Can the social-democracy survive? - Politics Forum.org | PoFo

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As either the transitional stage to communism or legitimate socio-economic ends in its own right.
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#14696371
According to Anthony Giddens, one of the architects of the Third Way ideology, socialism and Leninism have passed away. He states that the economic theory of socialism was always inadequate, underestimating the capacity of capitalism to innovate, adapt and generate increasing productivity. These inadequacies only became fully revealed with intensifying processes of globalization and technological change from the early 1970s onwards. Can the social-democracy survive? Can she cut loose from the past? What do you think?
#14696377
@ TheRedBaron
What do you think?

Hard to say. I do support Giddens' conviction that the socialist ideology, or to be more precise, ideologies, are unsound. Let me explain why. The socialist movement has always tried to reform the unbridled markets and all its abuses. I find it convenient to classify the development of socialism according to three phases.

The first phase covers the period between 1850 and the end of WWI. During this period socialism believes that the markets must be bridled by means of the socialization of enterprises. The ultimate goal is the dictature of the proletariat. In other words, it is assumed that the people have a single universal will.

The second phase is a period of ideological adaptation, and lasts from WWI until about 1960. The universal suffrage is realized, and the elections prove that only a minority supports the socialist ideals. The socialists acknowledge that politics takes place within a pluralist system. So they develop the new ideology of the central planning at the micro-level, while tolerating the private property.

The third phase is characterized by the emancipation of the people, thanks to improved education and welfare. She covers the period between 1960 and 1985. The central planning of phase 2 was never a success. In its most orthodox form, the system of Stalin and beyond, it was even a dismal failure. Now socialism tries to further participation and consultation. The economic policy is the planning at the macro-level, founded in the Keynesian paradigm. The state must stabilize the total volume of investments.

Unfortunately, in practice a policy based on Keynesianism can not prevent economic crises, and may even make them worse. So socialization, central planning and Keynesianism are all inadequate solutions. Evidently it is impossible to control the economy. In the ideological sense the social-democracy is dead.

I admit that my three phases model is not perfect. For instance in Germany, where I come from, the socialists have skipped the phases two and three. During phase 2 their movement is destroyed by the fascists. And during phase 3 the socialists have become essentially social liberals (see their Godesberger program). On the other hand, in France the socialists implement socializations and central planning at the micro-level even late in the third phase (in 1982). Nevertheless, in many cases the idea of three phases is a fair approximation. So she has some value.

You ask: is there a future for the social-democracy? It is certainly possible that the movement (parties and politicians) will succeed in reinventing herself. But although for instance the Third way ideology of Giddens and Etzioni could support a fourth phase, it breaks with the earlier ideals, notably the restrictions of private property. And the aged party members, a majority, still adhere to the ideal of the third phase, and are reluctant to support a new transition. So the chances are unfavourable. This is clear in England, where the members have elected the extremist Corbyn as their leader.
#14696387
I think we are currently witnessing in Europe the death throes of social democracy. It was able to survive so long as they had the Soviet Union as an external threat, and enough new resources and labor pools in the Third World to continue expanding capital markets. When the first of these collapsed and the other passed its peak, we started to see austerity. This started happening in the US and Britain prior to the Soviet collapse with Reagan and Thatcher, but since then we've seen even ostensibly left-wing parties follow suit. Clinton signed NAFTA and gutted welfare, Blair turned his back on the Labour Party's socialist origins in favor of a "Third Way" approach, and now even France's socialist president seems to be drinking from the punchbowl of neoliberalism. What we're seeing now is the reaction against neoliberalism, not in the form of social democracy, which can no longer sustain itself, but in far-right economic nationalism. This is unsustainable in itself and will eventually unravel under its own internal contradictions, but will offer enough temporary refuge to dispossessed workers that we can expect to see a much more scary and hostile world unfold in the years to come.
#14696653
Paradigm wrote:What we're seeing now is the reaction against neoliberalism, not in the form of social democracy, which can no longer sustain itself, but in far-right economic nationalism. This is unsustainable in itself and will eventually unravel under its own internal contradictions, but will offer enough temporary refuge to dispossessed workers that we can expect to see a much more scary and hostile world unfold in the years to come.

It seems to me that the pendulum swinging back towards economic nationalism, i.e. protectionism, is inevitable, much like you say.

The relevant question is whether those who will preside over that change are right-wingers or left-wingers. People like Corbyn, Sanders, Tsipras and Pablo Iglesias have widespread support, especially among the younger generation. They could well be those who prevent a right-wing renaissance.

