“Democracy” and Revolution

Communist societies are condemned for their supposed lack of democracy. By comparison, Western societies universally describe themselves as democratic. This is a double hoax.

First, Western societies, despite elections, are not actually democratic at all. The famous Gilens and Page study has proven this once and for all. As this study concludes, ordinary people have a “non-significant, near-zero level” of independent influence on policy decisions.

Second, not a single Western society has ever replaced capitalism through the ballot box. In those rare cases when this has been attempted, the response has been violent repression. See Chile in 1973.

The French philosopher Alain Badiou explains:

In our “Western” countries the rule is fairly simple: once in power, you can change some small details, but there is no question of changing the capitalist basis of society. Do you know of any “democratic” country that is not in fact, and above all, dominated by an extremely stable capitalism? Elections are but a facade for preserving the dominant order.

He goes on to point out:

Elections only work if there is basic agreement between the majority and the opposition concerning the organisation of the society. No one has ever seen a complete change of society that resulted from elections! And it is perfectly understandable: how could any party supporting a conservative idea of society accept a complete overturn simply as a result of voting?

Indeed, when the US helped organize the military coup that overthrew the elected socialist government of Chile, leading to a bloodbath, Secretary of State Henry Kissinger said quite bluntly: “I don’t see why we need to stand by and watch a country go communist due to the irresponsibility of its people.”

Western “democracy” has for centuries served to protect and preserve capitalism, a system that privileges a tiny elite at the expense of everyone else. Actual revolutions are only won at heavy cost against violent opposition. Once in power, it would be a betrayal if the revolution did not defend itself. Badiou:

If you change society through a revolution, how could you possibly accept a return to the way things were and calmly hand back power to the reactionaries?

But apparently only capitalism is allowed to protect itself, using bourgeois democracy when that works and turning to violence when it doesn’t.

Western societies are “democratic” only so long as capitalism is not threatened.


Gilens, Martin, and Benjamin I. Page. “Testing Theories of American Politics: Elites, Interest Groups, and Average Citizens.” Perspectives on Politics, vol. 12, no. 3, Fall 2014. Available here.

Chile: The Other 9/11.”, 12 Sep 2017.

Alain Badiou: The alleged power of capitalism merely reflects the weakness of its opponents.”, 2 Jan 2018.


Categories: Capitalism, Communism

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