This post is part of a series attempting to quantify Marx's theory of socialism.
The preeminent question in Marxism is the creation of socialism: this is roughly reflected in the democratization of the means of production. Democracy and productive, Marxist-style socialism are not the same, though.
What distinguishes Marxian socialism is its ability to birth a new society founded on different relations of production. These relations center on the "socially aware" human being, which is forced into existence by the extreme economies of capital accumulation which are decreasingly able to hide the underlying relations of production from the exploited populations.
Indeed, this kind of society is predicated on a rather basic understanding of democratic principles. It stems from the recognition of accumulated economic power, the treatment of those powers as utilities (see Yves Smith: Why Do We Keep Indulging the Fiction that Banks are Private Enterprises?) and the application of the democratic ideal of equal representation in that model.
A Sustainable Culture
Marxism is also about sustainability. Unbalanced control over the means of production creates a tension between classes. But the expansion of civil society to the sum of human civilization, that is all members of society, rectifies this situation. The sustainability of society is founded upon the equality of its constituent dynamics of power. In many ways, this is similar to the mutualist concept of equilibrium - wherein parallel, conflicting interests balance out. The difference here is that Marx recognizes that a sustainable culture requires a socialization of those dynamics - that is an agreed upon compromise - to ease those tensions.
Indeed, the preeminent narrative in US political culture demands an opposite model in response to this tension. They talk of the need to compromise with the owners of the means of production, in their worship of "job creators," ignoring that such an argument relies on the very notion that those "job creators" have disproportionate power over the resources our nation needs to exit the recession. This is an attempt to maintain the same power dynamics in narrative form - a propaganda defense of the prevalent political/economic order.
Democracy largely meets these goals. It seeks popular consent for the implementation of rules. Democracy is sustainable because it reflects the interests of its constituency; therefore, its sustainability is in direct proportion to its reflection of the interests of its constituency. Democratic values such as equal representation, equality before the law, pluralism and civil liberties all serve this sustainability by maintaining a robust system of representation.
A Model of Democracy
The dictatorship of the proletariat in the context of the abolition of private capital is the most comprehensive form of democracy. It outstrips standard democratic forms by extending the democratic representation of interests to the management of the means of production. It goes far enough that it might not be considered democracy at all - but merely equal representation. Nonetheless, this and other characteristics of democracy are necessary components of a socialist paradigm.
As I have shown, it is the prosperity of a society which allows it to achieve a higher stage of production. For this reason, the measurement of democracy can roughly reflect the correlation between prosperous societies and the decentralization of social/political/economic power. The final post in this series will compare data reflecting prosperity and democracy in order to show this correlation.