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Communism Vs. Democracy Essay, Research Paper
Communism and Democracy
Communism, a concept or system of society in which the major resources and means of production are owned by the community rather than by individuals. In theory, such societies provide for equal sharing of all work, according to ability, and all benefits, according to need. Some conceptions of communist societies assume that, ultimately, coercive government would be unnecessary and therefore that such a society would be without rulers. Until the ultimate stages are reached, however, communism involves the abolition of private property by a revolutionary movement; responsibility for meeting public needs is then vested in the state (Daniels 177).
As a concept of an ideal society, communism is derived from ancient sources, including Plato’s Republic and the earliest Christian communes. In the early 19th century, the idea of a communist society was a response of the poor and the dislocated to the beginnings of modern capitalism. At that time communism was the basis for a number of utopian settlements; most communistic experiments, however, eventually failed. Most of these small-scale private experiments involved voluntary cooperation, with everyone participating in the governing process (Daniels).
Later the term communism was reserved for the philosophy advanced by Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels in their Communist Manifesto and the movement they helped create in Central Europe. Since 1917 the term has denoted those who regard the Russian Revolution as a model that all Marxists should follow. Beginning with the Russian Revolution, moreover, the center of gravity of global communism has shifted away from Central and Western Europe; from the late 1940s through the 1980s, communist movements were often linked with Third World strivings for national independence and social change(Pious 24).
In their writings, Marx and Engels tried to analyze contemporary society, which they described as capitalistic. They pointed out the discrepancies between ideals and reality in modern society: Rights granted to all had not done away with injustices; constitutional self-government had not abolished mismanagement and corruption; science had provided mastery over nature but not over the fluctuations of the business cycle; and the efficiency of modern production methods had produced slums in the midst of abundance (Pious).
They described all human history as the attempt of men and women to develop and apply their potential for creativity for the purpose of controlling the forces of nature so as to improve the human condition. In this ongoing effort to develop its productive forces, humanity has been remarkably successful; history has been the march of progress. Yet in developing productivity, various social institutions have been created that have introduced exploitation, domination, and other evils; the price humanity pays for progress is an unjust society (Pious).
Every social system of the past, Marx argued, had been a device by which the rich and powerful few could live by the toil and misery of the powerless many. Each system, therefore, was racked by conflict. Moreover, each method of exploitation had flaws that sooner or later destroyed it, either by slow disintegration or by revolution. Engels and Marx believed that the capitalist system, too, was flawed and therefore bound to destroy itself. They tried to show that the more productive the system became, the more difficult it would be to make it function: The more goods it accumulated, the less use it would have for these goods; the more people it trained, the less it could utilize their talents. Capitalism, in short, would eventually choke on its own wealth (Pious 25).
The collapse of the capitalist economy, it was thought, would culminate in a political revolution in which the masses of the poor would rebel against their oppressors. This proletarian revolution would do away with private ownership of the means of production. Run by and for the people (after a brief period of proletarian dictatorship), the economy would produce, not what was profitable, but what the people needed. Abundance would reign. Inequalities and coercive government would disappear. All this, Marx and Engels expected, would happen in the most highly industrialized nations of Western Europe, the only part of the world where conditions were ripe for these developments. These prophecies have not come true. Capitalism, though sometimes threatened, has not collapsed; shortages, inequalities, and coercive government have persisted in countries that called themselves Communist; and followers of Marx have come to power in nations that lacked the preconditions he and Engels considered essential. The first of these countries was Russia, a huge, poor, relatively backward nation that was just beginning to acquire an industrial base. Its people, still largely illiterate, had no experience in political participation. In 1917, after a series of halfhearted reform measures and disastrous mismanagement of the war effort, the antiquated mechanism of czarist rule simply disintegrated and was swept away. It was succeeded, after a lengthy period of political upheaval, by the Bolshevik faction of Russian Marxism?later known as the Communist Party?led by Lenin (Foreman 123).
