Friday, November 30, 2012

Marx and Democracy (notes)

Just as it is not in fact religion that creates man but man who creates religion, so it is not the constitution that creates the people but the people which creates the constitution. In a certain respect, Marx maintains, democracy is to all other forms of the state what Christianity is to all other religions: deified man under the form of a particular religion, and, in the same way, democracy is the essence of every political constitution: it is socialized humankind under the form of a particular constitution of the state. Marx says (note male referent) that while Hegel's idealism proceeds from the state and makes man into the subjectified state, democracy begins with man and makes the state objectified man. He directly counterpoises democracy to Hegel's idealism. From this it becomes evident that "all forms of the state have democracy for their truth, and for that reason are false to the extent that they are not democracy". Marx explains that the right to pardon is the ultimate expression of contingent and arbitrary (undemocratic) choice, and significantly this is what Hegel makes the essential attribute of the monarch: he defines the source of pardon as the 'self-determined' or 'groundless' decision [die grundlose Entscheidung].

...the Estates are, according to Marx, the sanctioned, legal lie of constitutional states, the lie that the state is the people's interest or the people the interest of the state. From here he proceeds to the question of elections: staying within the critique of Hegel, he criticizes the concept of representation: in a choice of such individuals, as have a better understanding of these affairs than their electors have, it is supposed to follow that the relationship which deputies have to their electors is not that of agents. But he says it is only by means of a sophism that Hegel may declare these individuals understand these affairs 'better' and not 'simply'. His conclusion that they do understand these affairs better could be drawn only if the electors had the option of deliberating and deciding themselves about public affairs or of delegating definite individuals to discharge these things, precisely if representation, did not belong essentially to the character of civil society's legislature. But in the state constructed by Hegel representation constitutes precisely the legislature's specific essence, precisely as realized. What is significant for Marx is that Hegel here designates trust as the substance of election, as the substantial relation between electors and deputies, and trust is a personal relationship.

Excerpts from "Marx, Democracy, and the Aesthetic Level" by Gary Tedman.

No comments: