Having cited Nasser and Arab socialism in the context of ‘secularism’ we should try to recast the classic insights of the revolutionary left of the nineteenth century in the wake of the French Revolution, the Industrial Revolution, and the rise of a critique and revision of the issues of the democratic revolution. Here the rising prejudice against liberalism on the left, while understandable, produced a state of mind unable to solve the case of ‘communism’: the latter had to do one better than the flawed ‘bourgeois revolution’ masquerading as ‘democratic revolution’. This blindspot has entered into the psyches of almost all parties because the term ‘communism’ is taken now by too many as an antithesis to ‘democracy’. In reality the perception that ‘democracy’ wasn’t democratic led, in a complicated story, to the need to correct the democratic idea by a closer analysis of classes and economies, leading to the democratic successor, communism/socialism.
It might help to backtrack to the moment of genesis, if anywhere in the mind of such as Rousseau, et al, where the definition of democracy was thrashed out: the idea of electoral democracy was seen as but one of the possible resolutions, and in the minds of many one that poorly realized the core idea. We have lost the reality of the earlier debates, where the terms were still fluid and the communist redefinition arriving swiftly as a demand the redefinition continue. In a word, the whole task of correct foundations froze shortly after the close of the French Revolution, and the attempt to restart the debate ended too often as the need to consider communism as the antithesis of democracy. The point rather is that the place of capitalism in the democratic transition was so contradictory that it came to be seen as a transient phase, one that would demand the right definition of democracy to finally stand out, i.e. in the context of postcapitalism.