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Social democracy is a political movement seeking a progressive realignment of capitalism to incorporate socialist principles while retaining capitalist practices; it advocates practicing social democratic principles while maintaining the capitalistic form of production. Some modern principles of social democracy comprise the endorsement of a welfare state, and the establishment of economic democracy as a way of securing the rights of the worker. Pragmatism refers to a practical approach to problems and affairs. Social democracy is more about pragmatism and strategy than ideology.
The advent of capitalism reversed many aspects of the traditional relationship among states, markets, and society. These were changed as the needs of the markets came to determine the nature of communal life and limits of political power. For individuals, capitalism implied an end to the society where the position and livelihood of the individuals was solely determined by their attachment to a particular group or community. It was a transition period to a new system where the identity and sustenance of individuals was determined solely by an individual's position in the market; that is, the market forces solely determined the livelihood of individuals.
There was a growing need for pragmatic philosophies and a need to renew the stability, community, and social protection; capitalism could not provide these; therefore, the advent of social democracy and economic liberalism was initiated. Therefore, it is quite clear that social democracy was more about dealing with the shortcomings of capitalism and less about ideologies.
Social democracy is not much about ideologies because it rejects the economism and passivity of liberalism and Marxism. Furthermore, it is eschewed to the violence and authoritarianism of fascism and National Socialism. It is established on the belief on the dominance of politics and communitarianism. That is, it is established on the conventional assurance of political forces, rather than the economic forces; these ought to be the driving forces of history, and that the best interests and needs of the society must be nurtured and protected. These principles and policies form the foundation of the most prosperous and harmonious time in history by reconciling things that had seemed irreconcilable; a well working capitalism, democracy, and social stability seemed irreconcilable in a single system.
Social scientists explain that social democracy does not pay much attention to ideologies; social scientists perceive ideologies as mere epiphenomena that rise and fall as underlying economic interests or material conditions changes (Merkel 2008). Even these ideologies that are associated with social democracy originate from pragmatic philosophies and are shaped by wider social, political, and economic contexts from which they spring. Social democracy is all about the pragmatic philosophies and beliefs; it is not and on no account has it been rigid with a set of dogmas, philosophies, and ideologies that each individual must swear by.
Its ideas have been formed by over a decade of theoretical debate and practical politics. This compilation of ideas extends over social values and thoughts about the social order of the future and practical policies for the society. According to Merkel (2008), social democracy asserts several principles. The principles form the foundation of social democracy: the first one is liberty, not only individual freedom, but as well as liberty from discrimination and liberty from reliance on the proprietors either of the means of production or the controllers of abusive political power. The second principle is social justice and parity; this should apply in terms of the rule of law as well as in economic and socio-cultural aspects, and equal prospects and opportunities regardless of physical, mental, or social status. Lastly, it advocates for solidarity, unity, and compassion to the victims who have suffered various injustices and inequalities.