16 October 2008

The value of democracy

My discussion of the reasons for the demise of the Soviet Union in lecture 35 may be seen by some as an endorsement of the system of parliamentary democracy. Maybe it is important to emphasize that the principle of democracy, i.e. the exercising of power through the people, can take many forms but that the system of "parliamentary democracy" is not one of them.

Parliamentary democracy is the form of government during the period of fully developed capitalism. It serves the purpose to make the people think that they can exercise power and to hide the fact that the power is and remains in the hands of the ruling class and its agents in parliament. (This does not mean that every parliamentarian works for the benefit of the ruling class, but the system always makes sure that the majority does.) As capitalism matures the political parties become more and more interchangeable, and it becomes more and more difficult to influence future development of society through parliamentary elections.

Experience shows that in a capitalist society real progress does not come from parliaments. Real power by the people is usually exercised though actions outside parliament such as strikes, demonstrations and other forms of direct action. If you need proof look at my other blog, The Woolloomooloo murals.

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