As Ernest Untermann wrote in in 1907, “mere political democracy without industrial democracy amounts in practice to a virtual oligarchy” (Untermann, 109). This is a fundamental truth to ‘democracy’ in not just America but any capitalist system. The term ‘industrial democracy’ is a grand thing, everyone wants economic democracy, collective ownership and democratic control of industry. “What a great idea!” they say. But then you tell them exactly what economic democracy and collective ownership is, and that of course is the dictionary definition of socialism. The American people certainly want socialism, they just don’t want the name, and they fail to separate it from the stigma of stalinism. But so long as the ruling class owns the means of creating wealth, it will own the vast majority of wealth in the country and have the vast majority- if not a complete monopoly over influencing elections.
But then you have American democracy, the embodiment of bourgeois democracy. American democracy is a joke, a rigged competition of the least hated. It does not represent the will of the people, so long as capital and politics are as inseparable as they are now they will only represent the will of the rich, the corporations and ultimately that of the capitalist class and not the will of the majority which is poor in comparison and exploited by the very people funding these bourgeois candidates. How do candidates even get popular so you get to hear about them? With money of course! All one has to do is follow the money! Both candidates are funded by wall street and corporations which best represent their interests which are of course against those of the people. When a corporation endorses a candidate is it truly the will of the workers under that corporation? Of course not! It’s the will of the board of directors, of the CEO or president that the workers hard earned money which funnels up the bureaucratic corporate latter for them to do with as they wish- including funding presidential (and other) candidates which best represent their interests (i.e. defending the capitalist mode of expropriation, to defend how they earn their millions without having to actually they themselves work for it).
One only has to take a look at the presidential run of Bernie Sanders to see what corporate corruption permeates the so called ‘democratic’ party. Which candidate best represented the will of the people, the interests of the poor and of working people? The answer was obviously Bernie Sanders and polls SHOWED he would have defeated Trump in an actual election run. However we know (thanks to wikileaks) that several higher ups in the DNC intentionally and systematically made sure that Bernie would not be nominated to run. As Bernie said, “I don’t think wall street is going to like me very much”. Hillary, on the other hand is practically the poster child of corporate politics. Her campaign was funded almost entirely by corporate entities and banks which supported her. Bernie, on the other had was funded by millions of individual donations from working people- which averaged a total of 27$. As Hillary so charismatically said, “Hillary is a president for all Americans” in response to Bernie’s claims of not being liked by Wall Street. Though in truth this is impossible, you can serve wall street or the people. There is no middle ground, just as the DNC knew. This DNC failed to recognize the material conditions for both Bernie and Trump’s anti-establishment and often fanatical support, and thus chose to disenfranchise the Sanders campaign- which was in the best interest of wall street, and subsequently the party.
Trump’s rise to power cannot be blamed solely on the DNC though. The support for Trump is as rational as the support for Hillary. Both candidates have unfavorability ratings higher than any other mainstream candidates in US history. The two-party system intentionally maintains the illusion that ‘there are only two choices’ and this lie in fact becomes truth when enough people believe it. 9 out of 10 people who voted for Trump were only doing so because Clinton is such a horrible candidate, and the same goes for those who voted for Clinton. In essence American democracy is a competition to find the least hated candidate, and it turns out that candidate is Trump. Trump’s anti-establishment platform reflects the very real nature of American democracy in a non class-conscious way. The American people know the system is rigged against them, and Trump, to them seems to be a viable option for real change. The only problem is that Trump is part of the problem, practically funding his own campaign with his billions. The American people fail to realize that the inseparable relation of capital to politics is not only inherent to all bourgeois democracy but is actually a very bad thing. Liberal politics fail to recognize this, and parade slogans of progress when in reality they are impeding it.
Liberalism, in comparison to the absolute monarchies which triumphed before it by divine right to rule, is a significant advance. But society needs- now more than ever to advance beyond it in a way that does not contradict itself (as liberalism does). As Vladimir Lenin once said, “Bourgeois democracy, although a great historical advance in comparison with medievalism, always remains, and under capitalism is bound to remain, restricted, truncated, false and hypocritical, a paradise for the rich and a snare and deception for the exploited, for the poor”. This statement holds true now more than ever. Establishing a ruling class not of the capitalist minority we have now but of the working majority itself is the only solution to this problem. To have political democracy like we have now that is real and truly represents the will of THE PEOPLE, and with that collective ownership of the economy and democracy in the workplace itself! As Marx said, “Instead of deciding once every 3 or 6 years which members of the ruling class were to misrepresent the people in parliament, universal suffrage was to serve THE PEOPLE (my caps)”. So my demand is simple, the expansion of democracy to the workplace and the establishment of a democratic system which truly represents the people! Such a system is impossible under capitalism. The lack of such a system is the reason US politics are so absurd in their contradictory nature. Will of the people to them is the same as will of the rich. As they say, money is power. The more money you have the more power you have. Equal representation under the state is an illusion, it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to see that. A better world IS POSSIBLE, but we have to fight for it and pull back the veil over the people’s eyes, to show them what the real problem with American democracy is.