Editorial from the August 1993 issue of the Socialist Standard
In all probability the most distorted and misused word in common use today is the word democracy.
The attempt to make world-wide capitalism and political democracy compatible, is a major exercise in deception and futility.
Capitalism is a class structured society, divided between the working and capitalist classes, whose interests are always in a state of conflict (hidden or open) with one another. Strikes, lock-outs etc prove it.
The capitalist system is economically and politically organized so that the means of life—the natural resources, the industries and the wealth produced (goods and services) are owned and controlled by a minority, and not by all the people.
Those who own do not produce. Those who produce do not own. Obviously, the major social decisions are made to benefit the owning, capitalist class. Governments (who are the servants of the capitalist class) process these decisions. enforce them by law, and the working class does the leg-work to carry them out. The vote is incidental, because as yet the working class always votes in favour of capitalism. They have been so trained. All the current claims of a democratic society by both the rulers and the ruled are spurious. A free society is for the future—not of the present.
Meanwhile, there arc none so appallingly enslaved as those who think they are free.
The “public” does not elect the captains of industry, the generals of the army, or the judges of law and order.
Governments are always in the business of liberalizing or imposing restrictive laws, and the rights of the capitalist class always come first, which includes the right to make war. We live under a plutocracy—not in a democracy.
The age-old right of the few to exploit, expropriate. use and abuse human beings is never seriously challenged by most people; that the wages system exists proves this, and it is disgustingly healthy.
For a democracy to be meaningful, a necessary requirement is that the means of life are in the hands of society as a whole, and democratically controlled in the interest of everyone.That means being informed, involved and participating in the decision-making of all social issues. That’s when the vote comes of age.
A formula for success could be initiated by a politically class-conscious majority to capture political power—to transfer the means of life from private to common ownership—to dismantle capitalism and to establish a democratic society. That’s when a detailed social plan will appear, and the cynics and pessimists disappear.
A true democracy would not have a class structure, and would not exploit, expropriate and abuse human beings. There would not be the need to lie, cheat, thieve and prey upon one another; to rob, ravish, oppress the weak, cringe before the strong, prostitute for a pittance and traffic in all things—good and bad.
Isn't it high time to make democracy safe for the world and to replace the governing of people with the administration of things?
We have nothing to lose but our political ignorance, and a world to gain.