ActiveHistory.ca is pleased to announce the publication of Kenneth Dewar’s new paper: “The Social Democracy Question”
Over the past twenty years, the fate of social democracy has been the subject of numerous inquiries by intellectuals, academics, journalists, and politicians. These have frequently taken the form of questioning whether there is any life left in the movement at all, or alternatively, of asking what needs to be done to revive it. “What happened to the European left?” asked American political scientist Sheri Berman in the aftermath of the financial crisis of 2008, when (counter-intuitively) support for the left declined rather than rose. At the same time, in the same magazine (Dissent) a journalist asked whether European social democracy had a future, while two years earlier in another venue two other writers had asked, like relatives at a bedside, “Is the left alright?” More recently, in 2013, former NDP leader Ed Broadbent delivered the Jack Layton Memorial Lecture at Ryerson University, choosing as his title, “Social democracy: dead as the dodo, or the only option?” It’s not giving too much away to say that he inclined toward the latter.1
Almost all of these discussions assume an identification of social democracy and particular political parties; they are really asking, in other words, why support for social democratic parties has declined in the states in which they operate. Broadbent’s lecture was an interesting exception to this, not because his party had made unprecedented gains in the federal election two years earlier, but because his view of social democracy was more expansive. [see more]
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