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Social Europe

Volume 3 • Issue 2 Winter 2008 Suggested Donation 5€

the journal of the european left

Contributions by Robert Reich Günter Verheugen Heinrich August Winkler Steven Hill Frederico Romero Gavin Rae Gerhard Stahl Detlev Albers

www.social-europe.com

Europe and the US: The Future of Transatlantic Relations An initiative by the Party of European Socialists


Social Europe the journal of the european left • Volume 3 • Issue 2 • Winter 2008

Editorial Board Detlev Albers Chief Editor Giuliano Amato Italian Interior Minister, Former Prime Minister Karl Duffek Director Renner Institute Please make sure that there are more issues of ‘Social Europe: the journal of the european left’ by paying the suggested 5€ donation for this issue or become a Sponsor Member. Visit our website www.social-europe.eu for more details and payment options. Thank you very much! ‘Social Europe: the journal of the european left’ is published by the Global Policy Institute at London Metropolitan University.

Elisabeth Guigou French MP, Former French Europe and Justice Minister Zita Gurmai President PES Women Stephen Haseler Chief Editor Poul Nyrup Rasmussen President of the PES Angelica Schwall-Dueren Vice Chair SPD Bundestag Group Giuseppe Vacca President Gramsci Foundation Jan Marinus Wiersma Vice President Socialist Group European Parliament Henning Meyer Managing Editor

Editorial team Jeannette Ladzik Assistant Editor In co-operation with:

Ben Eldridge & Ian Gardiner Design & Layout Ruth Davis & Katerina Hadjimatheou Sub-editors

Friends Jean-Marc Ayrault, Stefan Berger, Antony Beumer, Matt Browne, Proinsias De Rossa, Harlem Désir, Guglielmo Epifani, Patrick Diamond, Antonio Guterres, David Held, Andrea Manzzella, Jacques Reland, Donald Sassoon, Adrian Severin, Martin Schulz, Dominique Strauss-Kahn, Livia Turco, Heidemarie Wieczorek-Zeul, Christoph Zöpel


Social Europe the journal of the european left • Volume 3 • Issue 2 • Winter 2008

Editorial T Henning Meyer Managing Editor

RANSATLANTIC relations are mostly looked at in terms of security and defence policy. This is a much too narrow view as there are many more important layers and dimensions of interaction between Europe and the US. This issue of Social Europe journal addresses some of the areas that are often excluded from the concept of ‘transatlantic relations’: values and perceptions as well as economic relations. Today’s economic relations within Europe and beyond - are shaped by the nature of contemporary capitalism. Bill Clinton’s former Labor Secretary Robert Reich offers a fresh new look at how the ‘Supercapitalism’ of the 21st century interacts with democracy and the wider public realm and offers some suggestions for a recalibration of the relationship. Following Reich’s analysis, European Union Commission Vice-President Günter Verheugen presents the latest initiative in transatlantic economic cooperation and the work of the newly founded Transatlantic Economic Council (TEC), which he co-chairs. Is there a common value basis on both sides of the Atlantic? Are there coherent ‘Western values’? These are some of the questions the renowned German historian Heinrich August

Winkler addresses in his essay, before Federico Romero discusses public opinion trends in transatlantic relations. Steven Hill from the New America Foundation in Washington DC concludes our transatlantic focus by comparing elements of the European and US political economies. Additionally to our EU-US focus, Gavin Rae presents a crisp analysis of the recent Polish election and its implications. And last but not least, Social Europe Chief Editor Detlev Albers introduces the new party programme of the German SPD, adopted at the party conference in Hamburg last October. The full programme is attached as an appendix to this issue. As always, we hope that the articles in this journal are interesting reading. The whole Social Europe team wishes you, your family and your friends a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.


Social Europe the journal of the european left • Volume 3 • Issue 2 • Winter 2008

Contents 51 55 59

The Challenge of Supercapitalism Robert B. Reich

68

The Transatlantic Clash over Political Economy and Fulcrum Institutions Steven Hill

79

A Discussion of Public Opinion Trends in Transatlantic Relations Frederico Romero

84 90 96

A Game of Two Halves Gavin Rae

100

New Era in Transatlantic Economic Cooperation Günter Verheugen Still a Community of Values? Historical Thoughts on the Normative Basis of the West Heinrich August Winkler

United in Diversity Gerhard Stahl A Left-Wing Godesberg – the SPD’s new Hamburg Party Programme Detlev Albers Appendix Hamburg Programme

Click on the flags for links to foreign language versions


The Challenge of Supercapitalism C Robert B. Reich Professor of Public Policy at the University of California at Berkeley, former U.S. Secretary of Labor, and author of Supercapitalism: The Transformation of Business, Democracy, and Everyday Life, from which this essay is drawn

APITALISM AND democracy were supposed to be the twin ideological pillars capable of bringing unprecedented prosperity and freedom to the world. Conventional wisdom holds that where either capitalism or democracy flourishes, the other must soon follow. Yet today, the two are diverging. By almost any measure, global capitalism is triumphant. Most nations around the world are today part of a single, integrated, and turbo-charged global market. At first glance, democracy appears to have enjoyed a similar success. Three decades ago, a third of the world’s nations held free elections; today, nearly two thirds do. But look more closely and democracy has not necessarily followed in the wake of global capitalism’s triumph. China, poised to become the world’s third largest capitalist nation this year after the

‘While capitalism has become remarkably responsive to what people want as individual consumers, democracies are struggling to articulate and act upon the common good’ 51 Social Europe the journal of the european left Winter 2008

United States and Japan, has embraced market freedom, but not political freedom. Singapore, another success story of modern capitalism, is hardly a democracy. Russia has made the transition from communism to capitalism but is a democracy in name only. Elsewhere around the world one finds democracies that are encumbered by corruption, political dominance by small elites, or one-party rule. Even among the advanced post-industrial nations, there is a growing divergence between capitalism and democracy. Though free markets have brought unprecedented prosperity to many, they have been accompanied by widening inequalities of income and wealth, heightened job insecurity, and environmental hazards such as global warming. Democracy should allow citizens to address such issues. Yet a sense of political powerlessness is on the rise among citizens in Europe, Japan, and the United States. No democratic nation is effectively coping with capitalism’s negative side effects. While capitalism has become remarkably responsive to what people want as individual consumers, democracies are struggling to articulate and act upon the common good, and


help achieve both growth and equity. Even as capitalism has significantly enlarged the economic pie, democracy is failing to enable citizens to debate how the slices of the pie should be divided and to determine which rules apply to private goods and which to public goods. What is most needed is a clear understanding of the distinction between global capitalism and democracy – between the economic game through which corporations compete ever more intensively, on the one hand, and the political process that sets the rules of the game, on the other. It is also necessary to keep the two spheres separate. Under supercompetitive capitalism, firms are playing the game as aggressively as possible. The challenge for democracy is to prevent firms from setting the rules as well. An important first step is to acknowledge the cognitive dissonance often existing even in our own minds. As consumers and investors, we want the bargains and high returns that the global economy provides. As citizens, though, we are likely to be uneasy with many of the social consequences that flow from these transactions. Often we blame corporations for these ills, but in truth we have made this compact with ourselves. After all, the great deals available to us in the super-charged global economy typically come from workers who are forced to accept lower wages and benefits, from companies that shed their loyalties to communities and morph into global supply chains, from CEOs who take home exorbitant pay checks because they are clever or ruth-

less enough to cut costs in these or other ways, and from industries that may wreak havoc on the environment. Our failure to understand the disconnect between what we want as individual consumers and investors and what we want collectively as citizens often distorts public debates about economic change. In the United States and increasingly in Europe and Asia, such debates tend to occur between two extremist camps: those who want the market to rule unimpeded, and those who want to protect jobs and preserve communities as they are. Instead of finding ways to soften the blows of globalisation, compensate the losers, and slow the pace of change, these battles usually end on the side of consumers and investors. But occasionally citizens lash out in symbolic fashion, by attempting to block a new trade agreement, protesting the sale of companies to foreign firms, or resisting laws to give employers more flexibility. It is a sign of the inner conflict so many people feel – between the consumer-investor in us and the citizen in us – that public reactions are often so schizophrenic. The recent wave of corporate restructurings in Europe has shaken the continent’s typical commitment to job security and social welfare – leaving Europeans at odds as to whether they prefer the private benefits of global capitalism in the face of increasing social costs at home and abroad. Consider, for instance, the auto industry. In 2001, DaimlerChrysler faced mounting financial losses as European car buyers abandoned the company in favour of cheaper competitors. So, CEO

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Dieter Zetsche cut 26,000 jobs from his global workforce and closed six factories. Even profitable companies are feeling the pressure to become ever more efficient. In 2005, Deutsche Bank simultaneously announced an 87 percent increase in net profits and a plan to cut 6,400 jobs, nearly half of them in Germany and Britain. Twelve-hundred of the jobs were then moved to lowwage nations. Today, European consumers and investors are doing better than ever, but job insecurity and inequality are rising even in social democracies that were established to counter the injustices of the market. In the face of such change, Europe’s democracies have shown themselves to be so paralysed that the only way citizens routinely express opposition is through massive boycotts and strikes. Both major parties that form the Merkel government are now poised to undo some of the reforms that have underpinned the German economic rebound. Facing massive strikes and work stoppages in France, Sarkozy has backed off his reform proposals. In Japan, many companies have abandoned lifetime employment, cut workforces, and closed down unprofitable lines. Just months after Howard Stringer was named Sony’s first non-Japanese CEO, he announced the company would trim 10,000 employees, about 7 percent of its workforce. Surely some Japanese consumers and investors benefit from such corporate downsizing: By 2006, the Japanese stock market had reached a 14-year high. But many Japanese workers have been left behind. A nation that


