TRUE THEN…TRUE NOW

“In capitalist society, under the conditions most favorable to its development, we have more or less complete democracy in the democratic republic. But this democracy is always bound by the narrow framework of capitalist exploitation and consequently always remains, in reality, a democracy for the minority, only for the possessing classes, only for the rich. Freedom in capitalist society always remains just about the same as it was in the ancient Greek republics: freedom for the slave-owners. The modern wage slaves, owing to the conditions of capitalist exploitation, are so much crushed by want and poverty that “democracy is nothing to them,” “politics is nothing to them”; that, in the ordinary peaceful course of events, the majority of the population is debarred from participating in social and political life…Democracy for an insignificant minority, democracy for the rich – that is the democracy of capitalist society. If we look more closely into the mechanism of capitalist democracy, everywhere, both in the “petty” – so-called petty – details of the suffrage (residential qualifications, etc.) and in the technique of the representative institutions, in the actual obstacles to the right of assembly (public buildings are not for “beggars”!), in the purely capitalist organization of the daily press, etc., etc. – on all sides we see restriction after restriction upon democracy. These restrictions, exceptions, exclusions, obstacles for the poor, seem slight, especially in the eyes of one who has himself never known want and has never been in close contact with the oppressed classes in their mass life (and nine-tenths, if not ninety-nine-hundredths, of the bourgeois publicists and politicians are of this class), but in their sum total these restrictions exclude and squeeze out the poor from politics and from an active share in democracy.”

“[The role of elections is, for the working people] to decide once every few years which member of the ruling class is to repress and crush the people through [the legislature]–that is the real essence of bourgeoisie [democracy]”

-Lenin, The State and Revolution

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