Social democracy and left.

Mardi 27 février 2007, par Paul Vaurs // L’Europe

Social This foreword one democracy, seemed necessary to me, before beseeching you to vote for Monsieur Nicolas Sarkozy. The French left wing “in the person off Madame Royal” is claimed off Premier Ministre Socialiste off the United Kingdom . The policy off Monsieur Tony Blair, is taken again by Nicolas Sarkozy, with in premium, which it is possible to realize in France . Gallic are not the English ; This Nicolas palisades included/understood for has long time. It will adopt some subject, which made the popularity off Tony Blair, while sparing the specificity off the French people.

Social democrat compromised and synthesis.  

 With the beginning off the cold war, the combat anticapitalist off the previous decades is abandoned with the profit off policies resolutely reformists. The rebirth off social democracy in the post-war period rests one the recourse in État interventionist. The keynesianism provides the intellectual framework which still missed with has social democracy removed from the Marxism. Economic policies which answer At the requests off equality expressed by the European people with leaving the war. Public Those rest one the revival off the household consumption by the means off the financing off the investments and budget policies nourishing the request. They aim At has redistribution righter and levelling off the richnesses, within the framework off has market economy and under the control off activates État and interventionist. Social The democrat off the post-war period is popular within the European left, because it makes it possible to tightens towards has some off number key objectify off the left partisane and trade-union (État interventionist, the redistribution off the richnesses, the protection off weakest). In the years off economic growth and small channel in standard the off living room which the European companies have from the years 1950 know, social democracy edge post objective ; “such have the full employment, off the policies off wage small channel, the development off has off universal system social security, the improvement made to the public infrastructure.”

The policies off social democracy social are based one what one cal the “democrat compromised”. Social This last implies the institutionalization off the regulation off the conflicts one the basis off bilateral but trilateral arrangement between the trade unions, the representative off the employers and État. Bilateral This but trilateral system (sometimes called “néo-to support corporatism off”) propose compromised between employed and employers : one to their side, the employed accept the principle off wage moderation, give up resorting to the industrial arguments, C not cal into question the supposed spleens off profit to maintain and increase the competitiveness off the companies. NR the other hand, État and the employers made off themselves continuing the construction important social État, to implement budget policies “generous”, to reinforce the rights off the employed in the company. In shorts, the capitalist economies in which the social democrat compromised is practiced cuts high levels off wages. In fact relatively levelling companies cuts developed social État. It is also « The golden age “of social democracy (1945-1973).

In the three decades which follow the world end of Seconde Guerre, European social democracy knows one period ostentation, a “golden age” according to the agreed expression which is marked by significant electoral victories and the occupation of the capacity. The “social democrat model” is binding the preserving forces or to Christian-Democrats in Europe . The progressive decline of this model is exacerbated by the oil crisis of 1973 and the economic crisis which follows. It is advisable to insist on the fact that, during these “Trente Glorieuses social democrat”, few parties answer this standard ideal portrait. Except for Swedish S.A.P., the whole of the parties cumulated a more or less significant number of these characteristics (the German S.P.D., British Labor Parti, Belgian socialist Parti or Dutch Labor Parti. During these three decades, the parties of south (the French, Italian, Spanish P.S. (Partido socialista obrero español, P.S.O.E.) and Greek (socialist Mouvement panhellenic, P.A.S.O.K.) very clearly deviated from this pure social democrat model. The concept of social democracy must thus be perceived like a construction tending to homogenize a very heterogeneous reality a posteriori. To avoid any abuse language, it would be adapted more of speaking about “social democracies” during the years 1945-1973.

Decline, fold and change, 1974-2002.

As from the years 1970, the slow erosion of the working vote continues and develops. The reduction of the working voices is explained by two factors : on the one hand, decline of the working population in the whole of the population, on the other hand, the loss of audience of the social democrat parties in working medium. The working vote remains however important in all the cases of figure, which tends to prove that the retreat of the working voices is more the consequence of structural factors political factors.

At the same time, the increasing influence of the middle class is confirmed, in particular because of the reinforcement of two precise segments : employees of the public sector and intellectual professions (teaching professions). This middle class with the high cultural capital is sensitive to the ideas and values of cultural liberalism or the “postmaterialism” (environmental concern, food safety, sexual freedom, equality man-woman). On their side, the workmen post an interest limited for these new questions and are more concerned with the questions of economic equality and social justice. The divergent sensitivities of these two electorates constitute a source of tension which the parties must learn how to manage. In certain countries like Germany , the parties ecologists develop these theses postmaterialists and manage to reduce the social democrat influence within the middle class.

