Social democracy

Social democracy

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Social democracy is a political ideology of the center-left on the political spectrum
Political spectrum
A political spectrum is a way of modeling different political positions by placing them upon one or more geometric axes symbolizing independent political dimensions....

. Social democracy is officially a form of evolutionary reformist
Reformism
Reformism is the belief that gradual democratic changes in a society can ultimately change a society's fundamental economic relations and political structures...

 socialism
Socialism
Socialism is an economic system characterized by social ownership of the means of production and cooperative management of the economy; or a political philosophy advocating such a system. "Social ownership" may refer to any one of, or a combination of, the following: cooperative enterprises,...

. It supports class collaboration
Class collaboration
Class collaboration is a principle of social organization based upon the belief that the division of society into a hierarchy of social classes is a positive and essential aspect of civilization.-Class collaboration under capitalism:...

 as the course to achieve socialism. It also advocates the creation of legal reforms and economic redistribution programs to eliminate economic class disparities between the bourgeoisie
Bourgeoisie
In sociology and political science, bourgeoisie describes a range of groups across history. In the Western world, between the late 18th century and the present day, the bourgeoisie is a social class "characterized by their ownership of capital and their related culture." A member of the...

 and the proletariat
Proletariat
The proletariat is a term used to identify a lower social class, usually the working class; a member of such a class is proletarian...

. The Frankfurt Declaration
Frankfurt Declaration
The Frankfurt Declaration is the general name that refers to the set of principles titled Aims and Tasks of Democratic Socialism issued by the Socialist International in Frankfurt, West Germany, on 3 July 1951...

 of the Socialist International
Socialist International
The Socialist International is a worldwide organization of democratic socialist, social democratic and labour political parties. It was formed in 1951.- History :...

 in 1951, attended by many social democratic parties from across the world, committed adherents to oppose communism
Communism
Communism is a social, political and economic ideology that aims at the establishment of a classless, moneyless, revolutionary and stateless socialist society structured upon common ownership of the means of production...

—especially Stalinism
Stalinism
Stalinism refers to the ideology that Joseph Stalin conceived and implemented in the Soviet Union, and is generally considered a branch of Marxist–Leninist ideology but considered by some historians to be a significant deviation from this philosophy...

, and to promote a gradual transformation of capitalism into socialism. Practical modern social democratic policies include the promotion of a welfare state
Welfare state
A welfare state is a "concept of government in which the state plays a key role in the protection and promotion of the economic and social well-being of its citizens. It is based on the principles of equality of opportunity, equitable distribution of wealth, and public responsibility for those...

, and the creation of economic democracy
Economic democracy
Economic democracy is a socioeconomic philosophy that suggests a shift in decision-making power from a small minority of corporate shareholders to a larger majority of public stakeholders...

 as a means to secure workers' rights.

Since the rise in popularity of the New Right
New Right
New Right is used in several countries as a descriptive term for various policies or groups that are right-wing. It has also been used to describe the emergence of Eastern European parties after the collapse of communism.-Australia:...

 and neoliberalism
Neoliberalism
Neoliberalism is a market-driven approach to economic and social policy based on neoclassical theories of economics that emphasizes the efficiency of private enterprise, liberalized trade and relatively open markets, and therefore seeks to maximize the role of the private sector in determining the...

, a number of prominent social democratic parties have abandoned the goal of the gradual evolution of capitalism
Capitalism
Capitalism is an economic system that became dominant in the Western world following the demise of feudalism. There is no consensus on the precise definition nor on how the term should be used as a historical category...

 to socialism and instead support welfare state
Welfare state
A welfare state is a "concept of government in which the state plays a key role in the protection and promotion of the economic and social well-being of its citizens. It is based on the principles of equality of opportunity, equitable distribution of wealth, and public responsibility for those...

 capitalism. In recent years, several social democratic parties (in particular, the British Labour Party
Labour Party (UK)
The Labour Party is a centre-left democratic socialist party in the United Kingdom. It surpassed the Liberal Party in general elections during the early 1920s, forming minority governments under Ramsay MacDonald in 1924 and 1929-1931. The party was in a wartime coalition from 1940 to 1945, after...

) have embraced more centrist, Third Way
Third way (centrism)
The Third Way refers to various political positions which try to reconcile right-wing and left-wing politics by advocating a varying synthesis of right-wing economic and left-wing social policies. Third Way approaches are commonly viewed from within the first- and second-way perspectives as...

 policy positions. The development of Third Way social democracy has resulted in the rise of democratic socialism
Democratic socialism
Democratic socialism is a description used by various socialist movements and organizations to emphasize the democratic character of their political orientation...

 as a distinct break away ideology from social democracy. In many countries, social democrats continue to exist alongside democratic socialist
Democratic socialism
Democratic socialism is a description used by various socialist movements and organizations to emphasize the democratic character of their political orientation...

s, who stand to the left of them on the political spectrum
Political spectrum
A political spectrum is a way of modeling different political positions by placing them upon one or more geometric axes symbolizing independent political dimensions....

. The two movements sometimes operate within the same political party, such as the Brazilian Workers' Party
Workers' Party (Brazil)
The Workers' Party is a democratic socialist political party in Brazil. Launched in 1980, it is recognized as one of the largest and most important left-wing movements of Latin America. It governs at the federal level in a coalition government with several other parties since January 1, 2003...

 and the Socialist Party
Socialist Party (France)
The Socialist Party is a social-democratic political party in France and the largest party of the French centre-left. It is one of the two major contemporary political parties in France, along with the center-right Union for a Popular Movement...

 of France
France
The French Republic , The French Republic , The French Republic , (commonly known as France , is a unitary semi-presidential republic in Western Europe with several overseas territories and islands located on other continents and in the Indian, Pacific, and Atlantic oceans. Metropolitan France...

.

The Socialist International
Socialist International
The Socialist International is a worldwide organization of democratic socialist, social democratic and labour political parties. It was formed in 1951.- History :...

 (SI) is the main international organization of social democratic and moderate socialist parties. It affirms the following principles: first, freedom—not only individual liberties
Civil liberties
Civil liberties are rights and freedoms that provide an individual specific rights such as the freedom from slavery and forced labour, freedom from torture and death, the right to liberty and security, right to a fair trial, the right to defend one's self, the right to own and bear arms, the right...

, but also freedom from discrimination
Discrimination
Discrimination is the prejudicial treatment of an individual based on their membership in a certain group or category. It involves the actual behaviors towards groups such as excluding or restricting members of one group from opportunities that are available to another group. The term began to be...

 and freedom from dependence on either the owners of the means of production
Means of production
Means of production refers to physical, non-human inputs used in production—the factories, machines, and tools used to produce wealth — along with both infrastructural capital and natural capital. This includes the classical factors of production minus financial capital and minus human capital...

 or the holders of abusive political power
Political power
Political power is a type of power held by a group in a society which allows administration of some or all of public resources, including labour, and wealth. There are many ways to obtain possession of such power. At the nation-state level political legitimacy for political power is held by the...

; second, equality and social justice
Social justice
Social justice generally refers to the idea of creating a society or institution that is based on the principles of equality and solidarity, that understands and values human rights, and that recognizes the dignity of every human being. The term and modern concept of "social justice" was coined by...

—not only before the law but also economic and socio-cultural equality as well, and equal opportunities for all including those with physical, mental, or social disabilities; and, third, solidarity—unity and a sense of compassion for the victims of injustice and inequality. These ideals are described in further detail in the SI's Declaration of Principles.

