For Marxists elections provide a valuable way of ascertaining certain tendencies in society. It is true that they are not the only way of judging the mood of the masses – nor even the best barometer of the real state of the class struggle. At best they are a snapshot of a certain mood at a given time. But having made these necessary reservations and qualifications, one has to take these indicators seriously, as Marx and Lenin certainly did.
In the last few days we have witnessed at least three elections, all of which bear witness to highly significant processes that are now moving with great speed. These processes are not confined to one or two countries. If that were the case, they might be dismissed as mere accidents, events with no particular significance. But when the same – or very similar – processes repeat themselves in many countries, they can no longer be dismissed as accidents. They are the manifestations of the same phenomenon.
As the crisis of capitalism deepens, all that was once solid is melting to air. The European Union, designed to strengthen European capitalism against the crushing dominance of the world market, is now unravelling at the seams. David Cameron (UK Conservative Prime Minister), in a desperate attempt to hold his party together, has risked everything by allowing a referendum on EU membership. In doing so, he has set loose forces that are beyond his control – forces that could lead to an implosion in the Tory Party, whilst also providing a catalyst for the inevitable disintegration of the EU. All the chickens are now coming home to roost.
With 53% of the votes the Venezuelan opposition has managed to secure 112 seats in the National Assembly. This gives them a sweeping two third majority and wide ranging powers. Drunk with victory and seething with revenge, they have started to announce plans to reverse every single one of the gains of the Bolivarian revolution. This has provoked ferment amongst the revolutionary rank and file, which at the same time is directing part of their anger at bureaucrats and reformists within its own ranks.
Although it had been widely predicted, the landslide victory of Bernie sanders in the New Hampshire primary produced shock waves. After narrowly losing in Iowa (and it is quite likely the result was rigged), Sanders beat Clinton by a margin of more than 20 last Tuesday. This result has produced bewilderment among the commentators. That was something that was not supposed to happen.
“Theory is grey, my friend, but the tree of life is evergreen” (Goethe’s Faust)
As we have stated previously, the downing of a Russian jet in Syria by the Turkish military was clearly a provocation on the part of the Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan. His aim was to stop an alliance being formed between Russia and the West in Syria. He has achieved the opposite with Turkey now more isolated and the major world powers coming closer to each other while Turkey and Saudi Arabia have been elbowed to one side.
While official NATO leaders were quick to state the right of Turkey to defend its sovereign space after downing the Russian jet, they were also quick to call for restraint on the part of Russia as well as Turkey. “De-escalation” was the buzzword all major world leaders were using.