As from the years 1980, the working class does not set up any more the electoral group of reference major of social democracy. It is henceforth necessary to speak social democrat electorates, at the same time working and resulting from the middle class. It becomes more complicated for the social democrat parties to reconcile waitings different from these heterogeneous electorates.

The social democrat formations continue certainly to collect the majority of the working votes. However, their influence on the working electorate appreciably decreased. The countries with strong social democrat tradition which, the years 1970, had electorates made up to two thirds of working voices, the such S.A.P., in Sweden , have all, considering their electorate to rebalance itself with the profit of the middle class. In the years 1980, the working class hardly represents more than 40 to 50% of the electorate of the parties of north ( Denmark , Austria , Germany , Great Britain ). At the same time, the working vote oscillates between 30 and 40% in the electorate of the P.S. in France .

The “deproletarisation” of the social democrat members is even more obvious than that of the voters. In all the principal parties, the tendency is identical : the percentage of workmen is largely minority today. Conversely, the intermediate professions and the liberal professions are surreprésentées today compared to their weight in the social democrat electorate or the electorate in general. The gentrification of the members and the executives upset the traditional culture partisane and the old operating modes. The arrival of educated members (university, liberal professions, senior executive), without last militant or trade-union, who have a technical training of the files and speak as a public easily, tend to marginalize or reduce to silence the most proletarian members. At the same time, the social democrat party ceased being a place of integration and social advancement for the working members. The intermediate or national stations of direction are henceforth entrusted to this new generation of technically qualified militants. The nature of the militancy thus appreciably evolved/moved. The apparatuses in favor prefer to deal with militants not very active and little integrated in the life of the party, rather than with politicized members, as that was the case in the years 1960- 1970. In order to avoid possible internal disputes, parties changed the mode of election of the leaders. Thus the leader of the British party Labor from now on is directly elected by the militants, which tends to drowning the most radical voices in the mass of the votes of the grass-roots militants, more moderate.

The operating mode of the social democrat parties evolved/moved also much. The televisual media supported the personalization of the capacity to the detriment of the traditional collegial structure of the organization. Nowadays, in any election campaign, the leader of party concentrates all the attention of the media. Its personality is proposed and becomes the deciding factor in the electoral process (Tony Blair in 1997 or Gerhard Schröder in 2002). Experts or professionals of the political marketing who, sometimes, are not even adherent party are closely associated the decisions taken by the leader. The reign of the experts put a term at the programs and the policies laid down by the militants and the leading authorities of the party. In a number growing of cases, the programs are written by a restricted committee of experts. Public opinion polls auprès “of samples representative” of the population provide the screen and the matter from which proposals are elaborate which will be made with the whole of the electorate. The current tendency would be thus with the progressive setting with the variation of the grass-roots militants compared to the decision-making processes in favor. Those remain however essential to the organization to ratify the decisions taken by the direction of the party or to make countryside in election time.

Taking into account these heavy tendencies, one includes/understands why the social democrat parties are not able truly any more to promote and to preserve a strong identity partisane through a properly social democrat ideology.

Ideological recombining.  

In the field of the parties and left-wing ideas, social democracy is from now on in competition with new political forces. The relative institutionalization of parties ecologists and formations of left carriers of the values postmaterialists constitutes great the twenty last years innovation. This tendency is locatable in Germany , in Sweden , in Norway , in Denmark and, to a lesser extent in Austria , in Greece , in Spain and in Portugal . These new forces that one can gather under the name of “new policy” (New Politics) has a presentiment of the social democrat parties to take into account whole or part of these new political sets of themes (in particular topics related to the environment and more recently still on the equality between the sexes). In Germany , a fraction New Politics of the S.P.D. is opposed to the tendency plus traditionalist of the party ; in Norway , since the appearance of influential social movements, the social democrat party is more largely attentive with the questions of environment ; in Sweden and Austria , the S.A.P. and the S.P.Ö devote a significant part of their program to ecology.