Original social democracy


In the 19th Century, the term "Social Democrat" was used as a broad catch-all for international socialists owing their basic ideological allegiance to Karl Marx
Karl Marx
Karl Heinrich Marx was a German philosopher, economist, sociologist, historian, journalist, and revolutionary socialist. His ideas played a significant role in the development of social science and the socialist political movement...

 or Ferdinand Lassalle
Ferdinand Lassalle
Ferdinand Lassalle was a German-Jewish jurist and socialist political activist.-Early life:Ferdinand Lassalle was born on 11 April 1825 in Breslau , Silesia to a prosperous Jewish family descending from Upper Silesian Loslau...

, in contrast to those advocating various forms of utopian socialism
Utopian socialism
Utopian socialism is a term used to define the first currents of modern socialist thought as exemplified by the work of Saint-Simon, Charles Fourier, and Robert Owen which inspired Karl Marx and other early socialists and were looked on favorably...

. In one of the first scholarly works on European socialism written for an American audience, Richard T. Ely's
Richard T. Ely
Richard Theodore Ely was an American economist, author, and leader of the Progressive movement who called for more government intervention in order to reform what they perceived as the injustices of capitalism, especially regarding factory conditions, compulsory education, child labor, and labor...

 1883 book, French and German Socialism in Modern Times, Social Democrats were characterized as "the extreme wing of the socialists" who were "inclined to lay so much stress on equality of enjoyment, regardless of the value of one's labor, that they might, perhaps, more properly be called communists." Ely continued:


"They have two distinguishing characteristics. The vast majority of them are laborers, and, as a rule, they expect the violent overthrow of existing institutions by revolution to precede the introduction of the socialistic state. I would not, by any means, say that they are all revolutionists, but the most of them undoubtedly are. * * *


"The most general demands of the social democrats are the following: The state should exist exclusively for the laborers; land and capital must become collective property, and production be carried on unitedly. Private competition, in the ordinary sense of the term, is to cease."


Many parties in this era described themselves as "social democratic," including the General German Workers' Association
General German Workers' Association
The General German Workers' Association, in German Allgemeiner Deutscher Arbeiterverein, ADAV) was founded on 23 May 1863 in Leipzig, Kingdom of Saxony by Ferdinand Lassalle and existed under this name until 1875, when it combined with August Bebel and Wilhelm Liebknecht's SDAP to form the...

 and the Social Democratic Workers' Party of Germany
Social Democratic Workers' Party of Germany
The Social Democratic Workers' Party of Germany, in German Sozialdemokratische Arbeiterpartei Deutschlands, SDAP, was a German left-wing political party founded on August 7/August 9, 1869 in Eisenach, Saxe-Weimar-Eisenach by, among others, Wilhelm Liebknecht and August Bebel...

 (which merged to form the Social Democratic Party of Germany
Social Democratic Party of Germany
The Social Democratic Party of Germany is a social-democratic political party in Germany...

), the British Social Democratic Federation
Social Democratic Federation
The Social Democratic Federation was established as Britain's first organised socialist political party by H. M. Hyndman, and had its first meeting on June 7, 1881. Those joining the SDF included William Morris, George Lansbury and Eleanor Marx. However, Friedrich Engels, Karl Marx's long-term...

, and the Russian Social Democratic Labour Party
Russian Social Democratic Labour Party
The Russian Social Democratic Labour Party , also known as Russian Social Democratic Workers' Party or Russian Social Democratic Party, was a revolutionary socialist Russian political party formed in 1898 in Minsk to unite the various revolutionary organizations into one party...

. The term "social democracy" continued to be used in this context up to the time of the Bolshevik Revolution of November 1917, at which time the term "communist" came into vogue for individuals and organizations espousing a revolutionary road to socialism.

Contemporary social democracy



The contemporary social democratic movement came into being through a break within the socialist movement in the early years of the twentieth century. Speaking broadly, this break can be described as a parting of ways between those who insisted upon political revolution as a precondition for the achievement of socialist goals and those who maintained that a gradual or evolutionary path to socialism was both possible and desirable. Many related movements, including pacifism
Pacifism
Pacifism is the opposition to war and violence. The term "pacifism" was coined by the French peace campaignerÉmile Arnaud and adopted by other peace activists at the tenth Universal Peace Congress inGlasgow in 1901.- Definition :...

, anarchism
Anarchism
Anarchism is generally defined as the political philosophy which holds the state to be undesirable, unnecessary, and harmful, or alternatively as opposing authority in the conduct of human relations...

, and syndicalism
Syndicalism
Syndicalism is a type of economic system proposed as a replacement for capitalism and an alternative to state socialism, which uses federations of collectivised trade unions or industrial unions...

, arose at the same time; these ideologies were often promulgated by individuals who split from the preexisting socialist movement, and held a variety of quite different objections to Marxism.
One of the key founders of contemporary social democracy was Eduard Bernstein
Eduard Bernstein
Eduard Bernstein was a German social democratic theoretician and politician, a member of the SPD, and the founder of evolutionary socialism and revisionism.- Life :...

, a proponent of reformist
Reformism
Reformism is the belief that gradual democratic changes in a society can ultimately change a society's fundamental economic relations and political structures...

 socialism and a revisionist
Revisionism (Marxism)
Within the Marxist movement, the word revisionism is used to refer to various ideas, principles and theories that are based on a significant revision of fundamental Marxist premises. The term is most often used by those Marxists who believe that such revisions are unwarranted and represent a...

 of Marxism
Marxism
Marxism is an economic and sociopolitical worldview and method of socioeconomic inquiry that centers upon a materialist interpretation of history, a dialectical view of social change, and an analysis and critique of the development of capitalism. Marxism was pioneered in the early to mid 19th...

. Bernstein had originally been a Marxist and had held close association to Karl Marx
Karl Marx
Karl Heinrich Marx was a German philosopher, economist, sociologist, historian, journalist, and revolutionary socialist. His ideas played a significant role in the development of social science and the socialist political movement...

 and Friedrich Engels
Friedrich Engels
Friedrich Engels was a German industrialist, social scientist, author, political theorist, philosopher, and father of Marxist theory, alongside Karl Marx. In 1845 he published The Condition of the Working Class in England, based on personal observations and research...

, but he saw flaws in Marxian thinking and began such criticism when he investigated and challenged the Marxian materialist
Materialism
In philosophy, the theory of materialism holds that the only thing that exists is matter; that all things are composed of material and all phenomena are the result of material interactions. In other words, matter is the only substance...

 theory of history. Bernstein criticized Marxism's concept of "irreconciliable class conflict
Class conflict
Class conflict is the tension or antagonism which exists in society due to competing socioeconomic interests between people of different classes....

s" and Marxism's hostility to liberalism
Liberalism
Liberalism is the belief in the importance of liberty and equal rights. Liberals espouse a wide array of views depending on their understanding of these principles, but generally, liberals support ideas such as constitutionalism, liberal democracy, free and fair elections, human rights,...

. Bernstein challenged Marx's position on liberalism by claiming that liberal democrats
Liberal democracy
Liberal democracy, also known as constitutional democracy, is a common form of representative democracy. According to the principles of liberal democracy, elections should be free and fair, and the political process should be competitive...

 and social democrats held common grounds that he claimed could be utilized to create a "socialist republic".

On the issue of class conflict, Bernstein believed that economic class disparities between the bourgeoisie
Bourgeoisie
In sociology and political science, bourgeoisie describes a range of groups across history. In the Western world, between the late 18th century and the present day, the bourgeoisie is a social class "characterized by their ownership of capital and their related culture." A member of the...

 and the proletariat
Proletariat
The proletariat is a term used to identify a lower social class, usually the working class; a member of such a class is proletarian...

 would gradually be eliminated through legal reforms and economic redistribution programs. Bernstein rejected the Marxian
Marxism
Marxism is an economic and sociopolitical worldview and method of socioeconomic inquiry that centers upon a materialist interpretation of history, a dialectical view of social change, and an analysis and critique of the development of capitalism. Marxism was pioneered in the early to mid 19th...

 principle of dictatorship of the proletariat
Dictatorship of the proletariat
In Marxist socio-political thought, the dictatorship of the proletariat refers to a socialist state in which the proletariat, or the working class, have control of political power. The term, coined by Joseph Weydemeyer, was adopted by the founders of Marxism, Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels, in the...

