Democracy is the great imperative, and the triumph of civilization. it is birthed from the principles of the enlightenment age, where our ancestors realized that the only way to advance society and improve life even for a few, was to improve life for all. It is inspired by and sustained by an ethical system which promotes equality, justice, and prosperity for all, and for everyone to have an equal voice in the systems that affect their lives. It’s safe to assume that the one thing that I and any reader of this book can agree on is the necessity for a Democratic Government. What is always baffling to me is how any advocate for Democracy can ever support Capitalism. How can anyone demand Democracy in Government, and tolerate tyranny over the means of production? How can we claim equal representation in the system which creates our laws, while subjecting ourselves to dictatorship of the systems which provide all the things we rely on to survive and live a modern life? Capitalism is a betrayal of the ideas behind Democracy. For this essay I am going to rely on the writing’s of a colleague of mine, Chris Tumlinson, to argue this point. As I feel I could not argue it better than he already has. I am going to quote his essay on this subject in its entirety, which he originally wrote in the form of “memes” to share online. I highly encourage anyone to visit his facebook page: “Learn Socialism” to read more writings like this one:
“In a Democracy, we expect our leaders to answer to us and we expect to have an equal voice in the day-to-day decisions that govern our lives. As a worker, does the leadership of the company you work for answer to you? Do you have an equal voice in the decisions that govern your workplace, where you spend the majority of your life? Why do we expect Democracy over our political systems , but not our economic systems, which have the most impact on our lives?”
The issue of course is one of freedom. The goal of Democracy can be summed up in this word. Democracy is meant to increase the freedom for everyone , and the common belief is that collective economic systems, like Communism, stifle this freedom. Chris Tumlinson moves forward with this theme:
“First of all, what is freedom? Freedom is the power to act, speak, think, or choose without restraint . In other words, it is the power to make decisions over one’s own life. We can all agree that freedom is very important, that all individuals should have the power to make decisions over their own lives.
But is freedom of the individual an absolute? An absolute is something that can be viewed as existing independently and not in relation to other things. Unless an individual isolates themselves completely from human society, the freedom of the individual cannot be viewed as an absolute because the freedom of one individual does not exist independently from the freedom of other individuals.
In human societies, where individuals live side-by-side and interact with one another every day, the freedom of any individual to make decisions over their own lives will always have a relationship with the freedom of others to make decisions over their own lives.
For example: if an individual while exercising their individual freedom, decides to dump garbage into a water supply, their decision will interact with the freedom of others, the freedom to have clean and unpolluted water. If an individual , while exercising their individual freedom, decides to express hate speech towards others, their decisions will interact with the freedom of others, the freedom to live without fear. If an individual , while exercising their individual freedom decides to build a fence around a natural resource, their decision will interact with the freedom of others, the freedom of access to that resource. If an individual, while exercising their individual freedom decides to tear down someone else’s house and build their own in its place, their decision will interact with the freedom of others, the freedom to have and live in their own home.
Our freedoms overlap. Some decisions made by individuals have the potential to affect the lives of more than that individual. This is the purpose for which Democracy exists.
Democracy is the process of making decisions together so that everyone whose life will be affected by a decision has a chance to participate in making that decision. When the freedom to make decisions over one’s own life overlaps with the freedom of another to make decisions over their own life, we use Democracy so that each person affected by the decision has a voice in that decision.
Those who are affected by the outcome of a decision should always have a say in that decision. When determining whether a decision should be made individually or Collectively (through Democracy), the question should be asked: who will be affected by this decision? If the decision will affect only the individual, it can be made individually by the one who is affected. If the decision will affect more than the individual it should be made collectively (Through Democracy) by all who are affected. This is how we create fair and equal societies where the freedoms of all are respected, so that the best decisions can be made for the best benefit of everyone. Without Democracy, individuals can make decisions without concern for the lives of others, which limits the freedom of those who are affected by excluding them from making decisions over their own lives
The core of Capitalism is individualism. Capitalism emphasizes the importance of individuals (Capitalists) and the pursuit of their own self-interests (profit) as having a higher importance than the collective interests of others. Capitalism ignores Democracy and grants decision-making power over the lives of many into the hands of a few. Under Capitalism individuals own and control the means of production; they dictate all of the decisions of a business in order to pursue their own interests, which is the pursuit of profit. In pursuing profit, Capitalists make decisions which affect the lives of many others (their employees and their communities) while giving little or no decision-making power to those who are affected.
