This is a chapter from the book:
The Democratic State
Chapter 9: Democratic procedures: Elections — Legislature — Government
The bourgeois state can achieve its economic objectives only if its citizens pursue their material interests within the bounds it sets. It requires that everyone recognize that its activities are necessary functions for satisfying their interests. One group of citizens must accept the simple idea that certain limitations on their pursuit of profit are unavoidable if the state is to guarantee the productive use of their property. The other group must resign themselves to the fact that their very subsistence must be curtailed if the state is to guarantee their wage labor.
Citizens refrain from using force in their competitive conflicts with one another, or, in positive terms, they consent to the state’s monopoly on force. This is how the state has them submit to its purpose, the augmentation of private wealth. Their materialism serves this purpose only if it is tempered by an idealistic obedience to the law, that is, only if the classes make themselves instruments of the common good. To guarantee the functioning of its power, the state seeks the consent of the people to its measures.
Of course the state will not have its citizens deciding on which state measures are necessary and which are not. With elections they can only pick which representatives they consider most capable of carrying out the functions of the state. Since the only purpose of elections is to elicit the consent of the voters to state power, all votes are equally important (“one man one vote,”) with the outcome decided by majority (absolute or relative.) Since the necessity of this kind of expression of the will of the people is permanent, elections are held periodically. The state gives citizens who want to run for public office the opportunity to form political parties with others of like mind. In this form they can promote their political programs and compete for votes, and thus for the right to conduct state affairs, by shaping the voters’ political will.
The conduct of state affairs consists first of all in the activities of the legislature. By means of majority voting, the elected representatives, responsible only to their consciences as statesmen, issue legal regulations to settle all the inevitable collisions in society as the common good requires. Secondly, there is the government that puts through these regulations with the help of the state’s machinery of force. Thirdly, the opposition raises its constructive criticism, representing a minority of the electorate and channeling their discontent into the form of a political alternative, the only form permitted.
One constantly hears of the danger that the institutionalized regard for the will of the citizens might be misused for an attack on the state’s purpose. Democracies take care of this eventuality by enforcing adherence to the constitution (outlawing certain political parties, etc.) and by legal provisions to drop democracy if necessary to save the state.
With its celebrated democratic procedures the modern bourgeois state admits that its political rule hinges on the will of its citizens, which means that citizens have the means to make the state superfluous. On the other hand, the state takes heed of their free will only in so far as they abstract from their material interests. Thus, the progress of democracy over all earlier forms of state is that it uses the will of its citizens for an augmentation of wealth which they do not benefit from. The economic struggle of the wageworkers therefore leads to a political struggle against the state, while the political struggle for alternative state policies hinders the economic struggle, preserving both the state and exploitation, regardless of which alternative is chosen.
a) Who’s using whom
The abstract characterization of democracy, that the power of the state is based on the will of the people, appears in a somewhat different light from the point of view of the state or its officials, who administer competition according to the needs of private property. They consider democracy “the worst form of state, except for all the others,” (Churchill) which clearly expresses that it is not the ultimate purpose of the state to submit to the will of the citizens. On the contrary, the state can perform its tasks best when it gains the consent of citizens to its actions. When citizens positively support state power (which does not cease being a power over the people by being supported by the people) they demonstrate their will to fight for their interests only through competition, i.e. to use their freedom the way the state wants them to. Democratic legitimation is thus necessary for the state since working citizens, by abstracting from their particular wills to give their consent to the state, are by the same act perpetuating their economic duties and thereby guaranteeing the functioning of the mode of production. Conversely, when the majority of the people refuse to be loyal to the state, when they no longer want their freedom, when they are concerned with less lofty matters of human existence, then the state upholds freedom against these crass demands. In voting for the state people announce their willingness to use the state for themselves as long as they need it. The state responds by passing legislation which demonstrates that needing the state is not the same as benefiting from it. Democratic elections, which are hardly carried by the votes of the capitalists, thus allow the state to use the working class, not the other way around.
b) The will of the voter
By staging its bizarre democratic election spectacle, the state is by no means making itself dependent on the will of its citizens. Rather, it gives its existing dependence a form in which citizens themselves give up their will. When the state only allows them to vote on which politicians should fill the state offices, it leaves no doubt that it is not only the non-elected organs of jurisdiction, administration, etc., which are beyond the reach of citizens, but all the political decision-making institutions of the state. The question of whether the whole political apparatus needs to exist in the first place is never on the ballot. The state organizes the expression of the will its citizens in such a way that they have no choice but to express their submission to the will of the state.
