A friend writes, from a Marxist viewpoint:
Capitalism is a society or an economy in which a class of people, a very small minority, owns almost all the natural resources (land, minerals, …) and also all the created wealth (infrastructure, factories, …), and the rest of the population basically have to live off the wages they receive for their labor (manual or mental).
In summary, Capitalism divides the people into a capitalist class (or bourgeoisie) and the working class. (In between there is the petit-bourgeoisie, who are aspiring to join the capitalist class and who waver in their commitment whenever they support the rights of the working class to any degree).
The main determining power as to how the economic resources are used is the Market. The market system is based on growth of capital and maximizing profits, and as such, it leads to concentration of wealth and to monopolies, which results in oligarchy politically.
The problem with “democracy” is that it is a vague concept, or according to Marxists, it is a class-based concept.
In the capitalist definition of democracy, it means a society where people vote to elect their representatives who run the government, and that the economy is based on free market. In these situations, as we have seen in the US, as wealth concentrates, so does the power.
From a Marxist point of view Democracy is class based. As such, capitalism and democracy are incompatible because “democracy” in capitalism does not provide freedom to the majority of people, who make up the working and middle classes.
In Marxism, democracy means people’s democracy, where the resources are distributed among all fairly and as equally as possible. This is supposed to happen during socialism, which is a transition processes that one hopes leads to communism, where it is “from everybody according to their ability to everybody according to their need”.
In capitalism, it is “to everybody according to their ability”. But we know that even that is skewed because ability is greatly determined by the very unequal wealth.
So, according to Marxism, where peoples’ democracy means all resources owned in common and used in the service of all, democracy does not exist in capitalism.
However, bourgeois democracy exists in capitalism.
That is why “democracy” is an ideological word.