From its inception, Communist rule in the Soviet Union faced a variety of problems. In the early years the government’s very existence was challenged repeatedly by its enemies within the country. When the Communist Party emerged victorious, it was faced with the need to rebuild the nation’s ruined economy and to train the Russian people for life in the 20th century. Later, all efforts were concentrated on the task of transforming a backward country into a leading industrial nation and a first-rate military power (Pious 154).
The task was ambitious, the obstacles were formidable, and there was no time to waste?particularly after the disastrous interruption of World War II. The Soviet leadership, therefore, was ruthless in marshaling all available human and material resources for the job of modernization. The harsh discipline and economic austerity that were necessary could be imposed only by an unrelenting dictatorship that could control all citizens’ activities and suppress any hint of dissent or autonomy. The resulting system of total control has been labeled totalitarianism, but others have called it Stalinism, after Joseph Stalin, the leader who shaped and controlled the government of the USSR for more than a quarter of a century after Lenin’s death (Pious)
Stalinism, of course, in no way resembled the Communist utopia that Marx and Engels had envisioned. Three decades after Stalin’s death, the USSR was still ruled by command, not consent; it was a society administered in authoritarian fashion by a managerial bureaucracy, which in many ways was no less conservative, no closer to the people, than huge bureaucracies tend to be everywhere. The country’s cultural and intellectual life remained substantially under the control of the ruling party. Party ideology, meanwhile, stressed that socialism had been attained and genuine communism was near (Pious).
By the early 1980s, the USSR had become the world’s second-ranking industrial power. Its armed might and industrial potential were backed by important scientific advances and by a generally high level of technical education. The living standard, although still low in comparison with that of Western countries, had risen appreciably since World War II. Toward the end of the decade, however, it became increasingly apparent that Soviet Communism was in crisis. An upsurge of nationalism within the Soviet republics, coupled with resentment of decades of economic scarcity and arbitrary rule, spurred a challenge both to the ideological foundations of communism and to the legitimacy of the Soviet state. By the end of 1991, the resulting political struggle had led to the collapse of the Soviet Communist Party and the dissolution of the USSR (Foreman 23).
The relationship of this first Communist state with the rest of the world was consistently troubled. To the West, a Communist government always appeared as a threat, and from the very beginning there were attempts to destroy it by force of arms, attempts that may have reinforced the endeavor of the Communist government to save itself by promoting revolution everywhere. Yet in its isolated and endangered position, the Communist regime also felt the need to establish workable relations or alliances with other countries (Foreman)
Between 1945 and 1975 the number of countries under Communist rule increased greatly, partly because of the way the victorious powers in World War II divided the world among them, and partly because revolutionary Communist movements gained strength in various parts of the Third World. In this manner, the former isolation of the Soviet Union has been lifted, but the hostility between the Communist and the non-Communist world has, to some extent, been complicated by deep antagonisms within world communism (Johnson 72).
Rapid political changes in Eastern Europe, the USSR, and elsewhere between 1989 and 1991 dramatically reduced the number of Communist regimes. The Communist governments that remain pay allegiance to Marx and Lenin, but differ from each other not only in size and industrial development but also in their understanding of doctrine, in their aims, and in their style of rule. World communism also includes numerous Communist movements struggling for influence and power; they are even more heterogeneous than the established Communist regimes(Johnson 79).
Whenever we try to understand democracy works and what it means, we naturally center on the American experience. However, if we measure democracy only by the American experience, we limit our understanding of the growth of a variety of democratic societies around the world (Editors Of Scholastic Magizine 23).
The word ?democracy? comes from the Greek word demokratia. This, in turn, was derived from two other Greek words: demos, meaning ?people,? and krator, meaning ?rule? or ?authority?. The people of ancient Greece used the word demokratia to describe a government where every citizen took part in making the laws and administrating justice. Over the past 2,500 years, the concept of democracy has undergone many changes. But the word ?democracy? still refers to rule by the people(Scholastic Editors 335).
