We've been here before. Over a hundred years ago, Social Democracy was on the rise. Like the Socialist Party and Socialist Alliance today, the Social Democrats considered themselves as revolutionary socialists who aimed to use the ballot box as a weapon against capitalism. Across the world, they met with various degrees of success. However, this "success" was more apparent than real. Slowly but surely socialist principles became watered down, revolutionary ideas were paid lip-service to as the parties activities became increasingly reformist in nature. Practice and rhetoric finally collided with the outbreak of the First World War, when almost all the social democratic parties supporting their ruling class in the slaughter. After the war, they helped crush the German and Italian revolutions, saving the very system they were founded to abolish.
Decades later, the same fate befell the German Green Party. Claiming to be an "anti-party party," they, like the first social democrats, argued for both direct action and standing in elections. History repeated itself. Like the social democrats, they became reformist, standing out only for the rapidity with which careerism, party politics, and business-as-usual once again played themselvs out in their saga of compromise and betrayal of principle. Under the superficial veil of their old values, they have become 'practical,' 'realistic' and 'power-orientated.'
These betrayals did not spring out of nowhere. Rather, they were the end product of years of activity within capitalist institutions. Nor were they unexpected. Anarchists from the start argued that standing in elections would see socialism replaced by reformism. History has proven us right time and time again.
Anarchism recognised that socialism cannot be created via the ballot box. It can only be created from below, by direct action, solidarity and the creation of new forms of organisation rooted in our communities and workplaces. Only by organising, fighting back, and practising solidarity where we live and work, can we really change things. That is where our power lies, that is where we can create a real alternative.
By creating a network of self-managed community and workplace organisations, we can impose by direct action that which politicians can never give us. This also creates the framework of the future society, showing that people can manage their own affairs for themselves. This experience of "anarchy in action" helps change ideas far better than a million election manifestos. It shows that socialism is not a utopian vision, but rather a viable alternative. It shows how to change society - that another world is possible.
Do you want to make history or just repeat it? If the former, then anarchism is for you.
On to Socialism or Social Democracy?
Making history or just repeating it?
A leaflet discussing why socialism and electioneering do not go together. Available in pdf format and in four parts:
- Making history or just repeating it?
- Socialism or Social Democracy?
- Ideas to change the world or just the bosses?
- For a socialism that liberates!
PDF file of Making history or just repeating it?