, claiming that gradualist democratic reforms will improve the rights of the working class
Working class
Working class is a term used in the social sciences and in ordinary conversation to describe those employed in lower tier jobs , often extending to those in unemployment or otherwise possessing below-average incomes...

. According to Bernstein, unlike orthodox Marxism social democracy did not seek to create a socialism separate from bourgeois society but instead sought to create a common development based on Western humanism. The development of socialism under social democracy does not seek to rupture existing society and its cultural traditions but to act as an enterprise of extention and growth. Furthermore, he believed that class cooperation was a preferable course to achieve socialism, rather than class conflict. On the issue of class conflict and responding to the Marxian principle of dictatorship of the proletariat, Bernstein said:

"No one thinks of destroying civil society as a community ordered in a civilized war. Quite to the contrary, Social Democracy does not want to break up civil society and make all its members proletarians together; rather, it ceaselessly labors to raise the worker from the social position of a proletarian to that of a citizen and thus make citizenship universal. It does not want to replace civil society with a proletarian society but a capitalist order of society with a socialist one." Eduard Bernstein


Bernstein urged social democrats to be committed to a long-term agenda of transforming the capitalist economy to a socialist economy rather than a sudden upheaval of capitalism, saying:

"Social democracy should neither expect nor desire the imminent collapse of the existing economic system … What social democracy should be doing, and doing for a long time to come, is organize the working class politically, train it for democracy, and fight for any and all reforms in the state which are designed to raise the working class and make the state more democratic." Eduard Bernstein


The social democrats, who had created the largest socialist organizations of that era, did not reject Marxism (and in fact claimed to uphold it), but a number of key individuals wanted to reform Marx's arguments in order to promulgate a less hostile criticism of capitalism. They argued that socialism should be achieved through evolution of society rather than revolution. Such views were strongly opposed by the revolutionary socialists, who argued that any attempt to reform capitalism was doomed to fail, for the reformers would be gradually corrupted and eventually turn into capitalists themselves.

Despite their differences, the reformist and revolutionary branches of socialism remained united through the Second International
Second International
The Second International , the original Socialist International, was an organization of socialist and labour parties formed in Paris on July 14, 1889. At the Paris meeting delegations from 20 countries participated...

 until the outbreak of World War I
World War I
World War I , which was predominantly called the World War or the Great War from its occurrence until 1939, and the First World War or World War I thereafter, was a major war centred in Europe that began on 28 July 1914 and lasted until 11 November 1918...

. A differing view on the legitimacy of the war proved to be the final straw for this tenuous union. The reformist socialists supported their respective national governments in the war, a fact that was seen by the revolutionary socialists as outright treason
Treason
In law, treason is the crime that covers some of the more extreme acts against one's sovereign or nation. Historically, treason also covered the murder of specific social superiors, such as the murder of a husband by his wife. Treason against the king was known as high treason and treason against a...

 against the working class
Working class
Working class is a term used in the social sciences and in ordinary conversation to describe those employed in lower tier jobs , often extending to those in unemployment or otherwise possessing below-average incomes...

; in other words, the revolutionary socialists believed that this stance betrayed the principle that the workers of all nations should unite in overthrowing capitalism, and decried the fact that usually the lowest classes are the ones sent into the war to fight and die.

Bitter arguments ensued within socialist parties, as for example between Eduard Bernstein
Eduard Bernstein
Eduard Bernstein was a German social democratic theoretician and politician, a member of the SPD, and the founder of evolutionary socialism and revisionism.- Life :...

, the leading reformist socialist, and Rosa Luxemburg
Rosa Luxemburg
Rosa Luxemburg was a Marxist theorist, philosopher, economist and activist of Polish Jewish descent who became a naturalized German citizen...

, one of the leading revolutionary socialists within the SPD in Germany. Eventually, after the Russian Revolution of 1917
Russian Revolution of 1917
The Russian Revolution is the collective term for a series of revolutions in Russia in 1917, which destroyed the Tsarist autocracy and led to the creation of the Soviet Union. The Tsar was deposed and replaced by a provisional government in the first revolution of February 1917...

, most of the world's socialist parties fractured. The reformist socialists kept the name social democrats, while many revolutionary socialists began calling themselves communists, and they soon formed the modern Communist
Communism
Communism is a social, political and economic ideology that aims at the establishment of a classless, moneyless, revolutionary and stateless socialist society structured upon common ownership of the means of production...

 movement. These communist parties soon formed an exclusive Third Internationale known globally as the Comintern
Comintern
The Communist International, abbreviated as Comintern, also known as the Third International, was an international communist organization initiated in Moscow during March 1919...

.

By the 1920s, the doctrinal differences between social democrats and communists of all factions (be they Orthodox Marxists, Bolsheviks, or Mensheviks) had solidified.

Post–World War II


See also History of socialism
History of socialism
The history of socialism has its origins in the French Revolution of 1789 and the changes brought about by the Industrial Revolution, although it has precedents in earlier movements and ideas. The Communist Manifesto was written by Karl Marx and Frederick Engels in 1848 just before the Revolutions...

.

Social democracy, as practiced in Europe in 1951, was a socialist movement supporting gradualism
Gradualism
Gradualism is the belief in or the policy of advancing toward a goal by gradual, often slow stages.-Politics and society:In politics, the concept of gradualism is used to describe the belief that change ought to be brought about in small, discrete increments rather than in abrupt strokes such as...

; the belief that gradual democratic reforms to capitalist economies will eventually succeed in creating a socialist economy, rejecting forcible imposition of socialism through revolutionary means. This gradualism has resulted in various far left
Far left
Far left, also known as the revolutionary left, radical left and extreme left are terms which refer to the highest degree of leftist positions among left-wing politics...

 groups, including communists
Communism
Communism is a social, political and economic ideology that aims at the establishment of a classless, moneyless, revolutionary and stateless socialist society structured upon common ownership of the means of production...

, of accusing social democracy of accepting the values of capitalist society and therefore not being a genuine form of socialism. Social democracy rejects the Marxian
Marxism
Marxism is an economic and sociopolitical worldview and method of socioeconomic inquiry that centers upon a materialist interpretation of history, a dialectical view of social change, and an analysis and critique of the development of capitalism. Marxism was pioneered in the early to mid 19th...

 principle of dictatorship of the proletariat
Dictatorship of the proletariat
In Marxist socio-political thought, the dictatorship of the proletariat refers to a socialist state in which the proletariat, or the working class, have control of political power. The term, coined by Joseph Weydemeyer, was adopted by the founders of Marxism, Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels, in the...

 and the creation of a socialist state
Socialist state
A socialist state generally refers to any state constitutionally dedicated to the construction of a socialist society. It is closely related to the political strategy of "state socialism", a set of ideologies and policies that believe a socialist economy can be established through government...

, claiming that gradualist democratic reforms will improve the rights of the working class
Working class
Working class is a term used in the social sciences and in ordinary conversation to describe those employed in lower tier jobs , often extending to those in unemployment or otherwise possessing below-average incomes...

.

