The Myth of Bourgeois Democracy

Andreas Møller Mulvad, Rune Møller Stahl

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Mulvad and Stahl challenge the claim that parliamentary democracy is inherently ‘bourgeois’, identifying the Slovenian philosopher Slavoj Žižek as the most prominent contemporary proponent of this misguided idea. The chapter proceeds in three parts. First, it explores how the introduction of parliamentary democracy—defined as the ‘constitutionalisation’ of state power under a legislative body, with regular elections and universal suffrage—was everywhere a result of the activity of social movements working against the aspirations of both conservatives and liberals. Second, a rereading of Marx reveals that he actually wanted to radicalise representative democracy, not abolish it. Third, it is argued that Leninists and liberals have colluded in sustaining the myth of parliamentary democracy as a bourgeois invention. The conclusion asserts that the left’s task today is to defend existing representative institutions from persistent attacks, not abandon them.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationFrom Financial Crisis to Social Change : Towards Alternative Horizons
EditorsTorsten Geelan, Marcos González Hernando, Peter William Walsh
Number of pages25
Place of PublicationCham
PublisherPalgrave Macmillan
Publication date2018
ISBN (Print)9783319705996
ISBN (Electronic)9783319706009
Publication statusPublished - 2018


  • Parliamentary democracy
  • Liberalism
  • Marx
  • Žižek
  • Republicanism

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