It is an ideology that emerged in the earlier twentieth century. Unlike its cousin Communism, which seeks to destroy capitalism by (violent) revolution and replace it with a different social and economic system, social democracy seeks to put healthcare, manufacturing, and the service sector into the hands of government by compromise with competing political parties and regulate capitalism via central planning. This gives the government a prominent role to "remedy" the alleged 'deficiencies" of capitalism and the power to manipulate market norms.
Social democracy is sometimes referred to as the nanny state.
An oft-asked question is "what is the difference between social democracy and democratic socialism?"
A Social Democrat, while being a far left advocate of big government, and is not entirely respectful of private property and human rights, nonetheless can function inside a multi-party system, is capable of negotiation, compromise and forging coalitions with non-Marxists. Many non-Marxists view Social Democracy with suspicion as a stepping stone to Democratic Socialism.
Democratic Socialism is entirely intolerant single-party totalitarianism. Because Marxist doctrine and socialism intrinsically is anti-democratic and prone to dictatorship and corruption, the oxymoronic phrase, "Democratic Socialism" was crafted as an internal reform movement that demanded voting rights exclusively among party members for the "collective leadership" of the "permanent revolution."
Social Democracy is incremental socialism in a mixed economy; Democratic Socialism is a political cult that aims at totalitarian control.
It is generally considered that the international Left split into two distinct camps after the Russian Revolution of 1917. Members of the more extreme factions around the world, which sought to achieve radical societal change through revolution, became known as communists, while members of the less extreme factions, which were led by Eduard Bernstein and sought to pursue gradual change through the democratic system, became known as social democrats. Vladimir Lenin, however, while advocating for violent overthrow overall, did nonetheless toy with the idea of referring to his party as Social-Democrats, with what would become the Bolsheviks and Mensheviks originating from a party called the Russian Social Democratic Labor Party from its founding in 1898 up to 1903, with the Bolsheviks openly embracing social democratic ideals. The roots of these divisions, in fact, long preceded 1917: Marxists, for example, had called for violent revolution in the nineteenth century, while more moderate parties such as the British Labour Party had never espoused such ideas. In 1920 however, Lenin ordered the hostage taking and execution of Social Democrats if they did not cooperate with forced labor demands. Austrian economist Friedrich Hayek writing in 1945 observed, "To many who have watched the transition from socialism to fascism at close quarters the connection between the two systems has become increasingly obvious, but in the democracies the majority of people still believe that socialism and freedom can be combined. They do not realize that democratic socialism, the great utopia of the last few generations, is not only unachievable, but that to strive for it produces something utterly different – the very destruction of freedom itself.
Social Democracy in Practice
The economic policies of many European countries have been influenced by social democratic principles (the most notable being Denmark, Finland, Norway and Sweden). While such countries are often touted as having the highest living standards in the world, they also share very high tax rates and slower growth rates as compared to rest of the world (with the exception of Sweden). Germany has been ruled three times by the SPD. The policies of this party have increased the debt. In order to advance their cause, democratic socialists will sell Nordic social democracies in promotion of democratic socialism, even though the two are not the same thing.
Arguably the defining characteristic of all of socialism is a big government monopoly over the means of production. For this reason, the DSA has stated that social democracy is "good, but not good enough". The Foundation for Economic Education also recognizes that social democracy is not democratic socialism, due to the lack of state-run means of production in the Scandinavian countries.
Additionally, the wealth that exists in First World Countries leads to lower birth rates, a harmful side effect in a social democratic welfare state.
- What Is To Be Done? by Vladimir Lenin
"...the Social-Democrat’s [Communist's] ideal should not be the trade union secretary, but the tribune of the people, who is able to react to every manifestation of tyranny and oppression, no matter where it appears, no matter what stratum or class of the people it affects; who is able to generalise all these manifestations and produce a single picture of police violence and capitalist exploitation; who is able to take advantage of every event, however small, in order to set forth before all his socialist convictions and his democratic demands, in order to clarify for all and everyone the world-historic significance of the struggle for the emancipation of the proletariat."
- 'By a decree of the Defense Council of February 15, 1919-apparently with Lenin in the chair - the Cheka and the NKVD were ordered to take hostage peasants from those localities where the removal of snow from railroad tracks "was not proceeding satisfactorily," and "if the snow removal did not take place they were to be shot."7 (At the end of 1920, by decree of the Council of People's Commissars, permission was given to take Social Democrats as hostages too.)'
Alexander Solzhenitsyn, The Gulag Archipelago Vol. I, page 30.
- Road to Serfdom, Friedrich A. Hayek, Reader's Digest Condensed Version, April 1945, pg. 36.
- Democratic Socialism is a Scam, by Giancarlo Sopo, Quillette
- Nordic socialism has always been very nationalist, with the slogan "We take care of our own," up until very recently.
- Social Democracy Is Good. But Not Good Enough.
- The Myth of Scandinavian Socialism
- Low European birth rates raise global concerns and lead to a rise in populism. Fox News Video. December 28, 2018. Retrieved December 29, 2018.