Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Who Will Mourn the Death of Social Democracy?

I do not believe in dancing on anyone's grave. Thus, I have to agree (if not fully sympathize) with Tony Blair's criticism of those who held parties to celebrate the death of Margaret Thatcher. On the other hand, I also have to take issue with the extreme lengths that have been taken to eulogize her. While I would not question her skill as a politician, I cannot avoid taking issue with how the applied that skill (in conjunction with President Ronald Reagan on our side of the pond) to bring out the death of the concept of social democracy, a concept that emerged in the wake of the Second World War dedicated to the principle that the poor should be provided with opportunities to rise rather hand held in their place with an iron boot.

Others far more than articulate than I (such as Timothy Snyder and the late Tony Judt) have discussed the decline and fall of social democracy as a cultural mindset of Western society. However, the rise of market-based thinking, concerned only with how many beans each individual has to count and nothing else, has brought about an era of personal selfishness with no end of horrific (or, as Charles Simic put it, "sadistic") consequences for the social world. Needless to say, the "consciousness industry" made no effort to acknowledge the passing of social democracy, let along eulogize it. The absence of any such mourning over the death of social democracy removes a critical perspective from which, simply out of a sense of fairness and balance, the achievements of Thatcher should be examined.

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