‘The only way for the citizens in us to trump the consumers in us is through laws and rules that make our purchases and investments social choices as well as personal ones’

once prided itself on being an ‘all middle-class society’ is beginning to show sharp disparities in income and wealth. Between 1999 and 2005, the share of Japanese households without savings doubled, from 12 percent to 24 percent. And citizens there routinely express a sense of powerlessness. Like many free countries around the world, Japan is embracing global capitalism with a democracy too enfeebled to face the free market’s many social penalties. On the other end of the political spectrum sits China, which is surging toward capitalism without democracy at all. That’s good news for many Chinese consumers and for global investors in China, but the negative social consequences for China’s citizens are mounting. Pollution is taking a large toll on many urban areas. Income inequality has widened enormously. At the same time, China’s cities are bursting with peasants from the countryside who have sunk into urban poverty and unemployment. And those who are affected most have little political recourse to change the situation, beyond riots that are routinely put down by force. Why has capitalism succeeded while democracy has weakened? Both trends can be traced

to intensifying competition among global companies. Vying for consumers and investors, they have invested ever greater sums in lobbying, public relations, and even bribes and kickbacks – seeking laws that give them a competitive advantage over rivals. The result is an arms race for political influence that is drowning out the voices of average citizens. In Washington, for example, the number of lobbyists – most of them representing corporations – soared from 5,500 in 1981 to almost 33,000 by 2005. Money spent on lobbying grew, in real terms, from $200 million in 1987 to $2.3 billion in 2005. The fights that now preoccupy Congress, those that consume weeks or months of congressional staff time, are typically contests between competing companies or industries. Paradoxically, at the same time corporations have been taking over the political process, they are increasingly viewed by the public as potentially moral entities capable of acting virtuously. From the humble offices of NGOs to the gleaming hotels of Davos and the World Economic Forum come voices calling for ‘corporate social responsibility.’ Yet the purpose of capitalism is to get great deals for consumers and

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investors. Corporate executives are not authorised by anyone – least of all by their investors – to balance profits against the public good. They have no expertise in making such moral calculations. More to the point, under super-competitive capitalism they have no ability to sacrifice profits to social goods, absent laws and rules requiring them and their competitors to do so. The same paradox underlies what passes for corporate charity. Under today’s intensely competitive form of global capitalism, companies donate money to good causes only to the extent the donation has publicrelations value, thereby boosting the bottom line. But shareholders do not invest in firms expecting the money to be used for charitable purposes. They invest to earn high returns. Shareholders who wish to be charitable would, presumably, make donations to charities of their own choosing in amounts they decide for themselves. These conspicuous displays of corporate beneficence can hoodwink the public into believing corporations have charitable impulses that can be relied on in a pinch. The larger danger is that by treating companies as moral beings with social responsibilities, public attention is diverted from the more fundamental work of ensuring that democracy sets the rules of the game in a manner that reflects citizen views of the common good. The only way for the citizens in us to trump the consumers in us is through laws and rules that make our purchases and investments social choices as well as personal ones. A change in


Independent Thinking from Polity What’s Wrong with the European Union and How to Fix it Simon Hix, Professor of European and Comparative Politics, London School of Economics and Political Science The European Union seems incapable of undertaking economic reforms and defining its place in the world. Public apathy towards the EU is also increasing, as citizens feel isolated from the institutions in Brussels and see no way to influence European level decisions. Taking a diagnosis and cure approach to the EU’s difficulties, Simon Hix tackles these problems with distinct clarity and open mindedness. What the EU needs, Hix contends, is more open political competition. This would promote policy innovation, foster coalitions across the institutions, provide incentives for the media to cover developments in Brussels, and enable citizens to identify who governs in the EU and to take sides in policy debates. The EU is ready for this new challenge. The institutional reforms since the 1980s have transformed the EU into a more competitive polity, and political battles and coalitions are developing inside and between the European Parliament, the Council, and the Commission. This indispensable book will be of great interest to anyone concerned with the future of the European Union. ÓäÊiLÀÕ>ÀÞÊÓäänÊUÊÓÓnÊ«>}iÃÊUʙÇn‡ä‡Ç{xȇ{Óä{‡nÊUÊ>À`L>VŽ Ë{x°ääÊÉʙÇn‡äÇ{xȇ{Óäx‡xÊUÊ*>«iÀL>VŽÊUÊË£{°™™

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www.polity.co.uk labour laws making it easier for employees to organise and negotiate better terms, for example, might increase the price of products and services. My inner consumer won’t like that very much, but the citizen in me might think it a fair price to pay. A small transfer tax on sales of stock, to slow the movement of capital ever so slightly, might give communities a bit more time to adapt to changing circumstances. The return on my retirement fund might go down by a small fraction, but the citizen in me thinks it worth the price. Extended unemployment insurance combined with wage insurance and job training could ease the pain for workers caught in the downdrafts of globalisation. Such innovations could result in slightly higher prices or lower investment returns but,

here too, these individual costs may be worth it when considered from the standpoint of society as a whole. Let’s be clear: The purpose of capitalism is to grow the economy, and deliver goods and services most efficiently. The purpose of democracy is to accomplish ends we cannot achieve as individuals. The border between the two is breached when companies use politics to advance or maintain their competitive standing, or when they appear to take on social responsibilities that they have no real capacity or authority to fulfil. When the border is breached, societies are less able to address the tradeoffs between economic growth and social problems such as job insecurity, widening inequality, and climate change. We are all consumers and

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most of us are investors, and in those roles we try to get the best deals we possibly can. That is how we participate in the global market economy. But those private benefits usually have social costs. And for those of us living in democracies, it is imperative to remember that we are also citizens who have it in our power to reduce these social costs, making the true price of the goods and services we purchase as low as possible. Yet we can accomplish this larger feat only if we take our roles as citizens seriously. The first step, which is often the hardest, is to get our thinking straight.


New Era in Transatlantic Economic Cooperation

T

Günter Verheugen Vice-President of the European Commission, Commissioner for Enterprise and Industry and Co-Chair of the Transatlantic Economic Council

(German Version)

HE ECONOMIC partnership between the European Union and the United States is the deepest and largest bilateral trade and investment relationship in the world. Trade flows across the Atlantic are running at around €1.7 billion a day. The EU is home to almost 70% of total outward US investment. In 2005, American companies invested four times as much in Belgium as they did in China the following year. The economic giants together provide around 60% of the world's Gross Domestic Product, although they jointly represent only 10 % of the world’s population. The EU and the USA are each other’s main trading partners and account for the largest bilateral trade relationship in the world: together, they account for almost 40% of world trade. The annual bilateral trade amounts to €620 billion and the bilateral investment flows provide 14 million jobs. Taking into account the close cooperation and the enormous importance of bilateral trade and investment, our economic partnership and our ability to act together on a global scale are crucial. The challenges of energy security, environment and climate change, as well as retaining our competitiveness

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in a global economy, require strategic partnership. Framework

Chancellor Merkel, President Bush and President Barroso have demonstrated visionary leadership by giving a new political push to building this strategic partnership. On 30th April 2007 they agreed on the ‘Framework for Advancing Transatlantic Economic Integration between the United States of America and the European Union’. Key elements of this framework were the adoption of a work programme of cooperation and the establishment of a Transatlantic Economic Council (TEC) to oversee, guide and accelerate implementation of this work programme. One of the main objectives of the Transatlantic Economic Council is to strengthen joint action on reducing regulatory barriers to trade. Protecting intellectual property rights, ensuring secure trade, integrating financial markets, promoting innovation and technology and encouraging investment are other priority issues addressed by the Council. Added-value of the Transatlantic Economic Forum

The added-value of the TEC lies in addressing ‘structural’


‘I am optimistic that the TEC will boost market integration between the EU and the US and will contribute, in the longer term, to bringing the different regulatory philosophies on the two sides of the Atlantic closer’ or long-term regulatory issues that matter to large parts of the US and EU economy. What makes the TEC different from previous attempts to bring about a more coherent transatlantic market place announced by the EU and US is its working method. In the past such committees were led by administrators, whilst the TEC is chaired by politicians who – closely observed by the media – are pushed to deliver results. Instead of following their usual practice of deciding on a work plan and reverting to it only at the next Summit meeting, the Summit leaders set up a political-level body, the Transatlantic Economic Council, to oversee and manage the process, with a requirement to meet at least every six months and itself report to the Summit. The Council, cochaired by Allan Hubbard, National Economic Council Director based in the White House, as representative of the US Government, and me as a representative of the Commission, has been made responsible for driving the technical negotiations between the Commission and the US Administration forward. The TEC agenda is also more focussed than earlier attempts, based on so-called ‘lighthouse’

projects which are intended to highlight priority concerns. One of the significant achievements of the TEC is that we have institutionalised our dialogue with stakeholders through the formal Group of Advisers. It consists of representatives of the three existing transatlantic dialogues for business, consumers and legislators. The Group of Advisers is expected to reach out to the broader stakeholder community and to give a voice to their concerns. This group meets the TEC co-chairs before the Council meeting begins. The Transatlantic Economic Council also brings together those Members of the Commission and US Cabinet Members who carry the political responsibility for the policy areas covered by the Framework. On the European side, the permanent members of the TEC are the Commissioners for External Relations, for Trade and for Internal Market and Services. In addition, other Commissioners can participate upon invitation by the Co-chairs or upon their own request. Objective: Increasing business competitiveness

Aligning our rules will reduce costs and consumer prices, and increase business competitiveness and the quality of life for

