Workers' Liberty 17, January 1994. Socialism and Democracy

1917 was a democratic revolution!


Max Shachtman

The 1917 revolution was one of the greatest democratic moments in history.

The Bolshevik Party, which is now lyingly identified in both outright bourgeois and hypocritical Labour Party- style anti-socialist propaganda, as an enemy of democracy, was, above all else, the great force for democracy in the Russia of 1917. It was a force, moreover, without which the workers and peasants of the former Tsarist empire would have been crushed and their drive for democratic self-rule drowned in blood. These are the truths propounded and convincingly argued for by Max Shachtman.

Marxism and democracy

By James P Cannon. This is an extract from Cannon's reply to a criticism of his court evidence in 1941.

Comrade Munis [1] is dissatisfied with our assertions at the trial that “we submit to the majority”.

The movement of the majority

By James P Cannon, from Socialism on Trial, 1941. This is an extract from Cannon's evidence in the court where, during World War 2, he and other American Trotskyists and trade unionists were put on trial and jailed for hindering the US war effort.

Q: And how will the dictatorship of the proletariat operate insofar as democratic rights are concerned?

Labour Party: the sham of "one member, one vote"

By John Bloxam and John O'Mahony

"After the rising of the 17th of June [the East Berlin workers uprising of 1953] the Secretary of the Writers Union had leaflets handed out in the Stalinallee in which it can be read that the people had forfeited the confidence of the government, and could only win it back by redoubled efforts. Would it not be simpler if the government dissolved the people and elected another?"

Bertold Brecht, The Solution

Vladimir Lenin on democracy and dictatorship

Lenin called for the "dictatorship of the proletariat" as a great expansion of democracy.

By "dictatorship" he meant the rule of a class, not of a Hitler or a Stalin. This is an abridged version of Lenin's "Theses on Bourgeois Democracy and the Dictatorship of the Proletariat", adopted by the founding congress of the Communist International in March 1919. Long-forgotten contemporary references and examples have been cut.

Democracy, Direct Action and Class Struggle: the Defects of Bourgeois Democracy


John O'Mahony

The malaise of bourgeois democracy in Britain is now a subject of much discussion and concern. The discussion on democracy, early in 1982, between Michael Foot, then leader of the Labour Party, and Socialist Organiser, a forerunner of AWL, may help readers form a clearer picture of the issues beyond small-scale financial corruption.

Michael Foot: My kind of democracy (part 1)

Why parliament? Can those old arthritic limbs still move as the nation needs?

Why parliamentary democracy? Why should democratic socialists and, more especially, democratic socialists in Britain, continue to assert their faith in the supremacy of Parliament? Were those who framed the Labour Party constitution right in their sense of balance when they declared that their objective was to sustain a Labour Party in Parliament and in the country?

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