Friday, February 12, 2010

Programmatic Suggestions by Craig Miller Friday, April 25, 2008

Thank you all for spending the time to consider what a revived Social Democrat agenda would look like for 21st century America. After listening to many conversations and reading the forums on the website, I wish to post some principles on a PUBLIC arena so they can be read and commented on.

The current process of conference calls and a website has produced very uneven results. From reading the website I do not have a real clue about what the SDP of A stands for or what it hopes to accomplish. In fact the organization's name changes on different parts of the site. Further, it seems to want to resurrect several dead organizations and create a connection for the Socialist International. It seems very intent on make sure the term socialism is interchangeable with social democracy. The site includes some pious confessions about rejecting exploitation and working for a democratic socialist society. What is missing is any clear idea of what social democracy means in today's world and fairly limited understanding about the politics of the SI.

Let me put a few propositions for consideration:

1) The natural ally of the SI in the US is the Democrat party. When the European Socialist group of the European Parliament visited the US they met with labor officials and Democratic legislators. The major think tank that takes social democracy seriously is the DLC. The policies of many SI member parties differ from the principles held by the US left. This includes Iraq, Afghanistan, nuclear power and business friendly policies and the rampant and repugnant anti-Israel sentiment infecting much of the progressive arena.

2) The current space occupied by the named socialist parties in the US is not the loony left but the totally irrelevant left.

3) The European social democratic and the more recent examples of social democracy in Latin America, Asia and other places demonstrate that a workable and viable alternative to market capitalism exists. Yet these policy alternatives must exist with today's interconnected world. Actual social democratic, socialist and labour parties have decades of experience testing the limits of providing economic justice and social benefit in a difficult market economy. These parties experience electoral pressure and thus must respond to political reality. Here are links to policy documents from the Party of European Socialists which attempt to explore a realistic social democratic agenda. Look at the New Social Europe document which is a short summary of the PES 10 basic principles, the others are quite worthwhile.

4) The organization certainly does not have the resources to, with a straight face, call itself a party.

5) Already there is a motion to expel people -- not yet an organization and the purges have begun!!

With these points let me propose the following:

1) Abandon the irrelevant left and seek to work on a social democratic center. Just as the NDP of Canada emphasizes the practical benefits of social democracy, a USA SD group should do the same. This can be started by adopting the PES 10 principles (modified for the US) as a programmatic statement. The SI and PES can reached out on this basis. A claim of the mantle of SDUSA makes sense for this purpose.

2) Instead of a party lets become the clearing house for social democratic ideas. This is what SDUSA was in its final years. If somebody wishes to run for office on these ideas -- great.

3) Let the dead bury the dead -- what's the purpose of trying to revive dead organizations such as Yipsel -- is the goal to create a political Jurassic Park --are the Whigs next?

4) A title such as Social Democracy USA for the 21st Century while not clever, is quite serviceable.

5) The site should concentrate on domestic economic policy but highlight the progressive role of religion and the lessons of the world's most successful democratic experiment, the USA.

6) Acknowledge that practical and effective social democratic change will most likely come via the Democrat Party, unlikely from the Republican Party and not at all from the SP and Greens.

7) I have requested that we change the May 4 call to another time where potential participants have been polled on their availability.

To quote Marx at the end of his Critique of the Gotha Program:
Dixi et Salvavi animam meam (I have spoken and saved my soul)

No comments:

Post a Comment