People often say that libertarian communists object to parliament because it has too much power. In many important senses this is a perfectly true and a reasonable thing to say, but it’s only half the story. We also object to parliamentary organising, and parliament itself, on the basis that it has too little power.
When one factors in the power of media to shape opinion, the power of transnational capital to set terms of investment in a nation, the power of the unelected bureaucracy, the power of intergovernmental groups like the IMF who have taken on a life of their own and the power of unaccountable party machinery, how much power is left over for parliament itself? When we further factor in the infrequency of elections, how much power is left for the public to exercise over parliament? These factors we have pointed to are only a selection from the ways in which capital exercises power over the more overtly political processes of society.
True, the parliament has massive formal power, but this power is exercised in chains, like Dante’s Satan who flaps with mighty wings but lacks agency. Now of course the parliament does not entirely lack agency. However, the conception of the parliament as the primary site of intervention for those who would reshape the world is an illusion, cheerfully fostered by all those who tug at its chains.