The highest democratic achievement is that such a violently forced abstraction as being a free person becomes a product of a person’s own will. The check mark beside the candidate’s name signifies indifference toward any considerations the voters may have. Nothing remains but an okay for a representative and therefore an “aye!” to the state. This allows the state to measure the will of the electorate, using the majority principle to openly disregard any particular will and the reasons for it. Reactionary critics claim that this democratic principle both oppresses the voters in the minority and prevents government by the best, which is not true. The majority of the people abandon their own interests for the state, so that the majority, the minority and the nonvoters are all equally subjected to state power according to the class to which they belong. Since elections institutionalize the antagonism between the state and its citizens, excluding them from rule by procuring their consent to it, the state knows exactly what to do about the continual conflict between its measures and the interests of its citizens. It holds elections periodically to ensure that its citizens forever refrain from using force. Election day is the regular exception to the rule of the state’s day in and day out disregard for its citizens’ interests.
The forced subordination of citizens to the purposes of the state is therefore sealed by elections, as the repeated act of their own political common sense. They are required by the state to exercise their will by making themselves the willing object of state affairs, by making a political decision every few years which has the same result as their usual political abstinence. The majority of citizens reveal their interest in the state’s purposes by a comparison of their wishes with the various political alternatives offered for not fulfilling them. This kind of game is thus over before it starts. The individual citizen manages to abstract voluntarily from his interests and choose among the candidates eager to implement the necessities of state, although he is fairly sure this means opting for a continuation of his lousy situation. The persistent willingness to go to the polls demonstrates that the only needs citizens expect to be met by their politicians are ones already transformed into illusions about the state. Workers thus are not abandoning their own interests only on their way to the polls. By voting they are merely giving their explicit consent to the power against themselves which they already tolerate because they need it for their reproduction as wageworkers, and mistakenly regard as a positive means for themselves. As consolation for betraying their own interests, they can always vote for one of the other alternatives next time around to replace the disappointing government they elected themselves this time.
c) Political parties
When the democratic state makes the dependence of its success on the will of its citizens a means of exercising power, it secures its own political existence but makes that of its representatives an uncertain matter. Although anyone can decide to become a politician nowadays, the access to political office depends on whether one can gain and maintain the favor of the electorate. For the sake of their careers those who don the cloak of the state’s necessities therefore have the democratic duty of presenting a rosy picture of all the nasty deeds they would be “privileged” to perform. It behooves them to represent the decisions of the state as measures taken for the sake of the voters.
The parties “develop political objectives” with a simple trick. They give citizens (who entertain a self-interested ideal of the state by expecting its actions to benefit them) what they want, namely, a hoax. Politicians use their entire limited imagination, which they do not need for their practical dealings, to assure citizens that the state will continue bestowing on them the blessings befitting their class, in its own best interest. However diversely the candidates compete, the principles they follow are always the same. They promise all social groups, regardless of their conflicts (which the state preserves), that they will choose only those measures from the state’s repertory that these groups expect to benefit from. Of course if you put all these promises together you get nothing but the well-known, necessary state program, in the glorified form of a benefit for one and all.