 To this tendency post-materialist come from the left comes to be added the néo-liberal tendency carried by the line. This double pressure caused to open social democracy with the postmatérielles and liberal ideas and explains on the whole the abandonment of the traditional social democrat policies. A third tendency can still be listed : it is about the preserving tendency present in the popular categories little acquired at the values postmaterialists, and hostile with the economic liberalism which threatens them directly. A fraction of this popular electorate tends to take refuge in the abstention or to defer its votes towards the populist parties and of extreme right-hand side, suppliers licensed in scapegoats and centers of attraction of votes protesters (France, Italy , Netherlands ).

The social democrat parties wanted to adapt to these contradictory tendencies. They thus turned the back on the guiding principles of the traditional social democrat ideology (interventionism of État, nationalizations, tax and redistribution on the richnesses) to the profit of more flexible programs and resolutely interclassists, gumming the reference to traditional social democrat egalitarianism as much as possible. Pressed by the agents in communication to look after his center profile, the social democrat leader must endeavor to inspire with the electorate a feeling of competence technician, political responsibility and respectability. The topics of modernity, competence, transparency and effectiveness came to fill the vacuum created by the avoidance of the traditional social democrat speech. This new vocabulary also makes it possible rising generation of social democrat leaders to be dissociated clearly from the “old” social democracy of the years 1970-1980.

Since the end of 1980, social democracy thus tries to reconcile three axes programming sciences. A traditional social democrat axis is concerned with economic growth, of social justice and employment. A second axis tries réapproprier the topics most popular postmaterialists and antiautoritaires in the opinion. The third axis is of néo-liberal inspiration and accepts the presupposed fundamental ones of this school (monetary stability, compression of the public expenditure, privatizations, liberalization of the economy, lowers taxes, restricted but “active” social État). These three sets of themes currently form the bottom programming science “catch-all” of the European social democracy of north and the south. It is necessary to add to it, starting from the end of 1990, the questions of safety, and the increased control maintenance of law and order of migratory flows, which then took an important place in the new social democrat speech, especially in New Labor of Tony Blair and, to a lesser extent, in the S.P.D. of Gerhard Schröder.

The new social democrat synthesis, usually called “social-liberalism”, rests on the more or less harmonious coexistence between a “realistic” speech, moderate néo-liberal and a “social” speech. This political line, although it rejects “excesses” of ultra-liberalism, appears clearly in on this side traditional social democracy with regard to the fight against the social inequalities. New social democracy is before a a whole intrinsically moderate force. Moderately néo-liberal, moderately social, moderately repressive and moderately postmodern.

The turn social-liberal.  

In the years 1980, the short experiments of the French P.S. (1981-1982) and Greek P.A.S.O.K (1981-1984), continued in a hostile international environment, showed failures. Social democracy is found without theoretical framework and programming science. The social democrat parties then with the capacity in the south of Europe follow policies of competitive reduction of inflation under the constraint of the international competition. The social cost of these policies is very heavy : raised unemployment, deterioration of Welfare State and the public services. Having given up in fact its framework programming science, governmental social democracy cannot be opposed effectively to the dogmas néo-liberals whose governments of Ronald Reagan in the United States and Margaret Thatcher in Great Britain are the champions. This revisionism in fact initially overlooked, even denied (Lionel Jospin will speak about the “bracket of the rigor” in 1982). With time and the arrival with the capacity of a younger generation of foreign leaders to the traditional social democrat culture (Tony Blair, Gerhard Schröder), the basic revision of social democracy starts to be recognized and, in certain cases, to be asserted.

In Great Britain , this new social-liberal line is theorized at the end of the years 1990 under the name of “third way”. The partisans of Tony Blair position it at equal distance between the neoliberalism and “old” social democracy. Actually, the third way of New Labor dissociates especially ultra-liberalism thatchérien and rejects the traditional policies of the social democracy of the years 1960-1970. The attributes social-liberals are thus clearly present in New Labor of Tony Blair. In France, the government of Gauche plural of Lionel Jospin (1997-2002), in spite of the persistence of a speech of left more traditional and policies fought by holding of néo-liberal orthodoxy (the reduction of the working time, for example), did not deviate either significantly from the social-liberal type. This government also sang the virtues of modernity, competence and the responsibility, and sought the support of various social categories by the means of policies “catch-all” : 35 hours, creation of jobs, universal medical cover, Pacs, parity man-women, lower taxes, privatizations, acceptance of the European pact of stability. Gauche plural did not evolve/move apart from this framework general néo-liberal, which it just moderated by some néo-keynésiennes measurements. In 2000, in a doctrinal effort of cohesion, Lionel Jospin summarizes the new social democrat synthesis in these terms : “Yes with the market economy, not at a company of market.” Voices of left notice that it is contradictory to call some, on the one hand, with the regulation of the market and, on the other hand, to recommend the regulation of the economic activities by the market.

