[OPE-L] On methodology and Social Democracy

From: Jurriaan Bendien (adsl675281@TISCALI.NL)
Date: Mon May 07 2007 - 14:36:25 EDT

Hi Alejandro,

As heterodox socialist I have no quarrel with you about methodological
pluralism, and I am myself a multi-disciplinarist of sorts.

I would just make two points about all this:

 1) methodological pluralism makes sense if we do not know yet what the best
method is, but if we do know what the best method is, then we should take it
in preference to other methods - while of course remaining openminded about
other possibilities.

2) some forms of methodological pluralism I don't support, insofar as they
argue that certain methodologies should be recognised simply because of the
virtue of pluralism, rather than because of their intrinsic merit - i.e. the
pluralism slogan should not become a substitute for arguing substantively
for one methodological approach in preference to another.

The reason why the slogan of pluralism is now favoured on the Left, is
because people (a) want to get away from a "Marxism" which claims to have
all the answers in advance of people doing their own thinking and in advance
of experience, and (b) because they reject the Marxist Leninist monolithic
party idea and Stalinist purges of dissent.

That is all to the good, but I think we should be a bit wary of instructions
to listen to "other voices" in specific debates simply *because* they are
other voices, and not because they have something relevant and substantial
to add to the debate.

What you say is not completely true. Not just in Scandinavia but also in the
Benelux, Britain, Germany, Australasia etc. the welfare state is
historically strongly associated with social democracy, although also
associated with the christian democrats. The welfare state has very little
to do if anything with liberalism.

Especially in Europe, the rise of a large working class (proletarianization)
contributed to the emergence of welfare states, because families who were
totally dependent on wage-employment for a living and were cut off from
other sources of livelihood ran the risk of not being able to survive in
the event of unemployment or sickness. Obviously the origin of the welfare
state has quite a few different causes, not just one. The welfare states of
Anglo-Saxon countries are by no means "residual", as you will be able to see
if you study the data on their finance and number of beneficiaries.

The problem with market socialism is that it is really not very different
from a social-democratic "social market economy" except that you might have
a stronger public sector.

We advance towards socialism if we create organisations which put
socialist values and forms of association into practice. The Dutch
Socialist Party tries to do this in a variety of ways
http://www.international.sp.nl/ .

It makes no sense to be for or against revolution, since a revolution
is something that happens and nobody is really in control of it.
Nor does it make sense to be for or against an insurrection,
coup d'état or seizure of power "in general" since its relevance
depends on the context. In war situations especially, people
resort to non-democratic methods, because democratic
methods are hardly possible in those situations.


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