This book considers the underlying causes of the end of social democracy's golden age. It argues that the cross-national trend in social democratic parties since the 1970s has been towards an accommodation with neo-liberalism and a corresponding dilution of traditional social democratic commitments. The book looks at the impact of the change in economic conditions on social democracy in general, before examining the specific cases of Germany, Sweden and Australia. It examines the ideological crisis that engulfed social democracy. The book also looks at the post-1970 development of social policy, its fiscal implications and economic consequences in three European countries. It considers the evolution of the Spanish Socialist Workers' Party (PSOE) from its re-emergence as a significant political force during the 1970s until the present day under José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero. The book also examines the evolution of the Swedish model in conjunction with social democratic reformism and the party's relations to the union movement. It explores the latest debate about what the German Social Democratic Party (SPD) stands for. The SPD became the role model for programmatic modernisation for the European centre-left. The book considers how British socialist and social democratic thought from the late nineteenth century to the present has treated the objective of helping people to fulfil their potential, talents and ambitions. It aims to contribute to a broader conversation about the future of social democracy by considering ways in which the political thought of 'third way' social democracy might be radicalised for the twenty-first century.
The modernisation of German social
democracy: towards a third way and back?
The GermanSocialDemocraticParty (SPD) has undergone a number of
revisions since its birth in the nineteenth century. This chapter will explore
the latest debate about what the SPD stands for. As a programme party,
the debate about long-term objectives, values and ideological principles
has been of particular importance to party members, its leaders and the
public. Hence the focus of this chapter: it will document and analyse the
programmatic discourse of the SPD
The need for an open-ended, serious examination of the past, present and future of social democracy was self-evident. Social democrats highlighted the systematic way in which the infant Union of Soviet Socialist Republics was depriving trade unions of independent civil rights and citizens of political freedom. The reality of the dictatorship of the proletariat, they insisted, was a travesty of democratic socialism. British cold war intellectuals and/or politicians who espoused social democracy with zealous rigour found its essence in Kautskyist antagonism to communism and its claim to be the sole heir to the socialist tradition. The underlying similarity between German social democracy and British labourism is undeniable. The German Social Democratic Party (SPD) was the dominant party in the Second Socialist International, not only because of its size and the number of MPs in the Reichstag, but also because of the immense prestige it had gained by successfully defying Bismarck.
in Spain and Sweden respectively difficult
political and economic constraints have necessitated programmatic and
strategic adaptation on the part of the Spanish Socialist Workers’ Party
(PSOE) and the Swedish Social Democrats (SAP) but that, like the French
socialists, the PSOE and SAP have nonetheless succeeded in pursuing a recognisably social democratic course. The PSOE and the SAP, we might also
note, have probably been the two most electorally successful left parties of
the last thirty years. The verdicts on the GermanSocialDemocraticParty
(SPD) and the
organisation that is officially registered as right-wing extremist by the German State. For an
overview of these organisations and the ‘official’ number of organised right-wing extremists, see
the annual Verfassungsschutzberichten (further VSB).
the sore spot of German politics of that time: the Grand Coalition. This government coalition of the two major parties, the Union block of the CDU and
the Bavarian Christlich-Soziale Union (Christian Social Union, CSU) and the
Sozialdemokratische Partei Deutschlands (GermanSocial
British ‘traditions of individualism and limited government’
(Driver and Martell 1998: 172, 173).
Notwithstanding such national variations, the broader trend is clear.
Former GermanSocialDemocraticParty (Sozialdemokratische Partei
Deutschlands – SPD) Finance Minister Oskar Lafontaine (2000: 25) laments
the fact that in Europe ‘we are now all neo-liberals and supply-side politicians’. The American version of free-market capitalism has been in the
ascendancy (Stiglitz 2003: 4). In order to appreciate how neo-liberalism
achieved the status of an orthodoxy, we need to
(Thuringia). He became a journalist, and joined the West GermanSocialDemocraticParty in 1957. Bahr was given a leading foreign policy advisory
role during the grand coalition, serving under Foreign Minister Brandt. When
Brandt became Chancellor in 1969, Bahr became a senior negotiator of the
agreements later embodied in the ‘Ostpolitik’ treaties with the
USSR, Poland and the German Democratic Republic. Having
interventions in the
Making work more equal
wage-setting process. The trade unions exerted considerable influence over the
form taken by the statutory minimum wage that was agreed by the GermanSocialDemocraticParty (SPD) in the coalition talks at the end of 2013. As a
consequence, the parties to collective bargaining are able to exert greater influence over the minimum wage than their counterparts in France or the UK, for
example. The reference points for any proposed increases are to be the collectively agreed wage rises, so that collective bargaining takes
deemed to belong to other nations or, as in the case of
the Jews, to no nation at all. 15 In
this context Luxemburg re-affirmed the significance of Marx's critique of
the Jewish question
at a time when leading Marxists of the GermanSocialDemocraticParty effectively
came to adopt Bruno Bauer's uncritical absorption by the Jewish question. 16 She demonstrated a better
understanding of the dangers antisemitism posed than did orthodox Marxism. Not
, constitutional means by contesting elections and
ultimately being voted into power. Once in government they would enact
socialism via the normal legal processes. These ideas developed out of the
GermanSocialDemocraticParty from the middle of the century.
An important figure here was Eduard
Bernstein, who joined the SDP in 1872 and soon became one of its leading
journalists. In Evolutionary Socialism (1898) he argued for reform