Bourgeois democracy

Democracy is defined as the government of the people, in contrast to the monarchy, which is the government of the few. Bourgeois democracies differ in two important respects from other class democracies, those of slave societies, for example. First, the legal exclusion of slaves from the ruling people gave the governments of the democracies of slave societies the stamp of instruments of class rule.

However, in capitalist democracies, the legal inclusion of the proletarians in the ruling people apparently stamps these governments with the stamp of representatives of the members of all classes. Second, the ruling people participated directly in the democracies of slave societies, in the legislative, judicial, and executive functions. The interpretation and enforcement of laws, on the other hand, are effectively monopolized by bureaucracies, hierarchies of paid officials, whose selection and activities are, to a large extent, independent of popular control. When the people are said to rule in the democracies of slave and capitalist societies, both “people” and “rule” are used ambiguously. In the democracies of slave societies, “Governs” means the entire government, but “people” only part of the people. In the democracies of capitalist society, “people” means all the people, but “governs” only part of the government. […]

These distinctive features of the bourgeois democratic state correspond to the distinctive features of the capitalist economy. The capitalist economy appears as controlled by a series of competitive changes, in which all members of society participate voluntarily under conditions of freedom and universal equality. Likewise, the bourgeois democratic state appears as controlled by a series of competitive elections, in which all members of society participate voluntarily under conditions of freedom and universal equality. But underneath the freedom and formal equality of capitalist change appear slavery and the exploitation of materials of capitalist production, resulting from the monopoly on the means of production exercised by the members of the capitalist class.

And underneath the formal freedom and equality of the bourgeois-democratic elections appear the material slavery and oppression of the bureaucratic administration, resulting from the monopoly on the means of coercion exercised by the agents of the capitalist class. The democratic republic is the optimal political shell for capitalism, because the relationship between bureaucratic administration and universal suffrage is the optimal political counterpart to the relationship between capitalist exploitation and commodity exchange. […] The democratic republic is the optimal political shell for capitalism, because the relationship between bureaucratic administration and universal suffrage is the optimal political counterpart to the relationship between capitalist exploitation and commodity exchange. […] The democratic republic is the optimal political shell for capitalism, because the relationship between bureaucratic administration and universal suffrage is the optimal political counterpart to the relationship between capitalist exploitation and commodity exchange. […]

If it is affirmed that the power of the state rests on armed bodies separate from the people, that the State is an institution that subordinates the power of the masses to the power of an organized and armed minority, the application of this theory, then, to bourgeois democracy it will concentrate, not on the extension of the suffrage, but on the control of the administration. This approach underlies the Communist Manifesto’s assertion that “the bourgeoisie, after the establishment of big industry and the universal market, finally conquered the exclusive hegemony of political power in the modern representative state. The modern state government is no longer a board that administers the common businesses of the entire bourgeois class. ”

Marx presents in his examination of the political development of France a classic formulation of the connection between bureaucratic administration and capitalist rule. “This executive power: with its immense bureaucratic and military organization, with its complex and contrived machinery of State, an army of officials that adds half a million men, together with an army of another half a million men, this dreadful parasitic organism that It encircles the body of French society as a network and clogs all its pores. It emerged at the time of absolute monarchy, of the decline of the feudal regime, which the said organism helped to accelerate. The lordly privileges of the landowners and the cities became many other attributes of the power of the State, the feudal dignitaries in paid officials and the motley sample map of medieval sovereignties in conflict in the regulated plan of a state power whose work is divided and centralized as in a factory. […] All revolutions perfected this machine, instead of destroying it. The parties that fought alternately for domination, considered the taking of possession of this immense state building as the main spoils of the winner. ”1 ]

A bureaucracy, in the broad sense in which Marxists use this term, is a hierarchy of rented officials in which each component of the group is controlled solely by its superior officials and in which the work of the group is divided and centralized as in a factory. Usually, however, as in Marx’s recently quoted passage, military forces are distinguished from bureaucracy as a separate component of state power. Sometimes the police and the judiciary are distinguished from the bureaucracy. But the fact remains that, normally, in capitalist states, all components of state power – military, police and judiciary, as well as bureaucracy, In their narrow sense – they are hierarchies of rented officials in which each member of the group is controlled solely by their senior officials and in which the work of the group is divided and centralized as in a factory. This is the reason why the entire administrative machinery of these states is characterized as bureaucratic and why the problem of bureaucracy is considered central in the analysis of the bourgeois democratic state.

A bureaucracy is neither a class nor a part of a class, since members of such a group are not distinguished from members of other social groups by their relations with the means of production. Like priests, prostitutes, and teachers, bureaucrats form a social stratum that recruits its members from a diversity of social classes. In the bureaucracies of the capitalist states, the top civil and military officials generally come from the capitalist and landlord classes. In the intermediate grades of the civil hierarchy, many officials are of petty-bourgeois origin. The lower levels of the police and the armed forces are partly covered by the peasantry and the proletariat.

 

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