The Crisis of European Centre-Left Parties


Aaron Peters and James Butler discuss the crisis of centre-left parties in Europe and the end of the ‘promise of social democracy’ with the depth and scale of the capitalist crisis, as the material basis for the traditional programme in a functioning capitalism appears absent.


Cross-posted with permission and thanks from Novara media.



  1. May 1, 2013 at 7:00 am · Reply

    Capitalism can no longer afford social democracy. It’s time for the left to be openly anti-capitalist rather than trying to reform it. This doesn’t mean not defending the welfare state & not fighting for more money & jobs, but it also means presenting a vision of an alternative society based upon meeting human needs not profit. A system where not only is production democratically controlled, but the division of labour is abolished. A truly classless society.
    Can Left Unity offer this radical anti-capitalist alternative?

  2. Rebel_alliance
    May 2, 2013 at 3:26 pm · Reply

    They have got more chance of offering this with the anti-capitalists on board than not. I am involved with left unity and i find this idea utterly compelling, but i personally have a deep hatred of money. i think the challenge is remaining populist alongside this. In order to persuade people away from the corrupt big three, it will need dressing up of course, because the fact is that most people don’t have the imagination to see past a world where money doesn’t exist. The way to do it is to make a persuasive argument for its replacement and make that popular. I don’t remember any of the big three telling the truth about what they were going to do when they got in. That’s called politics, isn’t it? This greed crap has to go. It is rotten. Utterly rotten.

  3. Jim Butler-Daulby
    May 27, 2013 at 9:34 pm · Reply

    The problem is, as Marx pointed out, one of history. We live in a world where a number of generations have evolved, and grown into believing, that we measure ‘success’ and ‘failure’ in terms of reward, usually financial. Blair began using the term “meritocracy” to support his neo-liberal capitalist stance and people believed him. Translated as; “Should I spend much of my time in education to gain a degree, thereby giving myself a measured piece of social capital (higher status, salary, mobility, etc.), or should I just rely on my labour to earn enough to live on?” This concept of ‘effort-reaps-reward’ is one that will be the most difficult to change in peoples’ minds. It has formed the basis for the demonisation of the working classes and the Daily Mail concept of the undeserving poor who are scrounging off the state! The success of the media in dividing the proletariat has, as a by-product, created an almost universal belief in the effort-reaps-reward mindset. I’ve personally been convinced by it in the past. Both my daughters were encouraged to pursue degrees to afford them better life-chances than I had.

    The concept of a world without money is very seductive, but how would one convince young Jane, or Johnny, that to spend years training to be a doctor/engineer/physicist has more value than food production, assembly work in a factory, or cleaning the streets? (It could be argued that technological advances are the result of capitalist yearnings to reach dizzier heights in profiteering. Would such technological advances have been necessary, or even considered, in a world where the goals we not so clearly defined?) The ‘masses’ are mostly people with the single ambition of having a ‘mundane’ existence, by which I mean, safe passage through life. (I do not mean this in any derogatory sense!) Risk-taking tends to be the behaviour of the greedy, self-seeking, entrepreneurial, capitalist! Innovation appears to be more a consequence of greed than driven by necessity! What tools would we use to encourage people to overthrow capitalism in favour of true socialist principles? How would we encourage people to choose to adopt the more essential roles in society above the more mundane? (Or even the converse?) How would we convince people that the rewards are not always linked to “one-upmanship”?

    A truly classless society would have to lose any sense of competition. That a nurse, doctor, policeman, dustbin-man, judge, teacher, or who-whatever, are all equal.

    Whilst I am totally in agreement that capitalism is corrupt and doomed to failure, I’m not certain that society as a whole would accept the concept of total equality. But I am willing to be educated!

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