There is an episode of “The Simpsons” in which Homer decides he hates dealing with the household garbage. “Let someone else do it!” becomes not only his plaintive cry, but also his slogan when he runs for mayor.
The whole of Springfield rallies to his support, each individual with some task or burden he would rather be relieved of, passing responsibility to someone else. Inevitable, Homer is not up to fulfilling the general aspiration and the garbage becomes an even bigger problem.
It is tempting to see in this cartoon an allegory of the rise to presidential power of Donald Trump. However, it is an illustration of a more profound problem with democracy wherever it presently operates.
For the inhabitants of Springfield read the working class, that vast majority of the population who create all society’s wealth without control over the means of production, indeed without control of their own labour power, having to sell it below the value it creates in order to live.
Theoretically, workers could address the problem of capitalism by exercising their collective political power. So, why does this not happen. Indeed, socialists (actual ones that is, not the pale imitation Labour Party ones) standing in elections receive derisory numbers of votes.
The problem is that to make such a profound collective change requires each individual to recognise, act and accept the consequences of the subsequent responsibilities creating a socialist society demands.
Instead, come election time and a number of Homers standing for the various parties effectively say to the voters, “Problems with the economy and society…let someone else deal with them.” Workers then buy into one or other of the nostrums being offered and mark their Xs on the ballot paper.
X is, of course, the signature of the illiterate, and it is political illiteracy that blights workers’ lives. However, illiteracy is not a congenital condition, nor is it a sign of stupidity. It is overcome through learning, by becoming literate, by becoming responsible not dependent.
There are serious social and economic problems that are beyond capitalism to solve. If workers want better then they will have to pursue the socialist alternative on their own behalf. There is no one who can or will do it for them.
In moments of crisis mainstream politics can become unappealing, but if people are not ready to take up the task of achieving socialism, capitalism can play its (T)trump card, the maverick who appears to be anti-establishment, the voice of the dispossessed and ignored – Trump in the USA, UKIP in Britain.
Nothing will change in the sense capitalism will be preserved for another stretch of time. If the cost is immigration controls, stronger borders, or on-going wars and terrorism, then so be it. For the working class, though, it’s business as usual and that business is capitalist.
Let someone else do it? That’s garbage!