Capitalist Restructuring, Globalisation, and the Third Way

Capitalist Restructuring, Globalisation, and the Third Way

Capitalist Restructuring, Globalisation, and the Third Way

Capitalist Restructuring, Globalisation, and the Third Way

Synopsis

This book addresses the contemporary debate about the 'third way' in European social democracy, by analysing the exemplar case of social democracy - 'the Swedish model' - this book challenges the recent 'third way' perspective. The author argues strongly against the widely held belief that the nature of contemporary capitalist restructuring and globalisation has rendered traditional social democracy obsolete.

Excerpt

In the mid-1990s, Social Democratic parties in Western Europe miraculously arose from the dead. One after the other, they entered government after having spent many years in the electoral shadows of such towering conservative opponents as Margaret Thatcher and Helmut Kohl. the foremost examples, of course, were the resurrection of the British Labour Party under Tony Blair and the return to power of the German spd under Gerhard Schröder. a precedent had already been set by the Dutch Labour Party under Wim Kok (one of the longest serving Prime Ministers in the European Union) which was quickly followed by the surprise return of the French Socialist Party to power under Lionel Jospin (albeit in co-habitation with the Gaullist President, Jacques Chirac). This return of the Social Democrats as an attractive electoral force in Europe coincided in 1993 with the election in the United States, after twelve years of Republican administrations, of the Democrat Bill Clinton.

Hence in these four years all major Western countries experienced a political shift to what a decade earlier would have been called (and still is by conservative die-hards) the 'Left'. Something very fundamental had happened: the Left had changed clothes. As Wim Kok said (in the only speech he ever made on party ideology), Social Democracy had 'shed its ideological feathers' and was now concentrating on the practical job of running the capitalist economy. Social Democracy had found a 'Third Way'.

In this book, Magnus Ryner presents a critical analysis of this ideological transformation and its theoretical underpinnings. If any name is linked to the intellectual parentage of the Third Way, it is that of Anthony Giddens. in the first chapter, Ryner shows how Giddens' critique of the 'old Left' and its Keynesian beliefs is premised on a very specific reading of the supposed failures of Sweden's Social-Democratic government in the 1980s. Giddens and Gosta Esping-Andersen (Giddens' key source on this issue) argue that the Swedish case provides indisputable proof that Social Democratic Keynesianism was fatally flawed and destined to collapse under the impacts of globalisation.

The better part of Ryner's book is then devoted to a detailed analysis of the Swedish case as exemplary of the demise of Keynesian Social-Democracy

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