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citizens on both sides of the Atlantic. Think of it like a game of football. We all know that in football the Americans have different rules to ours. What is important is not whose rules are the best. What is important is that if you put two teams on the same playing field, but each plays by different rules, you will not get a fair game. Nobody wins. Of course the ground rules of our economic partnership with America are based on common ideas and ideals – freedom, competition, and the rule of law. But even with this common basis, small differences in regulation can cripple trade. Removing them, or most of them, is both practical and achievable. We are not talking about harmonisation, but a strategic and long term process for which we have now created the framework and agreed the first priorities. That is what the Transatlantic Economic Council is about. I am optimistic that the TEC will boost market integration between the EU and the US and will contribute, in the longer term, to bringing the different regulatory philosophies on the two sides of the Atlantic closer. If the EU and the US agree on making their regulatory standards converge, other economic blocs would adopt their standards in due course. We see in China, in India, in Russia, we see everywhere a strong interest in European standards. In a more and more globalised economy, competing standards are not useful. A further issue of discussion at the TEC meetings is the challenge posed by China’s rapidlygrowing economy, and the pos-


sibility of eventually forming a common EU-US front on issues such as the protection of intellectual property. A common strategy on how to deal with China, which acknowledging that it is in our interest that the Chinese market continues to grow would be valuable. Very important for EU-US cooperation is also the issue of climate change. Although climate change was not on the agenda of the first meeting of the Transatlantic Economic Council, efforts to combat climate change are crucial to the ‘external dimension’ of Europe’s competitiveness. I hope the US will strengthen its policy on combating global warming, thus ensuring that European industry is not penalised by the EU’s ambitious action on climate change. I am confident that the time is ripe for a change in US policy. I think the next American administration will certainly adjust environmental policy. There is strong societal pressure in the United States to do more. We should not be distracted by minor short-term disputes in this or that economic sector from our main task, which is bringing about changes in areas of regulation that will improve the situation for many sectors. Accounting Standards and Secure Trade are good examples. Results

Although some priority policy issues are still being discussed, we have already achieved agreement on measures that are very important for business. In the four months since the TEC was set up, a great deal of work has been done by both sides. On the first full meeting of the TEC on

9th November 2007 in Washington D.C. we discussed how to make transatlantic trade and investment less burdensome. Reducing the burden of divergent regulation on businesses and consumers was the major focus of the discussions.

• We launched an investment dialogue aimed at reducing barriers to transatlantic investment and promoting open investment regimes globally. • On accounting standards, we anticipate that the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission will soon complete a rulemaking to accept, without reconciliation to U.S. GAAP, financial statements of EU issuers prepared in accordance with International Financial Reporting Standards; and that the European Commission is preparing a mechanism that will allow use of U.S. GAAP. • In order to enhance security and facilitate trade, we have established a road map for reaching mutual recognition in 2009 of U.S. and EU trade partnership programs through key performancebased stages. • We have eased the burden of introducing new drugs for rare diseases by agreeing on a common format to apply for orphan drug designations. These drugs intended are for treatment of thousands of rare diseases. • We have issued a joint report on regulatory impact assessments with the goal of ensuring that such assessments take due account of the impact of future regula-

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tions on international trade and investment. Before the next U.S.-EU Summit, and after receiving scientific advice, the European Commission will act to definitively resolve the long-standing issue regarding the importation into the EU of U.S. poultry treated with pathogen reduction treatments. In 2008, the U.S. Federal Communications Commission will review products subject to its mandatory third-party testing to allow suppliers declarations of conformity for products with a good record of compliance with relevant standards. By the time of the next meeting of the Transatlantic Economic Council, the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration, after conferring with its European Commission counterparts, will report on progress made to facilitate trade in electrical products with respect to conformity assessment procedures for the safety of such products. Our experts have reached preliminary agreement on the areas in which existing standards for pure biofuels are compatible and will, by the end of the year, identify areas in which additional progress can be made in 2008. In 2008, the European Commission will table a legislative proposal allowing access to information by patients on legal pharmaceuticals. In order to reduce costs for transatlantic trade, the


European Commission has proposed legislation to allow the importation into the EU of products labelled with both imperial and metric measurements. • The Council welcomes the Financial Markets Regulatory Dialogue’s consideration of how and in which areas to establish mutual recognition in the field of securities and identification of other approaches to facilitate cross-border trade in financial services. Importance of continuity

In order to help us set priorities for future work, we have invited the advisers to submit their recommendations by the end of January 2008. This would allow us to agree on a revised working programme at our next TEC meeting in Spring, which we will then transmit to the EU-US Summit for endorsement. We have encouraged the advisers to identify priorities based on sound analytical evidence of how regulatory barriers risks undermining the competitiveness of EU and US economic operators. We have much more to gain from averting future regulatory barriers than from becoming bogged down in trying to

resolve longstanding disputes. I personally do not think that there is much value in the TEC as a Dispute Settlement Body. Instead, we must make sure that our governments work hard to avoid new trade and investment barriers. The discussions now taking place between EU and US administrations on new technologies, such as nano-technology, bio-fuels or informatics in the health sector, for instance, may save EU and American business more money than trying to reconcile our different approaches to ensuring the safety of motor vehicles. The challenge to reconcile security with openness to trade and investment is something we all face – but we must recognise that through unilateral action we may cause great harm to our own interests. Recent promising developments in our systems for patent protection should also give us the opportunity to integrate, not further fragment, the transatlantic market. The discussion on import safety has shown that the objective of the TEC is not to deregulate. The EU will continue to aim at high levels of protection for its citizens and its environment. But we should be open to change; we need to be prepared

‘We need to convince both our bureaucracies and our legislators that adapting the way we regulate our economies in order to take account of transatlantic impacts can be a plus rather than a minus’ 58 Social Europe the journal of the european left Winter 2008

to learn from each other how to achieve high safety levels in the least burdensome way. We need to convince both our bureaucracies and our legislators that adapting the way we regulate our economies in order to take account of transatlantic impacts can be a plus rather than a minus. This mindset is indispensable if we are to shape globalisation together. Let me conclude by saying that we have started working in a new way which is more promising than in the past. But we should not be complacent and need to recognise that this is going to be a long-term challenge.


Still a Community of Values? Historical Thoughts on the Normative Basis of the West

E Heinrich August Winkler Professor of Modern History at the Humboldt University in Berlin from 1991 to 2007

First published in Internationale Politik, Autumn 2007

UROPE, IN THE geographic sense, has never constituted a community of values. When we speak of the European Union as a community of values, what we really mean is that Europe is a community of states that embrace Western values. No one expresses the difference between Europe and the West as incisively as Viennese historian Gerald Stourzh when he writes, ‘By itself, Europe is not the West. The West extends beyond Europe. But Europe also extends beyond the West.’ The West’s identity as a community of values comprises the great Anglo Saxon-influenced democracies of North America, the United States, and Canada, as well as Australia and New Zealand, and, since its founding in 1948, Israel. Large parts of Europe, by contrast, have not shared in the development and adoption of values and institutions typically associated with these nations. Likewise, the concept of the West we know from the cold war era is not identical to the historical Occident. During the East-West conflict, all member states of the Atlantic alliance – including two that did not belong to the old Occident, Greece and Turkey – were considered Western, while countries that historically were part of the

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West but which lay behind the Iron Curtain were assigned to the ‘East,’ or at least to Eastern Europe. The latter included the three Baltic states, Poland, the current Czech Republic, Slovakia, and Hungary incidentally, seven of the eight EastCentral European countries would join the European Union on May 1, 2004. The historical Occident encompassed the part of Europe that throughout the Middle Ages – and, in many countries, long after – looked to Rome as its spiritual center. The old West was, in other words, the part of Europe that belonged to the Western church. This part of Europe, and this part of Europe alone, knew both premodern forms of power separation – the separation of spiritual and temporal power, and the separation of princely power and the power of the estates. This part of Europe, and this part of Europe alone, experienced, even if not everywhere with equal force, the late medieval and early modern emancipatory movements – the Renaissance and the Reformation, humanism and the Enlightenment. The domain of the Eastern church, that of Byzantium and, later, of Moscow, followed a very different course. While it saw nothing like Caesaropapism


(that is, the personal unity of spiritual and temporal power), it did experience the subordination of spiritual to temporal power. Moreover, the East did not know the system of reciprocal fealty between lords and vassals that characterised European feudalism and that continued to exert its influence in the dualism of princely and estate powers, a dualism that contained yet another ‘typically Western’ phenomenon unknown in the East: the right to rebel against princes who had imposed, or tried to impose, arbitrary rule on their subjects. In 1931 the German historian Otto Hintze coined the term ‘dualistic spirit’ to describe the processes that brought about the estate constitutions of the Occident. Dualism is also the term that arose for the partial separation of spiritual and temporal power in the course of the Investiture Controversy. In the same year that Hintze first spoke of a ‘dualistic spirit,’ the Breslau jurist and universal historian Eugen Rosenstock-Huessy published a book on European revolutions identifying the 11thcentury ‘Papal Revolution’ of Gregory VII as the first European revolution. Had this revolution ended with a victory of spiritual over temporal power or, conversely, with a victory of temporal over spiritual power, the dualistic spirit of the West would never have arisen. To be sure, in Germany, as in England and France, the Investiture Controversy resulted in a precarious historical compromise that bred further conflict. A student of RosenstockHuessy, the American legal historian Harold Berman, went so far as to derive the entire legal

