The ballot box can't replace a fight back

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8 May 2012

In the first week of May, in just three days, the governments of three different European countries have been heavily censored by their electorates over their enforcement of the bosses' austerity.

In France, right-wing president Sarkozy became the first French president to be kicked out after just one term in office. In Greece, the ruling coalition's share of the votes was slashed from 77% to 32%. And here, in the May 3rd local elections, the combined score of the ruling ConDem coalition fell to 47%, down from 70% in the last comparable elections, back in 2008.

And these are not isolated results. They follow the earlier downfall of a string of European governments, for the very same reasons, first in Ireland, in February last year, then in Portugal, in March, and finally in Italy and Spain, in November.

In short, the worn out slogan "we're all in it together", which has been used for so long by every government to cover up their policies in favour of the capitalist class, hasn't fooled anyone. Whenever the electorate is given a chance to have a say about these governments' policies, its verdict is an unmistakable: "enough is enough"!

A cry against the bosses' austerity

And how could it be otherwise? For all the nonsense peddled by the ConDems about Britain being somehow "better off" than the rest of the world, the working class here is facing exactly the same attacks as in the rest of Europe.

In Greece, France, Spain, etc., just as much as here, the politicians of the capitalist class have been busy making workers pay for the bosses' crisis. Beyond the different languages and currencies, and the different levels of hardship, the same war is being waged by the bosses and their politicians against the conditions of the working class.

Everywhere, social expenditure and services have been cut in order to divert a larger share of public resources towards the coffers of the capitalist class.

Everywhere, the bankers are making a killing out of public debt and everywhere, politicians are helping the bosses who take advantage of the crisis by increasing the level of workers' exploitation in order to boost their profits.

Everywhere unemployment is soaring, wages and pensions are shrinking, while the parasitism of the very rich, parading their luxury, is becoming increasingly unbearable.

So, is it any wonder if the managers of big business's interests in government get censored by voters? Of course not - and they should!

From the polling stations to the street

But then what? What more can the working class expect from the ballot box? Nothing, in fact.

Where new governments have taken over, they have just carried on with the same austerity policies - or worse. In France, the new "Socialist" president can be expected to implement a slightly different version of Sarkozy's austerity, just as his "Socialist" counterparts did in Greece, Spain and Portugal before being kicked out, and just as Labour did here, before the ConDems came in to do more of the same, in 2010. And just as Labour will do again, if at some point, it gets back into office.

This is what this so-called "democracy" is really about. It may offer a way for the working class majority to voice its opposition to the politicians' attacks. But because, once in government, the main parties always do what they're told by big business, voting for their candidates does not give us a way to defend our collective interests.

No real change will come out of a swing in the pendulum of electoral politics, neither here, nor anywhere else. But whichever way the pendulum swings - and even under the ConDems today - what can and will be decisive, is a change in the balance of class forces.

The same capitalists who dictate their policy to the politicians in government can be forced to change their tune - but only if they feel that their social domination is under threat.

So far, the capitalist class has not suffered much from the crisis, as was shown by the explosion of dividends paid out this year and by the stockpile of cash hoarded by large companies. It can obviously afford to pay for the crisis caused by its own profit system. But how to make it do so?

The working class does not just include the vast majority of the population, it also produces all the wealth in this society. By pulling together all its forces, across the economy, it could hit the tiny minority of capitalist parasites where it hurts them most - by threatening their profits and their control over the economy. Then, and only then, will it become possible to regain the ground lost and to make the capitalists foot their own bills!