Democracy: Giving power to the masses. It was a doomed sick love story right from the start. We’ve all heard the story of how Democracy grew up and met socialism. Democracy and socialism had a child called communism. To put this into perspective, democracy is giving power to the masses. Democracy is a fundamental part of societies today, but what happens when democracy fails and meets socialism. Communism has been viewed as a disaster, but what if communism a popular belief is coming back revolutionized and better than ever before. What if a new type of democracy is evolving? I call it the communist democracy.
Who is Karl Marx?
To understand Marxism it’s imperative to understand the time and era in which Karl Marx was born. He was born in 1818, it was the beginning of the world as we see it today.
The French revolution had occurred 30 years back and cries of ‘Liberty’ ‘Equality’ and ‘Freedom’ was still fresh. It was also the time of Industrial Revolution and capitalism had just replaced feudalism. Marx was influenced by the idea of French Revolution. His growth was marked by rapid industrialization and capitalism had become a dominant economic system in Europe. He also saw the horrific condition in which workers lived. Marx saw them toiling for more than 12 hours a day but still managing to earn just enough to sustain themselves. He observed that capitalism had benefited only few section of society and came to conclusion that though the French revolution hadoverthrown feudalismm but capitalism had not been able to fulfill the promise of equality and freedom.He saw society being divided into haves and haves not.It was master and slaves (slavery system) after that lord and serf (feudalism) and now bourgeoisie and proletariat.
Because of his radical idea, he was thrown from Germany and subsequently from many countries until he got asylum in England. He worked as a reporter for New York Tribune and covered American Civil War publishing many articles. He immersed himself in studying all the important economic and political philosophers before him like Adam Smith, David Ricardo, James Mill etc. Marxism emphasized on one thing which his predecessors missed i.e LABOUR.
Now coming to Marxism which is fundamentally based on principles of class struggle, historical materialism, dialectical materialism, alienation and theory of surplus value.
Karl Marx – Revolutionary or Evolutionary?
If you look around you. The masses of people are stuck in this cycle of poverty they can’t get out of. I guess capitalism was a victim of it’s own success. Karl Marx would be turning in his grave if he found out what was going on around the world today. Karl Marx was left wing and extremely communist. He found a model that was revolutionary and the popular despised idea of communism is a popular belief coming back to societies and is now seen as the way forward. Let me introduce you to UK politics. There’s two main parties – The Labour Party (which has gone extremely left wing under Corbyn) and The Conservative Party (which is currently right wing under Theresa May). Then there’s the other parties like The Green Party and The liberal democrats (whose recent leaked manifesto stated that they would fund the UK economy by legalizing marijuana, but that’s a story for another day)
Corbyn’s Socilaist Manifesto
Jeremy Corbyn. A man in UK politics who is evolutionary. Revolutionary. Extraordinary. A man true to his word. A man who is very much a Marxist. Details of a draft version of Labour’s pitch to the country have leaked, with Jeremy Corbyn’s party hoping to make manifesto commitments to part-nationalise some public utilities and to make funds available for social care. His manifesto was leaked and it was found:
- Respect the Brexit referendum result and give a meaningful vote on any deal to parliament. EU citizens living in the UK would have their rights guaranteed unilaterally. Theresa May’s Brexit white paper would be replaced with a plan that aims to retain the benefits of the customs union and single market.
- Bring parts of the energy industry into public ownership and introduce a local, socially owned energy firm in every area. Also introduce an “immediate emergency price cap” to make sure dual fuel bills stay below £1,000 a year.
- Nationalize the railways.
- Phase out tuition fees.
- Make more funds available for childcare and social care.
- Retain the Trident nuclear deterrent. A sentence from earlier drafts saying that a prime minister should be “extremely cautious” about using a weapon that would kill “millions of innocent civilians” has been removed.
- Place “peace, universal rights and international law” at the heart of foreign policy, while committing to spend 2% of GDP on defense, as required by Nato.
- Make zero-hours contracts illegal.
- Build 100,000 new council houses per year.
- Complete HS2 from London to Birmingham, Leeds, Manchester, and Scotland.
- Borrow £250bn to invest in infrastructure but stick to the fiscal credibility rule to balance day-to-day spending. Also, raise taxes for people earning more than £80,000 and reverse corporation and inheritance-tax cuts.
- Insulate homes of disabled veterans for free.
- Extend the right to abortion to Northern Ireland.
- Oppose a second Scottish referendum.
- Lower the voting age to 16.
- Employ 1,000 more border guards.
