Thoughts of a Social Democrat

Thoughts of a Social Democrat

Following the collapse of the one-party dictatorships in Eastern Europe, much of the discussion about socialism and capitalism has had a surreal quality. There have been in most such discussions the unstated but related assumptions that all market systems must be capitalist and that socialism by definition excludes the presence of the morality of profit making.

However convenient these assumptions have been for Eastern communists and Western conservatives in their ideological wars, the sad fact is that they have shifted the discussion away from a fuller understanding of the profound changes in practice and thought that have taken place in major parts of Western society since the Russian revolution. In this paper I suggest that these assumptions, old and now recycled, are wrong. Just as the historical shift from the medieval period to its capitalist successor resulted in the retention of certain values and practices of the former, so, too, is the historical transformation of capitalism resulting in the retention of certain of its values and practices in a society that is otherwise quite different.

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Lima