After World War II, a new international organization to represent social democracy and democratic socialism, the Socialist International
Socialist International
The Socialist International is a worldwide organization of democratic socialist, social democratic and labour political parties. It was formed in 1951.- History :...

 in 1951. In the founding Frankfurt Declaration
Frankfurt Declaration
The Frankfurt Declaration is the general name that refers to the set of principles titled Aims and Tasks of Democratic Socialism issued by the Socialist International in Frankfurt, West Germany, on 3 July 1951...

, the Socialist International denounced both capitalism and Bolshevik
Bolshevik
The Bolsheviks, originally also Bolshevists , derived from bol'shinstvo, "majority") were a faction of the Marxist Russian Social Democratic Labour Party which split apart from the Menshevik faction at the Second Party Congress in 1903....

 communism. As for Bolshevik communism, the Declaration denounced it in articles 7, 8, and 9, saying:

  • 7. Meanwhile, as Socialism advances throughout the world, new forces have arisen to threaten the movement towards freedom and social justice. Since the Bolshevik Revolution in Russia, Communism has split the International Labour Movement and has set back the realisation of Socialism in many countries for decades.

  • 8. Communism falsely claims a share in the Socialist tradition. In fact it has distorted that tradition beyond recognition. It has built up a rigid theology which is incompatible with the critical spirit of Marxism.

  • 9. Where Socialists aim to achieve freedom and justice by removing the exploitation which divides men under capitalism, Communists seek to sharpen those class divisions only in order to establish the dictatorship of a single party.

  • 10. International Communism is the instrument of a new imperialism. Wherever it has achieved power it has destroyed freedom or the chance of gaining freedom. It is based on a militarist bureaucracy and a terrorist police. By producing glaring contrasts of wealth and privilege it has created a new class society. Forced labour plays an important part in its economic organisation."



Following the split between social democrats and communists, another split developed within social democracy, between those who still believed it was necessary to abolish capitalism (without revolution) and replace it with a socialist system through democratic
Democracy
Democracy is generally defined as a form of government in which all adult citizens have an equal say in the decisions that affect their lives. Ideally, this includes equal participation in the proposal, development and passage of legislation into law...

 parliamentary means, and those who believed that the capitalist system could be retained but needed dramatic reform, such as the nationalization
Nationalization
Nationalisation, also spelled nationalization, is the process of taking an industry or assets into government ownership by a national government or state. Nationalization usually refers to private assets, but may also mean assets owned by lower levels of government, such as municipalities, being...

 of large businesses, the implementation of social programs (public education
Public education
State schools, also known in the United States and Canada as public schools,In much of the Commonwealth, including Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, and the United Kingdom, the terms 'public education', 'public school' and 'independent school' are used for private schools, that is, schools...

, universal health care
Universal health care
Universal health care is a term referring to organized health care systems built around the principle of universal coverage for all members of society, combining mechanisms for health financing and service provision.-History:...

, and the like) and the partial redistribution of wealth through the permanent establishment of a welfare state
Welfare state
A welfare state is a "concept of government in which the state plays a key role in the protection and promotion of the economic and social well-being of its citizens. It is based on the principles of equality of opportunity, equitable distribution of wealth, and public responsibility for those...

 based on progressive taxation.

Eventually, most social democratic parties have come to be dominated by the latter position and, in the post–World War II
World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

 era, have abandoned any commitment to abolish capitalism. For instance, in 1959, the Social Democratic Party of Germany
Social Democratic Party of Germany
The Social Democratic Party of Germany is a social-democratic political party in Germany...

 adopted the Godesberg Program
Godesberg Program
The Godesberg Program was the party program outline of the political course of Germany's social-democratic party, the SPD. It was ratified on November 15, 1959, at an SPD party convention in the town of Bad Godesberg, which is today part of Bonn....

, which rejected class struggle
Class struggle
Class struggle is the active expression of a class conflict looked at from any kind of socialist perspective. Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels wrote "The [written] history of all hitherto existing society is the history of class struggle"....

 and Marxism
Marxism
Marxism is an economic and sociopolitical worldview and method of socioeconomic inquiry that centers upon a materialist interpretation of history, a dialectical view of social change, and an analysis and critique of the development of capitalism. Marxism was pioneered in the early to mid 19th...

. While "social democrat" and "democratic socialist" continued to be used interchangeably, by the 1990s in the English-speaking world at least, the two terms had generally come to signify respectively the latter and former positions.

In Italy
Italy
Italy , officially the Italian Republic languages]] under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. In each of these, Italy's official name is as follows:;;;;;;;;), is a unitary parliamentary republic in South-Central Europe. To the north it borders France, Switzerland, Austria and...

, the Italian Democratic Socialist Party
Italian Democratic Socialist Party
The Italian Democratic Socialist Party is a minor social-democratic political party in Italy. Mimmo Magistro is the party leader. The PSDI, before the 1990s decline in votes and members, had been an important force in Italian politics, being the longest serving partner in government for Christian...

 was founded in 1947, and from 1948 on supported the idea of a centrist alliance. Since the late 1980s, many other social democratic parties have adopted the "Third Way
Third way (centrism)
The Third Way refers to various political positions which try to reconcile right-wing and left-wing politics by advocating a varying synthesis of right-wing economic and left-wing social policies. Third Way approaches are commonly viewed from within the first- and second-way perspectives as...

", either formally or in practice. Modern social democrats are generally in favor of a mixed economy
Mixed economy
Mixed economy is an economic system in which both the state and private sector direct the economy, reflecting characteristics of both market economies and planned economies. Most mixed economies can be described as market economies with strong regulatory oversight, in addition to having a variety...

, which is in many ways capitalistic
Capitalism
Capitalism is an economic system that became dominant in the Western world following the demise of feudalism. There is no consensus on the precise definition nor on how the term should be used as a historical category...

, but explicitly defend governmental provision of certain social services.

Many social democratic parties have shifted emphasis from their traditional goals of social justice to human rights
Human rights
Human rights are "commonly understood as inalienable fundamental rights to which a person is inherently entitled simply because she or he is a human being." Human rights are thus conceived as universal and egalitarian . These rights may exist as natural rights or as legal rights, in both national...

 and environmental
Environmentalism
Environmentalism is a broad philosophy, ideology and social movement regarding concerns for environmental conservation and improvement of the health of the environment, particularly as the measure for this health seeks to incorporate the concerns of non-human elements...

 issues. In this, they are facing an increasing challenge from Greens
Green Movement
The Green Movement refers to a series of actions after the 2009 Iranian presidential election, in which protesters demanded the removal of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad from office...

, who view ecology
Ecology
Ecology is the scientific study of the relations that living organisms have with respect to each other and their natural environment. Variables of interest to ecologists include the composition, distribution, amount , number, and changing states of organisms within and among ecosystems...

 as fundamental to peace, require reform of money supply
Money supply
In economics, the money supply or money stock, is the total amount of money available in an economy at a specific time. There are several ways to define "money," but standard measures usually include currency in circulation and demand deposits .Money supply data are recorded and published, usually...

, and promote safe trade
Safe trade
Safe trade is a slogan advocated by Greenpeace in its desire to "green" the World Trade Organisation and the Doha Development Round. It is designed to compete with "free trade" as a concept....

 measures to ensure ecological integrity. In Germany
Germany
Germany , officially the Federal Republic of Germany , is a federal parliamentary republic in Europe. The country consists of 16 states while the capital and largest city is Berlin. Germany covers an area of 357,021 km2 and has a largely temperate seasonal climate...

 in particular, Greens and Social Democrats have cooperated in so-called red–green alliances. The present government in Norway
Norway
Norway , officially the Kingdom of Norway, is a Nordic unitary constitutional monarchy whose territory comprises the western portion of the Scandinavian Peninsula, Jan Mayen, and the Arctic archipelago of Svalbard and Bouvet Island. Norway has a total area of and a population of about 4.9 million...

 is known as the Red-Green Coalition
Red-Green Coalition (Norway)
The Red-Green Coalition is a centre-left coalition of Norwegian parties, formed by the Labour , the Socialist Left Party , and the Centre Party. Unlike many other Red-Green coalitions, the "Green" here is the colour of a centrist party rather than an actual Green party...

