The Spark

“The emancipation of the working class will only be achieved by the working class itself.” — Karl Marx

Voting Cannot “Make History,” Fighting Can!

Jul 18, 2016

This was taken from the editorial in the Summer 2016 issue of Workers’ Fight, the paper of the revolutionary workers group by the same name active in Great Britain. It concerns the vote in Britain to leave the European Union: the so called “Brexit” vote.

A considerable amount of hot air was generated by Brexiters about what a “great nation” Britain is going to be, now that it is “free to go it alone.” Never mind that this country is a dot on the map, with less than 1% of the planet’s population – or that its social and economic fabric depends on the rest of the world, Europe included!

What these Brexiters will do with what they describe as their “mandate” to leave the EU (European Union), is another question, as it depends on factors beyond their control. Who can tell, for instance, what the fallout of the speculation generated by this referendum will be? The 24/7 mobilization of the big financial institutions failed to prevent hectic movements in the value of the pound and acute turmoil on stock markets, in London and elsewhere. No one can predict what the fallout will be.

Besides, the new Prime Minister Theresa May, who replaces Cameron, will have the City breathing down her neck. Brexiter or not, she will have to toe the line laid down by British Capital – including ensuring that it retains its present full access to the EU market, whatever the price.

What Now for the Working Class?

For the working class, this means more of the same attacks on jobs and conditions and more of the same cuts – if not worse. But then, in this respect, whichever way the referendum went made little difference.

The fact that the staunchest Leave strongholds were in Tory (conservative party) heartlands did not stop commentators and politicians from blaming working class Labor voters for the Leave victory. Some Labor right-wingers are even demanding Corbyn’s (leader of the Labor Party) resignation, for being “too soft” on migrant workers!

But in Labor’s strongholds, most of the Leave voters mistakenly thought this was a chance to say that they’d had enough of seeing their living standards fall due to Cameron’s policies. It’s not for nothing that the strongest Leave vote in working class areas came from industrial graveyards like Bolsover, Barnsely, Corby, etc.

What’s left after this campaign, and after years of scapegoating migrant workers, is a divisive, poisonous climate which could become dangerous if the working class doesn’t deal with it.

Voting has never brought about any change for the working class. But direct action against the bosses’ offensive, against their politicians and their system, can bring change – if it unites all its forces behind common fighting objectives. Then and only then will the working class really “make history,” by taking society forward!