The high art of promising everybody exactly what he wants has its limits of course. Contradictory pronouncements are noted by the public, and the past term of office shows that the state has satisfied almost no one. Therefore the politicians always add some information about the nature of their intentions. They make qualifications, cite the powerlessness of the state and appeal to the political insight that divergent demands can only be satisfied if all remember the limits of what is possible. They even divulge who will be given the possibilities and who are in for the necessities. Controversies between the parties are therefore held chiefly in the domain of ideals, which citizens invariably equate with their own advantage, even though those wonderful abstract values dealt with in the first four chapters of this book only serve as the foundation for the brute force examined in the rest. The matters parties love to fight about are democracy’s most sacred principles, which idealize the antagonism between the state and its citizens: freedom, human dignity, equality, justice and so on. When political parties deny one another’s ability to uphold their common ideals they demonstrate what these ideals are good for. They allow the effects of state necessities, which all politicians agree on, to appear as the consequence of inability and as a betrayal of the higher aims of the state. Ideals are great to fight about, especially when it is a matter of transforming people’s worries into consent. That is why one party fights for personal freedom, family values, Christian responsibility and the market economy cum “safety net” against socialist experiments. Another party is for freedom, social justice and reforms, and a third for freedom and personal dignity…
The triad of conservatives, reformers and liberals, the classic constellation of political parties, represents the necessary ways politicians react to the conflicts between the state and its citizens. Politicians fear popular discontent as a danger to their economic and other policies, and especially to their tenure in office. In their election campaigns, they practice the fine art of turning the discontent into its opposite. Reformers like to blame everything on the inactivity of the state, and portray democratic politics as a matter of “venturing more democracy.” They are always coming up with new tasks for the state. Conservatives look at it from the other side of the contradictory notion that the state is necessary, and turn politics into an ongoing endeavor to save the state, which people would be wise not to disturb all the time with their demands. Finally, liberals try to exploit the frustration of the private citizen who considers the state a means for himself and an obstacle at the same time. They claim the omnipresence of the state is the root of all evil, unfailingly put freedom first and stress the citizen as the ideal human of Chapter One in opposition to the state of the later chapters. In order to gain power they proclaim that the ultimate goal of the state is to restrict itself. It should be noted, because it makes no difference, that these vote-catching labels have been changed around in the United States. To the chagrin of the likes of Milton Freedman, reformers today have the nerve to call themselves liberals, “true” liberals are known as “libertarians,” one side calls the other “left- or right-wingers” depending, while everybody somehow is “in the middle.”
Since parties stage these disputes in order to be elected by all, the basic attributes of the existing alternatives are nothing but variations on the promise to offer a state for everyone. Democratic parties are mainstream parties which anticipate within their own ranks the state’s one-sided decisions on which interests are to prevail. By staging internal party democracy, etc., they ensure that the social groups out to gain influence on the state can jockey for position within the party, while at the same time obligating everyone to publicly advocate the party line.
The ongoing petty warfare with great ideals therefore has little to do with the politicians’ practical decisions. When it comes to governing they demonstrate every time that, no matter how they might have disagreed about the best policy, they end up maintaining the best of all possible worlds. And in this world there are no alternatives, at least when it comes to the material interests of the majority. Changes of government do not shake the continuity of the state machinery but rather serve it. And all the conflicts exhibited (and not settled) by political parties during their campaigns to attain power, which quicken the heartbeat of staunch democrats so proud of the liveliness exhibited by their state, suddenly disappear if none of the parties gains a majority. Then they make room for coalitions great and small. Nonetheless, the practical alternatives the politicians face then are still those shown in the earlier chapters, so they sort out their opponents and supporters in each of the coalition parties, or rather depending on whose turn it is to govern and choose them and whose turn it is to be in opposition.
In Germany for example, the continuity of politics takes the form of a laboriously nurtured differentiation between the parties. However this can also be had with much less ado, e.g., in countries where popular parties have not formed from the political organization of conflicting social interests, but have been instruments for competing interest groups from the start. In the United States politics is pragmatic, parties are reduced to the function of machines for conducting election campaigns, candidates are hustlers, and their competition is over who can deliver raw state morality and his own personality most convincingly.