, whilst the opposition bloc in Sweden
Sweden
Sweden , officially the Kingdom of Sweden , is a Nordic country on the Scandinavian Peninsula in Northern Europe. Sweden borders with Norway and Finland and is connected to Denmark by a bridge-tunnel across the Öresund....

 is the similarly titled Red-Greens
Red-Greens (Sweden)
The Red-Greens was the name of a co-operation of red-green political parties in Sweden, publicly launched on 7 December 2008, largely based on the Norwegian ruling Red-Green Coalition. It consisted of the three parties in the Riksdag , sitting in opposition to the Alliance coalition government...

, with social democratic parties forming the largest components of both alliances.

Present


Many of the policies espoused by social democrats in the first half of the 20th century have since been put into practice by social democratic governments throughout the industrialized world. Industries have been nationalized, public spending has seen a large long-term rise, and the role of the state in providing free-to-user or subsidized health care and education has increased greatly. Many of the reforms made by social democrats in Europe, such as the establishment of national health care services, have been embraced by liberals and conservatives, and there is no support outside of a radical fringe for a return to 19th-century levels of public spending and economic regulation. Even in the United States, where no major social democratic party exists, there are regulatory programmes (such as public health and environmental protection) and welfare programmes (such as Medicare
Medicare (United States)
Medicare is a social insurance program administered by the United States government, providing health insurance coverage to people who are aged 65 and over; to those who are under 65 and are permanently physically disabled or who have a congenital physical disability; or to those who meet other...

 and Medicaid
Medicaid
Medicaid is the United States health program for certain people and families with low incomes and resources. It is a means-tested program that is jointly funded by the state and federal governments, and is managed by the states. People served by Medicaid are U.S. citizens or legal permanent...

) which enjoy bipartisan support.

However, since the 1980s, there has been a perception that social democracy has been on the retreat in the Western world, particularly in English-speaking countries, where social democratic values are arguably not as firmly rooted in local law and culture as elsewhere. In recent years, a number of historically social democratic parties and governments have moved away from some traditional elements of social democracy by endorsing Third Way
Third way (centrism)
The Third Way refers to various political positions which try to reconcile right-wing and left-wing politics by advocating a varying synthesis of right-wing economic and left-wing social policies. Third Way approaches are commonly viewed from within the first- and second-way perspectives as...

 ideals and thus supporting both the privatization
Privatization
Privatization is the incidence or process of transferring ownership of a business, enterprise, agency or public service from the public sector to the private sector or to private non-profit organizations...

 of certain state-controlled industries and services and the reduction of certain forms of regulation of the market.

The adoption of Third Way ideology by many social democrats has proved divisive within the broader social democratic community. Traditional social democrats argue that Third Way ideology has caused the movement to become too centrist
Centrism
In politics, centrism is the ideal or the practice of promoting policies that lie different from the standard political left and political right. Most commonly, this is visualized as part of the one-dimensional political spectrum of left-right politics, with centrism landing in the middle between...

, and even that the movement may be becoming centre-right
Centre-right
The centre-right or center-right is a political term commonly used to describe or denote individuals, political parties, or organizations whose views stretch from the centre to the right on the left-right spectrum, excluding far right stances. Centre-right can also describe a coalition of centrist...

. In general, apparent reversals in policy have encountered significant opposition among party members and core voters; many of the latter have claimed that their leaders have betrayed the principles of social democracy.

Supporters of Third Way ideals argue that they merely represent a necessary or pragmatic adaptation of social democracy to the realities of the modern world: traditional social democracy thrived during the prevailing international climate of the post-war Bretton Woods consensus
Bretton Woods system
The Bretton Woods system of monetary management established the rules for commercial and financial relations among the world's major industrial states in the mid 20th century...

, which collapsed in the 1970s. It has, moreover, become difficult for political parties in the developed world to win elections on a distinctively left-wing platform now that electorates are increasingly middle-class, aspirational and consumeristic
Consumerism
Consumerism is a social and economic order that is based on the systematic creation and fostering of a desire to purchase goods and services in ever greater amounts. The term is often associated with criticisms of consumption starting with Thorstein Veblen...

.

In Britain, where such an electorate rejected the Labour Party four times consecutively between 1979 and 1997, Third Way politician Tony Blair
Tony Blair
Anthony Charles Lynton Blair is a former British Labour Party politician who served as the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom from 2 May 1997 to 27 June 2007. He was the Member of Parliament for Sedgefield from 1983 to 2007 and Leader of the Labour Party from 1994 to 2007...

 and his colleagues in the New Labour
Labour Party (UK)
The Labour Party is a centre-left democratic socialist party in the United Kingdom. It surpassed the Liberal Party in general elections during the early 1920s, forming minority governments under Ramsay MacDonald in 1924 and 1929-1931. The party was in a wartime coalition from 1940 to 1945, after...

 movement took the strategic decision to disassociate themselves publicly from the previous, explicitly democratic socialist incarnations of their party. The Labour Government that came to power in 1997 continued the tradition that Margaret Thatcher
Margaret Thatcher
Margaret Hilda Thatcher, Baroness Thatcher, was Prime Minister of the United Kingdom from 1979 to 1990...

 started in the 1980s of selling out nationalized industries, and the income gap between the rich and the poor grew. This challenge to traditional social democractic ideals alienated many backbenchers, including some who advocated a less militant ideology of social democracy.

The development of new social democratic policies in this environment is the subject of wide-ranging debate within the left and centre-left. A number of political think-tanks, such as Policy Network
Policy Network
Policy Network is a London-based centre-left international think tank. It is leading platform for long-term strategic thinking, policymaking and international best practice, influencing policy debates in the UK, Europe and internationally...

 and Wiardi Beckman Stichting
Wiardi Beckman Stichting
The Wiardi Beckman Stichting is a Dutch think tank linked to the left-of-center Labour Party .The foundation is named after Herman Bernard Wiardi Beckman, a member of the Dutch Senate, who during the Second World War was summoned by Queen Wilhelmina to become a member of the war cabinet, but who...

, have been active in facilitating and promoting this debate.

Ideology



In general, contemporary social democrats support:
  • A mixed economy
    Mixed economy
    Mixed economy is an economic system in which both the state and private sector direct the economy, reflecting characteristics of both market economies and planned economies. Most mixed economies can be described as market economies with strong regulatory oversight, in addition to having a variety...

     consisting of both private enterprise
    Business
    A business is an organization engaged in the trade of goods, services, or both to consumers. Businesses are predominant in capitalist economies, where most of them are privately owned and administered to earn profit to increase the wealth of their owners. Businesses may also be not-for-profit...

     and publicly owned or subsidized programs of education
    Education
    Education in its broadest, general sense is the means through which the aims and habits of a group of people lives on from one generation to the next. Generally, it occurs through any experience that has a formative effect on the way one thinks, feels, or acts...

    , universal health care
    Universal health care
    Universal health care is a term referring to organized health care systems built around the principle of universal coverage for all members of society, combining mechanisms for health financing and service provision.-History:...

    , child care and related social services for all citizens.
  • An extensive system of social security
    Social security
    Social security is primarily a social insurance program providing social protection or protection against socially recognized conditions, including poverty, old age, disability, unemployment and others. Social security may refer to:...

