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Vote With Your Feet!

Thu, 30/04/2015 - 12:11

In the last election, about 22 million of us didn’t vote [1]. That’s more people than voted for any political party. It’s not because we’re apathetic – it’s because most of us see through the “good cop, bad cop” routine of Labour and the Tories. Both parties support cuts, privatising the NHS, and making life hell for benefits claimants. [2] In the same way that a “good cop” will offer a cup of tea and a “friendly chat” while a “bad cop” shouts and makes threats, the Tories jeer at “scroungers” while Labour smiles and talks about the need to be practical. But whatever they promise in their manifestos, they both want to do the same thing – to screw us over on behalf of the rich.

So what’s the alternative? If you listen to most of The Left, either we should create a new party (why would they be any different?) [3] or “vote labour without illusions”, because they are “the party of the working class” (bollocks are they!) [4]. This is obviously not going to change anything. All it does is channel our anger at being screwed over into a process designed to pacify us. If we want to make our lives better we need to take action for ourselves, not vote for “representatives” to do it for us.

Rather than trying to get another rich liar politician into power, anarchists are working in their communities to solve problems through “direct action”. 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. We’ve won many cases like this [5]. Rather than asking the government to end the “workfare” programmes currently used against benefits claimants, we are shutting them down one by one [6]. The government has even claimed that AFed and SolFed, among other groups, are a serious threat to workfare! [7] This is despite the involvement of only a few hundred people. Imagine what we could do with several thousand!

Anarcho-syndicalists also work towards a society where we have real democracy. In SolFed, we vote on the issues facing us directly, rather than electing representatives and expecting them to make decisions for us. All our roles are taken on by volunteers – people with the same pay and the same troubles as all the rest. And unlike politicians, if anyone steps out of line they can be recalled right away. In the future we want workplaces and communities to be run like this: with everyone having a say, and decisions made by a majority rather than a few managers and shareholders. Bosses are the dictators of the workplace. We can’t be free until they are overthrown.

Voting is a waste of time and only serves to dull our anger. On the other hand anarchist tactics – grassroots organising and direct action – are making a difference right now. If all of us who don’t vote got together and took action (voted “with our feet”), then we could take back all the rights and benefits we lost under the last Tory government, with more besides. So let’s get organised, get active, and give ’em hell!

[1] stats from govuk website – 15 million plus estimated 6 million not registered
[2] https://johnnyvoid.wordpress.com/2015/04/13/here-comes-the-forced-labour-party-massive-extension-of-workfare-and-benefits-to-be-slashed/ ; https://libcom.org/library/driving-nhs-market ; http://libcom.org/library/labouring-vain
[3] http://libcom.org/library/should-brighton-vote-green-03032010
[4] http://libcom.org/blog/let%E2%80%99s-all-vote-labour-without-illusions-16112011
[5] UK examples: http://www.solfed.org.uk/south-london/victory-in-the-wage-theft-fight-against-green-eco-plus, http://www.brightonsolfed.org.uk/brighton/solfed-chalks-up-another-wages-win-with-brighton-hospitality-workers, International: http://www.iwa-ait.org/content/struggles-and-victories-iwa-2014
[6] For example: http://bristolaf.wordpress.com/2013/06/05/victories-in-the-battle-against-workfare
[7] http://www.informationtribunal.gov.uk/DBFiles/Decision/i1437/Department%20for%20Work%20&%20Pensions%20EA.2014.0073,%200109%20&%200130%20%2822.12.2014%29.pdf

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