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The Future of European Social Democracy: Building the Good Society Paperback – 25 Nov 2011

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Product details

  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Palgrave Macmillan (25 Nov. 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0230290949
  • ISBN-13: 978-0230290945
  • Product Dimensions: 15.2 x 2.5 x 22.9 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 698,235 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

Product Description


'Social democracy is on the retreat across Europe. A wave of new liberal and conservative governments have swept social democrats out of office, posing a series of fundamental questions about the nature and vitality of social democracy today. This book provides a systematic response to this and sets down pathways to reshape the social democratic project for the challenges of an era marked by the impact of the global financial crisis, renewed questions of political legitimacy and the contradictions of a global world - where the pressure to openness of economy and politics sits side by side with the pressure to reassert national politics and national identities.'
- David Held, Master of University College and Chair of Politics and International Relations, University of Durham, UK

'The much needed compendium of everything you may wish to know to understand (and, hopefully, to arrest) the forces behind the current falling apart of the social-democratic project. The editors have managed to secure cooperation of the most acute and insightful analysts of a paramount and most seminal, while portentous, phenomenon of our times.'
- Zygmunt Bauman, Emeritus Professor of Sociology, University of Leeds, UK

Book Description

Explores how European social democracy can revive its political fortunes and build a 'Good Society'

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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on 11 Feb. 2012
Format: Paperback
An excellent book on the problems and perspectives of modern social democracy. After the failure of the third way a modern social democracy offers a good society. This is an excellent guide for the future of social democracy and its perspectives.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
A necessary book- but a beginning not an end. 11 Feb. 2012
By Shayn Mccallum - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is a very necessary book. For all its navel-gazing, social-democracy has become a theoretically weak movement driven by a paucity of analysis or original ideas, a reactive rather than proactive political tendency. This collection of articles is a welcome attempt to remedy this situation. A number of clear, to-the-point, well-written articles by some of European social-democracy's best thinkers are presented in a coherent, logical manner that, taken as a whole, sets out a quite compelling vision for the future of European social-democracy.
Having said that, I would go on to argue that this is a good opening for debate but not yet a definitive answer to the problems of social-democracy. Social-democracy (or democratic socialism) is one of Europe's oldest political tendencies and, even where it has failed to win elections, social-democratic ideas formed part of the bedrock of the post-WWII political consensus in Europe until the neo-liberal conservative revolution beginning in the 1980's. Social-democracy's greatest crisis is really a crisis of identity and a loss of all points of reference on its moral compass. Where do social-democrats stand? The jelly-backed philosophy of trying to please all the people all of the time whilst accepting the neo-liberal logic of serving the 1% before the other 99% of society, has ended up pleasing no-one and led social-democrats to the edge of self-destruction and moral meltdown. In the era we are living in does it really make sense to talk of "decent capitalism"?
This book is a good start to an important debate. It is written by a collection of very important thinkers well-aware of the cul-de-sac modern social-democracy has entered. Their proposed remedies and suggestions for emerging from the general crisis of not just social-democracy but the entire foundation of the European political economy are both admirable and compelling....yet insufficient.
Social-democrats must return to their socialist roots. Rather than "decent capitalism" which locks up our discourse in an out-dated paradigm, we should be prepared to go beyond the logic of capital to demand ever more democracy in every area of life. Social-democracy stands (or should stand for) economic democracy and that, rather than "decent capitalism" (capitalism has shown no more tendency to be "decent" than that other defunct economic system- Soviet-type communism) Should be our goal. In practice, "economic democracy" would probably take the immediate form of a renewed mixed economy with a strong emphasis on participatory, multi-level governance at micro- and macro-levels. Surely in the current era of social and economic collapse. we can offer more than the same heartless greed just disguised with a smiley mask?
I have the feeling capitalism is entering its "perestroika phase" and those who remember the Soviet Union will recall that the Soviet peoples couldn't be fobbed off with a slightly revised version of the same dreary communist rule they'd chafed under for years. There is no reason to think capitalism's fate will be any better but much reason to hope and work for a better, saner, more human and life-centred future. As the book's subtitle indicates; we need to build a good society.
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