Re: [OPE] winning the battle of democracy

From: Alejandro Agafonow <>
Date: Wed Mar 16 2011 - 22:19:37 EDT

Hi Claus. Marxist wrongly reduces “bourgeois democracy” to “political representation.” Given that Marxists lack a refined theory of democracy, they normally miss the notorious fact that “population size” is the main burden for “direct democracy,” which they do not define very well either. Representative democracy has indeed a strong egalitarian appeal. Since in this kind of democracies one of the most important means to gain votes is public expenditure, it becomes rational to expand public expenditure in order to maximize political support. Governments would find rational to tax an additional dollar if the spending that this marginal taxation finances procures a vote-gain. This marginal taxation will continue until the vote-loss it triggers – as the taxed voters will be harmed due to this mandatory detraction of resources from their incomes – equals the vote-gain procured by the transference of this money to citizens who will obtain a positive marginal net satisfaction with it. Why does “income equality” have not been actually reached in representative democracies? Well, it depends on what liberal democracy we consider. Certainly, the US and Latin American democracies have the largest income inequalities. But we can find a different story in Europe. The above redistributive proposition, which is inherent to any regime where competitive politics exists, is qualified by more complex institutional characteristics. To start with, the mechanics of “presidential democracies” is different from “parliamentary democracies.” Here there is an exiting line of research that Marxists have neglected due to their prejudices about liberal values and institutions. Admittedly, liberal democracy has to be improved. But by rejecting it all together we are most likely suffering a drawback in our fight for a more just and egalitarian world. Alejandro Agafonow ________________________________ De: "" <> Para: Outline on Political Economy mailing list <> Enviado: mié,16 marzo, 2011 20:28 Asunto: Re: [OPE] winning the battle of democracy Alejandro, Paula, when you talk of democracy, do you mean 'bourgeois democracy'? What a kind of democracy is this? comradely, Claus. > Jerry, how can you say that Castro is the most popular ruler if there are > not > accountability mechanisms in Cuba to prove this? At least, we can be sure > that > Chavez is popular in Venezuela. It seems that international observers back > a > reasonable degree of transparency in "competitive" elections there (which > regrettably is being used to legitimize a dismantling of checks and > balances > that could contain the president’s power). > > Come on! It is not so hard to see the flaws of the Cuba’s regime, even > if you > have little knowledge about the mechanics of democracy. > Alejandro > > > > > ________________________________ > De: GERALD LEVY <> > Para: Outline on Political Economy mailing list <> > Enviado: mié,16 marzo, 2011 03:51 > Asunto: Re: [OPE] winning the battle of democracy > > >> Yes, Alejandro, there are “Marxists” who over the years have been on >> the side of tyranny – going all the way back to the USSR. Now it’s >> Libya, Cuba, China, etc. > > > Hi Paula: > > Cuba is not Libya and Castro is not Gaddafi. One minor problem with your > suggestion that F. Castro is a tyrant is that he is probably the most > popular > leader of any nation in the world in his own nation. A rather trivial > detail, isn't it? > > As for Libya, who exactly do you think are the 'pro-democracy' forces > there? > Large segments of the 'rebels' identify with the pre-1969 monarchy and > openly fly the flag of that monarchy. Another trivial detail, no doubt. > Also trivial is the base of support that Gasaffi has - which has allowed > him to stay in power for so long. I guess the rights of women (which have > been > championed by the current regime - and ridiculed in the West, where the > press thinks that him having women guards is another indication of how > 'crazy' he is) is also a trivial issue. > > By all means be anti-authoritarian, but you might want to consider who > exactly it is that you are supporting and who supports them and why. > Note that the rebels haven't even put forward a political platform which > calls for democracy or elections - instead they call for 'regime change'. > > Please note that I am NOT defending Gadaffi: rather, I am simply pointing > to some realities and complexities which get in the way of the simplistic > narrative of 'madman' vs. those who are in favor of democracy. > > >> Regarding Jerry’s question – I don’t have a strict definition of >> fascism. It seems to be a label people apply to the most extreme cases >> of something that’s entirely normal in the age of imperialism – >> political reaction with an element of popular support. I’d say >> Gadhafi’s regime is a pretty extreme example, as bad as General >> Franco’s in Spain, if not worse. > > Political reaction? Was Gadaffi a 'reactionary' when he helped lead the > coup > which overthrew the monarchy? Then, what does that make the pro- > monarchist forces? ... progressive?...revolutionary? ... democratic? Ha! > > It's an unfortunate tendency for some on the Left to loosely use > the word 'fascist' to basically describe any movement, government, or > person > who doesn't have the 'correct line'. In so doing, the term looses any of > its > specific historical meaning. At a time in world history where there are > genuine fascist movements and dangers this is a very dangerous - and > sloppy and lax - practice. Why? Because if you can't identify the real > fascists then you get in the way of effectively organizing a united front > against fascism. Indeed, this is part of what happened in Germany > in 1933: the KPD said that the SPD leadership was 'social fascist' and > hence > refused to have a united front in the election to the Reichstag (of > course, > the SPD leadership was also to blame because they didn't want a united > front either). The result was that the Left split its vote - and the rest > is > history. > > Frankly, I think that the claim that Gadaffi is fascist is comically - and > tragically - wrong. He is indeed an authoritarian leader who has violently > repressed his own people but that doesn't make him a fascist. Rather, it > makes him (in that sense) a normal bourgeois leader. He is no more a > fascist than was the person he politically identified the most with - > Gamal Abdel Nasser - although Israeli officials often tried to paint > Nasser > as a fascist (ironic, given the character of Zionism and the policies of > Israel). > I think a better take on Gadaffi is that he is a one-time revolutionary > (bourgeois) > nationalist (who was also internationalist in many ways as well) who over > time > became more conservative and ultimately came to a rapprochement with > imperialism, especially US imperialism. Hence, just last year note H. > Clinton's > praise for Gadaffi. > > Certainly, the people of Libya deserve democracy - or at a minimum what > passes for democracy (bourgeois democracy) in other nations. And it would > certainly be a good thing if there was a genuine revolutionary movement in > Libya, but I don't see that happening in Libya today. Frankly, I see the > hand of imperialism promoting the current rebellion and taking > sides in the civil war. I guess you could call me naive for thinking this > had > something to do with greater access to Libyan oil and a desire to > eventually > drive down the price of oil on world markets. > > In solidarity, Jerry > _______________________________________________ > ope mailing list > > > > > > _______________________________________________ > ope mailing list > > > _______________________________________________ ope mailing list

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