Democracy political system in which the people of a country rule through any form of government they choose to establish. In modern democracies, supreme authority is exercised for the most part by representatives elected by popular suffrage. The representatives may be supplanted by the electorate according to the legal procedures of recall and referendum, and they are, at least in principle, responsible to the electorate. In many democracies, such as the United States, both the executive head of government and the legislature are elected. In typical constitutional monarchies such as Great Britain and Norway, only the legislators are elected, and from their ranks a cabinet and a prime minister are chosen. Although often used interchangeably, the terms democracy and republic are not synonymous. Both systems delegate the power to govern to their elected representatives. In a republic, however, these officials are expected to act on their own best judgment of the needs and interests of the country. The officials in a democracy more generally and directly reflect the known or ascertained views of their constituents, sometimes subordinating their own judgment(Perkins 9).
Too often we confuse form with substance. We let the appearance of a package influence our opinion of its contents. Likewise, we tend to believe that the cloth of democracy must be cut according to our style or it is not a democracy at all (Editors Of Scholastic Magizine 67).
We are governed by 51 different constitutions?the U.S. Constitution and 50 state constitutions. Under our federal system, the national government has certain responsibilities, and the states have their rights and powers. Under this system, our courts, our Congress and state legislatures and our elected leaders act as a check or brake on each other (Editors of scholastic Magizine).
If we believe that only those countries which have systems like ours can be called democracies, we are wrong.The British do not have a written constitutions, nor do they have a system of states? rights Yet Britain is a democracy. British democracy has a system of balanced rights and divided authority. A British government must consider the views of many individuals and organized bodies before it can act. Parliament seems to rule, but it is actually the people who rule through Parliament. (Editors of scholastic Magizine).
The governments of Italy, France, Canada, the Federal Republic of Germany, Norway, Switzerland, Sweden, and Denmark differ in various ways. Some are monarchies. All are democracies, however, and all have some features of the American political system. The important point is that in each of these countries that majority of the people rules, and the minority has rights that must be respected by the majority. Their governments are violated into power by the majority and must seek approval of their policies from the people at regularly held elections (Foreman 106).
In time, the newly independent states in Africa and Asia may develop new forms of democracy combining features of their own national experiences and those of the West.(Perkins 54).
Democracy satisfies certain profound instincts of man. One of these man?s right to speak and express ideas to challenge and criticize the ideas of the others (Foreman).
On the campus of Columbia University in New York City, 400 students await the arrival of the leader of a tiny political party. They wait to hear what he has to say about his party?s program. The leader arrives, accompanied by an assistant and a bodyguard. The bodyguard wears a brown uniform that strongly resembles those that were worn by the Storm Troopers of the German Nazi leader, Adolf Hitler (Perkins 191)
The leaders speech, like his bodyguard?s uniform, is a relic from the days of Hitler.The leader preaches hatred and tolerance. For 15 minutes the students listen. Then they ask him questions. The more questions they ask, the more uncomfortable he becomes. After a while he can take no more and he Speaker and audience alike have exercised their right of free speech, and the bigot has lost the battle of ideas.The scenes shifts to a tiny village in India. All day long, peasants clad in white tunics have come to the village to vote for a representative to Parliament. Most of the peasants can neither read nor write, but that does not matter. On the ballots are symbols representing the different political parties. Each voter makes a mark under the symbol of the party he/she favors (Perkins 192).
Rule by the people played an important part in the democracies of the pre-Christian era. The democracies of the city-states of classical Greece and of Rome during the early years of the Republic were unlike the democracies of today. They were direct democracies, in which all citizens could speak and vote in assemblies that resembled New England town meetings. Representative government was unknown and unnecessary because of the small size of the city-states (almost never more than 10,000 citizens). Ancient democracy did not presuppose equality of all individuals; the majority of the populace, notably slaves and women, had no political rights. Athens, the greatest of the city democracies, limited the franchise to native-born citizens. Roman democracy resembled that of the Greeks, although Rome sometimes granted citizenship to men of non-Roman descent. The Roman Stoic philosophy, which defined the human race as part of a divine principle, and the Jewish and Christian religions, which emphasized the rights of the underprivileged and the equality of all before God, contributed to the development of modern democratic theory (Foreman 107).