The continual competition of the parties for votes makes the agitation of citizens a permanent fixture of political life, alongside actual political rule. This is where one finds all those wise sayings presented in the ideology sections of this book, which characterize the various aspects of the state. The parties’ propaganda in the months before elections is only a separate and state-subsidized part of the political education they provide every day. They unceasingly present the state-interested citizen with their variant of politics as material for his comparison, continually nourishing his civic idealism in order to take advantage of it. Since the parties perform the business of the state while at the same time criticize it as party politics, they and not the state are the target of consent, disappointment and criticism on the part of the people. They enrich the state’s victims by giving them the freedom to choose between alternative forms of state success, and enrich the state by giving it the relative certainty of being safe from criticism. By using everything that happens in the state as a means for their own advancement the parties make themselves a means for preserving the state. This is even usually acknowledged in the constitution, even though their competition shakes people’s “trust in the state” every now and then.
The explanation of the democratic state as the concretion of a voluntary relationship of force (Chapter 3) also sheds some light on the species of representatives in charge of making political decisions. These people not only have the task of deciding on the exercise of power, the poor things must also present this business to citizens as being in their best interest, and accuse their political adversaries of being and doing exactly what they themselves are and do. They unite force with morality, by practicing force if they get the chance, and by demonstrating morality so that they can get the chance. Hypocrisy is their profession and therefore also their character. Corruption and lies are the warp and woof of their political existence. They are also only democrats up to a point, talking as they constantly do about “the people” because “the people” are always getting in their way. In short, they are the true mirror image of their victims!
d) Legislature and government
Elections make the conduct of state affairs dependent on the representatives the people have entrusted with this task. To ensure that they can decide about the collisions of bourgeois society in the interest of the state, i.e. to prevent elections from being misused for forcing the representatives to make concessions to particular interests, politicians are independent of the will of those who give them their vote. This “indirect democracy” means freedom of conscience for members of the legislature and unaccountability of the government toward the people. On the other hand, the performance of state functions cannot be left to the whims of an independent government if the state is to persist. The requirements of economic competition, which are the reasons why citizens need and want the state, have to remain the valid standard for state measures. This is guaranteed by the dependency of those who actually wield the power of the state on the decisions of the representative body about the most efficient way of mastering the tasks that arise. The executive power is bound to the decisions of the legislature, in which the people’s representatives lay down the principles for treating the inevitable collisions in society, fixing them in the form of laws for the government to execute. By deliberating and passing laws, the legislature ensures that any demands on the state are brought in line with the totality of state actions, and their (non)fulfillment made binding accordingly. Parliamentary democracy therefore proves to be a form of state power which maintains the state as a means for augmenting national wealth by restraining the government power from recklessly satisfying momentary needs. It subordinates by means of legislation the various particular problems to the state interest as a whole, which the state pursues with its limited finances. The legislature not only decides about all state measures and fixes their execution by law, it also decides on the distribution of funds for executing the laws by approving the annual government budget and the grant of government loans.
The role of the legislature is therefore to pass laws to meet the changing requirements for legal, social and economic actions by the government. These laws obligating the state fix the legality of demands on it and the obligations of the citizens toward it. As the legislative power, the legislature continually alters the laws which are unalterable for the citizens. It supplements them, amends them and repeals them, thereby giving society the legal code it needs. To prevent legal reforms from running counter to the state purpose laid down in existing legislation, they must meet the requirement of constitutionality. This is determined by a high court which has jurisdiction over constitutional matters.
The people’s representatives jointly make their legal decisions on the best way of settling collisions, but employ majority rule in view of their permanent competition with one another. In order to preserve their identity, parliamentary parties obligate their members to vote in accordance with the party line. In addition, all legislative initiatives are procedurally delegated to the parties organized in legislative groups. Thus, the individual representative becomes the agent of his party’s will, which is why he not only cites his freedom of conscience vis-à-vis the voters but the parties also cite the voters’ mandate vis-à-vis the individual representative. By contrast, in countries such as the USA where the parties did not turn the political demands of the diverse interest groups they represent into a joint political program, but where the individual representative is himself an agent of a certain interest group, the competition between demands on the state is decided by a temporarily formed majority of proponents or opponents of the particular bill, i.e. this competition is settled in the legislature itself.
In order to make sure the governing party performs its legislative acts with consideration of the social interest groups which the state depends upon, the legislative procedure is usually organized as a two-chamber system (bicameralism.) In some countries, the second, or “higher” chamber can only exert moral influence on legislative acts through its right to deliberate or object, or it may be a controlling body for the authorities responsible for executing the laws.
