Can Soviets be Truly Democratic?

Issue section: 
Issue: 
(274)

Ian Birchall (April SR) does a good job in outlining what genuine democracy could look like, given past historical experiences. The only problem is this: how do you stop councils of workers becoming dictatorships of party officials?

The problem with many revolutions is that the successful revolutionary party believes that the people cannot be trusted and must be better led--led by the party, that is. Hence a degree of compulsion is needed. Liberty, free speech and 'opposition' must be curtailed, at least for a while, until people see the benefits of the revolution. Human rights are a kind of post-revolutionary experience.

The Russian and Chinese revolutions are a good example of how easily things can go wrong. They were worse both in terms of living standards and human rights than the Western social democracies. Don't even think about North Korea.

What then must we do to prevent future mistakes?

Graeme Kemp
Edinburgh