THE FRONT page of The Daily Telegraph yesterday led with an article headed: ‘John McDonnell threatens to march on the palace and tell the Queen: “We’re taking over”, if Boris Johnson loses a no confidence vote’.
This referred to Labour’s shadow chancellor saying that he would be ‘sending Jeremy Corbyn in a cab to Buckingham Palace to say we’re taking over’ if Johnson lost a no confidence vote in Parliament.
Johnson has already indicated that if he loses the vote he will hang on and delay any general election until after October 31st killing off attempts to stop Brexit by MPs.
In this bitter war between the Remainers and the Brexit supporters around Johnson, the historical relevance of the English Revolution of the 1640s has emerged as a burning issue with both sides seeking to use it as justification.
Ex-Tory Home Secretary and Remainer, Malcolm Rifkind, wrote to The Times on Tuesday saying that if Johnson didn’t resign after losing the vote it ‘would create the gravest constitutional crisis since the actions of Charles I led to the Civil War’.
This was attacked in The Telegraph in an article which stated: ‘The Civil War was fought to establish that very principle, overturning Charles I’s Divine Right of Kings concept in the process. In the Civil War, the sovereignty of the people was championed by the Parliamentary forces of Oliver Cromwell and the New Model Army, the victors in that struggle.’
The fact that the English Revolution of the 17th century has now appeared so dramatically in the struggle is an indication of the revolutionary nature of the crisis.
For centuries the bourgeoisie in Britain have consciously avoided their own revolutionary origins. The revolution was always referred to as the Civil War and consigned to the history books as an unfortunate bloody episode from the distant past.
The reason for this is that it exposes the fact that far from capitalism being the ‘natural order of things’ it was formed in England out of a massive class struggle between a rapidly developing mercantile capitalist class that was being strangled by the old social relationships of the existing feudal system.
Capitalism in England could not develop under a social system where the King ruled by Divine Right and arbitrarily took what he wanted, plundering the wealth of the bourgeoisie, stunting their ability to develop an advanced capitalist system.
The conflict between Charles I and the bourgeoisie represented by Parliament could not be resolved in any peaceful fashion. For capitalism to develop it was necessary to smash the old feudal system through revolution.
It was this progressive role played by the revolutionary bourgeoisie under the leadership of Oliver Cromwell that allowed for the massive development of capitalism in Britain leading to the industrial revolution and Britain becoming the first imperialist power dominating and exploiting the world. Today capitalism has no progressive role.
In its death agony it can only survive through wars against the people of the world and war against the working class at home.
When McDonnell, who is positioning himself as leader of a Remain unity government, talks of defending Parliamentary sovereignty, what he is saying is that the will of 400-odd MPs must prevail over the democratic vote of the people to leave.
Equally, when the Brexiteers talk about the people’s will trumping that of Parliament, what they are fighting for is not a revolutionary change but of transforming the UK into a vassal state of American imperialism.
Far from either side emulating the revolutionary determination of Cromwell to smash the old order they are both counter-revolutionary, reflecting the splits in the capitalist class about which imperialist bloc, the US or the EU, a collapsing British capitalism should cling to for survival.
The only progressive class today is the working class – the only class that can advance humanity from capitalism in its death agony through the victory of the socialist revolution.
Just as in the 17th century, this requires the building of a determined revolutionary leadership that is prepared to lead the working class to take the power in the same way Cromwell led the bourgeois revolution to victory.
Only the WRP is building this leadership. Join today.