‘The modern separation of legislature, executive, and judicial powers developed by Montesquieu continued the process that began with the pre-modern separation of spiritual and temporal, and princely and estate powers’ tradition of the West from the dualism of spiritual and temporal power that came in the wake of the Papal Revolution. While this explanation of the West’s historical uniqueness may be too one-sided, it contains more than a grain of truth. For dualism already displays the beginnings of the pluralism on which the West’s spirit of individualism is based. In this sense, dualism planted the seed of freedom and, with it, the Occident’s most distinguishing characteristic. Predating the separation of imperium or regnum from sacerdotium is a distinction that first surfaced in Jesus’ famous reply to the Pharisees: ‘Render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and unto God the things that are God’s.’ Jesus held, beyond the shadow of a doubt, God’s primacy to be absolute. Nevertheless, his answer implicitly rejected theocracy in all its forms. The differentiation between divine and secular authority restricted and validated the latter, both refusing to cede secular authority over the religious sphere and granting it autonomy in its own. This did not yet equal the separation of spiritual and temporal power but Jesus’ dialectical response announced a principle in whose logic that separation lay. And it was this very princi-

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ple that would ultimately pave the way for the secularisation of the world and the emancipation of man. The Eighteenth Century: Continued Separation of Power

Seventeen and a half centuries later, Charles de Secondat, Baron de Montesquieu, a French Enlightenment thinker who had to defend himself against the fierce attacks of Jesuits for his skepticism toward Christianity, argued that moderate government was far more compatible with Christianity, while a despotic government was more compatible with Islam. ‘It is a misfortune to human nature when religion is given by a conqueror,’ affirmed Montesquieu, alluding to Muhammad. Montesquieu appealed to the original religion of the New Testament, finding there the yardstick by which to measure Christian leaders and followers alike. He formulates Christianity’s fundamental separation between the spheres of God and emperor: ‘We ought not to decide by divine laws what should be decided by human laws; nor determine by human what should be determined by divine laws.’ The modern separation of legislature, executive, and judicial powers developed by


Montesquieu continued the process that began with the premodern separation of spiritual and temporal, and princely and estate powers. Montesquieu was the first classical thinker to grant the judicial branch the status of an autonomous ‘third’ power, something his most important predecessors, John Locke and Lord Bolingbroke, had never considered. Of course, Montesquieu relativised the significance of this achievement by declaring that the judiciary was en quelque façon nulle, in some measure next to nothing. This remark shows that Montesquieu underestimated the significance of the very power whose independence is constitutive of the modern constitutional state. By the same token, he also overestimated the significance of the separation of legislative and executive powers. In England, the country to which Montesquieu owed the impetus for The Spirit of Laws, the decisive line of demarcation no longer ran between king and parliament; since the early 18th century, the most important distinction in government has been between the governing majority and parliamentary opposition. Montesquieu did not live to see the birth of the country in which his views on the separation of powers would have their greatest effect: the United States of America. In the Federalist Papers, a series of articles by Alexander Hamilton, John Jay, and James Madison arguing for the ratification of the US Constitution drafted at the Philadelphia Convention in 1787, Montesquieu was by far the most cited author. The separation of legislature and executive powers called for in the

constitution are much closer to his views than to the constitutional reality of contemporary Great Britain. Yet there were other, older authorities to whom the fathers of the US Constitution could and did appeal – authorities from whose insights Locke, Bolingbroke, Montesquieu, and many other political thinkers of the early modern period drew. One of the most influential among them was the Greek Polybius, the second centuryB.C. historian who promoted the concept of a mixed constitution. Polybius saw in the Roman Republic an ideal combination of monarchic, aristocratic, and democratic virtues – a combination, so he believed, that shielded Rome from the dangers inherent in the pure forms of monarchy as well as aristocarcy or democracy. Polybius’s idea of a mixed constitution called to mind the already existing elements of the English system described by William Blackstone in his 1765 ‘Commentaries on the Laws of England.’ Blackstone believed that the truly remarkable feature of the English form of government was ‘that all the parts of it form a mutual check upon each other.’ From here, it was only a small step to the well-known formula ‘checks and balances,’ believed to have been first mentioned in1787 by John Adams (the second President of the United States) in the preface to his three-volume A Defence of the Constitutions of Government of the United States. The Constitutionalisation of Individual Rights

Though the US Constitution adopted in 1787 was unequivo-

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cal with regard to what it said about the powers of the three branches of government, it did not include a section laying down basic rights. The Constitution’s first ten amendments, the Bill of Rights, only appeared in 1791, as a concession to opposition forces in several states. Nevertheless, the United States can still claim to be the birth nation of individual rights. The Virginia Declaration of Rights from June 12, 1776, began its catalogue of basic rights, the first comprehensive catalogue of its kind, with these profound words: ‘That all men are by nature equally free and independent, and have certain inherent rights, of which, when they enter into a state of society, they cannot, by any compact, deprive or divest their posterity; namely, the enjoyment of life and liberty, with the means of acquiring and possessing property, and pursuing and obtaining happiness and safety.’ Three weeks later, on July 4, 1776, the delegates of the Constitutional Congress approved the Declaration of Independence. It is no coincidence that its chief architect, Thomas Jefferson, hailed from Virginia. The declaration combines a concept of human rights with a consequent principle of popular sovereignty to form a single but momentous sentence: ‘We hold these truths to be selfevident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed, by their Creator, with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness.’ With this sentence, the Declaration of Independence brought together millennia worth of experience and insights, making self-evi-


dent truths into a project to change the world and the American Revolution into history’s first modern revolution. Like John Adams, Benjamin Franklin, and many of the other signers, Jefferson drew on an intellectual tradition shared by natural rights philosophers since the Stoics, by the teachings of more recent thinkers such as Harrington, Locke, Bolingbroke, and Montesquieu, and by Americans’ ideas about the necessity of religious and political tolerance. But the history of political ideas has not yet provided us with an answer to why these inalienable human rights should have first appeared on North American colonial soil, and at the level of constitutional articles no less. Academic debate on this question first arose in 1895 with the publication of The Declaration of the Rights of Man and of Citizens by the AustroGerman legal scholar Georg Jellinek. In this widely read work, Jellinek emphasised the English and Puritan origins of the North American understanding of religious freedom as a human right, underlining in particular the influence of John Browne, the progenitor of English Congregationalism, and Roger Williams, who founded the state of Rhode Island. ‘The idea of

legally establishing inalienable, inherent, and sacred rights of the individual,’ Jellinek writes, ‘is not of political but religious origin. What has been held to be a work of the [French] Revolution was in reality a fruit of the Reformation and its struggles.’ The Evangelical theologian and philosopher of religion Ernst Troeltsch agreed for the most part with Jellinek, except he strongly emphasised the fact that ‘the father of individual rights’ was not official Protestantism but the sectarian groups it hated and had banished to the new world, among them the Baptists and the Quakers who dissolved church community and called for the freedom of worship. Troeltsch writes, ‘Here the stepchildren of the Reformation finally had their world-historical hour.’ Most of the fathers of the US Declaration of Independence were not devout Christians like the Puritans, and certainly nothing like the Spiritualists and Fundamentalists. They believed in the likelihood of a god, or some higher being, capable of reward and punishment, though not all of them believed in the divinity of Jesus or in the Trinity. In truth, the deeply devout champions of religious freedom like Roger Williams and William Penn had laid the

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foundations for a Protestantshaped pluralism. This foundation was one of the reasons why the idea of universal individual rights first gained traction in America. But the spirit of Enlightenment helped as well, and it is hard to imagine that without it such worldly documents as the Virginia Declaration of Rights and the Declaration of Independence would have ever seen the light of day. Religious Foundations

While the US Founding Fathers grounded their concept of the individual on extensive readings of the classics of philosophy, constitutional law, and political theory from antiquity to the present, their understanding had religious roots as well. When the Declaration of Independence proclaimed that inalienable rights are bestowed on individuals ‘by their Creator,’ it expressed more than a mere credo that enlightened deists and devout Christians could agree on for the festive occasion. The idea of an individual dignity common to all originates from the Judeo-Christian belief in one God who created human beings in His image. Historically, the declaration of the equality of all individuals before the law presupposes the equality of all individuals before God. Moreover, as I have tried to show, there is a historical link between Christian religion and the Western idea of freedom. The latter could only develop because there existed in the Occident a tradition separating spiritual and worldly power – a tradition from which resistance toward Anglicanism and other state religions grew.


The British scholar James Bryce wrote in 1888 that the US Constitution, ratified 100 years previously, was enduringly shaped by a Puritan view of human nature. The constitution, he wrote, was ‘a work of men who believed in original sin and were resolved to leave open for transgressors no door that they [the constitutional fathers] could possibly close.’ The American theologian Reinhold Niebuhr, who cited Bryce approvingly, wrote in his 1952 The Irony of American History that the two major religious and moral traditions that shaped early American life – the Calvinism of New England and the deism of Virginia – arrived at conspicuously similar conclusions about the meaning of America’s national character and the intended purpose of the United States: ‘Whether our nation interprets its spiritual heritage through Massachusetts or Virginia we came into existence with the sense of being a ‘separated’ nation, which God was using to make a new beginning for mankind.’ When Georg Jellinek derived the rights of individuals and citizens from the Puritan AngloSaxon tradition, he claimed to reject France’s assertion that it was the original pioneer. Indeed, the American declarations of rights passed by Virginia and other former British colonies in North America had done much to shape the Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen adopted by the National Constituent Assembly on August 26, 1789. The idea of passing such a declaration before writing a constitution was first proposed on August 11

by Marquis de Lafayette, an assembly representative who fought on the side of the United States in the war of independence and who was inspired by the bills of rights passed by the states, particularly Virginia’s. When the Marquis himself drafted a declaration of human rights for France, he enjoyed the active assistance of Thomas Jefferson, who served as US ambassador to France from 1785 to 1789. Diverging Views of Individual Rights

