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Context : OnDemocracy, KarlMarx

Quora Answer : Did Karl Marx believe in true democracy?

Jul 16, 2018

Marx was writing in the mid 19th century.

The crucial thing to remember was that in the 19th century, most people didn't have a vote.

Women didn't have a vote. Men who weren't property owners didn't have a vote. In America, black people didn't get a vote until the 15th amendment in 1870. And, in practice, often didn't get to vote until 1965.

Basically voting was for rich (male) landowners, some farmers, and a few upper middle class people who'd made money in trade and could buy a fancy town-house.

In the democracies known from history, like Athens, only a small percentage of people had the vote too. And the lesson from classical history was that the Roman Republic had collapsed into a dictatorship.

In fact, the only place Marx would have seen anything like a "real democracy" ie. somewhere where everyone had a say in how things were run was the Paris Commune.

Given that historical reality, it was natural for Marx to assume that something like Democracy could only arise in a revolutionary situation.

Marx believed that economic relations dominated political ones. And the only way to achieve a society that gave everyone an equal say in how things were run, was one which eliminated economic inequality. "Democracy" would have to come after a revolution had overthrown existing power and property structures.

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