Justin Schwartz jschwart at freenet.columbus.oh.us
Tue Jun 13 07:30:22 MDT 1995

On Tue, 13 Jun 1995, Paul_Cockshott wrote:

> Justin, it depends on what you understand
> democracy to be. I take it in its original sense
> to be rule by the common people - who in the main
> are not rich. In that sense, was there ever
> democracy in the US. Was it not always a state
> in which the legislature and executive were
> in the hands of the rich. Have its special
> bodies of armed men not always protected the
> rich against the poor?

What I said was that for the first hundred years or so the US was moving
in the direction of democracy, a process which, though interrupted, has
not altogether ceased. It was moving that way as recently as the 1950s and
60s, with the civil rights and other movements. For the last 25 or so
years, less so. I never said the US was a democracy plain and simple. I
don't think there exists such a thing.

As to bodies of armed men "always" defending the rich, we did have a
civil war the effect of which was to free the slaves and a Radical
Reconstruction, in which the army defended thre Freedmen against the
racists. In the 1950s and early 60s, the National Guard (usually a
strikebreaking force) was used to defend Blacks against segregationists,
and the Johnson, Kennedy, Nixon (!), Ford and Carter administrations,
though in many ways deeply racist and repressive, did institute and
enforce a good deal of civil rights legislation; early, the Roosevelt
administration did the same with labor legislation. I'm not saying that on
balance the US govt is pro-labor and pro-civil rights. Au contraire. But
the state is an arena of class struggle, not a mere instrument of class

> So how can it have been a democracy?
> It seems more plausible that the original
> intentions of its founders to set up a
> constitutional republic have been achieved.
Well, they wouldn't much care forf what we nbow have, for good and bad

> I am not going to advocate the political forms
> of Soviet Russia as a future model. But if the
> choice is between a state of the American form or
> the Soviet form - it is clear which class interests
> are better served by which.

I cannot see how the Stalinist state served the interests of the working
class--the welfare state advanced it acheived were won without slaughter
and oppression in social democratic Europe, and Stalinism did impose
butchery, starvation, and repression on a breathtaking scale. You might as
well talk about how good capitalism is for well-off white professionals
while ignoring its effects in Haiti, Guatemala, etc. The Stalinist state
was not a worker';s state. Workers had no power in it. It was a
representative and instrument of the bureaucracy which exploited the workers.

We have a comparison here between plague and cholera. They're not
necesasry equally bad, but they're both unacceptable enough that we should
hate both of them and defend neither. This is consistent with celebrating
the "antibody" resistance of democratuc and popular forces to capitalkist
plague and its successes.

--Justin Schwartz

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