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New Left Review I/110, July-August 1978

Henri Weber

Eurocommunism, Socialism and Democracy

As is well known, a reassessment of the relationship between Democracy and Socialism lies at the heart of Eurocommunism’s theoretical aggiornamento, underpinning the strategy of ‘democratic roads’ to socialism and the conception of a ‘State of advanced democracy’. This reassessment, which is explicitly presented as a revision of Lenin’s theses on the State, may be summarized as follows. Between ‘democracy’ and socialism there is a relationship not of discontinuity but of inherence and consubstantiality. So-called bourgeois democracy and its valued ‘formal liberties’ were not generously granted by the dominant class, but conquered in the heat of battle by the armed people. The fruit of class struggle, they are neither wholly bourgeois nor wholly proletarian; in a proportion that varies with the relationship of forces, they are both the one and the other—an instrument of bourgeois domination and a machine with which the proletariat wages war against such domination. They embody a truncated form of democracy (truncated by the bourgeoisie), but one that is capable of being perfected (through the action of the popular masses). A favourable evolution of the class relationship of forces will allow the development of democratic rights and freedoms, the democratization of existing institutions, and consequently the achievement of a democracy that is less and less ‘formal’, more and more ‘real’. From this reassessment flow the driving ideas of Eurocommunist strategy.

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Henri Weber, ‘Eurocommunism, Socialism and Democracy’, NLR I/110: £3

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