Since legislation continually disappoints the expectations of most voters (which are sacrificed to the common good), legislative debates also serve the purpose of agitating the population (“open sessions”). While the legal, economic and political discussions necessary for formulating the bills are held in committees staffed in proportion to party strength in the legislature and supported by specialists and government experts, the public debates serve as a forum for the competing parties. The parties demonstrate that they are voting for or against a particular bill with a view to the welfare of the state and thus fulfilling the voters’ mandate. The party bigwigs play on the false equation between the state’s interests and the interests of citizens. They deny each other’s ability to conduct the affairs of state, tossing around the ideals of state power and trying to capitalize on popular idealism about the state in the cloak of debates about laws that are actually already settled. The legislators’ attendance and the intensity of their debates therefore depend not so much on the importance of the new law for the state but on the amount of publicity the parties can generate, i.e., whether the decision in question is a good platform for stressing alternatives that reverberate with some segment of the voters. Favorite subjects for lengthy, publicly effective legislative sessions are therefore the national budget, which permits a discussion of the state’s efficiency in terms of the whole ensemble of its measures, as well as matters on which the voters’ morality can be mobilized for the government or opposition (such as abortion, capital punishment, or the environment).
While the governing party uses these debates to justify its decisions being binding for everyone, the opposition proves itself by constructively criticizing state measures with the state’s interest in mind. It rises to its democratic task of blaming the governing party for the hardships inevitably inflicted on most of the population (which it would rather inflict on them itself) and channeling permanent discontent into the prospect of an alternative government. The opposition votes for or against laws which are passed even without its consent, depending on how it thinks it can appeal to more voters. It thus exploits the advantage it has of not being responsible for governing to kindle popular discontent with the government as best it can in order to attain power itself.
The target for the citizens and therefore the opposition is the government, the executive body of the majority party that implements the laws passed by the legislature. Unlike the legislature, in which dispute between the representatives is organized, the government is distinguished by its uniformity of action, with the authority to decide on government policy vested in the president or prime minister, with accountable subordinate ministers. The government is the political head of the administration of the state. Permanent state functions are managed by a tenured bureaucracy irrespective of all changes in political leadership. The government modifies these functions with a view to efficient management, using the bureaucratic experts both as compliant servants and as correctives. The various constitutional forms of dependence or independence for legislature and government are nothing but ways of preventing legislative decisions and their execution from fundamentally conflicting with each other. The government must not act against the compromises among society’s various demands on the state that have become law, and the legislature must not issue laws against the concrete requirements of the state’s exercise of power. According to how the legislature and government depend on or influence each other, this mutual correction may have the character of peaceful cooperation between the legislative majority and the government against the opposition, or be an ongoing confrontation between the various state institutions (the much- lamented “gridlock”). The government or the administration therefore has the right to concretize the execution of the laws according to the detailed necessities discovered in the course of administering the affairs of state. These government regulations are legally binding by constitution, enabling law or common practice as the case may be.
In all cases the democratic “division” of powers (which also includes their “overlapping”) ensures the functionality of the state’s measures for the collisions of competition, and the effectiveness of the decisions put through by its representatives for preserving the state and the economy. It thus serves to maintain the consent of those affected, which is the condition and criterion for political success.
On the one hand, that is why the democratic instruments of the state are protected by impediments to amending the constitution, as well as by judicial review, which restrict any change in constitutional principles. On the other hand, in cases of national emergency, which include natural catastrophes just as well as external threats or domestic revolts against the state, i.e., in cases when democratic procedures endanger state functions, the continuation of these functions is fixed by emergency laws. Without any need for obtaining the representative consent of the people, with open disregard for the will, situation and life of the citizen, the constitution sanctions the necessity to suspend democracy in order to maintain it.
e) Historical remarks
Parliamentary democracy, which organizes the exercise of state power with the help of the consent of the “governed,” is the product of a social need for a power that is at the same time sovereign and functional for interests which cannot persist without this power, a power which subordinates its decisions to these interests. The democratic state was therefore established through a correction of state power by social interests which gained the upper hand against a sovereign that had become dependent on them but did not serve them. After all, a state gives in to those under its rule only if it can no longer maintain itself otherwise. Conversely, a social class consents to a power above it (instead of eliminating it) only if it needs it. The credit for initiating the development of democracy therefore goes to the bourgeoisie. But its completion is the achievement of the working class.