The Roman Republic ended in the despotism of the empire. The free cities of Italy, Germany, and Flanders carried on the democratic tradition and applied some principles of democracy during the Middle Ages. Slaves ceased to constitute a major portion of national populations. As feudalism ended, a rich commercial middle class arose, possessing the money and leisure necessary to participate in governmental affairs. One result was the rebirth of a spirit of freedom based on ancient Greek and Roman principles. Concepts of equal political and social rights were further defined during the Renaissance, when the development of humanism was fostered, and later during the Reformation, in the struggle for religious freedom(Editors of Scholastic Magizine 143).
Beginning with the first popular rebellion against monarchy in England (1642), which was brought to a climax by the execution of King Charles I, political and revolutionary action against autocratic European governments resulted in the establishment of democratic governments. Such action was inspired and guided largely by political philosophers, notably the French philosophers Montesquieu and Jean Jacques Rousseau, and the American statesmen Thomas Jefferson and James Madison. Before the end of the 19th century, every important Western European monarchy had adopted a constitution limiting the power of the Crown and giving a considerable share of political power to the people. In many of these countries, a representative legislature modeled on the British Parliament was instituted. British politics was then possibly the greatest single influence on the organization of world democracies, although the French Revolution also exerted a powerful influence. Later, the success of democratic institutions in the United States served as a model for many peoples (Foreman 287).
The major features of modern democracy include individual freedom, which entitles citizens to the liberty and responsibility of shaping their own careers and conducting their own affairs; equality before the law; and universal suffrage and education. Such features have been proclaimed in great historic documents, for example, the U.S. Declaration of Independence, which asserted the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness; the French Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen, which affirmed the principles of civil liberty and of equality before the law; and the Atlantic Charter, which formulated the four basic freedoms(Johnson 140).
By the middle of the 20th century, every independent country in the world, with only a few exceptions, had a government that, in form if not in practice, embodied some of the principles of democracy. Although the ideals of democracy have been widely professed, the practice and fulfillment have been different in many countries(Johnson 164).
Some Western press and politicos have been saying that “Communism is dead” and that North Korea is the only remaining “Stalinist” country – which too is about to collapse. The fact is that Communism is very much alive. Communism has not died, but it’s main ideas have been absorbed into other political ideologies, just as pre-Christ religious beliefs were gradually adapted into Christianity and other religions (In fact, one finds many Christian ideals in Communism.) Where is Communism alive today? There are ‘Communist’ parties in many countries, but only few governments today are controlled by so-called ‘Communists’ (Cuba, China, N Korea, Vietnam, and a number of the former Soviet-bloc nations). It may sound stran ge but many Communist ideas are alive and well in the United States (there is ‘Communist Party of USA’ which has a presidential candidate for the November election) and other democratic, socialist and indeed, dictatorial nations (Johnson).
In the good old ‘anti-Communist’ US of A, one finds many Communist ideas in practice as expounded below: Ten Communist planks implemented in America(Johnson).
It should be noted that not all ‘Communists’ practice the Communism in the ‘pure’ form envisioned by Marx and Engels. Stalin used Communism to enslave and hold together the Soviet Union. Mao Zedong used it to obtain funds and support from Commintern until his excommunication, Gen. Li Tong Whi (a Korean anti-Japanese partisan leader) joined the Party in order to be eligible for Lenin’s rubles, Ho Chi-min joined the Party to feed and equip his anti-French troops. Both Mao and Ho hated Stalin’s haughty at titude toward the ‘fraternal Communist Parties’, and both men had approached Uncle Sam for money and weapons, only to be rebuffed by the ‘anti-Red’ State Dept (Daniels 101).
