Commentary: Alternative budgets and electoral politics.

Socialism, a mode of production that redefines the landscape of society into a more democratic, accountable and responsible form.  Some political entities in Ireland will explain Socialism as higher taxation, better healthcare services, improved education, etc. it’s true, some of these things will be the consequences of a Socialist society, but that is not Socialism in of itself.   No alternative budget can deliver a Socialist society, no electoral victory can overthrow the parasitic nature of capitalism in Ireland. Why you might ask?


We have to take a step back and ask ourselves who exactly staffs, runs and determines what is appropriate under our financial framework? Do socialists work in the Department of Finance? Do revolutionaries examine the budget and shout “YES COMRADES! THIS BUDGET WILL DELIVER FOR THE WORKERS OF IRELAND!”? Or, realistically, is the department which examines and finalizes the budget staffed with civil servants? Who appoints the civil servants in the Department of Finance? Who pays their wages and determines their positions? Finally, what is the primary function of the Department of Finance within a capitalist government? It is to ensure that the budget is determined in such a way that the existing structures of society and the pillars are not challenged, that is to say that the hegemony of capital is not challenged.


In the Connolly Youth Movement we despair at the fact that several political organisations struggling for Socialism are fronting alternative budgets. Why do they do this we ask ourselves? What’s the point?  It is our view that the presentation of an alternative budget suggests that it is feasible for leftist organisations to secure Socialism through an alternative budget. This is a lie and we challenge it. An alternative budget can deliver nothing but ‘management’ of capitalism,  slightly better conditions.


We have to challenge capitalism at the root and stem, that is the exploitation of the worker, tenant and small farmer by the exploiting class.  Our challenge has to be ideological, we want a society free from these exploiters, not a society that accommodates them by ‘taxing’ them. We want to redefine the place of the worker in the workplace and the tenant in the homeplace. In order to do so, we have to be talking about concrete organisation of both of these places rather than the abstract notion of casting a ballot for a Trotskyist front and hoping that by placing them on the council or Leinster house they’ll deliver something. That isn’t worth anything to anybody except the front who will ream money off of it.


The struggle for Socialism is not a struggle for the replacing of one parliamentary group to another, it is not about tricking the masses of Ireland to Socialism but about showing the fire and conviction that figures such as Connolly, Mellows and Costello portrayed and bringing the working class with us in the complete overthrow of the social and economic order.  We do not want a management of capitalist relations in society, we want the common ownership of Ireland to the people of Ireland and the capacity to have unfettered control over our own destiny.


To the political entities parties presenting ‘alternative’ budgets we say this is a gross error and will only lead you to ruin. The allocation of resources towards the leaflets and posters for electoral purposes is a waste, the allocation of activists to these actions is equally – a waste.  These resources can be allocated in a far better way, here two concrete examples which we desire to be considered:


  1. Political entities with huge resources should set about aggressive and militant campaigns to grow union density in their own areas. Utilizing educational groups such as TRADEMARK and in collaboration with other trade unions, the primary focus of the left that truly aspires to revolution should be to increase union density and focus on making the Trade Unions ideologically aligned to class politics.
  2. The organisation of tenant – housing bodies in local areas that will 1) resolve immediate issues 2) teach people their rights in the homeplace and 3) galvanize communities to stand up for themselves.


Both of these things, while sounding simple on paper require time, effort and resources, none of which are being dedicated by organisations that have these available to them. The focus must not be on misleading the workers through ‘alternative budgets’ or electoral politics, but the building of militant, organic and self-educated working class pillars of power that can challenge capital and the agents of capital through extraparliamentary measures.


Either way, I ask not for your vote, but for your solidarity in the workplace and the home. That is where the battle for our future lies and the ballot box can and should only be seen a very limited and resource consuming method of making gains for our class.