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Do You Know Much About the Social Democrats?

+2 votes
Jan 20 in Politics & Government ✌ by Virginia (7,565 points)

I learned a little about them when I was learning about socialism in Mexico after a Q asked by Other Tink...and Mexico has a Social Democratic party. Isn't it quite prominent in Germany also?

I stopped reading about the Social Democrats when I got to the part about the government controlling the means of production - that seems to open the door to Big Brother! However, I am more and more convinced that our present capitalistic system is not adequate, that it eventually turns oppressive and exploitive, and humankind REALLY deserves something better. But what is the direction?

* * *

The one really good idea I have come across so far is a professor at Harvard who is teaching her students how to make capitalism work successfully. In theory it's not that difficult, FDR had capitalism operating fairly well for a while. 

So I was wondering (if you can bear one more of these questions), do the social democrats have anything to contribute for a really successful free and just economic system?

2 Answers

Kninjanin Jan 20
Socialdemocrats should fight for capitalism where the rights of workers are respected. So, they are not communists or socialists.
I found some articles:
Virginia Kninjanin Jan 21

Kninjanin, I read enough of those articles to see that they are fascinating; for example the one about Sweden (which is a social democracy), you have a very wealthy class who are taxed less than the less wealthy, but:

"...contrary to  many expectations, the Swedish welfare state has been progressive not because it pulls down the top but because it pulls up the bottom...Over the past fifty years, wealth has become more equally distributed in Sweden than in any other Western democracy."

Another article tals about the collapse of the Bretton Woods system, and that "Keynesianism never worked in the face of mass unemplyment and it is misleading to suggest that its breakdown in the 1970's somehow robbed social democracy of the policy tools that had somehow maintained full employment in the 1950's and 1960's."

Some fascinating and unexpected information, thank you!

Marianne Jan 20

Actually, the definitions of "social democracy" vary much, from one region or country to the other.

It looks much as if quite a few principles of solidarity have been distorted and misused to serve certain powerful interest groups and to split the populations into various opposing fractions, lured into illusions and false morals.

It is often confused with "democratic socialism":

There is too much stereotyping in economy, politics and all the other social systems:

Virginia Marianne Jan 21

Marianne, I did find this in one of your articles. I don't fully understand the second sentence, but the differentiation between the two systems is clearly important! I do think also, that deep in my heart I would like to see the reforms to capitalism, rather than a transformation to socialism.

"Democratic socialism is distinguished from social democracy on the basis that democratic socialists are committed to systemic transformation of the economy from capitalism to socialism whereas social democracy is supportive of reforms to capitalism. In contrast to social democrats, democratic socialists believe that reforms aimed at addressing social inequalities and state interventions aimed at suppressing the economic contradictions of capitalism will only see them emerge elsewhere in a different guise."

I could not fully open the Washington Post link...but I saw that someone had written a book. To me, one very hopeful sign is that SO many people are talking about this now, pondering the inequities of capitalism. Maybe such discussion also happened historically as capitalism was taking form, and now we are peacefully moving to something better that we cannot now even imagine?

Marianne Marianne Jan 21

Yes, Virginia, what's really important is to find the real balance, and that starts already with education, which should not indoctrinate, but inform and allow people to make healthier choices.

Some called the Americans a "nation of merchants" or "of business" ...

Virginia Marianne Jan 21

Marianne, I found this in your links: " Puritans and Yankees endorsed the "Protestant Ethic", which enjoined men to work hard as part of their divine calling." That appears significant because sometimes it seems there is something almost of the religious fanatic in the accumulation of wealth, deriving from someone's 'hard work.'

Then in another of your links, there is actually a definition of capitalism! "Capitalism generally refers to an economic system where the means of production are largely or entirely privately owned and operated for a profit, structured on the process of capital accumulation. "

Here is my objection, see what you think and maybe Tink too if she sees this? All this brouhaha about markets and capital, consumerism, free trade etc., well the only meaningful significance is really to provide us humankind with our sustenance. The economy is not the purpose of life! Once the physical survival is in place, THEN we have leisure to search out our own meaning and beauty in life: love, learning, wisdom, compassion, art, music, science, etc. 