For all the conspicuous similarities between the American and French human rights declarations, however, there were still important differences. The document of August 1789 put sharper emphasis on the equality of citizens before the law than had the Virginia Declaration of Rights and the bills of rights of other states of the union. Far more than its US predecessors, the declaration of the National Constituent Assembly concerned itself with exactness and universal validity. In principle, the Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen included people from all races and of all skin colors. In February 1794, as a rightful consequence, the National Convention voted to abolish slavery in the French colonies (though, it should be noted, this did not stop the consul for life, Napoleon Bonaparte, from reimposing slavery in 1802). In the United States, however, the situation was quite different. Aside from the fact that some of the Founding Fathers, including Washington and Jefferson, owned slaves them-

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selves, any attempt to forbid slavery would have alienated the southern states, preventing the adoption of the Declaration of Independence and undermining solidarity against Great Britain. In this sense, the 1789 declaration went an important step beyond the American declaration of 1776, even as the French Revolution remained deeply indebted to the American one that preceded it. During his trip to America at the beginning of the 1830s, Alexis de Tocqueville was surprised to observe that in the United States two otherwise sharply opposed elements had interpenetrated and connected with one another in a marvelous way: the spirit of religion and the spirit of freedom. Even today, parts of American society tend to derive political freedom from religion, underestimating the contributions of the Enlightenment to human rights, the constitutional state, and democracy. Europe, by contrast, tends to neglect the fact that Western values and Enlightenment ideas are embedded in their own tradition, one depending just as much on Jewish and Christian values as on ancient ones. Both views are one-sided and require correction: they must recall what connects the ‘old’ European West with its ‘new’ American counterpart. The Declarations of the Rights of Man of the late 18th century were the result of transatlantic collaboration. Together, both sides laid the groundwork for the political project of the West. Consolidating the Western Ideal

The Westernisation of the West has been a long and laborious


‘The American Revolution may have been modern history’s first, but it was also a conservative one. It demanded rights that the subjects of the King of England had already been granted for centuries’ process distinguished most of all by uneven adoption. After the Declaration of Independence, over four decades elapsed before the United States as a whole became comfortable with the concept of democracy, no longer perceiving it to contradict their deliberately chosen representative system. Slavery, for its part, existed for nine decades of US history and its eradication in the south required nothing less than a bloody civil war. It took another hundred years before an energetic and successful movement arose against the racial discrimination of the slaves’ descendents. The American Revolution may have been modern history’s first, but it was also a conservative one. It demanded rights that the subjects of the King of England had already been granted for centuries and the opponent on whose defeat it relied – the colonial motherland, Great Britain – was foreign. In the words of the legal scholar and political scientist Ernst Fraenkel: ‘The American Revolution is not a revolt against the principles of traditional English constitutional law; it is a protest against their infringement. Because the victory of democracy was never connected to a defeat of class, there was never antidemocratic resentment in the United States of America.’

Such a state of affairs was not to repeat itself in Europe. The French Revolution of 1789 not only left behind an antirevolutionary right-wing in France, it triggered revolutionary resentment across large parts of Europe. This was initially caused by the quick transition from the predominance of the moderates to a dominance of radicals during the period of Jacobin terror. In the second half of the 1850s, Alexis de Tocqueville described the precipitous change as follows: ‘At first, they only talked about how to better portion out the violence and govern relations. But soon they pursued, ran after, hunted down the idea of a pure democracy. At first, they cited and interpreted Montesquieu. By the end, they only spoke of Rousseau; he was and will remain the only teacher of the revolution at its apex.’ De Tocqueville probably overestimated the lasting influence of Montesquieu, but certainly not that of Rousseau. The author of the Contrat Social was a decisive opponent of the separation of powers, ‘checks and balances,’ and ‘representative government.’ Unlike Locke, Bolingbroke, and the writers of the Federalist Papers, all of whom believed that the common good resulted from conflict

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among different interest groups as a representative product of pluralistic society, Rousseau believed that the common good was a quantum given by reason and thus lent himself to appropriation by both sides: those who wanted to depose rulers from God’s grace, or at least put them in their place, as well as those new types of tyrants resolved to subject an entire nation, if not an entire world, to their ideals and purposes. The empire of Napoleon, the last chapter of the revolutionary age in France, was followed by the Bourbon restoration in 1814, the Orleanist July monarchy in 1830, the revolution of 1848, and the Second Empire of Napoleon III soon after. Not until Napoleon III’s defeat in the Franco-Prussian War of 1870-71 did the third republic emerge, which, in the beginning at least, more resembled a République des Ducs than a bourgeois democracy. In Great Britain, it took 30 years for a parliamentary monarchy to establish itself after the Glorious Revolution of 1688. The political transformations in the 19th and early 20th centuries consisted mainly in broadening the basis of rule through the gradual extension of participatory rights via suffrage to the middle and lower classes of the population. In no country of the Occident did the democratic ideas of the West (which is also to say, of the European Enlightenment) encounter such stubborn resistance as in Germany. It took Nazi dictatorship, a complete Zusammenbruch, and Germany’s second defeat on the 20th-century global stage to undercut the antidemocratic biases still harbored by elites and large portions


of the general population. What is more, when the opportunity to learn from the failed Weimar Republic and to create a functional parliamentary democracy finally came after 1945, not all Germans were able to take advantage of it – just those who lived in the western occupation zones, the future Federal Republic of Germany. The other Germans, those who lived in the Soviet zone, the German Democratic Republic, had to wait until the peaceful revolution of 1989 before being able to taste political freedom, which they promptly used to join the Federal Republic the following year. Reuniting the Historical Occident

The reunification that took place on October 3, 1990, solved the German question in three senses. First, it brought the recognition – in accordance with international law – of the German-Polish border along the Oder and Neisse rivers, clarifying once and for all the question of territory, while also solving ‘the Polish question.’ Second, it realised the dual demand for unity and freedom raised by the revolution of 1848. Third, and last, it opened the way for the whole of Germany to join the Atlantic alliance, thus solving a crucial problem of German and European security. The reunification of Germany had another momentous effect: it enabled the reunification of the West. Nothing less than momentous was the decision to include eight East-Central European states, which until 1989 and 1990 had been under communist rule, into the European Union. All of these countries belong to the old Occident; the separation of

Europe agreed on at the Yalta Conference in February 1945 was a separation that went against the grain of history. With the reunification, what ‘belonged together’ could finally ‘grow together.’ When he spoke these now-famous words a day after the fall of the Berlin Wall, on November 10, 1989, Willy Brandt was not only thinking of Germany, he was thinking of all of Europe as well. The new members of the European Union are located in an area that has been connected with Western Europe since the Middle Ages through many cultural ties and, to a large extent, common legal traditions. Yet there were also things that separated the Europe lying to the east of Germany’s Elbe and Saale rivers from the Europe lying to their west. In Central and Eastern Europe, the urban bourgeois were less developed than in the West, its agricultural system shaped for centuries by large numbers of serfs under the lordship of the manor. Moreover, after World War I, democracy was not able to take firm root in most countries of Central and Eastern Europe, including Germany. Still today, Westernisation is far from finished in the eastern Occident. But even in West Germany, it took four decades after the end of World War II before a public figure like Jürgen Habermas could utter, ‘The unreserved opening of the Federal Republic to the political culture of the West is the major intellectual accomplishment of the postwar era, of which my generation in particular can be proud.’ An ‘unreserved opening to the political culture of the West’

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would become the criterion used by the European Union to measure both its members and those nations that wanted to be. For a country to open itself to the political culture of the West, it does not need to be a part of the historical Occident. (This was the case neither with Greece, which joined the European Union in 1981, nor with Romania and Bulgaria, which joined January 1, 2007.) But values and political cultures have their history; those who profess the Western values embodied by the 1993 Copenhagen criteria for EU membership must know that history and accept its legitimacy. Development of Political Pluralism

The political culture of the West is pluralistic, which means that it must tolerate and foster a culture of debate. A pluralistic democracy depends, practically in its very existence, on political differences being dealt with peacefully. The extent to which this happens governs the extent to which one can speak seriously of a political culture at all. Its main trait is an adherence to written and unwritten laws, which ensure that political battles do not spill over into latent or open civil war. The Weimar Republic produced a political culture of debate very limited in scope. In the final phase of the first German democracy, political and philosophical conflicts grew so intense that the situation appeared to confirm Carl Schmitt’s highly controversial definition of the political: ‘The specific political distinction to which political actions and motives can be traced is the distinction between friend and foe.’


