The Myth of Bourgeois Democracy

  • Andreas Møller Mulvad
  • Rune Møller Stahl


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.


Parliamentary democracy Liberalism Marx Žižek Republicanism 

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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Andreas Møller Mulvad
    • 1
  • Rune Møller Stahl
    • 2
  1. 1.Copenhagen Business SchoolCopenhagenDenmark
  2. 2.University of CopenhagenCopenhagenDenmark

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