Saturday, April 28, 2007

Social Democracy in Europe

Political analyst Sheri Berman has written a history (PDF) of social democracy. It starts with noting that in the 19th Century, the “Age of [classical] liberalism”; liberal theory was both an explanation and justification of capitalism. Marxism reacted by providing both an explanation and justification for the downfall of capitalism and rise of communism.

Communism was based on historical materialism and class-conflict. Historical materialism claimed that history’s next step would, necessarily, be communism and that this communism would result in class-conflict. This meant that:

a) Wilful political activism was unnecessary (as economic forces would move society towards communism naturally)
b) Other classes would be hostile to communism (class-conflict)

Eduard Bernstein, based on the realities of the politico-economic world, realized that the market system was here to stay and class antagonism wouldn’t gain electoral results. He provided the foundation for modern social democracy, cross-class cooperation and political activism.

When the governments of Europe instituted social democracy, they used the markets to benefit society, not the other way around. The essay ends by advancing a similar position for foreign trade.

If you want a better and fuller description, read the essay (PDF).

It’s interesting to note that Berman does to social democracy what she claims liberal theory did to capitalism, explains and justifies it.

Comments: Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?

Subscribe to Posts [Atom]