- Recognise the benefit that immigrants have brought but introduce fair rules and reasonable management, working with employers that need to recruit from abroad but deterring exploitation.
Money. Money. Money?
But the question we find ourselves asking is just exactly where is Corbyn going to get all this money to fund this beautiful disaster? Many countries like Germany now run a budget surplus. They’ve done pretty well compared to the aftermath of the world wars.
Germany became the first member the euro-zone to sell 10-year government bonds at a negative yield—which is to say, investors paid for the privilege of lending Berlin money for an entire decade. If someone were to purchase and hold these bonds to maturity, they would get back less cash than they originally invested.
Democracy and socialism
Democratic socialists believe that both the economy and society should be run democratically—to meet public needs, not to make profits for a few. To achieve a more just society, many structures of our government and economy must be radically transformed through greater economic and social democracy so that ordinary Americans can participate in the many decisions that affect our lives.
Democracy and socialism go hand in hand. All over the world, wherever the idea of democracy has taken root, the vision of socialism has taken root as well—everywhere but in the United Kingdom. Because of this, many false ideas about socialism have developed in the UK.
Does Democratic Socialism mean that the government runs everything?
Democratic socialists do not want to create an all-powerful government bureaucracy. But we do not want big corporate bureaucracies to control our society either. Rather, we believe that social and economic decisions should be made by those whom they most affect.
Today, corporate executives who answer only to themselves and a few wealthy stockholders make basic economic decisions affecting millions of people. Resources are used to make money for capitalists rather than to meet human needs. We believe that the workers and consumers who are affected by economic institutions should own and control them.
Democratic socialists have long rejected the belief that the whole economy should be centrally planned. While we believe that democratic planning can shape major social investments like mass transit, housing, and energy, market mechanisms are needed to determine the demand for many consumer goods.
Hasn’t socialism been discredited by the collapse of Communism in the USSR and Eastern Europe?
Socialists have been among the harshest critics of authoritarian Communist states. Just because their bureaucratic elites called them “socialist” did not make it so; they also called their regimes “democratic.” Democratic socialists always opposed the ruling party-states of those societies, just as we oppose the ruling classes of capitalist societies. We applaud the democratic revolutions that have transformed the former Communist bloc. However, the improvement of people’s lives requires real democracy without ethnic rivalries and/or new forms of authoritarianism. Democratic socialists will continue to play a key role in that struggle throughout the world.
Won’t socialism be impractical because people will lose their incentive to work?
We don’t agree with the capitalist assumption that starvation or greed are the only reasons people work. People enjoy their work if it is meaningful and enhances their lives. They work out of a sense of responsibility to their community and society. Although a long-term goal of socialism is to eliminate all but the most enjoyable kinds of labor, we recognize that unappealing jobs will long remain.
These tasks would be spread among as many people as possible rather than distributed on the basis of class, race, ethnicity, or gender, as they are under capitalism. And this undesirable work should be among the best, not the least, rewarded work within the economy. For now, the burden should be placed on the employer to make work desirable by raising wages, offering benefits and improving the work environment. In short, we believe that a combination of social, economic, and moral incentives will motivate people to work.
Just what do you think?
I think you need to follow this up with a much more detailed explanation of “democratic socialism”. How would you contrast it with Social Democracy for example? We have seen plenty of self-proclaimed democratic governments, many of them also claiming to be socialist – the GDR springs to mind as one of the more notorious.
How would the system of government work differently (if it does) from the typical democracies of Europe and North America? Would they be national governments with a local federal structure and, if so, what safeguards would there be to prevent local authorities becoming merely “soviets”, increasingly pressed into conforming with central instructions?
Would you allow small-scale enterprises and what would be the criteria under which these became worker owned, presumably by confiscating the fruits of successful enterprise? Would these companies subsequently flourish or stagnate and decline? Would the new owners seek to protect their positions (their companies and their jobs) from competition and how would this affect new start-ups, innovation, productivity (and hence increasing wealth)?
Would unpopular work have to be carried out in practice by conscription if people were reluctant? Or would they be bribed by large financial incentives, paid by taxes on others who stuck to work they enjoyed, or at least didn’t detest what they had to do?
Are there any precedents to indicate that Democratic Socialism might work? How would you defend it against an accusation that it is utopian and that ‘designer systems’ have never worked? Might we do better by carefully adapting what we already have to address failures and monitor these “improvements” against our objectives, watching out for any unwanted side effects?
Across the globe proportionately fewer people die from war and hunger than ever before in history. We must be careful that we continue in this direction whilst always thinking about how to improve our progress (as you are doing).