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Social democracy as the highest form of liberalism


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Speaker(s): Professor Colin Crouch

Recorded on 1 March 2012 in Hong Kong Theatre, Clement House.

Reflection on a century of European social democracy reveals its finest triumphs to have been when it has ensured a pluralism and political inclusiveness more extensive than anything that could otherwise be provided in capitalist societies. This essentially liberal achievement, rather than state control, should therefore be seen as its hallmark.

This perspective provides the basis for an optimistic appraisal of social democracy’s future, but also points to inhospitable elements in the current and future social environment that have to be confronted and challenged: growing inequality and corporate political power, the decline of trade unions, and the growing irrelevance of the nation state framework within which social democracy built its citizenship.

Colin Crouch is professor of governance and public management at Warwick Business School.

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