Again, history provides plenty of examples of undemocratic Communist tyrannies to justify this stereotype. Various rationalizations have been advanced by such regimes to justify their use of the term “democratic,” but they do not seem to me worthy of examination here.

The important point is that Communism as Marx and others advanced it was to be a sort of super-democracy. What Marxists originally objected to were the limitations of democracy. Bourgeois democracy was denounced not because it was democratic, but because its benefits were concentrated in the hands of the bourgeoisie. The notion was to democratize the economy as well as government. With all wealth being held in common and controlled by workers, the factors in society which most directly affect daily life would come under the control of ordinary people, no longer to limited occasional trips to the ballot box.

During the Cold War, foes of Communism constantly articulated the struggle as being between Communism and democracy, while Communists insisted instead on seeing the struggle as being between Communism and capitalism–a term that was largely replaced in the U.S. by phrases with more positive connotations: “free enterprise” and “market economy.” Refusal to acknowledge this difference in usage probably led to more mutual misunderstanding and wasted breath than any other.

Communists may have often betrayed the ideal of democracy and even sometimes condemned it, but the original socialists were inspired by it and created the idea of socialism as an extension of it.

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