Nevoia de reinventare a social-democratiei

19 Jan

Protestele acestor zile sugereaza atasamentul pentru statul social, sistem avansat cel mai mult de social-democratie. In sens “clasic” s nu in sensul neoliberalismului de top “A Treia Cale.” Ce a fost social-democratia in epoca sa de glorie si cum si-a pierdut sufletul? Atasez un studiu facut de mine care va fi publicat curand.

Cornel Ban edapcr_revised

Iata concluziile:

Social democracy went from a revisionist reading of Marx in the first decades of the twentieth century to the “Third Way” or one of the more progressive readings of liberalism towards the end of the century. But it was the midcentury that was social democracy’s “golden age.” It was then that social democracy became the party of the radical reform of capitalism and the most successful socio-political paradigm of the postwar years. Its ideas were shared by progressive liberals and conservatives alike: generous welfare states and labor regulations, steeply progressive taxation systems, and employment-producing/maintaining public sectors.

As the golden age of social democracy was coming to an end in the 1970s, scholars found that the more democracy and social democratic rule a country had experienced, the lowest the share of national income taken by the highest income categories and the larger the share of the national income being distributed. It was also during this time that social-democratic parties defined the “best practices” of political modernity by developing a solid and consistent mass base for political life.

To a great extent the “golden age” of this political project relied on the economic institutions of “embedded liberalism,” whereby partial trade liberalization was combined with domestic institutions that cushioned the socially deleterious effects of market dislocations through fixed rates and capital controls. Most importantly, however, the social-democratic project rested on the ideas of Keynesian economics.

Anchored not in Marxism but in a progressive reading of liberalism, the Keynesian policy paradigm departed from the assumption that the private sector was fundamentally unstable to emphasize the role of the government in influencing growth rates, employment and production through a combination of fiscal and monetary policies. By merging Keynesianism with a deradicalized reading of Marxist revisionism, midcentury social democrats saved both capitalism and a crisis-ridden social democracy through a win-win game between capital, labor and the state.

This political equilibrium vanished and this study set out to find out whether 1989 was its death knell, as some scholars and political practitioners suggest. The main finding is that the neoliberal counterrevolution in economics that began in the 1970s dramatically redefined social democracy by depriving it of the Keynesian policy paradigm, making possible its success at mitigating the vagaries of the market and improving the economic conditions of wage earners and the unemployed.

As my analysis of all European social-democratic parties shows, by the time Leninist regimes collapsed in Eastern Europe, this rightward shift of social democracy had been complete almost everywhere, and in retrospect it is clear that this was due to debates that were endogenous to West European politics and economics rather than to what was happening across the Iron Curtain.

During the 1980s neoliberal ideas began to enter the economic policy conventions of social-democratic parties. German social democrats had shifted away from Keynesianism in the mid 1970s. Yet neoliberal “pragmatism” was far from cannibalizing the economic policy identity of a critical mass of European social-democratic parties, then in government or opposition. Rather than a generalized neoliberal swing, in the late 1970s and early 1980s the West European center-left offered instead a mosaic of reactions: outright resistance to neoliberalism (British Labor Party, Belgian Socialists, Dutch, Austrian and Danish social-democrats), resistance followed by accommodation (French Socialists), and early accommodation (Italian socialists, Swedish and German social-democrats). By the late 1980s the mosaic melted into a new consensus, in which the marriage between the welfare state and the policy implications of the end of Keynesian macroeconomics was the best that Bernstein’s followers had to offer.

But a potential social-democratic resurgence requires more than taking pride in prior achievements and using better economic ideas. While the track record of social-democrats gives them every reason to boast their managerial skills, the recent success of the right in the middle of a severe crisis shows that politics demand more than reasoned argument. Perhaps social-democrats must relearn the old lexicon of the left – its unequivocal critique of injustice, humiliation, and lack of dignity.

If updated, this lexicon could be used to revector public anger into a progressive agenda centered around full employment and social citzienship. Importantly, this reinvention should not be conceived of as a mere intellectual exercise. Social-democratic politics was once the politics of passion. As anger grows throughout Europe and the achievements of the welfare state are targeted one by one, this politics should be embraced again. There is much public anger as larger and larger swathes of the population are asked to work longer, for less pay and with less security. There is anger at growing inequalities of wealth and opportunity. When not properly addressed, all this anger can turn into attempts to make our societies less open and perhaps even less democratic. The current metastasis of social injustices breeds not only anger, but also fear that things will get worse. Unless those with more resources are asked to pay more for the basic costs of civilization, no managerial wisdom can allay such fears. Unless the social contract is renegotiated on the social-democratic principle of social citizenship, the results of anger and fear do not stand to be of the emancipatory kind.


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