With its growing economic clout the bourgeoisie dictated to the sovereign the proper use of its political power, preventing the sovereign from acting against their class interests. A parliament of the estates, in which the bourgeoisie confronted the landowners, gained the right to approve taxes. The bourgeoisie used its economic control over the sovereign’s decisions as a means for wresting the right to legislate from the absolute ruler and limiting him by a constitutional monarchy to the execution of the decisions made by the legislative representatives of the ruling classes. Or he was replaced entirely by a republic with an elected government. The use of state power for the ruling classes allowed them to build up large-scale industry ruthlessly and create an ever growing number of wageworkers who could not live by their wage labor and who came in conflict with state power with every effort to secure their existence. Since these efforts of the proletarians endangered the state, it became aware that it could not last without taking account of this constantly growing class, i.e. without granting rights to the workers. Conversely, the reaction of the state showed the workers that they had to use it as a means in their struggle against their exploiters. Success in safeguarding their material interests was equivalent to political success within the state. This involved changing the public power, which was acting as the instrument of the capitalists without bothering about preserving the human material for them to exploit. The struggle for universal suffrage, the promotion of democracy was therefore class struggle, although not in the first democracy, in America.
1. Political science: the democratic science
The reason for the democratic organization of state power is that the state’s success depends on the consent of its citizens. Democracy institutionalizes this consent as the basis for political measures against them. This is a contradiction that cries out for a bourgeois science to justify it. Political science is the democratic science par excellence. It discusses all aspects of the institutionalized antagonism between the state and its citizens from the point of view of functionality, i.e., to what extent these aspects consolidate state power through the consent of its citizens. Its propagandistic portrayal of state institutions and ideals is intended to refute every reason for discontent with the state, period. It offers an arsenal of arguments for why citizens should voluntarily submit to state power, proving its usefulness for civic education in literature, history and social studies classes.
The theory of democratic institutions compares election systems according to their fairness versus the resulting ability to govern. It welcomes political parties as agencies mediating between the interests of citizens and state power. It considers two- (or more) party systems, mainstream versus “single issue” parties, in terms of how uniform the conduct of state affairs is, whether there are enough electoral alternatives, or whether they articulate a variety of interests (internal party democracy.) It defends representative democracy against the idea of the people having direct influence on the decisions of the state, and praises the functionality of the division of powers and its necessary limits for the use of power in the interest of citizens. It admits that the state is a relationship of force to which citizens must submit, but points out that state power is constitutional and not arbitrary. It has no trouble idealizing by praising the democratic principles of freedom (which the state brings about by limiting it) and political and legal equality (which is not to be confused with social equality.) Political science has its own version of the fact that the state is necessitated by economic competition. We need it both to harness and to fulfill human nature! A look at political institutions and ideas of the past, with the appropriate twisting of what earlier thinkers really meant, serves as proof that today’s democracy is the culmination of all human aspirations. With its tautological demonstration that the past was nothing but a striving for the present and the present is nothing but the fulfillment of what was lacking in the past, it gets around answering the question of what freedom and equality are actually good for.
The inevitable conclusion of these scientific efforts is that the precariousness of democracy is the strength of this best of all bad forms of state, i.e., the state functions best as a power if it does not have to keep forcing its will on the citizens. This is demonstrated by the branch of political science which carries out a pseudo-comparison between democracy and dictatorship. Here the necessity of dictatorship is regretfully admitted in the case of a serious “crisis of democracy.” In the course of weighing the diverse advantages and disadvantages of dictatorship and democracy, which always comes out in favor of the latter, political science sees democracy as the way to prevent dictatorship that unfortunately doesn’t always work. This provides the transition to stressing the necessary limits of democracy and to reprehending citizens for their lack of enthusiasm for the state. Democracy is said to be endangered by its critics who always want to make citizens more free and more equal, and democracy more direct and more deeply rooted in all areas of social life. The real problem of democracy, however, is found to be the citizen as such, who participates too little or too much or too ignorantly, who has too little democratic education and who is unwilling to tone down his egotism in the interest of the state because he is so immature.
