Social Democracy and Globalisation . Bernstein. “The Communist Manifesto was correct …but…we see the privileges of the capitalist bourgeoisie yielding…to democratic organizations … In my judgment…success lies in a steady [peaceful] advance…[rather]…than in…a catastrophic crash.” .
Relates to Marxism in terms of its origins. Specifically, rooted in the ‘revisionist’ ideas of the German Socialist Bernstein.
Bernstein questioned Marx’s predictions and assumptions.
The material circumstances of the mass of people in society were not ever more impoverished, as Marx suggested. Indeed real wages were rising; (early welfare reforms in Germany, replicated in UK by 1906-14 Liberal Government)
Social structures were more complex than Marx expected. Instead of a simple bipolar class structure, the middle class and petty bourgeoisie endured and grew.
The institutions of liberal democracy were more flexible, adaptable to class conflict than Marx had anticipated.
Marx had seen the liberal democratic state as an expression of bourgeois class rule.
Bernstein noted that as the 20th century approached, the w/c was successfully mobilising via unions and parties which worked within capitalist society and achieved real change/reform. E.g. German social democrats (SPD), later British Labour and the Scandinavian social democratic parties followed a decade or two later)
Key distinction from classical Marxism – asserts the possibility of egalitarian reform within capitalism
The parliamentary road to socialism.
Reformism not revolution.
Paterson & Thomas’ 5 tenets. The Social Democratic Parties of Western Europe (1977)
These 5 tenets have remained important to social democratic parties since 1945, despite the fact that Social democratic parties have changed significantly.
The Keynesian approach revolves around the idea of placing a primary emphasis upon the objective of full employment – secured by maintaining the level of aggregate demand in the economy.
Activist macroeconomic (especially fiscal) policy – taxing and spending to redistribute wealth.
Crosland - Keynesianism had fundamentally transformed and ‘social democratised’ capitalism.
Redistributing wealth (through tax system, welfare state, and incomes policies) towards lower wage employees with a high propensity to spend their wages on consumer goods. This could be justified not only in terms of both economic efficiency and social justice.