(I’ll be adding this to my socialism FAQ, but for now I think it deserves it’s own post.)
The logic here is what fascinates—the mechanical formality, starting with rigid definitions and proceeding step by careful step to absurdity. The old scholastics of the middle ages would certainly have approved, but if we don’t want to do our political analysis using the method of St. Thomas Aquinas, we need to do better. Here’s how the logic works:
1. We live in what is called a democracy (or a democratic republic, if you want to be fussy).
2. By definition, this means we elect those who govern us, and can thus elect anyone we want to carry out our will.
3. Therefore, those in office are carrying out our will.
4. Therefore, most Americans are in favor of massive income inequality, genocide, making the Earth uninhabitable, right-wing censorship, pseudo-left censorship, a barbaric health care system, murderous police, the loss of democratic rights, homelessness, letting COVID kill us by the hundreds of thousands, and continuous war.
That there are those who follow this chain and believe—or act as if they believe—that it represents reality continues to astound me. But it is common enough that it is worth taking a look at.
..1 In a bourgeois democracy, the bourgeois always takes precedence over the democracy. Theoretically, we know that if the rights and privileges of the ruling class are threatened—particularly the right to make unlimited profit—democracy narrows, shrinks, and becomes more limited. In practice, we are watching it happen before our eyes.
The whole world saw what happened when Senator Sanders dared to suggest that capitalism could become not quite so mean all the time. That he was never a real threat to capitalism and would in fact have done nothing significant for the working class made no difference; his pretensions had to be crushed using legal and quasi-legal means. He isn’t the first to discover the ruthlessness of the American bourgeoisie and the Democratic Party in particular when it comes to making sure Wall Street never feels the least pinch! Gene McCarthy (honestly or not) spoke for those who wanted an end to the Vietnam war and was destroyed. Bill Clinton, swine though he is, made tiny, halfhearted efforts toward improving health care and suddenly a sex scandal emerged. &c &c,
..2 The media are part of the capitalist system, controlled by a few (and getting fewer) mega corporations, all of whom have, at the top of their agenda, convincing us that there is no possibility of any political change outside of the two capitalist parties. Billions and billions of dollars go into this every year (whether conspiratorially or simply by natural selection of editors and publishers is irrelevant). While I disagree with those who believe propaganda is all-powerful, it is silly to think that propaganda on such a massive scale is without effect.
..3 At the very least, one ought to reflect on the significance of the fact that every political gain since Reconstruction—unemployment insurance, civil rights, medicare, welfare, &c—has come as a result of direct struggles by the working masses, not by selecting the right candidate.