Social Democracy: A critique

Franklin Delanore Roosevelt’s New Deal was arguably one of the most important pieces of legislation ever put forth by any President. It is seen as the crowning acheivement of the left in the United States. The New Deal was essentially using government to regulate the market and subsidize new jobs in order to stimulate the economy. This type of economics was called Keynesian economics, or demand side economics. The central idea was that if the consumer wasn’t able to increase demand due to lack of spending power, everyone loses. Capitalism requires consumption and constant growth. Profit is the central idea and if there is no profit, it fails. Social Democracy is the solution that is used in order to save Capitalism from its inherent contradictions. However, the world has changed a great deal since the pre World War II period.

The New Deal was passed due to incredible strain on the capitalist class. The threat of alternative systems to liberal democracy was very real. Both the Soviet Union and the rising Fascist powers were showing viable alternatives. Fearing the death of Capitalism, FDR saved capitalism from itself by using the power of the state to correct the market. However, it took the total war economy, made necessary by the second World War, to reverse the complete stagnation of the Great Depression. Today there is no great threat from a powerful state that seeks to implement an alternative system. The capitalist west has managed to create proto-fascist client states in the third world and the lack of a powerful deterrent like the Soviet Union no longer exists. This combined with the absurd military power of the United States makes the world very different.

Social Democracy keeps capitalism intact. However, it cannot work without the third world being subjugated in certain ways by the more developed countries. Consumption and constant growth are not sustainable. I think that the cancer cell is actually the perfect analogy to Capitalism. There is only so much growth that can be tolerated before there are terrible effects. It is also clear that Social Democracy will be eroded when the economy begins to stagnate. It won’t stagnate because of the EVUUl SOCCIALISMMMM (derp) policies. It will stagnate because Capitalism is not sustainable in general. Even with the help of the state it still fails. I must remind all of you that without the state, private property is a meaningless concept. Without the state the whole concept has no teeth.

It is also worth noting that New Deal was explicitly only for the white population. In order to receive the vote of the Dixiecrats (Southern Democrats) the New Deal did not include minorities in the New Deal. I still think we need to push for a New Deal 2.0, but we cannot leave it at that. Too many folks seem to think we can’t actually go farther than that. This includes many folks who are on the left. I understand that barriers that are in place but I think that unless we are constantly pushing, we cannot hope to maintain any sort of leftist power regardless. The right wing will always have a great deal of staying power because of the powerful  monied interests who agree with them. They don’t need a massive coalition because having money means they can continue to send their message regardless of popular support. It is sobering, but the fight cannot ever stop. Even if you think social democracy is a good end goal, I would argue to maintain that, you need fight as hard as you can.

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