     (although usually not to the extent advocated by socialists), with the stated goal of counteracting the effects of poverty and insuring the citizens against loss of income following illness, unemployment or retirement.
  • Government bodies that regulate private enterprise in the interests of workers and consumer
    Consumer
    Consumer is a broad label for any individuals or households that use goods generated within the economy. The concept of a consumer occurs in different contexts, so that the usage and significance of the term may vary.-Economics and marketing:...

    s by ensuring labor rights
    Labor rights
    Labor rights or workers' rights are a group of legal rights and claimed human rights having to do with labor relations between workers and their employers, usually obtained under labor and employment law. In general, these rights' debates have to do with negotiating workers' pay, benefits, and safe...

     (i.e. supporting worker access to trade union
    Trade union
    A trade union, trades union or labor union is an organization of workers that have banded together to achieve common goals such as better working conditions. The trade union, through its leadership, bargains with the employer on behalf of union members and negotiates labour contracts with...

    s), consumer protection
    Consumer protection
    Consumer protection laws designed to ensure fair trade competition and the free flow of truthful information in the marketplace. The laws are designed to prevent businesses that engage in fraud or specified unfair practices from gaining an advantage over competitors and may provide additional...

    s, and fair market competition.
  • Environmentalism
    Environmentalism
    Environmentalism is a broad philosophy, ideology and social movement regarding concerns for environmental conservation and improvement of the health of the environment, particularly as the measure for this health seeks to incorporate the concerns of non-human elements...

     and environmental protection
    Environmental protection
    Environmental protection is a practice of protecting the environment, on individual, organizational or governmental level, for the benefit of the natural environment and humans. Due to the pressures of population and our technology the biophysical environment is being degraded, sometimes permanently...

     laws; for example, funding for alternative energy
    Alternative energy
    Alternative energy is an umbrella term that refers to any source of usable energy intended to replace fuel sources without the undesired consequences of the replaced fuels....

     resources and laws designed to combat global warming
    Global warming
    Global warming refers to the rising average temperature of Earth's atmosphere and oceans and its projected continuation. In the last 100 years, Earth's average surface temperature increased by about with about two thirds of the increase occurring over just the last three decades...

    .
  • A value-added/progressive tax
    Progressive tax
    A progressive tax is a tax by which the tax rate increases as the taxable base amount increases. "Progressive" describes a distribution effect on income or expenditure, referring to the way the rate progresses from low to high, where the average tax rate is less than the marginal tax rate...

    ation system to fund government expenditures.
  • A secular
    Secularism
    Secularism is the principle of separation between government institutions and the persons mandated to represent the State from religious institutions and religious dignitaries...

     and a socially progressive policy.
  • Immigration
    Immigration
    Immigration is the act of foreigners passing or coming into a country for the purpose of permanent residence...

     and multiculturalism
    Multiculturalism
    Multiculturalism is the appreciation, acceptance or promotion of multiple cultures, applied to the demographic make-up of a specific place, usually at the organizational level, e.g...

    .
  • Fair trade
    Fair trade
    Fair trade is an organized social movement and market-based approach that aims to help producers in developing countries make better trading conditions and promote sustainability. The movement advocates the payment of a higher price to producers as well as higher social and environmental standards...

     over free trade
    Free trade
    Under a free trade policy, prices emerge from supply and demand, and are the sole determinant of resource allocation. 'Free' trade differs from other forms of trade policy where the allocation of goods and services among trading countries are determined by price strategies that may differ from...

    .
  • A foreign policy
    Foreign policy
    A country's foreign policy, also called the foreign relations policy, consists of self-interest strategies chosen by the state to safeguard its national interests and to achieve its goals within international relations milieu. The approaches are strategically employed to interact with other countries...

     supporting the promotion of democracy
    Democracy
    Democracy is generally defined as a form of government in which all adult citizens have an equal say in the decisions that affect their lives. Ideally, this includes equal participation in the proposal, development and passage of legislation into law...

    , the protection of human rights
    Human rights
    Human rights are "commonly understood as inalienable fundamental rights to which a person is inherently entitled simply because she or he is a human being." Human rights are thus conceived as universal and egalitarian . These rights may exist as natural rights or as legal rights, in both national...

     and where possible, effective multilateralism
    Multilateralism
    Multilateralism is a term in international relations that refers to multiple countries working in concert on a given issue.International organizations, such as the United Nations and the World Trade Organization are multilateral in nature...

    .
  • Advocacy of social justice
    Social justice
    Social justice generally refers to the idea of creating a society or institution that is based on the principles of equality and solidarity, that understands and values human rights, and that recognizes the dignity of every human being. The term and modern concept of "social justice" was coined by...

    , human rights
    Human rights
    Human rights are "commonly understood as inalienable fundamental rights to which a person is inherently entitled simply because she or he is a human being." Human rights are thus conceived as universal and egalitarian . These rights may exist as natural rights or as legal rights, in both national...

    , social rights
    Social rights
    Economic, social and cultural rights are socio-economic human rights, such as the right to education, right to housing, right to adequate standard of living and the right to health. Economic, social and cultural rights are recognised and protected in international and regional human rights...

    , civil rights
    Civil rights
    Civil and political rights are a class of rights that protect individuals' freedom from unwarranted infringement by governments and private organizations, and ensure one's ability to participate in the civil and political life of the state without discrimination or repression.Civil rights include...

     and civil liberties
    Civil liberties
    Civil liberties are rights and freedoms that provide an individual specific rights such as the freedom from slavery and forced labour, freedom from torture and death, the right to liberty and security, right to a fair trial, the right to defend one's self, the right to own and bear arms, the right...

    .


Socialism versus Modern Social Democracy:
Socialism Market Socialism Social Democracy
Economic Planning
Planned economy
A planned economy is an economic system in which decisions regarding production and investment are embodied in a plan formulated by a central authority, usually by a government agency...

, Mixed Economy
Mixed economy
Mixed economy is an economic system in which both the state and private sector direct the economy, reflecting characteristics of both market economies and planned economies. Most mixed economies can be described as market economies with strong regulatory oversight, in addition to having a variety...

, Participatory planning
Participatory planning
Participatory planning is an urban planning paradigm that emphasizes involving the entire community in the strategic and management processes of urban planning; or, community-level planning processes, urban or rural...

Market economics
Market economy
A market economy is an economy in which the prices of goods and services are determined in a free price system. This is often contrasted with a state-directed or planned economy. Market economies can range from hypothetically pure laissez-faire variants to an assortment of real-world mixed...

, Market-oriented Mixed economy
Mixed economy
Mixed economy is an economic system in which both the state and private sector direct the economy, reflecting characteristics of both market economies and planned economies. Most mixed economies can be described as market economies with strong regulatory oversight, in addition to having a variety...

Regulated markets: Social Market
Social market economy
The social market economy is the main economic model used in West Germany after World War II. It is based on the economic philosophy of Ordoliberalism from the Freiburg School...

, Mixed-Market
Mixed economy
Mixed economy is an economic system in which both the state and private sector direct the economy, reflecting characteristics of both market economies and planned economies. Most mixed economies can be described as market economies with strong regulatory oversight, in addition to having a variety...

, Welfare State
Welfare state
A welfare state is a "concept of government in which the state plays a key role in the protection and promotion of the economic and social well-being of its citizens. It is based on the principles of equality of opportunity, equitable distribution of wealth, and public responsibility for those...