North Korea’s Kim Il Sung joined the Communist Party in his teens and worshipped Stalin. The South Korean troops which occupied Pyongyang in 1950 found Kim’s office adorned with numerous portraits and statues of Stalin. But Stalin’s lukewarm support for his war efforts and even less support from Stalin’s heirs put dampers on Kim’s love for the Soviets. Kim realized that the Soviets were just another breed of imperialists looking for suckers (Daniels 107).
After the Korean War, Kim became more nationalistic and less Communistic. He purged pro-Soviet Koreans and the old-guard Communists from S Korea and devised his own political ideology – juche. This earned him much scorn and derision from the ‘authentic’ Communists who broke ties with N Korea. For example, the Japanese Communist Party opposes N Korea, and the former Soviet Communist Party shunned Kim Il Sung (Daniels 108).
While Communism was used by various nationalists and dictators, the ‘anti-Communists’ used it to their advantage. Communism has never been the monolithic evil Empire out to enslave every one. Domino theories and ‘evil empires’ existed only in the minds o f politicians who were more interested in protecting their dung hills than facing the truth (Daniels 109).
From the very dawn of intelligent human interaction to the present day, the concept of capitalism has dominated the way we trade goods and Acquire wealth. Except for the necessity of a simple communist society in Pre-modern times, or the noble humanistic notion of a socialist society, The free market has always been the most efficient way to run the economy once the most basic needs of life have been satisfied. Only during the last several hundred years has the idea of a modern democracy been developed and applied through the modern state. These two concepts are thought by some to be interrelated, but contemporary critics of the liberal form of democracy seek to separate the two notions of capitalism and democracy. However, when examining the evidence of the relation of the two, let us not use the altered conceptions or versions of these terms, but rather analyze them by their base meanings as we have come to understand them. After this analysis of the terms and a resulting stipulation of what their base meanings are, critics may say that any further analysis of the relationship between the two terms would be tainted by their supposed definitions. The problem with this is that without a common frame of reference between the two, no comparison would be logically possible without considering an infinite range of possible meanings. With this technical matter aside, the analysis will continue with an investigation into arguments both for and against the separation of the two terms, and then an evaluation of the true nature of capitalism relationship with democracy. Specifically the free market economy dictating the actions of any democratic regime. After this task of evaluation is complete, the argument will conclude with illustrating how capitalism will actually lead to a more liberal form of democracy(Daniels).
The first step of this investigation is to make some attempt to achieve a common frame of reference between the two terms. Literally, democracy is the rule of the people. Specifically, it is the organization in place to allow people of a specified area, through organized elections, to give their uncoerced opinion on who they want to represent them in government, or what they want government to do for them. The underlying presupposition is that government will always obey the command of the majority of voters. There are many limitations to democracy, such as the fact that people can only vote YEA or NEA on a specific topic area, thus producing a dichotomy of choices that may not necessarily offer a solution to a problem. Also, people must leave most decisions to the people they elect, since they have enough time to continually vote. However, the focus of this work is not to delve into this area of controversy, but rather to take this understanding of democracy as the stipulated definition for this work. One critical distinction must be made regarding Berger&rsquos understanding of the term, and that is that the term democracy does not include all the civil and human rights associated with liberal democracy(Daniels)
Similarly, by capitalism, this work will not use any other connotation of the term other than describing the free market economy, where there isprivate ownership of property, and the economic freedom to buy, sell, or trade with whomsoever you chose. The critical element of the term is that there is limited government in place to enforce contracts and to provide a safe trading environment. Another specific meaning given to capitalism is by Friedman, who describes capitalism as economic cooperation, where both parties are benefiting from the trade, provided that the trade is voluntary and informed on both sides. The next step in the investigation is to analyse some of the arguments that capitalism is separate from democracy. Dryzek argued that an individual&rsquos consumer preferences were properly expressed in the economy, while the same persons political preferences were expressed in politics3. This perspective indicates that the capitalist economy is a separate entity form the democratic political system, because these are two different institutions into which an individual can state his or her preferences, depending on whether they are economically or politically motivated. On the other hand, history has given many examples of how a person&rsquos economic preferences have been stated in the political forum, such as voting for a politician that has promised to reduce taxes or to establish free trade between two states. That same person could only express those preferences in the political forum, because they alone would have no power to change the structure of the economy such that it would seem advantageous to lower taxes or sign a free trade agreement. On the same note, a person could express their political beliefs in the economy, by no longer selling their labour to the firm who employs them, perhaps because they support a particular political party of which the labourer is not fond. If that labourer provided a service that the employer could not find elsewhere, then the employer would fold, thus stating a political belief in the economic sphere of influence. The point illustrated here is that the two concepts of democracy (politics) and capitalism (economy) are not as independent of one another as Dryzek may argue in that example.