Hence I wouldn't necessarily pronounce social-democracy, the "old lady" as we call her in Germany, dead already. There's life in her yet if she can only rid herself of the remnants of Blair, Schröder, Clinton et al.
#14696985
@ Paradigm
What we're seeing now is the reaction against neoliberalism, not in the form of social democracy, which can no longer sustain itself, but in far-right economic nationalism. This is unsustainable in itself and will eventually unravel under its own internal contradictions, but will offer enough temporary refuge to dispossessed workers that we can expect to see a much more scary and hostile world unfold in the years to come.

While I appreciate the comment, these last two phrases are hard to digest. Your preceding description of the past economic developments makes sense, although your assessment of the situation is more pessimistic than mine. True, the unemployment is too high. But look on the positive side: we live in an increasingly peaceful world. And the nationalism is a rather moderate phenomenon within the dominant tendency towards more free exchange. This free trade is exactly a problem for the social-democracy, since she commends the regulation and possibly planning of the markets, which can only be done in a rigorous way at the national level. Also, according to Giddens the economic issues are no longer the leading ones in the political debate. He argues that the present controversy is not so much a left-right conflict, but a struggle between libertarian and authoritarian values.
#14696992
@ Okonkwo
Hence I wouldn't necessarily pronounce social-democracy, the "old lady" as we call her in Germany, dead already.

It is always a pleasure to oppose a fellow German.
There's life in her yet if she can only rid herself of the remnants of Blair, Schröder, Clinton et al.

This would not be a self-evident choice. For these thinkers revived the political debate, much to the benefit of the progressive movement, which to be honest was languishing under Jenkins, Lafontaine, Mondale, and their congenials. The Third Way, Neue Mitte and New Convenant stress the fact that rights are accompanied by duties and responsibilities. This makes sense. They have promoted the participation of the citizens. Ideas like workfare are worth considering, although I am not yet completely convinced that they actually work. The dismissal of the newcomers would reduce the exchange of progressive views to insignificance. Little would be left.

@ MeMe
Also, according to Giddens the economic issues are no longer the leading ones in the political debate.

Some ideas of Giddens are contestable. For instance Amitai Etzioni states that we need a more communautarian society. Individuals can only unfold themselves within the security of the family and of their community. The free market does not satisfy these social needs.
#14697247
Okonkwo wrote:The relevant question is whether those who will preside over that change are right-wingers or left-wingers.


I don't really think so. There is a meeting of the two extremes to form a common opposition against the center. Tsipras joined up with a far-right party. Iglesias is forming alliances with various nationalistic populist groups. Supporters of Die Linke desert the party to join the AfD and traditional Labour voters feel more comfortable with Ukipers than with Labour MPs.

The nationalist populists are so incompetent at running a state that you have to take them by the hand to guide them through the basics. And by the time they learn how the economy works, they'll have shed radicals like Varoufakis and turn into moderates like Tsipras. But even that won't help them because the conservative opposition ND is already far ahead in the polls, only months after the election.

They will cause upheaval, but the center is not in danger, not in Europe. The question is merely whether we'll have a center-right or center-left governments.

The social democrats will only survive if they drop the ideological straight-jacket of the far left and get down to work on the practical issues of strengthening the economy and promoting social justice.
#14697549
@ Atlantis
The social democrats will only survive if they drop the ideological straight-jacket of the far left and get down to work on the practical issues of strengthening the economy and promoting social justice.

This is true, but also quite general. Personally I would replace far left by old left. I find the idea of strengthening the economy appealing, since it implies the efficient use of scarce resources, also in the public sector. A decent policy requires cost reduction and balanced budgets. Promoting social justice is best done by active labour market policies, that enable people to earn their own living. The state can not create work, but he can provide for favourable conditions. The policy instruments could be training, incentives to work, flexicurity and cheap labour. Full employment is probably not feasible, but prudent trade unions can certainly curb the unemployment.
#14698169
It can only survive if most people care for each other beyond the abstract level of "we are all equal".

But we are not all equal, Kaiserschmarrn. What on Earth makes you think that we are? :eh:
#14698171
Sure, it can as long as liberalism/capitalism can. It's turning into a dramatically weakened version with the absence of a credible anti-capitalist movement labor can turn to, thus no fear of labor riots. So the market economy can be pushed further, with the protection blanket rolled back.

But even absent an external threat, you need a bare minimum welfare state to prevent a crisis of consumption. You will get a depression if the poorest in society outright can't afford to consume. So, a meager form of Keynesianism isn't likely to be abandoned.
#14698257
Canada is a social democracy, with a capitalist economy, and it's not experiencing any "death throes".

Yes, social democracies can survive.

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