Lark, man - how can you distinguish the practise of preaching reforms from reformism? Specifically, how can the vast majority of people? If you go around advocating reforms, who will you mostly attract to your banner? Revolutionaries, or folks as want the reforms on offer - I’ve talked to enough SWP hacks to know the answer to that one.
I mean, if you walked into the doctor, and said ‘Doctor, I have a headache’, and if the bugger said ‘taking a couple of aspirin would cure your headache, but for now, just put a damp cloth on your forhead.’ what would you think? How is that different from socialists who stand for reforms? After all, we say socialism is the cure for most social ills, so wh shoiuld we offer non-cures, and spend time promoting them?
Further, if we were to manage to attract a mass movement to our banner, if we do get the millions necessary, we’d have to ask ourselves why we bothered with reforms in the first place, when we could, perhaps, have persuaded the millions to revolution.
Finally, if we spend time advocating reforms, we put off working for the revolution till tommorrrow (and as Cheif Vitastatistix says, Tommorrow never comes), we’d get bogged down in the horse trading of politics, we’d get lost in the quagmire of trying to *run* capitalism (which is whart reformists promise), and socialism would disappear from our agenda.
Its not some ‘black or white’ thing, its simply this - reforms are not the cure, why should I recomend a cure I don’t believe will work?
O.K. Barry - lets be clear, first an Engels ref. - i’ll cite his comments on the role of the bakuninites in the Nineteenth C. Spanish revolution (in M&E on Spain). Just a swift ref.
Now, as to ballot spoiling - I agree, power does not lie in the state, nor will revolution come through voting, but, let me clarify our programme.
First off, we need to examine the state as means of ideology, as a source of legitimation for the continuance of the struggle - to win the state from the ruling class would mean that they have lost their legimising recognition from the majority of workers, who will have consciously decided against the system - further, it would confuse, disorientate and divide the ideologues of the ruling class, were the state to be captured with a fig leaf of legitinmicay - so it mutes their capacity to responce (remember, many of the capitalist class are as much cvictims of ideology as we ourselves are).
Now, on top of that, we’d have the fact that we could then sezie and control the *means of violence*, and more specifically, their co-ordinating *material* structures - so as in order to strip of the state of its repressive character, and prevents them being used against us. The seizure, for a Maxrist, of the means of violence is a precondition of seizing the means of production, so once we establish a working-class monopoly on violence, we then begin to socialise the Means of production.
As you may have gathered, this doesn’t happen with spoilt ballots - but, they do have a purpose:
1:For individuals to express their rejection and opposition to the system.
2:For ourselves to measure any support we have out there, if a lot of people spoil for ‘World Socialism’, then it makes it worth our while to start standing candidates, Bloggs for President, etc.
Our aim is to send Delegates to political representative positions (parliament, and although we think the U.S. presidency to be inherently undemocratic, there to), ion order to seize the ideological initiative, and also take control of the means of co-ordinating state violence - such a move would severly diminish any response from the ruling class.
Finally, as to Russia, we said in 1917 that there was no way Russia could be a socialist revolution, even if what it was doing were to succeed, because it was social;ist in name only, and it was a revolution in a backward feudal economy.