The study of social democracy over the twenty last years shows that the revisionism supported by holding of the third way blairist occurs after at least a decade of social-liberal practice. As of the middle of the years 1980, several social democrat and socialist parties have, good liking badly liking, defined and applied policies close to social-liberalism. In France, the government Fabius (1984-1986) was placed under the set of themes of “modernization” industrial and economic, the governments Rocard (1988-1991) and Bérégovoy (1992-1993) were the precursors of the policies monetarists continued today by new social democracy. The socialist governments of Felipe González in Spain (1982-1996), of Andréas Papandréou in Greece (1981-1989), of Mário Soares in Portugal (1983-1985) also set up policies similar to the same time. By hardly forcing the feature, one could affirm that only true innovation of New Labor lies in the fact that it asserts in a very explicit way its social-liberal identity.

The acceptance of the economic neoliberalism does not mean therefore the total abandonment of the objectives of social justice. The concepts of solidarity and social cohesion remain central topics in the social democrat speech. The partisans of this new social democracy affirm that it is above all the means implemented to achieve objectives which changed and not the goals themselves. But such an assertion resists badly an attentive examination of the speech. Thus, the concept of equality - concept headlight if it is in the social democrat universe - was largely emptied of its substance. Old design of equality conceived like equality of redistribution, one passed to a definition of the equality much less generous, conceived like or equality equal opportunity of opportunities. Same manner, the right to work - another cardinal concept for social democracy - was replaced by the concept much less constraining for the authorities of “employability”.

The observation of the policies implemented by the social democrat parties at the capacity as from the years 1990 shows that headlights measurements of the social policy- traditional democrat or were given up or largely attenuated (political of full employment, policy of redistribution in direction of wage-earning, partnership with the trade unions). As from the years 1990, social democracy exchanged its traditional role of “regulation of the market” for an approach which one could describe as “adaptation to the market”. For New Labor, which is registered with enthusiasm in the movement of néo-liberal universalization, one could even speak about “accompaniment of the market”.

However, the rallying of social democracy to a more or less moderate neoliberalism did not involve the complete dismantling of Welfare States Europeans. Under the social democrat governments, the inequalities between the rich person and the poor continued to increase, but extreme poverty was contained, in a general way, by policies of redistribution.

A movement in major crisis.  

After more than two decades of ideological adjustments and gropings programming sciences, the identity and the culture of new social democracy appear incomparably less strong, surface than that of the years 1960 and 1970.

Today, social democracy remains a political family distinct from the preserving formations and Christian-Democrat. She however had to give up her traditional policies of redistribution of the richness and her project of radical reform of capitalism. It even adopted whole sides of the economic liberalism fought a long time. At the dawn of the XXI° century, it became a political force slightly characterized, without program nor ideology distinct.

The differences between the social democrat parties of north and the socialist parties of the south largely attenuated. All adopted the new social democrat course. This convergence is the fruit of a double phenomenon : on the one hand, marked ideological centering of the parties of the south ; other, relative “the die-social-democratization” of the parties of north, in particular their distance of the trade-union world. Sign of this bringing together, after having for a long time honni the social democrat term, the Socialists of the south now frequently use it to qualify the nature of their party or their policy. It is thus righter of speaking about a “social democrat family” European today than there is twenty or thirty years.

The history of social democracy is a perpetual revisionism, a series of adaptations to the successive evolutions of the company. One can today put the question to know if the adaptation in progress does not constitute a rupture rather with what formed until a recent date the heart even of the social democrat identity. The future of social democrat reformism is concerned : in what and up to what point it from reformism or social humanism from the center forces or Christian-Democrat differs ? In isn’t Great Britain , the party liberal-democrat commonly placed on the left of New Labor on the economic questions and cultural ? The compromise néo-liberal carried out in the name of current social democracy thus seems to leave a social democrat framework minimalist. For example, the social democrats came from there to accept the idea according to which the interventionism of État and certain aspects of Welfare State are a barrier with the growth and economic competitiveness. Or, they were resigned to tolerate that more than 10% of the working population is with unemployment.