The core of Socialism is collectivism, Socialism seeks to democratize work, production, and distribution so that workers and communities are empowered to make decisions over their own lives rather than be subjected to the dictatorial decisions of individual owners of the means of production (Capitalist employers.) In this way, the collectivism of Socialism offers greater freedom than the individualism of Capitalism. When workers come together to make the decisions that affect their lives, they don’t decide to endanger themselves, to eliminate their own livelihoods, to shut down the facilities that support their communities, or to damage the environment in which they and their families and loved ones live. Socialism emphasizes the shared interests of all workers and the whole of human Society. Socialism is about real Democracy.”
A Democratic Government cannot exist Within an undemocratic socio-economic system like Capitalism. We realized this with the system that preceded Capitalism: Feudalism. Why can’t so many people see that it is the same situation? We know that Feudalism could not facilitate a Democratic Government because the Nobility held all the real power, they held control over the means of production, the things everyone needed to survive and live a modern life. And as such the Nobility would simply control any Governmental body as well. It is the same situation with Capitalism; those private owners over the means of production (the Bourgeoisie) will always dominate Government, no matter how Democratic the Government is structured. Because the Bourgeoisie control the very systems and resources that we all need and rely on for a modern life. The means of production has an even more profound impact on our lives than the Government. It is where we get our food, it is where we get our homes, it is where we get our medical care, it is where we get our education (books and the internet), it is where we get our news and entertainment, and it is where we get our transportation. As such, it must be Democratically owned and controlled, not privately as it is under Capitalism.
The common theme of today is for people to insist that such radical change is not necessary, that Capitalism can be regulated into an ethical and Democratic system through Social-Democratic reforms and regulation (although they usually mistakenly call this “Democratic-Socialism.”) This is simply a fallacy. It does not matter how many laws you lay on top of the Capitalist system, how many regulations and social -welfare programs you use to try and force it to be ethical. The best you could ever achieve by such is a slightly broadened Plutocratic-Oligarchy. Because at the end of the day, the people who privately own and control the means of production will have to be catered to simply because the real power over everyone’s lives lies in their hands.
Even if it were possible to regulate Capitalism into a solid Democracy and an ethical socio-economic system would it even be desirable? I do not think so. For starters, because you still cannot overcome the inherent contradiction between wages and profit, it’s a part of the bedrock structure of Capitalism; Capitalism is an inherently unstable system and it’s preferable to end it simply because of this. But on top of that, the amount of legal structure and bureaucracy needed to accomplish such a feat would be immense. Making Government too costly to operate and further alienating the people from it. Resulting in the very same situation that we started out trying to rid ourselves from. It’s like trying to modify an antiquated vehicle, like a wagon or a chariot, so that it could travel on modern highways safely. The weight from the added engine, brakes, lights, drive-train, and safety equipment, would stress the frame, which was never designed for such things, requiring constant maintenance and the ride would never be as comfortable or as safe as a modern car that has been designed from the beginning to drive at current speeds on modern roads. Capitalism is an antiquated socio-economic system that works against the interests of the majority, against the interests of you and me. It must be scrapped and replaced with a system that has been designed from the beginning to preserve and facilitate Democracy. Capitalism must be replaced with Communism: a classless society.
As long as one group of society is held above another, as long as society is divided and stratified, the top group or groups will always rule and the bottom group or groups will always be subjugated. We cannot just hope that the rulers will be benevolent, we must not have rulers. Society must be Democratic, not Oligarchic. But society will always be Oligarchic as long as there is class, even if we establish Socialism, the democratic ownership and control over the means of production, and eliminate the class divide of the Bourgeoisie and the Proletariat. Because that wasn’t the first class system to be created, and still isn’t the only class system to exist. In order for Democracy to finally flourish we must have a classless society. And in order to have a classless society, we must eliminate Government as a State. And that is ultimately the goal of Communism.
Still, I’m sure that word no doubt creates a sense of great apprehension in your mind, and that is understandable given what you’ve been taught Communism is. But please, now, let a Communist tell you what Communism is.