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A history of socialism in America as compared with Europe -

08/01/19 | by david2 [mail] | Categories: General

Link: https://www.nytimes.com/2019/08/01/opinion/social-democracy.html

The Social Democratic movement first emerged in Germany in the late 1800s under Otto von Bismarck, the country’s first chancellor. It proliferated and flourished in Western Europe as an antidote to the violence of the Russian Revolution, the emergence of totalitarian Communism and the destruction wrought by two world wars. In Europe, and later in Latin America, governments placed a greater emphasis on the role of the state in regulating market economies, protecting the weakest sectors of society, seeking to reduce poverty and inequality as much as possible under a capitalist model, defending the environment and strengthening labor unions, workers’ parties and progressive institutions. The United States missed that train, largely because it didn’t face the same challenges. The American, more deregulated, everyone-for-himself, free-market model delivered the goods for years, without labor parties or strong unions, with a distant and reduced role for the state in the market and society, and with the exclusion of important sectors of its inhabitants from that society. Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s New Deal was a semi-Social Democratic response to the Great Depression, but it didn’t stick. Until Ronald Reagan’s election in 1980, the economy’s steady growth kept inequality down, and the middle class thrived. Americans could afford the luxury of a smaller, less expensive welfare state because of its rich middle class. After the 80s, that began to change.

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