Opinions on Social democracy

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This article is about a political ideology and movement. For the socioeconomic model and policies in Northern Europe commonly described as "social democracy", see Nordic model. For the Western European economic model sometimes conflated with social democracy, see Social market economy.

Social democracy is a political ideology that officially has as its goal the establishment of democratic socialism through reformist and gradualist methods. Alternatively, social democracy is defined as a policy regime involving a universal welfare state and collective bargaining schemes within the framework of a capitalist economy. It is often used in this manner to refer to the social models and economic policies prominent in Western and Northern Europe during the latter half of the 20th century.

Following the split between reformists and revolutionary socialists in the Second International, social democrats have advocated for a peaceful and evolutionary transition of the economy to socialism through progressive social reform of capitalism. Social democracy asserts that the only acceptable constitutional form of government is representative democracy under the rule of law. It promotes extending democratic decision-making beyond political democracy to include economic democracy to guarantee employees and other economic stakeholders sufficient rights of co-determination. It supports a mixed economy that opposes the excesses of capitalism such as inequality, poverty, and oppression of various groups, while rejecting both a totally free market or a fully planned economy. Common social democratic policies include advocacy of universal social rights to attain universally accessible public services such as education, health care, workers' compensation, and other services, including child care and care for the elderly. Social democracy is connected with the trade union labour movement and supports collective bargaining rights for workers. Most social democratic parties are affiliated with the Socialist International.

Social democracy originated in 19th century Germany from the influence of both the reformist socialism of Ferdinand Lassalle, as well as the internationalist revolutionary socialism advanced by Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels. The Marxists and Lassallians were in rivalry over political influence in the movement until 1868–1869 when Marxism became the official basis of Social Democratic Workers' Party of Germany. In the Hague Congress of 1872, Marx modified his stance on revolution by declaring that there were countries with democratic institutions where reformist measures could be advanced, saying that "workers may achieve their aims by peaceful means, But this is not true of all countries." Marx stressed his support for the Paris Commune due to its representative democracy based on universal suffrage.

Fabians and Marxists influenced by Eduard Bernstein advocate an evolutionary approach to the advancement of socialism. Bernstein opposed classical and orthodox Marxisms' assumption of the necessity of socialist revolution and class conflict, claiming that socialism could be achieved via representative democracy and cooperation between people regardless of class. Social democracy in the early 20th century began to transition away from association with Marxism towards liberal socialism, particularly through the influence of figures like Carlo Rosselli who sought to disassociate socialism from the legacy of Marxism. By the post-World War II period, most social democrats in Europe had abandoned their ideological connection to Marxism and shifted their emphasis toward social policy reform in place of transition from capitalism to socialism. The Third Way is a major faction in social democratic parties that developed in the 1990s, which has claimed to be social democratic though others have identified it as being effectively a neoliberal movement.


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