The Problem with Social Democracy

FlagAn interesting article that highlights some inconsistencies Center-Left parties have in implementing a social-democratic platform while effectively maintaining and strengthening capitalism … Via Socialist Worker:

With the electoral breakthrough of the NDP in the federal election, attention to the nature of social democracy has returned to the political agenda. What do socialists say about the NDP and social democracy today?

There are two main views about parliamentary — or electoral — democracy in the history of the socialist movement. The social democratic view sees the liberal democratic state as a neutral body that can be peopled by delegates of the right or the left. Marxists, however, have stressed the limitations of the liberal democratic state. This view dates back to Marx’s analysis stated simply in the Communist Manifesto.

Contemporary social democratic parties, like the NDP or the Labour Party in the UK, keep a close eye on every aspect of parliamentary practice. Social movements, student activism and trade union struggles are seen as important at times. But what is considered “extra-parliamentary” work is seen as a means to influence “political” outcomes, which are narrowly defined in terms of parliamentary elections, debates or policies.

But the difference between a reformist, or social democratic, view, and a revolutionary, or Marxist, one, has not always been easy to discern.

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  • Wanooski

    “while effectively maintaining and strengthening capitalism” Why would anyone want to do that?

  • Anarchy Pony

    “while effectively maintaining and strengthening capitalism” Why would anyone want to do that?

    • Simiantongue

      Off hand I’d say it’s done because it’s a very effective way to siphon off wealth from societies through the use of monetary and mostly authoritarian social structures. If you think about the logistics a bit. It’s much too complicated to be rattling off an explanation in a few lines I know, but let me put it this way. How else to organize and focus natural human potential into something like money that can be funneled mostly to a small percentage of the population, who see it as their “right” to rule over others. They establish a legal system that authorizes it and a moral code that glorifies it.

      So “why would anyone want to do that?” Because the more effectively capitalism is maintained and strengthened, the better for those who benefit most by it.

      • Anarchy Pony

        I know all that, I was just being facetious. I too understand that it is not very easy to level a comprehensive argument against the capitalist system in the medium of an internet forum.

        • Simiantongue

          I know you know. I was being more facetious. Damn I’m radical.

          • Anarchy Pony

            You blew my mind!

          • Simiantongue

            Well it’s friday night, I’m glad someone got blown around here anyway.

  • Simiantongue

    Off hand I’d say it’s done because it’s a very effective way to siphon off wealth from societies through the use of monetary and mostly authoritarian social structures. If you think about the logistics a bit. It’s much too complicated to be rattling off an explanation in a few lines I know, but let me put it this way. How else to organize and focus natural human potential into something like money that can be funneled mostly to a small percentage of the population, who see it as their “right” to rule over others. They establish a legal system that authorizes it and a moral code that glorifies it.

    So “why would anyone want to do that?” Because the more effectively capitalism is maintained and strengthened, the better for those who benefit most by it.

  • Mr Willow

    I agree that the problem with reform-socialists, as opposed to revolutionary socialists, is that while hoping for reforms they continue the bidding of capitalists and imperialists, which is what the article seems to say. 

    Essentially, all they do is hope, and attempt to reform, but are never truly willing to get their hands dirty, as it were. 

    However, if I may defend this view, or at least one aspect of this view, I think it is an attempt to maintain order—for with revolution comes casualties, as well as a temporary dissolution of society. Such an approach seeks to implement socialism without all of the pandemonium associated with revolution, so that everything remains as calm as possible. 

    In the current situation in the US, to relate it to something pertinent, it would be the path I would like to see occur. I consider myself a pacifist. I do not like violence. As such, I would much prefer legislation pertaining to higher minimum wage, improved work conditions, national health care, improved public education, etc. etc. to be passed, rather than have some physical, violent struggle against the wealthy and powerful that own everything. However, the way in which things seem to be heading, and have been heading so far as I can tell, such legislation has a snowball’s chance in hell of getting passed. 

    Right now, we have minimalism of worker’s rights, personal rights, public programs, and public ownership of anything, if these things are not outright demonised, with favour instead resting on corporate rights and private ownership. 

    And if the many protests are any indication, it is as it was in Germany, as pointed out in the article: the role of the state as the ultimate defender of the interests of capitalist industry rather than the workers became starkly clear.