As Schumpeter argues, the association of capitalism and democracy is purely coincidental, and that there are no necessary linkages between the two4. The support for this position comes from his belief that democracy is possible under both capitalism and socialism, but that a social democracy would not be a liberal democracy5, but logic dictates that this interpretation is incorrect on two counts. The first being the fact that democracy (as we have come to understand it) entails that the majority of the people will get what they want, and if there is a choice to be made between economic hardship through socialism, and economic prosperity for the majority through capitalism, then the majority will chose to have prosperity over hardship, because it is common sense. This simple example presupposes the historical reality of socialism being economically inefficient and having a lower standard of living than capitalism, as well as the voting public being rational in that they will choose what offers them the most material wealth as opposed to an arrangement that offers them little material wealth. On the same note, Berger argues that all democracies are capitalist, no democracies are socialist, but many capitalist societies are not democratic6(Daniels)
These examples represent only a very small percentage of the arguments that support the claim that the concepts of capitalism and democracy are not related, but their counterarguments do support the notion that capitalism and democracy are intrinsically linked. To further the analysis of why capitalism and democracy are linked, the following examples will provide the proof of their immediate relationship, as well as the ability of those examples to stand up to an honest defence(Daniels).
To begin this examination into the relationship between capitalism and democracy, Friedman suggests that it is not possible to decouple the two because history indicates that capitalism is a necessary condition for freedom, but not a sufficient condition in itself7. This begs the question of how freedom can be related to democracy when Friedman himself does not like to equate the two. His reasons for not wanting to equate the two are not the concern of this work, so for the purposes of this argument, I must use logic to connect the two. Common sense itself dictates that a rational individual would choose freedom over an absence of freedom, so if a democracy is made up of a majority that have the same notion of rationality, then the majority would vote for a state of freedom, therefore Friedman&rsquos use of the word freedom in this case might reasonably be construed as democracy. To argue from the other side, the word freedom could be linked to democracy in that those who are free would have democracy as their form of government, because to have total freedom would be anarchy, which would include freedom to limit the
freedom of others, and the next logical step down is democracy, which at least provides for a limitation on this level freedom that could possibly restrict the freedom of others, if the majority are rational and insist
that the actions of those who would limit freedom be restrained themselves. The argument is dizzying at best, but the logic is necessary to continue the explanation of how capitalism is necessary for a
democracy to work, but it is not the only element that is needed. To prove the first part of this statement is correct, namely the need for capitalism to be in place to have a democratic system of government, one
must look at what capitalism provides to make a working democracy possible. One of the things that capitalism provides to make democracy possible is the affluence necessary maximize free time, or more
specifically, to allow people to concentrate on other matters of interest after their basic needs for survival have been met. This free time could be used educating one&rsquos self, looking into political problems, as
well as becoming a member of a interest group to pressure government. At the next level, it gives the individual the capital necessary to give financial support to the groups to which he or she belonged, so they
could collectively raise support through lobbying or the mass media for their cause. On the third level, the behavior of providing financial support to those groups that represents the individual&rsquos political
beliefs, can be transferred to the behavior of providing money to groups that best represent his or her economic interests, and that is where the connection is made, and where democracy and capitalism intertwine with each other(Pious 12).