It was his fourfold experience of the Weimar Republic, the Nazi dictatorship until 1938, life as an exile in America until 1951, and then, until his death in 1975, life in the German Federal Republic, that brought Ernst Fraenkel to reply to Schmitt’s speculative and Rousseau-shaped decisionism (or voluntarism) with an historically-rich theory based on the Anglo-Saxon practice of political pluralism: ‘The espousal of pluralistic democracy rests on the insight that every free democracy means cleavages and consensus.’ A pluralistic democracy thus requires both: on the one hand, a non-controversial sector of state and society, a ‘codex of values generally accepted as valid,’ which no longer needs deliberation and approval; and, on the other, a controversial sector that needs regular deliberation and approval. Fraenkel’s reflections suggest a dialectical answer to today’s much discussed question of whether the West still comprises a transatlantic community of values. The West, so this answer goes, is a community of values, but one in which the political consequences of those values remain – indeed, must remain – in dispute. Western values are the product of transatlantic experiences and viewpoints that are, like all historical phenomena, subject to change. The common grounds of the West become especially noticeable in comparison with other societies and cultures. While the United States and countries of the European Union display many peculiarities in their respective political cultures, they would do well to remember that demonstrating collective ‘identi-

ties’ takes more than merely standing out from one’s partners. The European Union and the United States do not need to invent a common foe. It is legitimate and necessary to defend the values and institutions of the West against all threats and attacks; and it is legitimate and necessary to promote those values and institutions around the globe. But a policy that aims to spread Western values and forms of life by force is doomed to fail from the get go. The United States, Great Britain, and France were successful in helping West Germany rebuild a democracy because they were able to tap into the free, constitutional, and democratic traditions that German history had already brought forth. American neoconservatives, led by President George W. Bush, erred fundamentally when they tried to justify the Iraq war in 2003 based on the German experience of 1945, concluding that any foreign country can be transformed into a democracy exclusively from without and exclusively with military means. Iraq lacks the Western outlook and experiences that favored democratic reeducation in Germany. The consequences of this false analogy will be borne heavily by the West for many years to come,

and it is likely that the burden will be even greater for the Middle East. The history of the political culture of the West shows that democracy is much more than majority rule. A Western-type democracy is predicated on a pluralistic civil society that agrees to adhere to inalienable human rights and the rule of law. In his 1656 tract Commonwealth of Oceana, James Harrington described his sought-after community as an ‘empire of laws and not of men,’ a formula that reappeared in 1780 as ‘government of laws, and not of men’ in Article 30 of the Massachusetts Bill of Rights. The laws referred to by the English republican and the constitutional fathers of the oldest state in New England were both written and unwritten, the latter including both the nomoi ágraphoi of the ancient Greeks and the norms of Christian and Enlightenment natural rights. The German example, by contrast, shows how a majority rule without those unwritten laws can lead to the opposite of a Western democracy. In the last two Reichstag elections of the Weimar Republic in 1932, the two parties that received negative majorities – the National Socialists and the Communists – were also the two parties that,

‘American neoconservatives, led by President George W. Bush, erred fundamentally when they tried to justify the Iraq war in 2003 based on the German experience of 1945’

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despite their radical differences, each called for dictatorship. Though these parties were democratically elected, both rejected democracy itself. Hence, it is misguided to suppose that only non-Western societies are susceptible to antidemocratic developments. Relatively young democracies like Germany as well as longstanding democratic nations like France, Great Britain, and the United States have reason to view their history critically. Again and again, the West has blatantly violated the very values it claims to profess. But the West should not forget its history of racism, colonialism, and imperialism, and the consequences of that history – not, at least, if it wants to stand by its professed values with any credibility.

vention. Consequently, the West must strongly support the reform of the United Nations and the reworking of its charter. Yet the West is far from having sufficient unity and insight into the importance and cohesive power of non-material interests to take decisive action. The West can learn from its own history; we must hope that the non-Western parts of the world can also learn from that history. The project of the West is incomplete and will probably always remain so, but it can continue to advance. By taking the idea of a community of values seriously rather than invoking empty slogans, the West can still do much for the universal validity of those values that we, for good historical reasons, characterise as ‘Western.’

The West and Westernisation Today

Western achievements like the constitutional state, the separation of powers, and democracy have already been adopted by many non-Western societies, and nothing speaks against this kind of Westernisation or partial Westernisation continuing. Yet the West stopped dominating the world a long time ago. It represents one form of life and political culture among many; the nations of the world that understand themselves as ‘Western’ are a small minority. The claim of inalienable human rights remains a universal one, however. Since it cannot be implemented by force, the West can do nothing better than adhere to its own values, promote them, and, where possible, to oppose their most crass violations with all means, including humanitarian inter67 Social Europe the journal of the european left Winter 2008


The Transatlantic Clash over Political Economy and Fulcrum Institutions

W Steven Hill Director of the Political Reform Program for the New America Foundation and author of 10 Steps to Repair American Democracy (www.10Steps.net). He is writing a book for the University of California Press comparing Europe to the U.S.

HILE THE UNITED States and Europe share much in common, they also exhibit basic differences, an ‘American Way’ and a ‘European Way,’ that are diverging and had been leading to frequent clashes even before the UN. rift over Iraq. In a globalised capitalist world, where all nations are seeking models of development that allow ‘life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness’ for its people, this clash within the West is every bit as elemental as the clash with Arab-Islam because it is multidimensional – economic, political, social, and international in scope. Few in the world wish to emulate the ‘Arab-Muslim way,’ which is synonymous with poverty, authoritarianism, and religious intolerance, but all nations, even Muslim nations, desire the wealth of the United States and Europe. Thus, this clash between the American

‘While the United States and Europe share much in common, they also exhibit basic differences, an “American Way” and a “European Way,” that are diverging’ 68 Social Europe the journal of the european left Winter 2008

Way and the European Way is about the future direction over the best development model for the world. With American politics engulfed in recent years by a free-wheeling, free market, Texas-style economic fundamentalism that has led to increases in inequality and economic insecurity for many Americans, Europe has emerged more and more as what British author Will Hutton has called an international countervailing force – a mainstay of ‘social capitalism,’ that has tried to harness capitalism's extraordinary ability to create wealth so that it better supports families and workers, and creates a more broadly shared prosperity and economic security. In addition, while America remains locked into a foreign policy determined by the oil chieftains in the White House and their increasingly desperate bids to acquire oil, Europe has taken the lead in trying to figure out how mass societies can deal with global climate change, develop alternative energies and reduce their ecological footprint. Europe also has introduced a new type of leadership for a global superpower, one based less on militaristic bluster and more on economic networks and multilateral institu-


tions that foster development for poorer countries and security for the world. When you bundle all this together, what it adds up to are two distinct versions of advanced political economies, which in turn are creating two diverging types of post-industrial mass societies. While it’s possible to stress what Europe and America have in common, in other ways what the world is witnessing is akin to two separately evolving lines of hominids which, while they appear at the moment to look similar, upon closer inspection have branched off into different habits, behaviours, colorations, reactions, and social organisation, and are leaving tracks that are strongly diverging. It behoves us to approach this divergence a bit anthropologically, just as the Leakey’s approached their endeavours in Olduvai Gorge, so that we can better understand not only the present circumstances but our future trajectory. The American Way versus the European Way

By many estimates the United States, despite being the world's lone remaining superpower, is more unequal than at any time since the Great Depression. Indeed, it's the most unequal society in the advanced democratic world today, with that inequality having glaring racial/ethnic, age, and gender dimensions. The poverty rate has increased to 37 million people (13 percent of the population)1, child poverty is nearly 22 percent and elderly poverty nearly 25 percent, the highest by far in the Western world with the exceptions of Russia

and Mexico.2 Despite being the richest individual nation on the planet, the US suffers from higher rates of poverty, homelessness, infant mortality, lower life expectancy, homicide, and HIV infection than other advanced democracies. It spends more per student on K12 education than almost all other modern democracies, yet its students perform near the bottom on international tests. American analyst Ted Halstead has written, ‘Our performance on many social indicators is so poor, that an outsider looking at these numbers alone might conclude that we were a developing nation.’ European nations, on the other hand, score at the top on all these social and health indicators, and it’s no secret why: even with recent cutbacks, Europeans still enjoy universal health care for all, generous retirement pensions, an average of five weeks paid vacation, more holidays, paid sick leave, paid parental leave, affordable childcare, low-cost higher education, and a shorter work week with comparable wages for their workers. Social spending in Europe runs some 50 percent above that in the United States. European health and safety laws are geared more toward helping workers and communities instead of protecting the bottom line of corporations; its environmental laws aim to preserve air and water instead of defining the ‘acceptable levels’ of corporate transgression, like the Bush Administration’s Kafkaesque episode over allowable arsenic levels in public drinking water. The typical knock against Europe has been that these levels of support for workers, fam-

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ilies, communities and the environment have an unfortunate downside: they allegedly have made the European economies ‘sclerotic,’ likened to a sick old man. However, this has turned out to be an unsubstantiated stereotype, in reality the European economies have flourished. Between 2000 and 2005, when Europe supposedly was going downhill, it turns out the 15 original nations of the EU saw per capita economic growth rates equal to the United States (surpassing the US in late 2006), added jobs at a faster rate,3 had a much lower budget deficit, and now Europe is posting higher productivity growth than America4 and a $3 billion trade surplus. In late 2007, the EU overtook the US as China's largest trading partner, and in recent years it has been an investment magnet with stock market returns outperforming those in the US5 The United States, meanwhile, teeters on the edge of recession, struggling with declining productivity growth, a sagging housing market and a staggering trade deficit that has leading economists worried. With only 7 percent of the population, the European Union engine produces nearly 30% of the world’s economy, a gargantuan-sized commercial crossroads of approximately $15.2 trillion GDP, the largest economy in the world. If we add in the affiliated nations of Norway, Switzerland and Turkey, that brings the ‘EU Plus’ to over $16 trillion, a third of the world’s economy.6 The United States has a smaller economy, $13.9 trillion GDP, or 27 percent of the world, Japan is smaller still


‘The European Union engine produces nearly 30% of the world’s economy, a gargantuan-sized commercial crossroads of approximately $15.2 trillion GDP, the largest economy in the world’ with 9 percent of the world’s economy, and despite all the hype, China is still an economic dwarf, accounting for less than 6 percent of the world’s economy. Europe’s economy hardly sounds like one that is ‘sclerotic’ or a ‘sick old man.’7 Europeans have harnessed their economic engine to create wealth that is broadly distributed. Properly understood, Europe's economy and social system are two halves of a welldesigned ‘social capitalism’ – an ingenious framework in which the economy finances the social system to support families and employees in an age of globalised capitalism that threatens to turn us all into internationally disposable workers. In that sense, Europe is more of a ‘workfare state’ than a welfare state, as it has been derided in America. Even the continent's conservative political leaders agree that this is the best way. That is the European consensus, and it is fundamentally different from the American consensus. This divergence between the American and European consensus is not a mere coincidence. It is a direct result of basic differences in key political, economic and media/communication institutions and infrastructure that have been quietly incubating

and developing in the postWorld War II period. Taken together these differences in ‘fulcrum institutions’ – the crucial institutions on which everything else pivots – are the keys to understanding the striking divergence between the European way and the American way. Representative Democracy, Version 2.0

