I think I agree with every word of John Penney’s contribution, with the single exception of his attempt to present it as an alternative to Trotskyism, when it is perfectly compatible with Trotskyism. I wonder if that means he is a member of the Communist Party of Great Britain.
Direct democracy certainly is a meaningless utopia in a world divided into irreconcilable classes. In addition to their having an illegitimate monopoly of the means of production, distribution and exchange, the richest one percent also have a monopoly of the means of destruction: the armed forces, police, MI5, MI6, prison system etc.
The ruling class deploy their state to protect their ill-gotten gains. And by ‘ill-gotten gains’, I mean of course far more than mere dodged taxes. I am referring to profits as well.
Profit, after all, derives from surplus value exploited from the masses, specifically from the wage slaves, those who have nothing to sell but their labour power. The fact that the BBC, Channel Four News and Sky News join hands with Ed Miliband’s One Nation Blairites to bury this reality of the capitalist system doesn’t stop it being true anymore than the Pope’s locking up Galileo shifted the Earth back into its non-existent location at the center of the universe.
Nor does direct democracy amount to much when we find the Speaker of the House of Commons’s wife (Sally Bercow) made an example of, coming close to driving her over the edge of bankrupting, for one ill-advised tweet. What we have with here is the unelected judiciary (one part of the capitalist state) and a millionaire Tory in the unelected part of our ‘democratic’ legislature blatantly attempting to intimidate the masses.
The capitalist state is shit scared of our engaging in social media because they witness day in, day out our using it to circumvent the broadcast and print media’s monopoly of the means of mental production and commentary of political events.
Given the reactionary biases of the mass media (Monarchy, anti-strike, pro-NATO war criminals), of their outrageous gagging socialists, the broadcast media in Britain today is one indispensable cog in the machine churning out Islamophobic and xenophobic bigots of the EDL, the BNP, and UKIP. It is hardly surprising that any so-called on-line direct democracy will help some extraordinarily reactionary groups to scapegoat many of the most oppressed victims of capitalism’s economic chaos: Muslims and immigrants first in the firing line, but with Gypsies, so-called benefit scroungers, ‘coffin dodgers’ draining the NHS by refusing to die quickly enough for the rich and powerful.
What Left Unity has to promote is democratic accountability of the leadership, and a degree of professionalism by them also. We expect the elected leadership to use their role as spokespersons to challenge the lies of the BBC, SKY News and Channel Four News.
The so-called sects of the Socialist Workers Party, Socialist Party, Workers Power, Socialist Appeal and even groups like Respect are intervening in a progressive way on the Woolwich atrocity, making use of RT.com, for example. They are doing this to get some of the truth out.
Left Unity, by contrast, is sitting on the side-lines with nothing to say as an organisation. This is a disaster for Left Unity. This is a consequence of the anti-dialectical critique of so-called democratic centralism.
This alleged horizontal democracy does not in the least enfranchise Left Unity’s 8,000 supporters. All it is doing is depriving us of any collective voice capable of undermining the EDL, BNP, UKIP, BBC, SKY, Channel Four news, MI5 etc, etc, etc..
And this, in turns, helps every other left-of-Labour electoral alternative. This is a very serious problem for Left Unity, a problem all members of the elected leadership, Ken Loach, Socialist Resistance, Workers Power etc should demand is addressed asap. If it is not tackled, then there should be a vote of no-confidence in Left Unity’s elected leadership.
[edited version of a comment I left on Left Unity’s website: http://leftunity.org/left-unity-directly-democratic/]