    Tea Party rallies, at least what was shown in the media, with all their shouting, saying they want government out of their lives resulted in no arrests, and from what could be seen very little police presence, but a bunch of people gather at Wall Street, saying they want corporations out of their government and they have barricades and arrests and instances of brutality. 

    In truth, things could still be reformed if the citizens ceased working jobs they hate, refused to participate in this corrupt institution masquerading as a government, and focused more on living rather than a paycheck, but sadly, there are far too many ignorant minds to make that a reality. There are far too many not yet traumatised enough by capitalism—or do not recognise that capitalism is the cause of their suffering—and yet once they are, it will be impossible to avert violence. 

    And yet, because of the continual propaganda glorifying material wealth, once Revolution occurs, I fear that there will be far too many participating in the revolt who will still embrace capitalism afterward, thinking “Oh, those people just weren’t doing it right.” 

  • Mr Willow

    I agree that the problem with reform-socialists, as opposed to revolutionary socialists, is that while hoping for reforms they continue the bidding of capitalists and imperialists, which is what the article seems to say. 

    Essentially, all they do is hope, and attempt to reform, but are never truly willing to get their hands dirty, as it were. 

    However, if I may defend this view, or at least one aspect of this view, I think it is an attempt to maintain order—for with revolution comes casualties, as well as a temporary dissolution of society. Such an approach seeks to implement socialism without all of the pandemonium associated with revolution, so that everything remains as calm as possible. 

    In the current situation in the US, to relate it to something pertinent, it would be the path I would like to see occur. I consider myself a pacifist. I do not like violence. As such, I would much prefer legislation pertaining to higher minimum wage, improved work conditions, national health care, improved public education, etc. etc. to be passed, rather than have some physical, violent struggle against the wealthy and powerful that own everything. However, the way in which things seem to be heading, and have been heading so far as I can tell, such legislation has a snowball’s chance in hell of getting passed. 

    Right now, we have minimalism of worker’s rights, personal rights, public programs, and public ownership of anything, if these things are not outright demonised, with favour instead resting on corporate rights and private ownership. 

    And if the many protests are any indication, it is as it was in Germany, as pointed out in the article: the role of the state as the ultimate defender of the interests of capitalist industry rather than the workers became starkly clear.

    Tea Party rallies, at least what was shown in the media, with all their shouting, saying they want government out of their lives resulted in no arrests, and from what could be seen very little police presence, but a bunch of people gather at Wall Street, saying they want corporations out of their government and they have barricades and arrests and instances of brutality. 

    In truth, things could still be reformed if the citizens ceased working jobs they hate, refused to participate in this corrupt institution masquerading as a government, and focused more on living rather than a paycheck, but sadly, there are far too many ignorant minds to make that a reality. There are far too many not yet traumatised enough by capitalism—or do not recognise that capitalism is the cause of their suffering—and yet once they are, it will be impossible to avert violence. 

    And yet, because of the continual propaganda glorifying material wealth, once Revolution occurs, I fear that there will be far too many participating in the revolt who will still embrace capitalism afterward, thinking “Oh, those people just weren’t doing it right.” 

  • Mr Willow

    I agree that the problem with reform-socialists, as opposed to revolutionary socialists, is that while hoping for reforms they continue the bidding of capitalists and imperialists, which is what the article seems to imply. 

    Essentially, all they do is hope, and attempt to reform, but are never truly willing to get their hands dirty, as it were. They object to the wills of those in power, but they object privately, it seems; they are unwilling to take any real stand.

    However, if I may defend this view, or at least one aspect of this view, I think it is an attempt to maintain order—for with revolution comes casualties, as well as a temporary dissolution of society. Such an approach seeks to implement socialism without all of the pandemonium associated with revolution, so that everything remains as calm as possible. 

    In the current situation in the US, to relate it to something pertinent, it would be the path I would like to see occur. I consider myself (generally) a pacifist. I do not like violence. As such, I would much prefer legislation pertaining to higher minimum wage, improved work conditions, national health care, improved public education, etc. etc. to be passed, rather than have some physical, violent struggle against the wealthy and powerful that own everything. However, the way in which things seem to be heading, and have been heading so far as I can tell, such legislation has a snowball’s chance in hell of getting passed. 

