Hist 4c/Marcuse, L11
Lenin: State and Revolution
(Bentley/Ziegler, p. 901)
In capitalist society
is always hemmed in by the narrow limits set by capitalist exploitation,
and consequently always remains, in reality, a democracy for the
minority, only for the propertied classes, only for the rich.
Freedom in capitalist society always remains about the same as
it was in the ancient Greek republics: freedom for the slave-owners.
Owing to the conditions of capitalist exploitation the modern
wage slaves are so crushed by want and poverty that "they
cannot be bothered with democracy," "they cannot be
bothered with politics"; in the ordinary peaceful course
of events the majority of the population is debarred from participation
in public and political life.
Aspects that could be included in a source interpretation:
(note: any two of these would be sufficient for an "A"
on an exam interpretation; even one could earn an "A"
if well discussed! In no way do I expect any of you to be able
to find this many things in a source-you are just learning how!!)
- note the primary importance of economic equality for (true)
- contrast with Olympe de Gouges, who emphasized legal equality
- note that there are different types of slavery: chattel slavery,
as in Equiano's case; explicit legal slavery of whole groups of
people, as in the case of ancient Greece (and of the Russian serfs);
and a new form, wage-slavery, which was based on neither ownership
nor externally defined group membership, but on the relationship
to the means of production
- Lenin draws on Marx (and Engels) in the quotations and terminlogy
(class, "capitalist exploitation")(link to Communist
- discuss how some of these specific statements are reflected
by characters in Kollontai's Vasilisa Malygina
- contrast to Kant, who said people's non-participation in the
decision-making process was their own fault ("self-incurred
tutelage"). Lenin explains that they are "so crushed
by want and poverty."
- finally, given some knowledge of the Russian Revolution, one
might link this explanation for (non-)voting behavior with the
observation that Lenin was firmly convinced that the vanguard
revolutionary (Communist) party should push through the economic/social/political
reforms REGARDLESS of the opinions of the electorate. He put this
into practice in his Jan. 1918 coup during the Duma elections.
And in the decades since Lenin, on occasion communist parties
have used this reasoning to justify their failure to win majorities
- Beyond even that, one might say something about voter apathy
in the US-whether you think that it has anything to do with lack
of economic power, or economic repression.