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February 16 , 2011


How Parliamentary Democracy Duped the Workers


‘An elegantly argued and searing indictment of the economic and sociological background of the British political system of ‘representative’ democracy in general, and parliamentary socialism in particular. The first hundred pages or so examine the evolution of the British Conservative Party over the past two centuries; the remaining four-fifths of the book focuses on the British Labour Party and how it corrupted the socialist ideal. An important and challenging book that should be read by ANYONE interested in politics, especially those who put their faith in the “Labour Movement”’ — Stuart Christie

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A hundred years ago socialist thinking, in tune with the rising tide of labour protest, presented a serious challenge to the capitalist hegemony. However much they differed over ultimate objectives and how to reach them, the socialists of the late nineteenth century were at one in their conviction that possessive, individualistic, capitalism would have to be overcome to establish a just, equitable and sane society. They were equally certain that the huge advance in productive capacity which capitalism had helped to bring about, by proving that poverty could be abolished, had made such a transformation possible, immediately or at least within the near future.

So what went wrong? Donovan Pedelty, in this wide-ranging, fascinating and sometimes darkly humorous anarchist critique, explores the answer to this question through a study of the development of parliamentary socialism during the last hundred years or so, focusing principally on what is falsely described as the British Labour Movement (i.e. the Labour Party and the bureaucratic unions — with their full-time paid officials —  affiliated to it, membership of one of which was once, let us not forget, the only way to obtain individual membership of the Labour Party) since World War II.

The labour movement — without capitals — means the workers in struggle, wherever and whenever. However, despite the no doubt sincere intentions of the original founders of the Labour Party, under the corrupting proximity to power the goals of the parliamentary party soon gave way to the individual political aspirations of its members. The Labour Party ‘spin doctors’ hijacked the term Labour Movement and sought to impose the monopoly of their own limited, official, incorporated body of pretense, pomposity and sell-out. The intent of the capitals, like the name Labour Party, is clear — to lead the workers to follow the LP into class collaboration. “How can you struggle against your very own party, your very own unions? WE are the way — YOU are the waverers. Back into line!’

Within the framework of what apologists for capitalism have always dismissed as ‘utopian visions’, but which socialists have shown to be realisable, this book traces, in Part One, the development in Britain —through the jockeying for power of the bourgeois political parties — of ‘fully representative democracy’, while highlighting the contradiction between this development and their commitment to capitalism.

Part Two analyses the reasons why the party formed to challenge the dominance of capital failed to use that ‘democratic power’ to implement social justice — and ultimately fell in with vested interests, defending them against the working class. It is the story of how Labour engineered ‘The Great Deception

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