State ownership
State ownership
State ownership, also called public ownership, government ownership or state property, are property interests that are vested in the state, rather than an individual or communities....

 or cooperative ownership
Worker cooperative
A worker cooperative is a cooperative owned and democratically managed by its worker-owners. This control may be exercised in a number of ways. A cooperative enterprise may mean a firm where every worker-owner participates in decision making in a democratic fashion, or it may refer to one in which...

 of the means of production and heavy industry
State ownership
State ownership
State ownership, also called public ownership, government ownership or state property, are property interests that are vested in the state, rather than an individual or communities....

 or cooperative ownership
Worker cooperative
A worker cooperative is a cooperative owned and democratically managed by its worker-owners. This control may be exercised in a number of ways. A cooperative enterprise may mean a firm where every worker-owner participates in decision making in a democratic fashion, or it may refer to one in which...

 of the means of production
Private ownership of the means of production with minimal public ownership of some industry
State or public owns resources and major economic institutions, uses the surplus labor to fund government programs, state-directed investment State, public or worker cooperatives own resources and enterprises, uses them to fund government programs, sometimes with state-directed investment State mainly funded through progressive taxation, government regulates private business and provides welfare
Socialist economics
Socialist economics
Socialist economics are the economic theories and practices of hypothetical and existing socialist economic systems.A socialist economy is based on public ownership or independent cooperative ownership of the means of production, wherein production is carried out to directly produce use-value,...

, Economic planning
Economic planning
Economic planning refers to any directing or planning of economic activity outside the mechanisisms of the market, in an attempt to achieve specific economic or social outcomes. Planning is an economic mechanism for resource allocation and decision-making in contrast with the market mechanism...

Lange Model, Goulash Communism
Goulash Communism
Goulash Communism or Kádárism refers to the variety of communism as practised in the Hungarian People's Republic from the 1960s until the collapse of Communism in Hungary in 1989...

, Ricardian socialism
Ricardian socialism
Ricardian socialism refers to a branch of socialist economic thought based upon the work of economist David Ricardo. The Ricardian socialists reasoned that the free-market was the route to socialism, and that rent, profit and interest were not natural outgrowths of the free-market...

, Mutualism
Mutualism (economic theory)
Mutualism is an anarchist school of thought that originates in the writings of Pierre-Joseph Proudhon, who envisioned a society where each person might possess a means of production, either individually or collectively, with trade representing equivalent amounts of labor in the free market...

, Socialist-oriented market economy
Socialist-oriented market economy
The socialist-oriented market economy is the official name given to the current economic system in the Socialist Republic of Vietnam, as a product of the Đổi mới economic reforms, which led to the displacement of the centrally-planned economy with a market socialist system based on commodity...

Nordic model
Nordic model
The Nordic model refers to the economic and social models of the Nordic countries . This particular adaptation of the mixed market economy is characterised by "universalist" welfare states , which are aimed specifically at enhancing individual autonomy, ensuring the universal provision of basic human...

, Social Market Economy
Social market economy
The social market economy is the main economic model used in West Germany after World War II. It is based on the economic philosophy of Ordoliberalism from the Freiburg School...

, Welfare state
Welfare state
A welfare state is a "concept of government in which the state plays a key role in the protection and promotion of the economic and social well-being of its citizens. It is based on the principles of equality of opportunity, equitable distribution of wealth, and public responsibility for those...

s

Political parties



Social democratic political parties
Political party
A political party is a political organization that typically seeks to influence government policy, usually by nominating their own candidates and trying to seat them in political office. Parties participate in electoral campaigns, educational outreach or protest actions...

, which sometimes also include a democratic socialist element, operate in many developed and developing countries, including France, Germany, the United Kingdom, Spain, Australia, Israel and Brazil. Most European social democratic parties are members of the Party of European Socialists
Party of European Socialists
The Party of European Socialists is a European political party led by Sergei Stanishev, former Prime Minister of Bulgaria. The PES comprises social-democratic national-level political parties primarily from Member state of the European Union, as well as other nations of the European continent. The...

, which is one of the main political parties at the European level, and its parliamentary group the Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats
Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats
The Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats is the social-democratic political group in the European Parliament, formed by MEPs of the Party of European Socialists and allied centre-left parties. The group dates its ancestry via various names back to the beginning of the European...

. Globally, most social democratic parties worldwide are members of the Socialist International
Socialist International
The Socialist International is a worldwide organization of democratic socialist, social democratic and labour political parties. It was formed in 1951.- History :...

.

In many cases, social democratic parties are the dominant (India, Portugal, Australia) or second-placed (Canada, Italy, Sweden, Germany, United Kingdom) players within their respective political systems, though in some cases they are minor parties in federal politics (Ireland, Russia). The United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

 is the only industrial nation that does not currently have an official major social democratic party, although many consider large portions of the Green Party
Green Party (United States)
The Green Party of the United States is a nationally recognized political party which officially formed in 1991. It is a voluntary association of state green parties. Prior to national formation, many state affiliates had already formed and were recognized by other state parties...

 and some liberal factions of the Democratic Party
Democratic Party (United States)
The Democratic Party is one of two major contemporary political parties in the United States, along with the Republican Party. The party's socially liberal and progressive platform is largely considered center-left in the U.S. political spectrum. The party has the lengthiest record of continuous...

 to be social democratic. Some conservatives in the U.S. have accused President Barack Obama
Barack Obama
Barack Hussein Obama II is the 44th and current President of the United States. He is the first African American to hold the office. Obama previously served as a United States Senator from Illinois, from January 2005 until he resigned following his victory in the 2008 presidential election.Born in...

 of being either a "Democratic Socialist" or "Social Democrat", but Obama and the mainstream of the Democratic Party reject these accusations. Obama identifies with contemporary American Progressivism
Progressivism in the United States
Progressivism in the United States is a broadly based reform movement that reached its height early in the 20th century and is generally considered to be middle class and reformist in nature. It arose as a response to the vast changes brought by modernization, such as the growth of large...

. Critics of Obama on the left identify him as generally holding centrist
Centrism
In politics, centrism is the ideal or the practice of promoting policies that lie different from the standard political left and political right. Most commonly, this is visualized as part of the one-dimensional political spectrum of left-right politics, with centrism landing in the middle between...

 views.

Since the 1960s, many social democrats have broadened their objectives beyond the field of economic policy to include aspects of environmentalism
Environmentalism
Environmentalism is a broad philosophy, ideology and social movement regarding concerns for environmental conservation and improvement of the health of the environment, particularly as the measure for this health seeks to incorporate the concerns of non-human elements...

, feminism
Feminism
Feminism is a collection of movements aimed at defining, establishing, and defending equal political, economic, and social rights and equal opportunities for women. Its concepts overlap with those of women's rights...

, racial equality
Racial equality
Racial equality means different things in different contexts. It mostly deals with an equal regard to all races.It can refer to a belief in biological equality of all human races....

 and multiculturalism
Multiculturalism
Multiculturalism is the appreciation, acceptance or promotion of multiple cultures, applied to the demographic make-up of a specific place, usually at the organizational level, e.g...

. Another notable development is the tendency since the 1980s for social democratic parties to distance themselves from distinctively left-wing economic policies such as public ownership and dirigisme
Dirigisme
Dirigisme is an economy in which the government exerts strong directive influence. While the term has occasionally been applied to centrally planned economies, where the state effectively controls both production and allocation of resources , it originally had neither of these meanings when...

, adopting instead policies that support a relatively lightly regulated economy and emphasize equality of opportunity.

This trend, known as the Third Way
Third way (centrism)
The Third Way refers to various political positions which try to reconcile right-wing and left-wing politics by advocating a varying synthesis of right-wing economic and left-wing social policies. Third Way approaches are commonly viewed from within the first- and second-way perspectives as...

