|The News Line: Editorial
Friday, 10 February 2017
Don’t stop at the House of Lords! Abolish Parliament and go forward to a Workers Republic!
ON Wednesday night, a spokesman for the Tory government delivered a blunt message to the House of Lords that they either accepted Brexit or face abolition, adding: ‘The Lords will face an overwhelming public call to be abolished if they try and frustrate this Bill – they must get on and deliver the will of the British people.’
This naked threat to abolish the Lords completely if they create problems over passing the Bill to trigger Article 50 follows a campaign by the LibDems, Tory and Labour Peers to ‘do their patriotic duty’ by overriding the democratic vote to exit and kill off leaving the EU for good.
The swift and brutal response of the Tories is an object lesson to workers. The bourgeoisie have always been at their most ruthless when it comes to the question of power.
While the social democrats in the Labour Party prostrate themselves before Parliament and have never seriously proposed abolishing the unelected Lords, the Tories have no hesitation in closing it down if it threatens the interests of the capitalist state.
This ruthlessness has always been a marked feature of the bourgeoisie right from its beginning as the ruling class when, during the English Revolution in the 17th century, the rising capitalist class under the leadership of Cromwell ruthlessly put down the old feudal monarchy and destroyed those institutions that sought to compromise with the king.
Cromwell was quite prepared to do whatever was necessary to overthrow the existing order to establish the rule of the capitalist class. In 1648, he purged parliament of those MPs who sought conciliation with the monarchy, and drove them from its halls using the weapon of his New Model Army.
Cromwell’s ‘rump’ parliament abolished both the House of Lords and the monarchy itself, culminating in the execution of Charles I. The ruthlessness of the capitalist class in overthrowing outmoded and historically redundant feudalism and establishing the dictatorship of the bourgeoisie holds lessons that must be learnt by the working class today. It contains a crucial historical example of how to deal with a parliament that is determined to inflict the full crisis of capitalism on the backs of workers.
We live in a revolutionary period where British capitalism can only survive by destroying all the gains of the Welfare State. The NHS is daily being ruthlessly and deliberately starved of funding, hospitals and A&E wards threatened with closure in order to create the conditions for the complete privatisation of health services.
Things have reached the stage where the Tories are ignoring their own legislation and allowing the privateer landlords to carry on a mass campaign of ‘revenge evictions’ against any tenant who dares challenge the appalling housing conditions they are forced to live under.
Millions of workers are forced to work in the ‘gig economy’ of multiple zero-hours contracts all paying starvation wages and with hundreds of thousands of jobs under threat from robots. Wages are now so low that even those in work are forced to rely on benefits just to survive while the unemployed and disabled are left to rot.
Millions of workers and young people are refusing to accept that to keep the bosses and bankers rolling in profits means they and their families have to face a life of poverty and destitution. Workers must now emulate and even improve on the ruthlessness of the capitalist class and establish their own dictatorship – the dictatorship of the working class – just as the capitalist class established the dictatorship of capital through the revolutionary overthrow of the old feudal system.
This means building a revolutionary leadership in the working class that will fight for the class interests of workers as Cromwell fought for the interests of the bourgeoisie. Such a leadership must be prepared to lead a general strike to kick out the Tories and go forward to abolishing not just the Lords but parliament itself and replacing both with a workers’ government and a workers’ republic.
This is the only way to defend the NHS, and to defend the basic rights of the working class, including the right to strike, the right to decent housing, the right to work at trade union rates of pay and the right to a decent retirement and pension. It will also pave the way for workers throughout Europe to overthrow the EU and replace it with the Socialist United States of Europe!
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