Wednesday, September 01, 2010


Certainly with the anarchist tradition the SPGB ideas about Parliament conflict and i have stated that this will continue to be debated and in the end it will not be the ermbryonic Anarchist Federation or proto-party SPGB who will decide but it will be the working class who will vote with their feet and choose which camp to join. However, i do take issue that the SPGB understanding of political action is essentially non-marxist as manyclaim.

The fundamental position of the SPGB is that "Where it is a question of a complete transformation of the social organization, the masses themselves must also be in it, must themselves already have grasped what is at stake, what they are going in for [with body and soul]
(my emphasis). - ( Engels 1895) . The same article repeatedly counsels the use of the vote and of Parliament.

"The state is an expression of and enforcer of class society. Intrinsically it is a coercive institution...but it has assumed social functions that have to exist in any society and which have nothing to do with its coercive nature: it has taken over the role of being society’s central organ of administration and co-ordination.... it would have to be reorganised on a thoroughly democratic basis, with mandated and recallable delegates and popular participation ( my emphasis again) replacing the unaccountable professional politicians and unelected top civil servants of today....The only people who can introduce socialism are the great majority of men and women. Socialism is a democratic society that can only function with the active participation of its members. It will be a participatory democracy...This is not to say that the socialist majority only needs to organise itself politically. It does need to organise politically so as to be able to win control of political power. But it also needs to organise economically to take over and keep production going immediately after the winning of political control. We can’t anticipate how such socialist workplace organisations will emerge, whether from the reform of the existing trade unions, from breakaways from them or from the formation of completely new organisations. All we can say now is that such workplace organisations will arise and that they too, like the socialist political party, will have to organise themselves on a democratic basis, with mandated delegates instead of leaders.With the spread of socialist ideas all organisations will change and take on a participatory democratic and socialist character, so that the majority’s organisation for socialism will not be just political and economic, but will also embrace schools and universities, television, film-making, plays and the like as well as inter-personal relationships. We’re talking about a radical social revolution involving all aspects of social life."

A social revolution in tandem with the capture of the state machine through parliment which the SPGB does describe as the ultimate source of political power. For Marx, universal suffrage was “the equivalent of political power for the working class” and its “inevitable result” would be “the political supremacy of the working class.” Engels argued that “democracy means the dominion of the working class” and so workers should “use the power already in their hands, the actual majority they possess... to send to Parliament men of their own order.” The worker “struggles for political power, for direct representation of his class in the legislature” (quotes taken from an anarchist website who appear to recognise the Marxist roots of the SPGB's strategy better than some "Marxists")

Some upbraid the SPGB for holding non-Marxist ideas such as taking little account of what he posits as hesitant and uneven process both within particular countries and accross the globe in contrast to the SPGB vision of world revolution . But is this a non-Marxist position? But i know he he knows that this is SPGB shared the same view as Engels once again."It follows that the communist revolution will not merely be a national phenomenon but must take place simultaneously in all civilized countries – that is to say, at least in England, America, France, and Germany...It will have a powerful impact on the other countries of the world, and will radically alter the course of development which they have followed up to now"

It is not the SPGB who envisage the non-Marxist process what Engels de-rided with the dismissive comment "one fine morning, all the workers in all the industries of a country, or even of the whole world, stop work, thus forcing the propertied classes either humbly to submit within four weeks at most, or to attack the workers, who would then have the right to defend themselves and use the opportunity to pull down the entire old society."
The SPGB adheres to the Marxist view that Engels puts elsewhere which is "whenever we are in a position to try the universal strike, we shall be able to get what we want for the mere asking for it, without the roundabout way of the universal strike"