    Right now, we have minimalism of worker’s rights, personal rights, public programs, and public ownership of anything, if these things are not outright demonised, with favour instead resting on corporate rights and private ownership. 

    And if the many protests are any indication, it is as it was in Germany, as pointed out in the article: the role of the state as the ultimate defender of the interests of capitalist industry rather than the workers became starkly clear.

    Tea Party rallies, at least what was shown in the media, with all their shouting, saying they want government out of their lives resulted in no arrests, and from what could be seen very little police presence, but a bunch of people gather at Wall Street, saying they want corporations out of their government and they have barricades and arrests and instances of brutality. 

    In truth, things could still be reformed if the citizens ceased working jobs they hate, refused to participate in this corrupt institution masquerading as a government, and focused more on living rather than a paycheck, but sadly, there are far too many ignorant minds to make that a reality. There are too many not yet traumatized enough by capitalism—nor do they recognise that capitalism is the cause of their suffering—and yet once there are, it will be impossible to avert violence.

    And yet, because of the continual propaganda glorifying material wealth, once Revolution occurs, I fear that there will be far too many participating in the revolt who will still embrace capitalism afterward, thinking “Oh, those people just weren’t doing it right.”

    • MoralDrift

      I think the class consciousness of society in America is at an all time low. Even those who identify problems, still resist placing themselves in virtually any class besides “middle”. I just don’t think revolution would go down well in America, the lack of community is stark and the nature of the American personal character has been degraded by decades of a corporate-monetary based mentality towards relationships with others. 

  • Anonymous

    if the NDP is as far right and economically neo-liberal as the Labour party, we’re seriously f*cked…

  • Jin The Ninja

    if the NDP is as far right and economically neo-liberal as the Labour party, we’re seriously f*cked…

  • http://twitter.com/jasonpaulhayes jasonpaulhayes

    Sort of, but I think Jamie Kilstein nailed it on Countdown …http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Zv_GHq_Dyl0

  • jasonpaulhayes

    Sort of, but I think Jamie Kilstein nailed it on Countdown …http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Zv_GHq_Dyl0

    • Jin The Ninja

      sorry man not really seeing many parallels…

  • Anonymous

    I think the class consciousness of society in America is at an all time low. Even those who identify problems, still resist placing themselves in virtually any class besides “middle”. I just don’t think revolution would go down well in America, the lack of community is stark and the nature of the American personal character has been degraded by decades of a corporate-monetary based mentality towards relationships with others. 

  • Wanooski

    I know all that, I was just being facetious. I too understand that it is not very easy to level a comprehensive argument against the capitalist system in the medium of an internet forum.

  • Anonymous

    sorry man not really seeing many parallels…

  • Simiantongue

    I know you know. I was being more facetious. Damn I’m radical.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_WSPVLVNHHKSBPPXD3KSNJWTTFY kommi

    a sozialdemokratie is definitely the most reasonable form of government, as long as it cannot get subverted by corporate interests. Whats fooked in the USoA is the dismantling of reasonable control of BIG business. Bolshevism is as fooked as apperatschniks get the kickbacks ’cause human nature is just a corrupt thing. Marxism is o.k. in theory but practically ‘gainst human nature just as much as unbridled capitalismo….. foooked fooooooked foooooooooooked!!!!

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_WSPVLVNHHKSBPPXD3KSNJWTTFY kommi

    a sozialdemokratie is definitely the most reasonable form of government, as long as it cannot get subverted by corporate interests. Whats fooked in the USoA is the dismantling of reasonable control of BIG business. Bolshevism is as fooked as apperatschniks get the kickbacks ’cause human nature is just a corrupt thing. Marxism is o.k. in theory but practically ‘gainst human nature just as much as unbridled capitalismo….. foooked fooooooked foooooooooooked!!!!

  • http://voxmagi-necessarywords.blogspot.com/ VoxMagi

    to be honest…and it might surprise some to see me say this…but there is nothing wrong with capitalism per se…capitalism, in its most rudimentary forms, is as natural as elements of collectivism, and flows into being effortlessly as a reflection of human nature.

