What attitude do Marxists take to elections and representative government? In the history of the socialist movement there have developed or coexisted two principal and, in the end, quite different and opposing views of the question. One, reformism, argues that modern representative government affords the working class the opportunity to achieve socialism by electing a socialist majority into office. The other trend, first outlined by Marx and Engels, and then elaborated by Rosa Luxemburg and Lenin, argues for a revolutionary overthrow of the state, based upon the mass struggle of the working class, and its replacement by new organs of workers’ power. Yet prior to a revolution, socialists must try to take advantage of bourgeois elections—using them to spread propaganda, to support struggles outside government, and to promote pro-working-class legislation-- in order to advance their cause in any way they can. How have Marxists related to elections and representative government throughout history? There is a rich history and many lessons to look at as we engage in discussion today about kind of electoral strategy can help us build a stronger left.
Marxism and Elections