Fulcrum #1: Political institutions. Any visitor to the German Bundestag during parliamentary proceedings can see there are several aisles and five to six sections, in each one sitting a different political party. But when you visit the chamber of the US House of Representatives, it is plain to see that there are two sides in that chamber, a left and a right – Democrats on one side, Republicans on the other – with an aisle, a dividing line, down the middle. The American people, with its vast array of ethnicities, religions, languages, geographic regions, political philosophies, websites, jazzy urban centres and climate zones, is dazzlingly diverse, but with only two electoral choices, the free marketplace apparently has spread everywhere except to America’s politics. The US House of Representatives, called The

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People’s House, unfortunately doesn’t look very much like ‘the people.’ Those filling the chairs are 83 percent white and 84 percent male in a country that is 70 percent white and majority female. There are also a lot of lawyers and businessmen filling the seats, about three-fourths of the House membership, and a plurality of millionaires.8 The United States Senate is even worse in that regard, of 100 Senators there are only six Hispanics, blacks or Asian Americans, 16 women, and even greater income disparities between the Senators and their voters. A famous 19th-century aphorism said, ‘It is harder for a poor man to enter the United States Senate than for a rich man to enter Heaven,’ and things hardly seem different today. But in the Bundestag there are five political parties represented today, a broad spectrum of public opinion occupying the chairs of the national legislature. In addition, 32% of Germany's national representatives are women, including the first ever female head of government, Chancellor Angela Merkel. There even have been a few 20somethings elected to the parliament in Germany, as well as other European governments, but nothing like that ever occurs in the US. The average age of representatives in Germany’s Bundestag is 49 years old, compared to 57 in the US.9 It is pretty hard for a nation, especially one as diverse as America, to reach a consensus on the pressing issues of our times when so much of the nation is not seated at the table of political power. The comprehensive social supports for fam-


ilies and workers available in European democracies, as well as the proactive policies enacted to tackle global climate change, hardly even receive a debate in the US Congress. In the run-up to the Iraq invasion in early 2003, there was no anti-war party or even one casting a discerning eye on the manipulated evidence put forward by the Bush administration. Without a multiparty democracy where all significant points of view are represented, political debate in the US has become stunted and constrained along increasingly narrow lines in which the best interests of the American people are not well-represented. So the presence of a multiparty democracy is crucial. Why, then, does Europe enjoy multiparty democracy while America does not? The answer is simple: Europe uses more modern political institutions than the US, including proportional representation electoral systems, public financing of campaigns, free media time for candidates and parties, and robust public broadcasting. The United States has none of these, relying instead on political institutions that for the most part are still rooted in their 18th century origins. For example, the US continues to be one of the last remaining advanced democracies to use a geographic-based electoral system which elects representatives one district seat at a time. In the modern era, this ‘winnertake-all’ system, as it is called, has produced a stark landscape of legislative districts that are little more than one-party fiefdoms. Typically three-fourths of US House races are won by lopsided landslide margins, and over 90 percent by non-compet-

itive 10 point margins. State legislatures are even worse. The winner-take-all system turns whole regions and even entire states into one – party fiefdoms where one side wins and all other points of view go unrepresented – that's why it is called ‘winner-take-all.’ The fact is, most American voters do not even need to show up on election day, they have been rendered superfluous, and it's not due to partisan redistricting or campaign finance inequities, the usual reasons cited. New research shows that in most states partisan residential patterns are even more influential in deciding election outcomes. Liberals and conservatives are living in their own demographic clusters, i.e. liberals dominating in cities and conservatives in rural areas and many suburbs, and most districts are branded either Republican red or Democratic blue before the partisan line drawers sit down at their computers and draw their squiggly lines. There is little that independent redistricting commissions can do to change this, due to the partisan demographics and regional balkanisation. It is a by-product of where people live, demography has become destiny. Given America’s winner-takeall politics, multiparty democracy is impossible, and that has additional repercussions. It is hardly surprising that voter turnout in the US is one of the lowest in the world among established democracies, since for the tens of millions of orphaned voters living in balkanised regions and lopsided districts, there is literally nothing to vote for. Only 41 percent of eligible adults voted in the 2006

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congressional elections, and barely a majority in the 2000 presidential election that elected George W. Bush.10 Currently voter turnout in the United States is 139th in the world, trailing Uganda and Morocco in the world’s rankings.11 But it is not just elections to the US Congress that are hurting American democracy. US presidential elections suffer from similar problems as the House and Senate – a geographic based system with a stark lack of competition in nearly all states, as well as regional balkanisation. As we saw in 2000 and 2004, this has produced a presidential election decided by small swathes of undecided swing voters in a handful of battleground states, notoriously led by Florida and Ohio. The vast majority of voters lives in locked-up states and experiences the presidential election as spectators watching a football game from the 142nd row bleachers. What is supposed to be the premier ‘national’ election is anything but. In reality, whichever candidate can fool a small minority of swing voters in just a handful of swing states with bumper sticker slogans like ‘compassionate conservative’ or ‘New Democrat’ the last week of the campaign wins the presidency, a process New York Times critic Frank Rich has accurately called ‘survival of the fakest.’12 Differential treatment based on where one lives is a recurring theme in America’s 18th century political system. Both the Senate and Electoral College are structured to give low-population, predominantly rural states more representation per capita than higher population states. Political scientists Francis Lee and Bruce Oppenheimer


have shown that giving two Senators to each state, regardless of population, has had the effect of disproportionately favouring the low-population states when it comes to representation, policy, federal spending, even leadership positions in the Senate.13 And because these states tend to be the most conservative in the country that representation quota has overrepresented the Republican Party in the Senate in most elections since 1958.14 This ‘representation subsidy’ for low population, conservative states goes a long way toward explaining why America has fallen behind Europe in so many categories. It is like having a foot race where one side starts 20 yards ahead of the other. In America’s winner-take-all system, where one side wins and all other sides lose with little attempt at achieving consensus, conservative politics has been able to win an undeserved and disproportionate share of power, and lead America in directions that are unsupported by a majority of Americans. In Europe, on the other hand, proportional representation electoral systems have produced more electoral competition, higher participation rates and more responsive governments. Political parties from across the political spectrum are able to compete for voters’ sympathies and to win their proportionate share of seats in the legislatures. Under PR, as it is sometimes called, a political party receiving 10% of the popular vote wins 10% of the legislative seats, instead of nothing; and another political party winning 60% of the vote wins 60% of the seats, instead of everything.15

‘In America’s winner-take-all system, where one side wins and all other sides lose with little attempt at achieving consensus, conservative politics has been able to win an undeserved and disproportionate share of power’ Representatives are elected by multi-seat districts instead of one-seat districts, where conservatives can win seats in the liberal/progressive areas and liberals/progressives can win representation in conservative areas, drastically reducing regional balkanisation. Minor parties and independent candidates can win their fair share of representation too. They function as the ‘laboratories for new ideas,’ and their participation allows a dynamic conversation between the dominant mainstream parties and the junior parties, between the centre and the flanks of the political spectrum. More voters actually have something to vote for, and it is no surprise that Europe’s multiparty democracies lead the world in voter turnout.16 A much fuller marketplace of political choices in turn have fostered more spirited debate of major issues and increased voter engagement to a degree that has been impossible in the United States, with its two-party duopoly and regional balkanisation. Besides the widespread use of proportional representation, European democracies foster multiparty democracy in other ways. In the 18th century, Thomas Jefferson wrote, ‘Whenever the people are wellinformed, they can be trusted with their own government,’17

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and things are hardly different today. Three types of communication infrastructure are necessary in the modern age to foster a vigorous democracy: public financing of campaigns, free media time for candidates, and a robust public broadcasting sector that acts as a counterweight to the profit-driven corporate media. Of alarming note, the United States has none of these to speak of, Europe has a cornucopia of all three. Europe gives free air time to parties and candidates and awards publicly funded campaign financing to all political parties that achieve a minimum threshold of the vote, typically 1% or so. Giving public money to a party, especially one with so few votes, is alien to the American way of thinking. But Europe endeavours to encourage political debate and discussion of ideas as part of its consensusseeking process, while in the US the Democrats and Republicans have a duopoly that they wish to preserve. Public financing helps open up the playing field by providing all candidates and parties with sufficient resources to communicate with voters, and this in turn foments real campaign debate, giving voters enough information to make a good decision in the voter’s booth.


