By Caleb T. Maupin
Printed in the Exponent Campus Newspaper under the title "A Battle for Democracy"
In the 1950s, the John Birch Society, a radical right-wing anti-communist organization, came up with a slogan to promote their cause. The slogan was “this country is a Republic, not a democracy.”
Well, the slogan never caught on. The John Birch Society remains a bizarre ultra-rightwing sect, and the people of this country continue to overwhelmingly love democracy. Democracy is the radical idea that the rulers of society should not be an elite few, a small group, a tiny clique clustered at the top of society, but rather the masses of people in their millions. The people who reside in a country, the populous, they should be the ones make the decisions in a society. That is what democracy means.
This country is not a democracy, the reason being that this country remains capitalist.
The means of production, the factories, the farms, the banks, the media etc. are in the hands of an elite few. This few, is able to exercise control over society. Like the non-biblical golden rule says “he who has the gold, makes the rules,” this is the rule of the capitalist economic system.
But since the dawn of this nation, there has been a movement to bring democracy. Books such as “Labor’s Untold Story” and “A People’s History of the United States” tell the story of this battle, of the people against the elite.
People forget that slavery was ended with countless slave rebellions, John Brown’s raid on Harpers Ferry, and ultimately the civil war, in which thousands of this country’s working people fought and died. They died to expand democracy, by making it illegal for human beings to be chattel and property.
People forget that the way unemployment insurance and unions were won involved the famous sit down strikes where workers took over their factories and made demands. They fought, bled, and many even died, to expand democracy, so that workers had a say in how much they were paid, and people did not go without a safety net in bad economic times.
People forget that the civil rights movement involved countless sit-ins, countless urban rebellions, and countless times in which people endured horrible police brutality. People were again fighting to expand democracy.
Where would the gay rights struggle be today, without the heroic Stonewall Rebellion of 1969, or the militant actions taken by the Gay Liberation Front?
Look at all that has been won for immigrant workers by the mass marches of 2005.
All of these struggles have been heroic, and have made a great deal of difference in the lives of millions of people.
But this country is still not a democracy. Power still resides in the hands of elite.
The goal of Socialism is the goal of total democracy. Socialists and Communists advocate fixing the problem of “he who has the gold makes the rules” by putting the gold into the hands of the people. If the people are in control of the gold, not an elite few, democracy does not seem so far off.
Those who tell you democracy and socialism are opposite, are in my view, wrong. They do not recognize the oligarchy we live under, of oil men, industrialists, war-hawks, predatory loan sharks, and bankers is not democratic at all. They do not realize that the goal of a truly democratic society, in which democracy is expanded to the economy, is not a pipe dream, but an achievable goal.
REPRINTED WITH THE PERMISSION OF EXPONENT CAMPUS MEDIA