2. Popular ideologies
Legislative carryings-on exist only if citizens have developed such an interest in the state that they go to the polls, i.e. regularly cultivate the dialectics of expectation and disappointment. Consequently, they never let their disappointment speak against their expectations but are forever looking for shortcomings in the democratic procedures which they can blame everything on. Citizens critical of these procedures just keep proving how subservient they are. They complain that their interests are disregarded using phrases borrowed from political science, and are all too willing to admit their lack of rebelliousness by acknowledging the arguments of professional agitators who put them in their place. For them, politicians are people one personally finds likable or unlikable, their propaganda is too one-sided, too remote from their interests, too arrogant, of bad style. The parties’ actions in the legislature are not understandable enough, not transparent enough, do not offer enough alternatives, and shake their trust in the Honorable members of the House. On the one hand they want to see real competition between the legislative clubs. On the other they fear it. Democrats feel at home during election campaigns because they overestimate the importance of their vote. But they are irritated by the agitation that bombards them with debates about basic values instead of “solving the real problems.” They are often displeased with the excesses of electoral campaigns that are supposedly so foreign to the serious business of politics, and are glad when state power can finally be exerted normally again. Forever disappointed democrats adopt the resigned, know-it-all attitude that it’s a hoax they’re not falling for, which shows that their disillusionment is really an illusion. Staunch democrats, by contrast, always complain only after the election that the government is now losing its credibility for good, so they sometimes like to take part in the debates about how to bring the people and their representatives closer together.
It is therefore a good idea to criticize the peculiar forms of democratic life in detail, although citizens know it inside out and always tear it to pieces themselves. The morality of popular consciousness does not mean being unaware of the ruthlessness of political dealings, it means nevertheless expecting to benefit from them, calculating with them. Citizens regard the struggle for power as comparable to the struggle of everyday life, and are quick to show full understanding for the necessities and constraints of political dealings. Critical opinions of elections are no more than a compulsory exercise in ideal democracy, and are not even intended to be more than that.
Revisionist and fascist critiques are no exception to this well-known democratic hypocrisy, they are just less accepted. For revisionists, the legislature does not really represent the people because it is too dependent on the interests and influences of Wall Street and the trade associations (state monopoly capitalism) and not dependent enough on the interests of the majority of the people. In the interests of real democracy, they therefore demand that representatives be bound to the will of the electorate on each and every issue, and that all civil servants be elected by the people. Elections continually betray the progressive hopes of the people, that is unless they vote for the true alternative, the revisionist party, which already distinguishes itself by the class origin of its candidates as opposed to the degenerate lackeys of the ruling class. In countries where they actually came into power, such as in eastern Europe after World War II, revisionists therefore proceeded to abolish democracy in the name of democracy. With exploitation nationalized, elections were no longer a means for consent and representation. Nevertheless, they had some utility as forced acclamation.
Fascists also claim to be the only alternative to the run-down bourgeois parties. However they are concerned about the state being weakened by the competition between the parties, the opportunism of the representatives and the politicians’ orientation toward the whims of citizens, who think more about themselves than about the state. They consider democratic parties, their leaders and legislative procedures to be one big threat to the state, the unity of the people and the future of the nation. They consistently play off the necessity of the state against its own basis, competitive interests and their manifestations in the political sphere. Their ideals are rigorous virtue and self-sacrifice, which will save the people. Democrats are enemies of the people. When fascists succeed in attaining power with the help of the majority of disappointed citizens, they present to the people the incarnation of their uniform will, since it disregards their particular interests. The leader also has himself acclaimed, not as an executor of interests but as a personified ideal, the nation. This of course presupposes that materialism has vanished from politics, which is why Jews were not the only ones to vanish in concentration camps.