But we seem to have gotten stuck on the capital part! Even those other aspects of life are measured in monetary terms - there is no support for them for their own sake, only if they bring in money...

In other words, maybe the problems I am seeing actually go much deeper than I thought...and capitalism is only one of the symptoms...

* * *

Well, I do like your idea of the education, however here in the USA education has not worked out too well. But I am thinking of one Native American tribe in Arizona, the Hopi; and until they were invaded by the dominant culture, for them it was unthinkable to harm another human being, for example...a remarkable set of values inculcated in everyone from infancy. So, education can work, if done with wisdom and integrity.

Marianne Marianne Jan 22

Well defined, Virginia, actually, the idea of capitalism reminds much of materialism.

while I had always the impression that our education was guiding most of the "plebeian" crowds into dependence and submission, with the high aim to "be fruitful and multiply" (mass breeding?), and earning our "daily bread" with hard work and blind obedience. Children had to merit their parents' love, and "spiritual food" was often not the one which enlightened the "heart". Adults had to be productif and useful. Those who had more were expected to share with the weaker, less fortunate ones. That sounds quite logical, but there were always lots of "buts" throughout human history, especially the role of various groups, like women, children, elderly, handicapped, and other vulnerable groups.

We had series of documentations here (not in English), about historical analyses, new findings, comparisons, behaviours, attitudes, influences, the perspectives from other, formerly neglected sides, and the human impact on nature.

So, I'll refer to nature:

Yes, Virginia, there is a sore point regarding freedom, rights, independent thinking, as well as physical and spiritual or mental balance and health.

Education and "impregnation" can "shape" a person's attitudes, beliefs and behaviour ... 

Virginia Marianne Jan 23

Marianne, it was on a Q/A site that I first heard the term cultural landscape...Maybe it was from you? From your link, 'cultural landscape, as defined by the World Heritage Committee, is the "cultural properties [that] represent the combined works of nature and of man." '

I love that term, cultural landscape; and I learned something about that long ago as I was studying logging practices here in the place I was born. And that is, we did not need to devastate our ecosystem with logging, because if we harvest timber wisely, the land will actually become stronger and healthier! And what is even more amazing is that we will get just as much timber as if we stripped the land - we just won't get it ALL NOW, we must log carefully.

* * *

So, I think our natural relationship with the Earth is more like a mutualistic symbiosis; beneficial to all concerned. As we live here in harmony with the land, the Earth becomes ever stronger and then it gives us more and more, in a wonderful upward spiral!

Marianne Marianne Jan 23

Yes, and there are also the pros and the cons, as these cultural landscapes may look gorgeous and produce much, but they are not natural, and, in spite of certain well adapted zones, but others suffered from certain "corrections", or "sacrificed" to intensive cultures, industries, urban sprawl, etc., as the loss of  biodiversity and natural habitat harmed whole ecosystems and their balance.

Additionally, with the introduction of domestic and non-domestic plants and animals, many native plants and animals were displaced, endangered or went extinct.


USA (restoring wetlands):

Europe (restoring wetlands):

Virginia Marianne Jan 23

Your points are very well made, Marianne! Here in Western Washington there are/were lots of wetlands, as this coastal region receives much rain...and all those problems you mention have happened here!

Marianne Marianne Jan 26

Thank you, Virginia, and I noted also that something went wrong with my sentence (a "but" too much, a verb gone missing, while I was trying to shorten a paragraph) - lol. :)

Virginia Marianne Jan 26


Marianne Marianne Jan 26

Lol, Virginia - I don't know what to say.

Yes, words can mean very different things, and some words seem to be "master" ...


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