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The future of international social democracy

24 November 2011
The future of international social democracy

The aftershocks of the financial crisis continue to rock nation states and their foundational pillars of democracy and representational politics. Some on the left have reacted by embracing micro-democratic solutions which alone cannot address the divergence between the international world of economics and the national world of politics.

Policy Network has long argued that social democracy must revisit, renew and strengthen its tradition of internationalism if it is to respond to ever-increasing global interdependence and take on the destructive and undemocratic forces of global capitalism. Likewise, the Foundation for European Progressive Studies (FEPS) has been a consistent champion of social democratic pro-Europeanism, embodied in its new work on progressive values for the 21st century.

Nonetheless, we recognise that this communitarian-cosmopolitan cleavage has become deeper and needs to be bridged.  The concepts of global social democracy and cosmopolitanism – most recently promoted in Policy Network essays by Pascal Lamy and Daniele Archibugi – have increasingly come under fire: they have been conflated with an elitist disconnect from mainstream society and the fracturing of the social contract between the winners and losers of globalisation.

In inviting a critical exchange on these issues between thinkers on both sides, initiated with an Amsterdam Process-Next Left debate in Brussels, the objective of this series of essays is to constructively debate how social democrats can reconcile the traditions of cosmopolitanism and internationalism with the alienation and despair that large sections of their electorate feel due to the forces of globalisation – and indeed Europeanisation.

Progressive cosmopolitanism: A progressive critique

Michael LindThe case for progressive cosmopolitanism remains utopian and unpersuasive. Social democrats should continue to look to the nation state to ensure the protection of democracy, liberty and equality in the storms ahead. By MICHAEL LIND

Social democratic internationalism beyond the comfort zone

Monika Sie Dhian Ho The internationalist consensus amongst social democrats is broken. By understanding the inherent tensions between global governance, national self-determination and democracy, social democrats can find new legitimation for an internationalism coherent with national welfare solidarity. By RENÉ CUPERUS & MONIKA SIE DHIAN HO 

Conflicts in cosmopolitanism and the global left

Luke MartellSocial democrats should look for a global left rather than global cosmopolitanism. Inconsistency over cosmopolitan ends matched with too much faith in its means hampers internationalism. By LUKE MARTELL 

It is time to return to the local

Jonathan RutherfordSocial democracy is losing its place in the world. Democracy creates the common good and it must be deepened and extended locally, nationally and across the European Union. By JONATHAN RUTHERFORD  

These essays mark a joint contribution to the Amsterdam Process and Next Left research programmes on the future of European social democracy, organised, respectively, by Policy Network, the Wiardi Beckman Stichting and the Foundation for Progressive European Studies (FEPS).

Image: Foxspain 2008

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