The following short piece was written by a CPGB-ML member in reply to a Facebook discussion on the usefulness of participating in bourgeois elections.
We should understand that democracy is not an abstract concept, but a class one. Democracy means imposing the will of one section of the population on another. In a class society, democracy is always democracy for the ruling class and dictatorship over the oppressed.
What Comrade N is really objecting to is bourgeois or capitalist democracy, which is democracy for the capitalists and a dictatorship over everyone else. That is why Marx called bourgeois democracy the dictatorship of the bourgeoisie, in which workers are allowed to choose once every four or five years which representative of the ruling class should oppress them in parliament.
Our goal as socialists is to smash capitalism – the rule of the billionaires who control our industry, our media, our elections and our governments – and replace it with the dictatorship of the proletariat. That is, democracy for the majority (for the first time ever in this country!), but a dictatorship over and strict repression of the exploiters and their hangers-on who want to get back their privilege and power.
The proletarian democracy ushered in under socialism will be the widest yet, with the broadest-ever real (as opposed to pretend) participation. But any democracy involves repression and coercion of those who do not agree to the decisions taken under its rule. The exploiting classes consider proletarian democracy to be the most dictatorial state possible, because they are the ones being repressed. And, through their control of the media and political institutions, they ask us to identify with their feelings on the subject.
Comrade N is absolutely right – we need to stop identifying with our oppressors and look with fresh eyes at what is really going on. This system does not serve us and cannot be made to serve us.
When real socialists and communists stand for parliament or other elections, they do so not to try to make the system work for ordinary people, but to expose it in their eyes, and therefore develop a revolutionary consciousness among those who still harbour illusions that a change of personnel can bring about a change in the nature of the system.
Sadly, I’m not aware of any real socialists or communists standing for election this time around. So all we can do is get on with building our movement to the point that it has the resources to put such candidates forward in a meaningful way.
Read more about what proletarian democracy looks like here: The Socialist Sixth of the World by Hewlett Johnson.