14 July 2010

The limits of social democracy

Geoff makes a perfectly valid point about the limits of social democracy. He argues that as the social product is redistributed to working people, profits are squeezed thus endangering the capitalist system. In fact I would strengthen his argument by pointing out that in addition as personal and civic liberties are expanded, political threats to the capitalist order also become more likely.

I also agree that something like that started to happen in the 1970s and was a trigger for the launch of market fundamentalism. However I will make two points: first in 2010 we are miles away from that situation with massive inequalities having again been built up for potential redistribution. Indeed in the thirty years between the 1930s and 1970s social inequalities were vastly reduced and this could be done again within capitalism if political conditions changed. Second, when (or if) we reach the point where there is a choice between ‘going beyond social democracy’ or accepting capitalist restablisation, then I will be on the side of going beyond social democracy. Until then, I’ll stick with social democracy.

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