Paul_Cockshott wpc at cs.strath.ac.uk
Fri Jun 16 04:37:37 MDT 1995

In reply to comments by Justin mainly

Justins original claim for the superiority of
the American over the Soviet revolution was that
the first rapidly evolved into a democracy
and the latter into a dictatorship.

In response to objections he conceeds that
the US has as most evolved very slowly towards
democracy over a period of 200 years and has yet
to get anywhere near it. In dealing with the
USSR on the other hand, its history is only
considered up to the 30s or so. Developments
during the 50s 60s and 70s are simply ignored.

But aside from this double standard, there is
a fundamentally bourgeois elitist notion of
democracy in use. When I use the word, I use
it in its original sense of direct rule by the
"The fourth type of democracy is in point of
time the last to develop in states. The reason
for this lies in their growth. Not only are
they much larger than they originally were,
but they have much larger revenues. Thus
all participates, because the mass of the people
preponderates; and even the poor being
able to take time off, take part in the
administration of the consititution,
recieving pay for doing so. In fact the mass
of the poor take the most time off: they
having no encumberances, whilst the wealthy
having private affairs to look after, often
do not take part in the assembly or courts of law.
Thus in this kind of democracy it is not the
laws that are sovereign but the mass of the
poor.(The Politics 1292)

A democracy in the above sense of rule by the
poor unconstrained by law, is the same as what
Lenin in State and Revolution meant by workers
and peasants dictatorship.

What the ruling classes today call democracy is
something very different - rule by the rich
mildly tempered by some constitutional constraints.
In its original meaning democracy involved direct
legislation by the people, and the administration
of the state by councils selected by lot, with
armed forces of the state being made up of
citizens militias.

With the exception of referenda in some areas
of local government none of these features exist
in the USA. What are labeled 'democratic elections'
are not and can never be anything more than
a means of legitimising the right to rule of
individual members of the upper classes.
Wherever there are elections there can be
no democracy, this is a pretty elementary
materialist point.

Since neither the USSR or the USA had democratic
institutions, one may still ask which had the
more representative institutions. There there
can be no question about it: in terms of
class, gender or ethnic composition, the supreme
soviet was more representative of the population
in Stalinist times than the US senate has ever
been. It is not surprising that the legislation of
the supreme soviet favoured the poor whilst that
of the senate has favoured the rich.

Justin objects that this legislation favourable
to the poor was won at a terrible cost, whereas
social democracy achieved the same thing peacefully.

Has he ever read any history of this century?

Was world war II peaceful? Could social democracy
ever have occured without the defeat of fascism
in that war?
Was it moreover, not the fear that fascism
having been defeated, people would follow the
soviet example, that provided a reason why the
rich in Europe raised so little objection to
social democracy at the time. With the soviets
defeated, social democracy is now being dismantled.

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