Social democracy has made a political comeback in recent years, especially under the influence of the ‘Third Way’. Not everyone is convinced, however, that ‘Third Way’ social democracy is the best means of reviving the Left's project. This book considers this dissent and offers an alternative approach. Bringing together a range of social and political theories, it engages with some contemporary debates regarding the present direction and future of the Left. Drawing upon egalitarian, feminist and environmental ideas, the book proposes that the social democratic tradition can be renewed but only if the dominance of conservative ideas is challenged more effectively. It explores a number of issues with this aim in mind, including justice, the state, democracy, new technologies, future generations and the advances in genetics.
This introductory chapter discusses the theme of this volume, which is about the new social democracy (NSD) and about imagining a social democratic future that diverts from the NSD. It examines how social democracy can be reinvigorated. This volume also explores the conjunction of social democracy and post-productivism and discusses the main parameters of ecowelfare ideas. It argues that social democratic capitalism, in its synthesis of economic prosperity, political participation, social justice, and cultural maturity, represents the best form of society that humans have yet managed to create for themselves.
This chapter offers a summary and critique of the new social democracy (NSD), focusing on the New Labour as the best exemplar of these ideas. It explains that the NSD is based upon five key principles: community, meritocracy, reciprocity, inclusion and pragmatism. This chapter suggests that community only offers a middle way between collectivism/egalitarianism and individualism, meritocracy is too weak a principle, and responsibility and reciprocity are far more complex than new social democrats imagine. It argues that the NSD is not a new politics, but is at best the first steps on a long march back towards truly progressive ideals, one from which valuable lessons can be learned, if only about how not to proceed.
This chapter analyses the new social democracy's (NSD) reciprocity in relation to the concepts of justice citizenship. It proposes a concept of distributive justice that is the product of equality of powers and diverse reciprocity. This definition diverges from New Labour's preference for weak equality plus strong reciprocity and so offers an alternative to the NSD per se. This chapter also considers an alternative vision of social citizenship.
This chapter examines the ways by which the new social democracy (NSD) seeks to secure and enforce the principles of community, meritocracy, reciprocity and inclusion. It suggests that suggest that the NSD is congruent with a kind of globally-oriented state that possesses both conservative and social democratic features. This chapter also discusses New Labour's efforts to perpetuate a so-called security state, which has not replaced the welfare state but has transformed the discourse of rights into duties, equality into inclusion and collective problems into individual pathologies.
This chapter argues that social democracy is more robust than defenders of the new social democracy (NSD) imagine. The NSD represents an important strand in recent Centre-Left developments, but it is simplistic to imagine that the ‘old’ social democracy has been discredited. It argues that the difficulties the NSD faces are best addressed not by the productivist form of social democracy but by a post-productivist one. This chapter also analyses the strong and weak versions of the ‘social democracy is dead’ argument and evaluates the health of European social democracy.
This chapter discusses the differences between productivism and post-productivism in relation to social democracy. It shows that while post-productivism does not abandon the aims of increases in growth, productivity and well-being, it does recontextualise them in terms of what are called reproductive values. These values refer to the ecological and social conditions of a productive economy or conditions which that economy is increasingly unable to replenish. This chapter highlights the role of ecowelfare in guiding social democracy in the direction of a post-employment society.
This chapter proposes a model of ecowelfare. It explains that ecowelfare adheres to the principles of attention, principle of sustainability and the alternative version of distributive justice. It outlines various theories needed to make sense of those principles but without closing down any room for manoeuvre on the part of those who may disagree with various aspects of the relevant arguments. This chapter suggests that social theory of ecowelfare consists of an analysis of the links between these three principles of distributive justice, attention and sustainability.
This chapter examines the possible links between sustainability and distributive justice, focusing on the welfare of future generations. It discusses the argument of Wilfred Beckerman and Joanna Pasek which holds that interests of future generations cannot be protected or promoted within the framework of any theory of justice. This chapter also outlines a theory of intergenerational justice and explains what this theory might imply for welfare reform.
This chapter analyses the principles of sustainability and attention of ecowelfare by studying the new genetics. It argues for a multidimensional conception of human nature where the maintenance of diversity through social solutions (rather than technological fixes) should be the priority. It discusses the positions of Charles Murray and Francis Fukayama on eugenics. This concludes that we should only be allowed to improve human well-being through biotechnology if we are also prepared to improve it through the implementation of policies based upon distributive justice and attention.