, is controversial among some of the left, many of whom argue that Third Way politicians (such as Tony Blair
Tony Blair
Anthony Charles Lynton Blair is a former British Labour Party politician who served as the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom from 2 May 1997 to 27 June 2007. He was the Member of Parliament for Sedgefield from 1983 to 2007 and Leader of the Labour Party from 1994 to 2007...

 and Bill Clinton
Bill Clinton
William Jefferson "Bill" Clinton is an American politician who served as the 42nd President of the United States from 1993 to 2001. Inaugurated at age 46, he was the third-youngest president. He took office at the end of the Cold War, and was the first president of the baby boomer generation...

) have moved too far to the centre, or even the centre-right. Others, such as the leadership of the UK Labour Party, reject this critique.

Criticisms



Socialist critics of contemporary social democracy include orthodox socialists
Socialism
Socialism is an economic system characterized by social ownership of the means of production and cooperative management of the economy; or a political philosophy advocating such a system. "Social ownership" may refer to any one of, or a combination of, the following: cooperative enterprises,...

, Marxian socialists, revolutionary socialists, anarchists and various other schools of thought. The most common criticism leveled against social democracy by socialists is that social democratic programs maintain the capitalist system (and therefore retains its fundamental issues, such as cyclical fluctuations
Business cycle
The term business cycle refers to economy-wide fluctuations in production or economic activity over several months or years...

 and social contradictions); these social democratic reformist policies are also used to help legitimize capitalism and exploitation by making it more equitable, thereby becoming an impediment to fundamental restructuring of the social and economic systems.

Marxists further argue that social democratic and welfare state policies limit the incentive system of the market by providing things such as minimum wages, unemployment insurance, taxing profits and reducing the reserve army of labor, resulting in reduced incentives for capitalists to invest in more production. In essence, social welfare policies cripple the capitalism and its incentive system and are thus unsustainable in the long-run. Marxists argue that the establishment of a socialist mode of production
Socialism (Marxism)
In Marxist theory, socialism, or the socialist mode of production, refers to a specific historical phase of economic development and its corresponding set of social relations that eventually supersede capitalism...

 is the only way to overcome these deficiencies.

Democratic socialists and libertarian socialists contend that social democracy has degenerated into pragmatic opportunism; rather than changing the world, social democracy merely changed itself to accommodate its tactics. These groups regard social democracy as an elitist and unrealistic movement for relying on electoral changes to reform capitalism, relying solely on liberal parliamentary (representation from above) rather than popular representation and spontaneous organization from the grassroots-level.

Notable social democrats

This is an abbreviated list of well-known social democrats. For a comprehensive list, see List of social democrats



See also


  • History of socialism
    History of socialism
    The history of socialism has its origins in the French Revolution of 1789 and the changes brought about by the Industrial Revolution, although it has precedents in earlier movements and ideas. The Communist Manifesto was written by Karl Marx and Frederick Engels in 1848 just before the Revolutions...

  • List of social democratic parties
  • List of social democrats
  • Democratic socialism
    Democratic socialism
    Democratic socialism is a description used by various socialist movements and organizations to emphasize the democratic character of their political orientation...


Political theory

  • Democratic socialism
    Democratic socialism
    Democratic socialism is a description used by various socialist movements and organizations to emphasize the democratic character of their political orientation...

  • Dirigisme
    Dirigisme
    Dirigisme is an economy in which the government exerts strong directive influence. While the term has occasionally been applied to centrally planned economies, where the state effectively controls both production and allocation of resources , it originally had neither of these meanings when...

  • Constitutional economics
    Constitutional economics
    Constitutional economics is a research program in economics and constitutionalism that has been described as extending beyond the definition of 'the economic analysis of constitutional law' in explaining the choice "of alternative sets of legal-institutional-constitutional rules that constrain the...

  • Political economy
    Political economy
    Political economy originally was the term for studying production, buying, and selling, and their relations with law, custom, and government, as well as with the distribution of national income and wealth, including through the budget process. Political economy originated in moral philosophy...

  • Rule according to higher law
    Rule according to higher law
    The rule according to a higher law means that no written law may be enforced by the government unless it conforms with certain unwritten, universal principles of fairness, morality, and justice...

  • Left-wing politics
    Left-wing politics
    In politics, Left, left-wing and leftist generally refer to support for social change to create a more egalitarian society...

  • Progressivism
    Progressivism
    Progressivism is an umbrella term for a political ideology advocating or favoring social, political, and economic reform or changes. Progressivism is often viewed by some conservatives, constitutionalists, and libertarians to be in opposition to conservative or reactionary ideologies.The...

  • Liberalism
    Liberalism
    Liberalism is the belief in the importance of liberty and equal rights. Liberals espouse a wide array of views depending on their understanding of these principles, but generally, liberals support ideas such as constitutionalism, liberal democracy, free and fair elections, human rights,...

  • Reformism
    Reformism
    Reformism is the belief that gradual democratic changes in a society can ultimately change a society's fundamental economic relations and political structures...

  • Neosocialism
    Neosocialism
    Neosocialism was a political trend of socialism, represented in France during the 1930s and in Belgium, which included several revisionist tendencies in the French Section of the Workers' International...

  • Mixed Economy
    Mixed economy
    Mixed economy is an economic system in which both the state and private sector direct the economy, reflecting characteristics of both market economies and planned economies. Most mixed economies can be described as market economies with strong regulatory oversight, in addition to having a variety...

  • The Third Way
    Third way (centrism)
    The Third Way refers to various political positions which try to reconcile right-wing and left-wing politics by advocating a varying synthesis of right-wing economic and left-wing social policies. Third Way approaches are commonly viewed from within the first- and second-way perspectives as...


Social democracy as viewed by critics

  • Managerial state
    Managerial state
    Managerial state is a paleoconservative concept used in critiquing modern social democracy in Western countries. The term takes a pejorative context as a manifestation of Western decline. Theorists Samuel T. Francis and Paul Gottfried say this is an ongoing regime that remains in power,...

  • Social fascism
    Social fascism
    Social fascism was a theory supported by the Communist International during the early 1930s, which believed that social democracy was a variant of fascism because, in addition to a shared corporatist economic model, it stood in the way of a complete and final transition to communism...

  • State capitalism
    State capitalism
    The term State capitalism has various meanings, but is usually described as commercial economic activity undertaken by the state with management of the productive forces in a capitalist manner, even if the state is nominally socialist. State capitalism is usually characterized by the dominance or...


Social democracy in practice

  • Flexicurity
    Flexicurity
    Flexicurity is a welfare state model with a pro-active labour market policy. The term was first coined by the social democratic Prime Minister of Denmark Poul Nyrup Rasmussen in the 1990s....

  • Scandinavian welfare model
  • Social corporatism
    Social corporatism
    Social corporatism is a form of economic tripartite corporatism supported by social democratic political parties based upon "social partnership" between capital and labour interest groups as well as between the market economy and state regulation that is considered a compromise to regulate conflict...

  • Social welfare in Sweden
  • Social market economy
    Social market economy
    The social market economy is the main economic model used in West Germany after World War II. It is based on the economic philosophy of Ordoliberalism from the Freiburg School...

  • Rhine Capitalism
    Rhine Capitalism
    Rhine capitalism or Rhenish capitalism is a contemporary economic order existing primarily in Western Europe. The term originates from the French economist and Chairman of the Board and CEO Assurances Générales de France , Michel Albert who first used it in his book Capitalisme contre Capitalisme...

  • Welfare state
    Welfare state
    A welfare state is a "concept of government in which the state plays a key role in the protection and promotion of the economic and social well-being of its citizens. It is based on the principles of equality of opportunity, equitable distribution of wealth, and public responsibility for those...


External links




International organizations


Social democratic literature


Criticism of social democracy