There is no need to gloat over the result of this electoral cycle, it reflected a low turnout and merely the jockeying of votes from the same pool. There was no radical surge and the Workers Party, Solidarity, People Before Profit, Sinn Féin all performed relatively poorly. The reasons for the poor share of the vote are numerous yet crucially it is the view of this organisation that apathy is connected to the failure of the left to collectivise the issues our class is facing.
Constituency work can be an efficient way of resolving peoples problems, but ultimately that occurs on an individualized and personalized level, between the elected official or their assistant and the person in receipt of assistance. It’s the traditional client based relationship that is the bread and butter of the establishment parties. They have the resources to maximize the amount of individuals they can assist and they’re subsidised by the tax payer to do so.
Left wing parties have essentially fallen down the trap of trying to compete in a field that is orientated around ensuring the hegemony of the large traditional parties. To compete against Fianna Fail, Fine Gael and the Labour Party at a game that they have excelled at for almost a century is a waste of time but also serves to undermine ones own political organisation and struggle for socialism.
Practical consequences of over-investment in electoral politics go beyond a question of finances and resources. Objectives quickly shift as does the day-to-day activity of the political organisation. If Party members are doing the run of the mill constituency work, on a one by one level then how can a mass organisation ever come into existence? It is nor our task to become clerical officers who are performing the functions that the State should be performing, our task is to politicize our class and provide the means for resolving their own resolutions. For instance, a situation that would reflect a success for Communist politics would be where instead of a tenant with an issue going to their locally elected official and feeling obligated to vote for them after their problem is resoled, they go to their Tenant Union which their local Communist Party cell has organised. The workplace is no different, although sometimes a bit more complicated.
It has also been seen that political parties of the left, notably Solidarity/SP which has 100 registered subscription paying members and 27 staffers, have become dependent on state funding to survive. This is an incredibly precarious position to find oneself in – financial dependency on state funding means that without it, a Party can fall into crisis. A revolutionary Party should be financially independent of the State to the best of its ability and ultimately rely on its ability to mobilize support among our class. Sinn Féin is in a similar predicament right now. The loss of seats means the loss of funding, the loss of financial assistance and therefore the loss of paid positions.
It would be then reasonable to suggest that one motivator for securing further electoral victories, or maintaining current ones, would therefore be tied to a material or financial dependency created over a period of time. Those who organise on behalf of the Party should not be dependent on this funding and all means and efforts should be made to ensure the movement becomes as independent from the state as possible.
Precarious work, poverty wages, ever increasing cost of living, evictions and a myriad of other chronic socioeconomic issues continue to dominate Irish society. The condition of the working class in Ireland, North and South has gotten worse irrespective of how many TD’s, MEP’s and Councillors the social democratic left has returned. The answer as to why their collective share of the vote plummeted is here – because electoral politics and their successes do not deliver for the collective lot of our class. A social democratic structure cannot deliver socialism, it is the antithesis of socialism and always will be. Stating otherwise and promising it via the ballot box is misinformation and a fools errand.
The election results of 2019 should be a sombre reminder for the political parties that lost representation or did not achieve what they thought. We need to make the lot of our class better, not by promising it on the client based formula of voting, but by politicising our class, struggling with our class and uniting our class against the bourgeois and all those who uphold and serve them.
There will come a strategic moment to field candidates but only to further consolidate, strengthen and empower the above-mentioned mass organisations, to act as rallying calls for revolutionaries and points of education for those seeking to look through the endless wave of misinformation leveled at Communists.
The Green Wave will be over before you know it. History, humanity and our earth demands that it is followed by a Red Wave, so let us reflect, strategise and work for it.