Social democracy

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Social democracy is an ideology of the political Left that emerged from socialism in the earlier part of the twentieth century. While socialism in the strict sense seeks to destroy capitalism (in some cases, by violent means) and to replace it with a different social and economic system, social democracy seeks to subject capitalism to regulation and governmental intervention in order to remedy its alleged deficiencies.

It is generally considered that the international Left split into two distinct camps after the Russian Revolution of 1917. The more extreme faction, which sought to achieve radical societal change through revolution, became known as communism, while the less extreme faction, which sought to pursue gradual change through the democratic system, became known as social democracy.

According to some definitions, social democrats continue to have the ultimate objective of achieving full socialism, albeit by peaceful means, while on other definitions they would be content with a society comprising a mixture of capitalist and socialist elements (for example, a heavily regulated capitalist economy).

Many parties in economically developed nations have espoused social democratic beliefs, including the Labour Party in the United Kingdom, the SPD in Germany, the Social Democratic Party in Sweden and Finland and the Australian Labour Party. Social democratic beliefs are also found in parts of the American Democratic Party. In some questions European Christian democracy is near social democracy ("strong social conscience").