    Of course, like with human nature, theres a fine line between unrestrained mania and wild self-indulgence, and allowing a natural state of being to flow into place. Capitalism by its very nature requires restraint…and the only real question is the level of restraint. Well managed capitalism…unerringly moves toward socialism…and as much as people hate the words…once divorced from loaded preconceptions…the two require one another to sustain any kind of long term balance. We (the US, much of the first world etc) have moved the pendulum too far in one way…and a return to the other direction would be smoother if it were permitted to tick naturally instead of being artificially driven to further and further extremes. The same extreme means that, when a correction does occur, willingly or no, it will be far more drastic than normal. I’d love to see a peaceful correction…but if wishes were fishes we’d walk on the sea, and todays uber-capitalists will not surrender their favorable state of being until its ripped from them violently.

  • http://voxmagi-necessarywords.blogspot.com/ VoxMagi

    to be honest…and it might surprise some to see me say this…but there is nothing wrong with capitalism per se…capitalism, in its most rudimentary forms, is as natural as elements of collectivism, and flows into being effortlessly as a reflection of human nature.

    Of course, like with human nature, theres a fine line between unrestrained mania and wild self-indulgence, and allowing a natural state of being to flow into place. Capitalism by its very nature requires restraint…and the only real question is the level of restraint. Well managed capitalism…unerringly moves toward socialism…and as much as people hate the words…once divorced from loaded preconceptions…the two require one another to sustain any kind of long term balance. We (the US, much of the first world etc) have moved the pendulum too far in one way…and a return to the other direction would be smoother if it were permitted to tick naturally instead of being artificially driven to further and further extremes. The same extreme means that, when a correction does occur, willingly or no, it will be far more drastic than normal. I’d love to see a peaceful correction…but if wishes were fishes we’d walk on the sea, and todays uber-capitalists will not surrender their favorable state of being until its ripped from them violently.

  • Anonymous

    In reality the only thing wrong with social democracy is the recognition there are many people, quite a substantial number who will actively work to destroy that democracy in order to enrich and empower themselves. Those psychopaths will work at it every waking moment of their day and they can never be reformed or cured.
    They will spread lies, they will attempt to deceive upon a massive scale and the will achieve great satisfaction at the destruction they cause, the more that die the better, all as a measure of the own personal insane egoistic power.
    So for social democracy to succeed psychopaths simply need to be excluded from influence over it and the psychopaths willing partners in crimes against humanity, the narcissists need to be monitored and controlled and the influence over democracy to be very limited.
    Real genuine humans not suffering from genetic cerebral defects will have no problem at all forming sound and humane and truly successful social democracies. Historical fact, the failures of all democracies can be pointed to a virtual hand full of psychopathic individuals, the willing narcissist minions and a bunch of naive and gullible fools who they target and destroy everyone else in an orgy or greed and self serving lust.
    For example the rebuilding of America is a simple as getting rid of the influence and power of the richest top 1%, with them go all the narcissists in media and politics whom they fund and in turn all those ignorant and gullible millions of conservative voters finally wake up to reality (laws change and a whole bunch of people end up in jail for the crimes they have committed for decades).

  • rtb61

    In reality the only thing wrong with social democracy is the recognition there are many people, quite a substantial number who will actively work to destroy that democracy in order to enrich and empower themselves. Those psychopaths will work at it every waking moment of their day and they can never be reformed or cured.
    They will spread lies, they will attempt to deceive upon a massive scale and the will achieve great satisfaction at the destruction they cause, the more that die the better, all as a measure of the own personal insane egoistic power.
    So for social democracy to succeed psychopaths simply need to be excluded from influence over it and the psychopaths willing partners in crimes against humanity, the narcissists need to be monitored and controlled and the influence over democracy to be very limited.
    Real genuine humans not suffering from genetic cerebral defects will have no problem at all forming sound and humane and truly successful social democracies. Historical fact, the failures of all democracies can be pointed to a virtual hand full of psychopathic individuals, the willing narcissist minions and a bunch of naive and gullible fools who they target and destroy everyone else in an orgy or greed and self serving lust.
    For example the rebuilding of America is a simple as getting rid of the influence and power of the richest top 1%, with them go all the narcissists in media and politics whom they fund and in turn all those ignorant and gullible millions of conservative voters finally wake up to reality (laws change and a whole bunch of people end up in jail for the crimes they have committed for decades).

  • Wanooski

    You blew my mind!

  • Simiantongue

    Well it’s friday night, I’m glad someone got blown around here anyway.