Social Democracy Essay

2302 words - 10 pages

Social democracy is a political ideology of the political left and centre-left on the classic political spectrum, that advocates a peaceful, evolutionary transition of society from capitalism to socialism using established political processes. Social democracy support Private enterprise, but strongly regulated to protect the interests of workers, consumers and small enterprise (in stark contrast to libertarian and some green approaches, e.g. Natural Capitalism which minimizes regulation by controlling commodity prices more directly). An extensive system of social security network, although not to the extent of communists (see welfare state), notably to counteract effects of poverty and to ...view middle of the document...

Higher taxes (necessary to pay for the former), especially for higher income groups. Extensive social laws (minimum wages, working circumstances, protection against firing). Environmental protection laws (like environmental laws specifically opposing monoculture) (although not to the extent of Greens). Anti-xenophobic and non-fundamentalist legislations (pro-choice, anti-racist, anti-homophobic) (although not to the extent of anarchists). A foreign policy supporting multilateralism and international institutions such as the United Nations.

Social Democracy is based on 19th century socialism and the tenets of Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels, social democracy shares common ideological roots with communism but eschews its militancy and totalitarianism. Social democracy was originally known as revisionism because it represented a change in basic Marxist doctrine, primarily in the former’s repudiation of the use of revolution to establish a socialist [pic]society.

The social-democratic movement grew out of the efforts of August Bebel, who with Wilhelm Liebknecht cofounded the German Social Democratic Workers’ Party in 1869 and then effected the merger of their party with the General German Workers’ Union in 1875 to form what came to be called the Social Democratic Party of Germany (Sozialdemokratische Partei Deutschlands). Bebel imbued social democracy with the belief that socialism must be installed through lawful means rather than by force. After the election of two Social Democrats to the Reichstag in 1871, the party grew in political strength until in 1912 it became the largest single party in voting strength, with 110 out of 397 seats in the Reichstag. The success of the Social Democratic Party in Germany encouraged the spread of social democracy to other countries in Europe.

Many parties in the second half of the 19th century described themselves as social democratic, such as the British Social Democratic Federation, and the Russian Social Democratic Labour Party. In most cases these were revolutionary socialist or Marxist groups, who were not only seeking to introduce socialism, but also democracy in un-democratic countries.

1. Development of Social Democracy

We should know that although social democracy can trace its lineage to early 19th, 18th and even 17th century democratic movements, there is no doubt that modern socialist parties emerged and became important political actors in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Social democracy became the dominant political form of labour in the period in which, on the one hand, industrial capitalism spread across western Europe and north America, and on the other, the system of European empires achieved its greatest worldwide extent, especially in Asia and Africa.
The modern social democratic current came into being through a break within the socialist movement in the early 20th century, between two groups holding different views on the ideas of Karl Marx. Many related...

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