Democratic Struggle: What Role for Marxism?
Pilon, DennisPublisher: Socialist Studies Bulletin, Canada
Year Published: 2003
Resource Type: Article
Cx Number: CX14074
Exploring what Marxist approaches to democracy have offered to contemporary discussions.
Despite many creative proposals for democratizing society the critics are still stuck on the sanctity of institutions and the rule of law. By contrast, Marx wouldn't allow the bourgeois legalism should circumvent democracy. He understood better than most who followed him the double-edged nature of democratic expansion - how it was a twin struggle between those wishing to control masses and the masses trying to gain democratic control.
Marxism must be applied to the study of democracy primarily as a method of exploring, understanding, and ultimately changing relations of social power. In contrast to the fetishization of democratic theory and forms so popular in academe today, a Marxist approach to democracy must be rooted in Marx's understanding of exploitation in capitalist society. This understanding was profoundly historical and analytical - Marx was sketching out the historical logic of capital, how it emerged, how it had changed, and how it both constituted and was constituted by class struggle and the shifting relations of different classes to the state.