Is social-liberalism the expression of a renewed social democracy or, on the contrary, it is only one attenuated version of liberalism ? Does new social democracy propose a political alternative - were more moderate - to the liberal or preserving parties ? The simple fact that these questions can be put shows at which point the identity and the program of the social democrats appear scrambled.

Two decades after having started its last ideological turn, social democracy with the capacity presents a disappointing political assessment. Having mainly lost its dash reformist and its traditional levelling concerns, it is on the defensive, as its attitude vis-a-vis néo-liberal universalization shows it clearly. This last question constitutes impensé and the unvoiced comment of this movement. If a return to the interventionism of the previous decades appears very improbable, néo-liberal universalization however seems to call a strong regulation so that the richnesses rising from the globalisation of the exchanges can be redistributed in an equitable way between the social classes and the nations. It would be necessary for that that social democrat policies come to disturb a certain number of interests deprived on the national and international level, whether “laws” or economic arguments considered higher are called into question or given up. In this case of figure, it would be necessary to be opposed economically and politically to The United States like in Commission European. Such an evolution seems improbable in the near future, because it would come to call into question the “respectability” dearly acquired during years 1980 and 1990. For the moment, the social democracy, which did not manage “to humanize” financial capitalism, is satisfied to deplore “excesses” of the universalization, while ensuring that there is not major solution apart from this tendency, even which there is not any alternative as Tony Blair supports it. The absence of consensus on this question is obvious. At the time of the European election of 1999, the party of the European Socialists (P.S.E.) had written a proclamation signed by the whole of the social democrat parties of Union European. This text was moderately critical against néo-liberal universalization. It was buried de facto when, later, Tony Blair and Gerhard Schröder cosignèrent another proclamation with the accents very néo-liberals.

New social democracy is much less present on the social ground than its devancière. She appears able to seize “moods” of the opinion (through the opinion polls) to perceive the movements of the social body. The French P.S. missed thus great social movement of the winter 1995 ; the German S.P.D. adopted the topics environmentalists and pacifist only after the irruption of the movements Vert and pacifist ; in Great Britain , New Labor appeared completely disabled in front of the revolt of users against the rise in the price of the fuels to the autumn 2000. In a general way, social democracy does not know yet if it must try to integrate part of the set of themes of the social movements or to reject it in block. More moved away, of the trade unions and of world of work, not laying out more, with some exceptions, of a network off activates militant, it breads to control the political environment.

Despite everything, the posted objective of social democracy remains the continuation of solidarity and social justice. One can then wonder up to what point it is capable to achieve the fixed goal. How indeed to ensure social solidarity without promoting of policy of growth, correcting by the means of voluntarist policies the inequalities caused by néo-liberal universalization, without reinforcing the bonds with the social trade unions and movements ? For the first time of its history, the “modernization” of social democracy seems to proceed in margin of its own tradition, and perhaps even in rupture with it.

France prepares to elect its new Président ; Two candidates are likely to be elected in Mai 2007. Ségolène Royal “candidate of the left”, has, certainly, of qualities to reach the supreme capacity, but it is surrounded by ex-serviceman “”, who in a recent past, has undergoes an electoral failure cooking ; Its program is based on an evolution of the popular classes “which are not capable to give up social rights which are more advantageous, that the privileges of the nobility under Monarchie. ” France must recover to work, the 35 hours, measures utopian, put at evil our economy and completely disorganized certain of our public services. Ségolène Royal is not able to succeed, where the left failed in 20 years to be able. Our elites flee abroad, our factories, delocalize, make, with the tax impositions which put at evil our industry in all the fields. It is not in “insulting” those which created jobs, by giving them in grazing ground to people which suffer, and which so (swallows all the grass snakes) that insufflates to him holding them of an old-fashioned socialism and completely exceeded makes with of Nations which like China, it, included/understood the evolution of the planetary economy for a long time.

Makes in Madame Royal, we will have Monsieur Nicolas Sarkozy. This political leader, is not a “Godillot” ; He always refused to yield makes with the injunctions of his hierarchy, Nicolas Sarkozy is a man LIBRE, an electron which carries on its road with its own convictions, those which tomorrow will make of him, best Président of our Démocratie since 1958. It is useless that I specify here, its program, it is sufficiently known by all the voters of France of Navarre and of In addition to-Mer.

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