The initial counter argument to this is that this arrangement has lead to a mass society , whereby humankind is experiencing a radical dehumanization of life, and that humankind is losing out on the personal human contact that help us treat each other better, not as objects to be bought or sold8. The first primary counterargument would state that because of this relationship, capitalism and democracy are to be
considered separate from each other because the are studied in terms of one another in this instance. However, the prevailing notion is that because you must have capitalism to provide the affluence necessary to devote time to democracy, they are essentially linked. The second primary counterargument would illustrate the fact that even if the economic system was poor, and even with a failed form of capitalism, the people would still vote, and there could still be democracy. But what kind of democracy would that be, with people living hand to mouth and not having the time to study long term solutions instead of quick-fixes. So to have a working democracy one must have free time, and to have free time one
must have some degree of affluence, and history has shown that capitalist societies are more affluent than non-capitalist societies, therefore one must have capitalism to have a democracy that works. The second part of the initial premise that capitalism is not the only detail needed to have a democracy is obvious, because there must be a host of other factors, but it not relevant to this work, because it argues neither for nor against a direct connection between capitalism and democracy(Pious 207).
There is another important piece of evidence regarding the direct connection between capitalism and democracy in that capitalism must have a government in place that will carry out the function of enforcing contracts, securing private property rights, and issuing and controlling the value of currency9,10. This is the position that both Dryzek and Friedman take on the issue. Some would argue that any type of state could perform this administrative function, and this is true up to a point. Fascist Italy, Spain, and Germany were not politically democratic by the sense of the term in use by this paper, but they all had private enterprise, which is a form of capitalism11. What they did not have was a institutionalized limitation on government that only democracy could provide12. This limitation on government is precisely what pure capitalism needs to be effective. It relies on the government to perform these administrative functions as illustrated above, but not to involve itself any further. The reason being that if the market is not allowed to run free, then by definition it is not operating efficiently, and therefore not providing maximum wealth to the majority of the population, and if government were to go too far then the majority would restrict its intervention. That relationship described above is another example of how capitalism and democracy are linked.(Pious)
At this point the interconnectedness of capitalism and democracy has been established and the counterarguments to this refuted. What has yet to be explored is the real nature of the relationship, which will first indicate the pessimistic notion that democracy is controlled by capitalism, and conclude by illustrating the optimistic notion that capitalism will eventually lead to a better democracy( Pious 208).
The best way to illustrate how capitalism can control democracy is the simple premise that you must have capital to finance a successful interest group in a democracy. The need for this money and how it is obtained through capitalism has been explored previously in this work. What has not been explained is the next logical conclusion stemming from the need to have capital to run a successful interest group. That next step is that the interest group that has the most capital has the best chance of influencing the democracy, whether it be through the media, or hiring an influential lobbyist, or some other means of convincing others to vote for something that benefits another party. This coincides with Social Darwinism in that the interest group that is the most able to survive, or has the greatest success, should get its way. This is no way to run a democracy, because it detracts from the belief that democracy is the rule of the people. This in turn leads us away from the stipulated meaning of the term democracy at the start of this work, in that the decision to vote should be uncoerced and free. The crucial part of this concept is that this relationship between capitalism and democracy illustrated here represents a more realistic portrayal of how the two concepts relate to each other. Supporting this viewpoint is Berger, who believes that all democracy&rsquos true purpose is to obscure the realpower relations in society, which are determined and dominated by the members of the capitalist class13, who can mobilize support for their initiatives through pooling of resources and the corresponding use capital assets(Pious 217).
Democracy is also forced to obey the demands of the capitalist market through international investment. Capitalism forces democratic governments to seek out foreign investment by providing inducement for that investment, whether they are corporate tax breaks or improved levels of local infrastructure. If the governments choose not to comply with these market pressures, then this will cause corresponding reduction in tax revenue, which will in turn limit resources for government schemes.
