action that threatened their power. And where we would fail as individuals, together we can win.

Thursday, 2 April 2015

Hertford and Stortford Ware hustings General Election 2015-

As you may or may not know I’m not the biggest fan of elections. But this coming April the debating society I am a member of are hosting the local hustings for the coming general election. I am on the organising committee and am happy to help. As you may or may not know I’m in no political party at all and am increasingly turned off by all party’s whether they be soft left or hard left. I am struggling to mount any enthusiasm for any party to vote for. As an anarchist now I should not vote at all which I stand by I don’t think I will. But the local situation has obvious interests to me and I am happy to help out and organise a hustings if that is what people want. I feel it is fair and right that there is such an n event given the heightened awareness of politics in this current year. Whilst I can’t lend my support to any of the candidates standing I do wish them well as there is a financial cost and also a physical cost in terms of the work involved. In this hugely Tory Tory seat held by former housing minister MarkPrisk there is lots of hope from candidates hoping to make a dent in his 15 thousand odd majorities and I can’t see why not at present. I as people well know am no Tory supporter and detest all that they stand for but as it stands mark Prisk has not agreed to join in with the Ware general election hustings to be held in the Ware Drill Hall on the 24th of April starting at 7.30 pm all welcome and no entrance fee required. Standing for this seat will be the Labour party, Lib Dem's, UKIP, Greens and the sitting MP who is a tory as far as i know there is no one else at this stage . I have my views on the Tories and Mark Prisk as a person given the replies I have had from him and his office down the years in disagreement with many of his ideas and party policies but I would for democratic fairness like to see him turn up on the 24th of April. I would like to see him challenged and held to account as any MP or elected representative should be. We currently have no reason as to why Mark can’t attend but I do hope before the 24th he will reconsider and join the hustings with the other candidates who have been more than happy to get involved. As I said earlier I am part of a debating society called Cogers debating society which have continued the tradition of discussion and debate from a very very early time. We are proud to host such an event in Ware but we are aware how big this election could be on the whole. What happens in East Herts on the face of it may not matter too much but everyone in this area has a say and deserves to be heard. If they wish to turn up on the night they will be more than welcome and encouraged to join in and ask the candidates questions from the floor. As a libertarian socialist with roots in economic Marxism and the ideas of anarchism as a practise I am not against all elections as a rule just I am not sure we as a class, the working class can gain much from any bourgeois election. Even whilst I hold this view I still maintain a curiosity on how big elections go and who wins or forms the next government despite what we say will be a big thing and dictate how we react and take things forward as a militant class. Please attend the Ware General Election hustings if you can Venue: The drill Hall Ware, Hertfordshire, Amwell end Time: 7:30 pm start advice to get in early to gain seat Duration: roughly finishing at 10:00 pm with a scheduled interval at 9pm for an all to stretch legs or refresh yourself Hosted by: Ware society of Cogers Entrance: free to members of the public Time: 7.30 pm to 10 pm --- roughly Open to: all members of the public who wish to question the candidates for the Hertford and Stortford seat in the coming general election