Workers' Weekly On-Line
Volume 49 Number 15, September 28, 2019 ARCHIVE HOME JBCENTRE SUBSCRIBE

Necessity for Complete Democratic Renewal


Protests against dysfunctional parliament, St George's Hall, Liverpool, September 2, 2019

The unanimous decision of the eleven judges of the Supreme Court that the Prorogation of Parliament amidst wide-scale opposition was unlawful, together with the subsequent acrimonious and frankly farcical shenanigans when Parliament was reconvened, has once again served to underline the complete dysfunctionality of the old political forms and institutions.

It is not as though the Supreme Court judgment has sorted out any issue for the establishment. It has served rather to put in an ever-brighter spotlight the irrevocable character of the crisis of the old system of representative democracy, a system in which in the real world it is not the people who are represented, but the person of state. This system is at a cross-roads, but the forces of the establishment are trying to stand in the way of the people taking the broad high-road of establishing new forms, of working to bring into being an Anti-War Government.

The present government is not acting in a way which respects the form and content of the old system of Westminster parliamentary democracy. It has suffered a defeat on every issue that MPs have voted on, and the Attorney General himself, a Cabinet member, has contemptuously dismissed Westminster after the prorogation was decreed null and unlawful as a "dead parliament". There is the suspicion that this is precisely what the government is organising for it to be.

In this situation, the people are organising to bring into being new forms in which they not only express opposition to what the establishment is trying to impose on them but also voice their own concerns and work out how to empower themselves so as to be able to make the decisions to safeguard these concerns and what favours them, and to themselves participate in setting the agenda as to what these concerns actually are. In other words, the people's movement is striving to bring into being and to strengthen where they exist the kind of forms and forums in which their decisive participation is fundamental, in which they speak themselves in their own name.

In a reflection of this, there have also been calls for a Citizens' Convention to decide on a written Constitution. It has also been expressed in Parliament that there is an aspiration that the people should be, or indeed are, sovereign. These calls can only have meaning in the context of the working class and people's movements making the work for democratic renewal and an Anti-War Government a way of life in itself. This is what our organising work is directed towards.

We reprint below the September 13 statement of RCPB(ML), which sums up our position on the dysfunctional parliamentary system and the practical programme for democratic renewal which is the call of the times.

A Dysfunctional Parliamentary System

The decision of the Court of Session, Scotland's Supreme Civil Court, that the prorogation of Parliament was unlawful, coming after the chaotic and farcical scenes in the House of Commons on September 9, underline how dysfunctional the parliamentary system has become. It marked the culmination of the spectacle of the old norms being torn up.

The old political arrangements as represented in Parliament and the Westminster system have become irrevocably shot through with crisis. They have ceased to be able to sort out the differences and contradictions in the ruling elites, and to cope with how political power is exercised.

The political system is not working as a party in power and a party in opposition. The rule of law has become a phrase. The system simply does not operate as parties functioning as representatives of different factions of the ruling elites, capable of sorting out their differences through elections and other means.

Yet in this system the people are cast as observers to the goings-on, despite the outrage and protests. It is not simply that it is rule by executive fiat, but that the shenanigans are demonstrating that these political institutions are not consistent with the needs of the times. They are an obstruction to the people having the power to challenge the control of the financial oligarchy which is blocking the exercise of the rights of the people and refusing to recognise their needs. The spirit of the people's opposition to what is happening is that none of these arrangements are going to serve their interests.

Events have made clear that the parliamentary system is completely dysfunctional. It is not that this can be remedied but that the system itself is obsolete. Something new is required. The establishment is not the answer. Working people cannot afford to get embroiled in the call that parliamentary democracy must be restored to resolve the situation, or to get divided on the basis that the fight is parliament versus the people.

The answer is for working people to create their own political organisations. They should empower themselves by working out their own stands. The fight of the working class and people for their rights and interests is itself a part of the fight for empowerment. Those who are fighting for empowerment and are favoured by it are working to strengthen the concrete organising work for this aim. The working class and people are determined to persist in speaking in their own name, not handing over their voice or their initiative to another force which claims to represent them, or speak in their name, but in reality represents the person of state that rules over them. In other words, the working class and people reject this whole obsolete political process which is the instrument of the elites for keeping them out of power themselves, denying them their right to rule. New forms, new arrangements to empower the people are required.

This is the practical programme for democratic renewal which the working class and people must take up, looking towards establishing their own anti-war government. Let us all join in this fight!


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