Discuss the Marxist view of citizenship

 Discuss the Marxist view of citizenship.

Liberalism and Marxism are two schools of thought which have left deep imprints in sociological, political and economic theory. Marxist view of citizenship They are usually perceived as opposite, rival approaches. In the field of democracy there is a seemingly insurmountable rift around the question of political versus economic democracy. Liberals emphasize the former, Marxists the latter. Liberals say that economic democracy is too abstract and fuzzy a concept, therefore one should concentrate on the workings of an objective political democracy. Marxist view of citizenship Marxists insist that political democracy without economic democracy is insufficient. The article argues that both propositions are valid and not mutually exclusive. It proposes the creation of an operational, quantifiable index of economic democracy that can be used alongside the already existing indexes of political democracy. By using these two indexes jointly, political and economic democracy can be objectively evaluated. Marxist view of citizenship Thus, the requirements of both camps are met and maybe a more dialogical approach to democracy can be reached in the debate between liberals and Marxists. The joint index is used to evaluate the levels of economic and political democracy in the transition countries of Eastern Europe.

Liberalism and Marxism are two schools of thought which have left deep imprints in political, sociological and economic theory. Marxist view of citizenship Both have been very fruitful in illuminating a wide range of common issues across these fields and yet are usually perceived as opposite, rival approaches contradicting each other in general. Marxist view of citizenship The fall of the Soviet Union and the socialist countries in Eastern Europe obliged Marxist and liberal theorists to make further efforts to understand this process — the former to comprehend the crumbling of communism, the latter interested in the political and economic transition to capitalism. Marxist view of citizenship Due to the circumstances surrounding these developments — seemingly the complete victory of one side over the other — the common task to analyze the perestroika and transition experience did not lead to a coming closer of the two contending views, but may have even led to a deepening of the gulf between them. This article argues that liberalism and Marxism are extremely useful approaches and are not mutually exclusive. Marxist view of citizenship I propose some first steps towards a synthesis between them exactly in relation to one of their greatest bones of contention — the issue of democracy. No grand synthesis will be offered here, but rather the humble beginning of an effort to bring the more moderate contenders from each side to utilize some of their specific insights to co-jointly better illuminate this complex matter. In practice, I will propose the creation of a new, alternative index for measuring democracy, which incorporates liberal and Marxist insights and can therefore be more acceptable to both sides than the presently existing ones. Marxist view of citizenship It is my hope that if we can create an index that is acceptable to both sides, this may lead to joint collaborative research which will deepen our present understanding of democracy and of the difficulties it still faces in being fully accepted in many parts of the world. The article is composed of three sections — a presentation of how the problem of democracy historically arose between liberalism and Marxism; the proposal of a preliminary synthesis of the Marxist and liberal views via the creation of a joint index of democracy which incorporates insights from both camps; and an initial application of this index to the transition countries of Eastern Europe.

The concept of democracy arose a long time ago and has been a highly controversial one, but the version used by most mainstream political scientists (especially transitologists) has its roots in Joseph Schumpeter’s (1984, 336) famous minimalist definition of democracy as “that institutional arrangement for arriving at political decisions in which individuals acquire the power to decide by means of a competitive struggle for the people’s vote.” Marxist view of citizenship In other words, democracy is characterized by the existence of competitive elections for the executive and legislative posts instead of them being filled by means of hereditary succession, violent revolutionary means, etc. Marxist view of citizenship According to Schumpeter, this is a descriptive definition, i.e., one that describes in an objective manner what modern democracies are like, thus avoiding subjective, normative definitions which prescribe what an ideal democracy should be like according to each author’s worldview. As Samuel Huntington puts it:

These are some of the most important theorists of democratic transition and consolidation processes in the world today. Marxist view of citizenship Their definitions, from the first two more minimalist to the last more elaborated one, like Schumpeter’s, place democracy’s greatest emphasis on the method of choosing the rulers (and the possibility of becoming a ruler oneself), emphasizing that elections must be “clean” and “competitive”, which pre-supposes a series of civil and political liberties. Marxist view of citizenship Schumpeter’s concept of democracy has been criticized from different points of view (e.g., Held 1987, 178-85), but I herein want to draw attention to one specific facet of the problem. Procedural (descriptive) definitions of democracy of the Schumpeterian type turn liberal, representative democracy into the only possible type of real democracy. In it, the main political role of the great mass of the population is to elect (and kick out), with great freedom and in a competitive way, those special citizens who will represent them in the executive and legislative branches of government. Marxist view of citizenshipAccording to Schumpeter’s intellectual heirs, historical experience has shown that it was with this model of political organization that modern societies have reached the greatest degree of freedom for their citizens. However, the elevation of liberal, representative democracy to the status of sole valid paradigm brings with it contradictions with definitions of democracy, based on its historical and etymological origins. Let us examine this in greater detail.

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