Liberal Democracy

by Ellen Howell about a year ago in politics

Dissent Is Meaningless

Liberal Democracy

There is a slogan of the American Civil Liberties Union: "Dissent is Democratic." I find myself in awe of this quote. In the United States, dissent is supposed to mean something; it is important. Americans think that they have a voice that acts in their interest. Of course they do. We live in a liberal democracy. Of course, nobody thinks about what exactly that means. What is a liberal democracy?

A liberal democracy, despite the fancy name, is just another word for dictatorship. Why? Because the people with the most power aren't the people in the streets, it's the people paying millions of dollars into campaigns. These people are still, overwhelmingly masculine, heterosexual, and white. It is not a democracy, but a dictatorship of capital. It is a dictatorship of the bourgeoisie. We, as communists, acknowledge no capitalist government as capable of legitimate democracy. Power isn't kept with bullets in capitalist countries—it doesn't need to be. It is controlled with money.

This is the reason why communists don't believe in capitalist democracies. Because they secure (according to the political scientists I've read) primarily liberal rights, and preserve a capitalist economic structure, they cannot be democratic. All democratic institutions are a pretense for the dominance of one class over the other, one being the creators of value, and the others the beneficiaries of that creation.

The United States is not a democracy, nor did the founders intend to create a democracy. It has always been designed to slow progress and development of new laws; originally senators weren't even elected, and goodness knows if you aren't in either party, there isn't much you can do. The United States is a constitutional dictatorship. The first President of Tanzania, Julius Nyerere, once remarked that "The United States is also a one party state, except with the typical American extravagance, they have two of them." We have the ideological diversity of the Conservative Party of the United Kingdom, with one party far right, and the other center right, masquerading as leftist.

The Democratic Party, because it seems to derive its only legitimacy from the bourgeois elections that support it, cannot be a party of the proletariat. It is foolish to believe that any bourgeois party might lead the people; they are, under your capitalist democracy, to be self-serving, no? Politicians in any capitalist democracy must be self-serving, and as such, are likely profiteers, or if not, just sentimental imperialists with working class roots (e.g. Bernie Sanders). Imagine the terrifying socialist idea of a national health care system. Who do you think actually supported and initially implemented these systems in various countries across Europe? The National Insurance (a taxation program to fund a government unemployment and benefits program) was passed by the Liberal Party in 1912.

To understand this contradiction, the Liberal party would be much like our Libertarian Party (ideologically, at least). The German healthcare system was established under the Kaiser, before the arrival of what we would call a "liberal democracy." Regardless, Germany was a capitalist country. If we assume the above concept, that human nature must be selfish, we must assume that these are not altruistic attempts to establish a rudimentary healthcare system or unemployment insurance. They must be (especially in the case of the Liberal endorsement of the National Insurance) an attempt to prevent riot, ruin, revolution.

All bourgeois altruism is self-interest. All the schools that capitalists establish, the libraries, etc. If they were not, how would we understand that assertion that all people are self-interested? They must be attempts to fend off either violence or hatred by buying the goodwill of the people with petty charity. Make no mistake, bourgeois altruism makes up a terrifically small portion of their income. Self-interest drives our politicians away from democracy, and towards the perils of dictatorship, but they need to maintain the outward appearance of "democratic" structures. These democratic structures do not react to dissent. They were never meant to actually spark meaningful change, and many of them are antiquated, obsolete, or powerless.

Why, then, should dissent mean anything? Why should liberal democracies care if the people mess with the establishment? It would mean absolutely nothing; it would create a new corporate establishment, rather than changing the capitalist structure that necessitates it.

politics
Ellen Howell
Ellen Howell
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Ellen Howell

A woman living in St. Louis and going to school for part of the year in Kirksville, MO. I write about horror and horror stories.

See all posts by Ellen Howell