you can’t say that! ken livingstone as a barrier to working class organisation

Ollie Sutherland was not impressed by the common call on the left for us to vote labour.

What always strikes me as bizarre about elections is the importance the left places on them. Every few years working people get the chance to choose which part of the ruling class they wish oppress them; as it’s always the ruling class in power after the elections, why do most of the left encourage participation in them? Elections are an ideological cornerstone of capitalist ‘democracy’: that people have control over who governs the country and makes key decisions about society. Therein lies the problem: they give people the illusion of control, when people’s lives and society are actually controlled by their workplace and the economic system – not parliament or City Hall. Continue reading “you can’t say that! ken livingstone as a barrier to working class organisation”

should communists stand for parliament?

by Mark Harrison

The general election is only weeks away and the Trotskyist newspapers are once again calling for us to “vote Labour without illusions”, unless we can vote for a Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition candidate. TUSC was effectively borne out of the No2EU left-nationalist alliance between the Socialist Party (England and Wales) and the Communist Party of Britain, although this time round without participation from the soft-Stalinists.

Despite the fact that comrades on the ground may believe that this is a step towards ‘left unity’ and perhaps even the shell from which a new political party akin to the French New Anticapitalist Party could arise, nothing of the sort will happen. Both the CPGB and Workers’ Power, who wanted to join, have been excluded and little in the way of ‘unity’ shall last after the elections. Continue reading “should communists stand for parliament?”

no surprises as rat boards sinking ship

by Chris Ford

There is a long history of British trade union leaders becoming Members of Parliament. This has often represented the next step by individuals whose primary concern is the advancement of a cause very dear to their hearts – their own self-interest.

In some cases however there are those who have genuinely sought to take the workers’ struggle in the industrial front into the political arena: individuals with principle who have sought to maintain a loyalty and commitment to the labour movement, such as John McDonnell and Jeremy Corbyn. The coming general election should see a new recruit from union ranks – Jack Dromey, the Deputy General Secretary of UNITE. Continue reading “no surprises as rat boards sinking ship”

liberalism, citizenship and democracy

by Mark Ellingsen

A lot has been written recently about the corruption of politicians, the crisis of democracy and the legitimacy of Parliament. This is particularly apt as this year marks 200 years since the death of Tom Paine, the radical liberal who was an inspiration to movements fighting for the vote. On the Left the analysis of this crisis has revolved around the interconnected reasons of the failure of the Labour Party to deliver job security and prosperity to its ‘natural’ constituency of working class voters on the one hand, and on the other, the class nature of the capitalist state which ensures that the policies enacted by governments will ensure the profits of the capitalist class even to the detriment of the majority of voters. Quite rightly these arguments take centre place in any discussion of the problems now confronting both voters and the mainstream parties. However, there is a complementary argument that even on its own terms the ideas associated with liberal democracy are never going to provide a sufficient long-term basis on which the majority of people were going to be motivated to be engaged with what currently passes as the political process. But in order to understand the perceived crisis of liberal democracy we need first to understand the crisis of liberalism. Continue reading “liberalism, citizenship and democracy”

the fate of democracy

by Nathan Coombs

What does the declining turnout for the European Union Parliamentary elections tell us? Most superficially: voters are apathetic, ambivalent and disconnected from the European Parliament. But more generally it highlights the paradox at the heart of the political discourse of Western liberal democracies: the ever-greater symbolic – even metaphysical – weight attributed to the word democracy, in the context of declining voter turnout and disillusionment with politics as a whole.

For instance, in the United Kingdom the panic initiated by the election of two British National Party MEPs and the MP expenses scandal have exposed a deep crisis in public trust for the political institutions and a sense of legitimation crisis on the side of the political class. In response to the expenses scandal, the reaction from most people is that politicians are all corrupt, and many people polled recently were not sure that they wanted to vote for any party. At this critical point the liberal media and political class have been united in repeating that we have to ‘defend our democracy.’ The motif of democracy in danger, democracy imperilled, has driven the crisis of legitimacy into the realm of one of an acute sense of constitutional crisis, with all the major parties proposing some sort of constitutional reform and paying lip-service to the motif of ‘power to the people.’ Continue reading “the fate of democracy”

‘do we live in a democracy?’ the commune debates compass

The next of The Commune’s ‘uncaptive minds’ public forums takes place in London on the evening of Monday June 8th, and is on the question of ‘do we live in a democracy?’. We will be debating a speaker from centre-left Labour pressure group COMPASS.

The recent MPs’ expenses scandal has brought renewed attention to the checks and balances of the House of Commons, from right and left alike. There is widespread anger at the excesses of the worst offenders, with the Speaker of the Commons axed, some arguing for more ‘regulation’ of the system and others calling for a clearout of the current MPs in favour of more ‘responsible’ MPs and more ‘independents’.

But few are questioning the Parliamentary system itself (see our recent editorial): although in recent months the mainstream press has been happy to use Marx’s economics to explain the economic crisis, they don’t dare to touch communists’ radical critique of the state, the ‘executive committee of the ruling class’.

At the meeting we will not only be looking at the current scandal and the response, but also the state of our democratic rights in general and its implications for our struggle for a different kind of society. The speakers leading off the debate will be The Commune’s Nathan Coombs and COMPASS’s Andy Howell.

The meeting takes place from 7pm on the 8th at the Artillery Arms, near Old Street. All are welcome – get in touch with us at if you would like more information. Map of the venue below. Continue reading “‘do we live in a democracy?’ the commune debates compass”

the times or the commune, political reform or social revolution

by Chris Kane
“British politics is in trouble. The anger of the past fortnight has been frightening, even a little threatening. But almost as worrying has been the morose, resigned silence of the past decade, perhaps two decades. A gulf has opened up between the governed and those doing the governing.”
No this is not from a communist publication but from the new ‘Political Manifesto’ of that champion of British establishment The Times, itself a virtual institution of the upper class.   Correctly The Times recognise there is a deeper problem with the political system manifested in the ever decreasing participation in elections and a “sullen, cynical lack of regard for politicians” and “all this even before the electorate discovered that Members of Parliament were engaged in a massive scam.
The Manifesto of The Times seems radical and democratic and strikes a resonance with the popular mood which some of the traditional left have not achieved.  Continue reading “the times or the commune, political reform or social revolution”