Re: what makes a theory 'social democratic'?

From: michael a. lebowitz (mlebowit@SFU.CA)
Date: Fri Dec 05 2003 - 09:58:00 EST

At 13:12 04/12/2003 -0800, rakesh wrote:

>>What makes a theory (which is to be distinguished from the expressed
>>politics of the one holding the theory) 'social democratic' rather than
>>         in solidarity,
>>         michael
>Moschonas gives an institutional definition of social
>democracy--centralized wage bargaining, fiscal policy as instrument
>of full employment as well as central bank accomodation thereof,
>mildly progressive tax structure. I call a theory social democratic
>if it implies that such an arrangment would work, i.e. could
>stabilize capitalism with output growth, low inflation, some bottom
>up real wage improvement over time, and contained inequality.
>Social democracy as a practice is state centric; as a theory it is
>meant to guide the state as a rational supra-class institution
>towards economically and normatively sound policy. Social democratic
>propaganda tends to identify the main enemy as rentiers who are
>worried about their incomes being inflated away in a full employment
>context. The struggle for emancipation from the alienation inherent
>the industrial capitalist work process cannot figure prominently in
>social democratic theory and practice, as you long ago pointed out.
>The attention is focused on the distribution of the net product after
>it has resulted from alienated industrial labor. I think Ajit
>explores the differences in the meaning of exploitation.
>I cannot imagine that as a practice or theory S-D would not have been
>the object of Marx's critique. Marx certainly would not have said
>policy is irrelevant and should not be struggled over, but the limits
>of social democracy he would have attempted to elucidate, no?
>This is all terribly well understood, no? I'm not saying anything
>controversial here, right?
>Yours, Rakesh

No, it isn't controversial (for me, at least). We agree (especially re what
Marx would have to say about S-D; indeed, his comment about JS Mill comes
to mind as a general observation). My question wasn't as clear as it could
have been, though. You say:

>I call a theory social democratic
>if it implies that such an arrangment would work

My real question is--- what kind of theory does imply that such an
arrangement would work? Or, alternatively stated, specifically what are the
necessary conditions/elements in a theory for it not to be social democratic?
         in solidarity,

Michael A. Lebowitz
Professor Emeritus
Economics Department
Simon Fraser University
Burnaby, B.C., Canada V5A 1S6
Office Fax:   (604) 291-5944
Home:   Phone (604) 689-9510

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