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What is Capitalist Democracy?
Capitalist democracy is easy to understand. It's only real danger is that it sometimes gets confused with actual democracy.
When partial democracy is employed by capitalists for their own ends, it could be called "capitalist democracy." That's what we live under in the United States. We have many rights which we have fought for over many years, but we don't have essential rights in the economic sphere. We don't decide how much to produce, who gets the product, how many people will be employed, or any of the fundamental economic aspects that affect our lives.
Under the two party system, we do get to choose between capitalist candidates. From time to time, especially in the races down the ballot, we get to pick candidates who actually strive to represent the interests of America's working class. Because the candidates represent electoral coalitions, which may include working class elements, some of them tend to be better than others. But, on the big questions, big money makes the decisions. It has been pointed out that most elections could be accurately predicted just from knowing which candidate has the most money to spend.
The November, 2004, election was the most expensive in history. In the presidential race alone, it was estimated that $1.2 billion was officially spent. That's $10.50 /vote. It's easy to see, therefore, that an ordinary representative of workers is not likely to win a national race under the present circumstances. That doesn't mean it will never happen.
Sometimes, hot-blooded activists like to claim that America has no democracy. They say that this is, in reality, a dictatorship. Because they don't understand the political conditions here, they pile on mistake after mistake. The democratic gains we have made over the many years have created a unique political situation. It needs to be studied and understood as well as possible before strategies and tactics are decided.
Do Elections = Democracy?
As this is written, the people of Afganistan just finished an important election. American troops were stationed throughout the country, and a close ally of United States corporations was elected. The Bush Administration thus takes credit for having established Democracy there. Did they?
The same process is under way in Iraq. After American military power finishes destroying all resistance, they expect to hold elections. It would not be surprising to see someone who is favorable to American corporations elected. Is democracy on the march? Is it likely that the American army will "establish democracy" in nations that are already favorable to American corporations, such as Saudi Arabia?
From time to time, a nation elects governments that are not generally favorable to the American corporations. This has happened time and again in Central America, and is actually the case right now in several nations. Uruguay elected such a government October 31. Will the United States respect these leaders because they were elected? Did they respect Salvador Allende in Chile? How about the Sandinistas in Nicaragua? Will they respect the Bolivarians in Venezuela, who also won big gains in their October 31elections?