One of the main positions maintained by the communist left is one against participation in bourgeois politics and parliaments. In the following essay, I will evaluate why this position is held, the falsehood of bourgeois “democracy,” and how and when voting may be a useful tool, through a combination of established theory, my interpretations, and to some degree my own theoretical ideas.
Why Shouldn’t You Vote?
A main provision of Marx’s analysis of class struggle and the nature of communism was the necessity of a proletarian revolution against the bourgeoisie in order to overthrow their oppressors and begin the process of abolishing class. A rejection of the current state of things is central to revolutionary politics; the end goal of communism is to abolish the present state, not to transform it through false democracies. What is a false democracy? Quite simply, the bourgeois democracies of the West were built and currently operate for the ruling class. In voting, we are signaling acceptance of the status quo and showing defeat to the bourgeoisie; we appear to be cowed in acceptance of their dominance over our lives. It’s not enough to accept half-measures and social reforms by the bourgeois’ hand, as this only displays a weakness of class consciousness. If it has the capability, should not the class as a whole instill its will upon the oppressors who profit off their misery and alienation? This is the entire premise of the communist movement, the response of an oppressed class centralized in unity of purpose and desire for freedom.
The Lie of Bourgeois Democracy
As we have previously established, Western liberal “democracies” aren’t democracies at all. The people are forced to choose between the lesser of two evils, or a few evils in proportional system parliaments. These candidates are nearly always chosen by the bourgeoisie from amongst themselves, within the machines of their status quo parties. If a candidate disrupts this mechanism, they are opposed by the bourgeois party at every turn, and slowly drawn into the bourgeois parties’ being. Once elected, these false representatives aren’t recallable until another election, which allows them to defy the will of the workers in favour of the wealthy they already serve. Tell me, where is the freedom in this? We are enslaved to the whims of these representatives, who play off manufactured fear, false dichotomies, and social constructs as a means of staying in power and turning the working class against itself. We can see clear examples of this within the United States and the countries of Western Europe; anti-immigrant rhetoric, assaults on scapegoats such as the LGBTQ+ movement, those challenging police brutality, and in general anyone who defies the status quo Herein lies the necessity of the revolution; the system cannot be changed from within, nor will the bourgeois allow it in any case.
Local Elections and Revolutionary Parliamentarism
So far we have only discussed the voting apparatus and the failures of false democracies in securing a victory for the workers on a national or state/provincial level. Things, however, are much more different when looking at the local level. Locally, the bourgeois parties have much less direct influence, as locales initially seem to pose little threat to the status quo nationally or internationally. Here lies the greatest chance to sow the seeds for revolution. The communist movement must be built from the ground up, starting in towns and cities; the electoral positions in these locales, thus, should be prime targets for our movement. Coordinated efforts between towns, having elected communists and socialists to local trustee boards and councils, will be able to begin disrupting the dominance of capitalist relations as they extend to individual workers, and may seek to establish communes in which revolutionary ideas will flourish. The revolutionary party, the vanguard of the revolution, shall here begin to find a voice for itself as it organically arises amongst the proletariat. This phenomenon I call “revolutionary parliamentarism,” and while similar to Lenin’s practice of disrupting established parliaments, I have extended the basis of the idea farther, to encompass a more practical approach to fermenting the revolution right from underneath the bourgeoisie and their arrogance as they rule from ivory towers which shall soon collapse. While the true organ of the proletariat movement are the workers’ councils, the domination of local politics is an important stepping stone from which to establish those councils. The Paris Commune and early USSR, though imperfect proletarian dictatorships, are clear evidence that our movement not only begins locally, as in Paris or the individual Russian Soviets, but that the existing structure is incapable of radical change. This is perfectly encompassed in the inability of the Russian Duma to capitalize on the progress of the February revolution, resulting in the October Revolution by the Bolsheviks. Our movement is the one which challenges and abolishes the present state of things, and as such we cannot meet the bourgeois on their own turf; rather, I challenge us to create our own.