Anarchist group Class War's entry into the 2015 general election with twenty-two prospective candidates is already starting to cause a bit of a stir. They're sure to gain much more attention for themselves and for revolutionary politics when they get campaigning. They will also open up broader debates about the class system at a time when the media will doubtless be hammering us with 'there's no alternative' to austerity for the already poor. Like Class War, I think it's important that those of us who work day in day out for revolutionary transformation should proactively and provocatively intervene in the great spectacle that is parliamentary politics.
Of course, I know all the usual objections, and I've come out with them all myself in the past. The capitalist state needs to be abolished. Positive change could never come through parliament - except as a rubber stamp for gains won in communities and workplaces. Running for parliament takes up a huge amount of time, energy and money, none of which any of us have much of. Those are all very important and worthy points. I agree with each and every one.
But I'm also excited by what Ian Bone wrote in his election 'statement of intent':
"We are doing this to launch a furious and co-ordinated political offensive against the ruling class with the opportunity an election gives us to talk politics to our class. We in no way see the election as an alternative to direct action [...] The ruling class have us by the throat - they need a short sharp kick in the bollocks. Our election campaign will use any means necessary. We won’t be ushered away by PR minders – we will make ourselves central to the campaign in a funny, rumbustious combative and imaginative way. We will be on the streets and in their faces."I think that five years into austerity, this is exactly what is needed. The last election was bad enough. For weeks on end the media - and the people in the places we spend our everyday lives - were talking about politics far more than usual. When friends, family or whoever asked us what we thought, all we could come up with was the kind of things I mentioned in the second paragraph - i.e. the details that only would-be revolutionaries care about. Our mumbled answers turn people off our politics, at precisely the time they could be the most turned on. Meanwhile, the political agenda is being driven more to the right by the hour.
With the dominant narrative being that there needs to be lots more cuts, the micro-differences between the big pro-capitalist parties are about precisely who within the working class should be attacked first, and how fast.
In 2015, the people we know are going to be saying they hate politics, and "they're all the same" more than ever before, but they're also going to get a bit swept up in the 'who should be cut?' game. And if we leave the field clear, the mainstream will be free to use populist fascists and particularly UKIP to push the agenda even further to the right.
If we do stand candidates, they should be completely honest about the need for people to link up with emerging resistance movements if they are to make real change. Intervention in the electoral process doesn't need to be about standing candidates. But it does need to be the kind of "funny, rumbustious combative and imaginative" stuff which Ian Bone is talking about. A lot of us 'troll' politicians on social media. Even if we don't have a candidate standing against prominent Tory, Labour or Lib Dem politicians, why not make an effort to troll them 'in real life' at every opportunity?
I believe we should use the opportunity of the 2015 election to puncture the illusion that politics is simply a matter of voting for one or another anti-working class candidate. We must be boldly, publicly, unashamedly on the side of the oppressed. We must not pretend to be the struggle; we must make a clarion call to join the struggle. By hook or by crook, we must force our way onto the stage, and show the lackeys of the system up for what they are.
We know when the election will be: 7th May next year. Let's get our thinking caps on about what we're going to do, and how we're going to do it.