Social Democracy and Democratic Socialism
‘An ideological battle between social democracy and democratic socialism.’ Discuss with reference to the policies and programs pursued by the Labour Party.
Democratic socialism was popular in the first half of the 20th century and proposed that socialism could be achieved through peaceful, parliamentary means; like the ballot box. It puts emphasis on the promotion of working class and collective movements like the trade unions. Democratic socialism also believes in state ownership, an extensive welfare state and equality of outcome over liberty. Social democracy on the other hand became popular after the support of democratic socialism had faded; this was partly due to the decline in the working class but also because of the economic boom
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Further divisions within the labour party between the more social democrats and democratic socialists continued into the 1980’s when the Social Democratic party formed independence from the Labour party in 1981. Such thinkers that proposed and carried out this split like Owen and Rodgers believed that the labour party had become too left and strongly opposed the influence and impact the trade unions had on deciding the labour party’s leader. This division clearly shows the ideological battle within the labour party between a far left democratic socialism stance and a more central social democratic view. Foot’s manifesto for the labour party in the 1980’s was very far left and most defiantly took the democratic socialist stance as one of the big pledges was the abolition of the House of Lords which links to the major views of democratic socialism to abolish institutions whose membership was based on birth and privilege. Other pledges within the manifesto were the withdrawal from NATO and the European Community and also for heavy state control over the economy; all of which conveys a very democratic socialist stance.
Throughout the labour party’s history therefore an ideological battle between democratic socialism and social democracy has certainly existed, however when New Labour arose under the leadership of Tony Blair the party took a different stance altogether by moving the parties