In addition, this will limit employment, which will also limit general levels of income, and therefore jeopardize the popularity and legitimacy of a government14. Similarly, democratic attempts to control trade and capital flows will result in international relocation of production, which will in turn force other nation-states to lower their corporate tax rates15. This is an example of how capitalism has a certain level of control over democracy. So now that the task of arguing against the decoupling of capitalism and democracy is complete, the remainder of this work will concentrate on how capitalism relates to the liberal form of democracy that exists today. What exists in tandem with this negative outlook of capitalism&rsquos relationship with democracy, is a different angle of vison that sees capitalism leading to a better type of democracy where political participation is improved, and the features of the free market economy lead to more human rights(Pious 225)
An example of how this is applied in reality is in opposition to Berger&rsquos viewpoint that the best guarantor of human rights is democracy16. When one looks at the market economy, the cosmopolitan view seems to be one of giant coronations that tyrannize the people of that country in the pursuit of efficiency, with very little attention paid to human rights, but that is not true. One aspect of what these critics say is true, specifically the fact that the corporations are all trying to maximize returns on their investment. However, this will actually raise the standard of living by eliminating the inefficiency of the welfare state, and will give those who are not working the incentive to work. For those who work hard, the market rewards them with affluence. This managed to free the US and the UK from their economic problems in a movement known as the New Right. Also, if there is an area of high unemployment,
the corporation will see that situation as a cheap labour pool and will set up operations to exploit this. The down side is that these people have no choice but to work for this company, the positive side is that in
working at their assigned task, they will have acquired skills and experience they can use toward finding a job elsewhere. Also, with democracy alone bearing the responsibility of providing human rights, one
must take into account the tyranny of the majority. Where this line of argument connects with human rights, is in the fact that capitalist societies in history have a higher standard of living than non-capitalist
The capitalist economy also serves the interest of human rights by protecting the individual&rsquos interests. The buyer is protected from the seller, in that he or she has the choice to go to other sellers, and the same protection is offered to the seller because he or she can go to other buyers. The same type of protection works for all economic relationships, such as employee to employer, because of all the other employers for whom the employee can work (ceteris paribus). The market does this task impersonally without the need for an all powerful state17. The market also reduces the number of issues upon which the government must decide, therefore freeing up energy to pursue human rights, and not spend too much time and money trying to control the economy(Pious)
The argument thus far has given a fair treatment of the arguments both for and against the decoupling of capitalism from democracy, as well as explored the true nature of the relationship between the two concepts. Primarily the fact that capitalism facilitates the control of the democratic process, and that in the end, capitalism will lead to a more liberal form of democracy. This argument has had to evaluate evidence from both sides, as well as attempt to build a common frame of reference in which the two concepts could be evaluated, while minimizing the risk that any authors argument would be taken out of context. After all is said and done, what really matters is that these two concepts have
dominated the realm of political thought for hundreds of years, and when understood in terms of each other, have served to guide the actions of the most powerful and influencing nation-states the world has ever seen. Perhaps the best way to end this brief treatment of capitalism and democracy is to cite Friedman&rsquos axiom which reads; “economic freedom is an indispensable means toward political freedom, and economic freedom is in itself a component of freedom broadly understood, so it is an end
in itself”(Pious 301).
Daniels,Robert V. A Documentary History of Communism.
New York: Random House Publishing, 1960.
Editors of Scholastic Magazine. What You Should Know About Democracy-and Why.
New York: The Fourwinds Press, 1964.
Foreman, James D. Communism New York/London: Franklin Watts, 1972 & 1979
Johnson, Gerald W. Communism and Americans View.
New York: William Morrow and Company, 1964.
Perkins, Dexter. The American Democracy and it?s Rise to Power.
New York: The Macmillan Company, 1962.
Pious, Richard M. Governments of the World. Vol.1
? A Student Companion? New York: Oxford University, 1997
Pious, Richard M. Governments of the World. Vol. 2
? A Student Companion? New York: Oxford University, 1998
Pious, Richard M. Governments of the World. Vol. 3
? A Student Companion? New York: Oxford University, 1998
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