Fulcrum #2: Media/ communication institutions. The various media institutions in Europe also differ substantially from those in the United States, with dramatic consequences. In the absence of public financing or free air time, running for higher office in the US is extremely expensive and the corporate media has become an arbiter of candidates’ viability. But in Europe, more politically diverse media and communication outlets have fostered a pluralism of public opinion, debate, and analysis that has implanted itself not only in campaigns and in the legislatures, but also in the general news reportage between elections. Europe enjoys the benefits of more robust public television and radio networks, as well as numerous daily newspapers with editorial slants from the right to the left to the centre. Many newspapers are subsidised by the government or receive special postal rates, while the public broadcasting is much more generously funded to the tune of $50-90 per capita in Sweden, Germany and Britain. In the US, public broadcasting receives about three dollars per capita, a pathetic pittance in comparison.18 Nearly as important as the level of funding is the mechanism of public funding. In the US, public broadcasting has been funded by budget allocations from a hostile rightwing Congress and donations from corporations. Its survival – and therefore its journalistic independence – has been in doubt. But public broadcasting in Europe usually is funded by mandatory public subscription fees where all households are required to pay a monthly amount of approximately $15, about $170 per year,

much like subscribing to cable TV in the United States (but a lot cheaper). This gives public broadcasting its own funding base that is greatly independent of the government's mood swings and attention deficits, as well as of the bottom line considerations of the profit-driven corporate media. When it comes to penetration of the internet and high-speed broadband availability, Europe as well as Japan is way ahead of the US. As recent as 2001 America led the world, but now it is ranked 21st in digital opportunity, just behind formerly communist Estonia.19 Europe’s high speed connections are less expensive and lightning fast compared to those of the US,20 which consequently also is lagging in high speed internet applications, such as streaming video and Internet TV.21 In an Information Age, where an informed citizenry is enhanced by its access to the democratising aspects of the internet, Europe is leading the way while the US has fallen behind. Taken together, these media and communications institutions, combined with public financing, free air time for campaigns and proportional voting, contribute to a greater degree of what political scientist Henry Milner has called ‘civic literacy’ – more citizens who are informed and conversant in the issues of the day.22 Various studies have demonstrated that the peoples of Europe are the most educated and informed in the world, not only about their own domestic politics but also about international affairs. Americans, on the other hand, consistently perform near the bottom of these measurements. America’s

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media deficit was never more apparent than during the months-long build up to the 2003 Iraq invasion. New York Times columnist Paul Krugman commented that ‘[Europeans and Americans] have different views partly because we see different news. At least compared with their foreign counterparts, the ‘liberal’ U.S. media are strikingly conservative – and in this case hawkish.’23 So Europe's multiparty democracies clearly outshine America's two party duopoly when it comes to representation, more robust political discourse and greater media pluralism leading to a better informed populace, but that’s not all. Research by political scientists Arend Lijphart, John Huber, G. Bingham Powell and others have demonstrated that Europe’s multiparty democracies produce legislative policy that is more responsive to the desires of their populaces than winner-take-all systems. Lijphart reviewed performances of 36 countries, classifying them into ‘majoritarian’ and ‘consensus’ democracies, proxies for proportional and winner-take-all democracies respectively. He concluded ‘the consensual democracies clearly outperform the majoritarian democracies with regard to the quality of the democracy and democratic representation;’ they also are more likely to have enacted comprehensive social programs, have a better record on the environment, on macroeconomic management, on controlling violence, put fewer people in prison, are less likely to use the death penalty and are more generous with their assistance to developing nations.24


Fulcrum #3: Economic institutions. With a more democratic and representative politics, it is no surprise that Europe’s economic engine would be better harnessed to produce wealth that is broadly shared. Political democracy has translated more directly into economic democracy, and that is reflected in people’s attitudes, even that of Europe’s business class,25 and has been injected into the associated fulcrum economic institutions. The most notable example is German Mitbestimmung (worker codetermination), which is the most democratic corporate structure ever devised. This framework includes supervisory boards (Aufsichtsrat) where elected worker representatives sit sideby-side as equal decision makers with stockholder representatives on corporate boards of directors. Works councils (Betriebsrat) in every workplace give workers a great deal of input at the shop floor level. Codetermination obliges managers and executives to confer extensively with employees and unions about health and safety standards, wages, bonuses, introduction of new technology, layoffs, and generally gives workers a say in their workplace far beyond what any workers in the US can imagine. These institutions reflect German communitarian values much the way that highly paid US corporate executives and heavily upside-down pyramid salary structures reflect the American value of individualism. Sweden and most other European nations, even Britain, have adopted some degree of co-determination, while the US has nothing comparable.

These three fulcrum institutions – political, media/ communication and economic – taken together, work coherently to form the basis of a political economy that distinguishes the European Way from the American Way. Without a thorough grounding in the understanding of these basic institutions, you cannot possibly comprehend the current divergences between Europe and America, nor their future direction. Basically, it comes down to democracy, both political and economic, and whether the overall system is geared towards equality and pluralism in all facets, or whether the democracy is stunted. It is easy to see how Russia's democracy has regressed in recent years under Putin’s authoritarian tendencies, but it has been more difficult to recognise how American democracy is backward and unfit for the challenges of the 21st century. Simply put, America has the wrong fulcrum institutions. Ironically, the land of ‘We, the People’ still does not trust the people all that much. And Americans’ aging fulcrum institutions elect governments that fail to produce policy supported

by a majority of Americans. Judging by the positions of the Democratic candidates for president and the timidity of the Democratic-controlled Congress, this seems unlikely to change much, even in a Democratic administration. Consequently, the advances of the 21st century in political, economic, media and social organisation will continue to take place in Europe, not America. If we are to survive the 21st century, Europe must step up to the task of global leadership, and part of that process must involve spotlighting its fulcrum institutions – political, media and economic – as the basis for a new ‘social capitalist’ development model that offers much hope to the world.

‘It is easy to see how Russia's democracy has regressed in recent years under Putin’s authoritarian tendencies, but it has been more difficult to recognise how American democracy is backward and unfit for the challenges of the 21st century’

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The differences in the fulcrum institutions of the European way and the American way can be summarised as follows:

Political

US

EU/Europe

winner-take-all electoral systems

proportional representation electoral systems

privately financed elections

publicly financed elections

corporate media limiting debate

robust public TV and radio fostering debate

two party system

multiparty system

poll-driven, sound bite political campaigns

more debate and discussion of issues

restricted, voter-initiated registration

universal voter registration

voting in the middle of busy work day

voting on a holiday or weekend

lousy voting equipment, esp. in poor areas

modern election administration

decentralised election administration

national election commissions & standards

U.S. Senate, Electoral College give

upper chambers have less power,

advantage to low-population

less advantage for low-population regions

conservative states mistrust of democracy

more trusting in democracy – Children’s Parliaments

deliberative democracy, Question Time foreign policy based on realpolitik and

foreign policy more humanitarian and network-based

military might

Media

Economic

unilateralism

multilateralism

corporate media gatekeepers

robust public broadcasting (radio & TV)

loss of political ideas

political pluralism – promotion of ideas

media monopolies

subsidised, diverse daily newspapers

poorly informed citizenry

better-informed citizenry

low level of ‘civic literacy’

high level of ‘civic literacy’

fewer people read newspapers

more people read newspapers

individualist values

communitarian values

hierarchical structures

worker codetermination on corporate boards

of directors and works councils stockholder rights

balance of stockholder & stakeholder rights

adversarial between labour and management

labour and management confer more extensively

highly centralised Federal Reserve Bank

more decentralised central bank

lab or and enviro laws vary by state

EU-wide minimum labour & enviro standards

corporate-driven free trade pacts

national referendums on joining EU & Euro

75 Social Europe the journal of the european left Winter 2008


Endnotes 1

Christopher Swann, ‘More Americans Lack Cover for IllHealth,’ Financial Times, August 30, 2005. Also see David Leonhardt, ‘US Poverty Rate Rose in 2004, Even as Economy Grew,’ New York Times / International Herald Tribune, September 1, 2005.

www.businessweek.com/ globalbiz/content/oct2006/ gb20061010_457604.htm? campaign_id=eu_Oct11&link_ position=link34, October 10, 2006; and John Schmitt, ‘Whatever Happened to the American Jobs Machine?’, Centre for Economic and Policy Research, Issue Brief, October 2006.

By way of comparison, here are other child poverty rates: Sweden (4.2%), Germany and Austria (10.2%), UK (15.4%), Italy (16.6%) and Mexico (27.7%). See ‘The State of the World’s Children, 2006,’ a report by UNICEF, 2006, www.unicef.org/sowc06/pdfs/ figure2_4_2005.pdf and www.unicef.org/sowc06 for the full report. Also see the State of Working America 2004/2005, Economic Policy Institute. The International Comparisons chapter compares the economic performance of the United States to the 19 other rich, industrialised countries that also belong to the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). See a summary at www.epinet.org/books/swa2004/ news/swafacts_international.pdf 3

Dan O’Brien and Aurore Wanlin, ‘Reasons to be cheerful about Europe,’ Financial Times, November 24, 2006. The Gross Domestic Product per capita – considered by economists to be the most important indicator of overall economic well-being – grew by 20 percent in the EU -15 and 21 percent in the US, a statistically insignificant difference. Also see Jack Ewing, ‘Europe’s Locomotive Is Back on Track,’ BusinessWeek.com,

8

See Mildred Amer, ‘Membership of the 110th Congress: A Profile,’ CRS Report for Congress, Order Code RS22555, December 15, 2006, www.opencrs.com/rpts/ RS22555_20061215.pdf. 9

4

2

and 12 out of the top 20, with the US ranked sixth.

‘EU overtakes US in productivity growth,’ EurActiv.com, November 6, 2007, www.euractiv.com/en/ innovation/eu-overtakes-usproductivity-growth/article168129. A competitiveness report from the European Commission found that for the first time since 2001, the EU had outstripped the US in productivity growth. EU worker productivity grew at 1.5% in 2006, a sizable increase over the previous year, while in the US it had declined to 1.4%, the two economies trending in opposite directions.

For the German figure, see ‘German Parliament Sports Young Face,’ Deutsche Welle, Sept. 24, 2002, www.dw-world.de/ english/0,3367,1430_A_642760_ 1_A,00.html. For the US figure, see Associated Press, ‘A Numeric Profile of the New Congress,’ Fox News, January 04, 2007, www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933, 241441,00.html. Forty two senators are 65 or over; while the average American is 37, no Senators are in their thirties. Intelligence Report, Parade, November 25, 2007, p. 12. 10

5

Tim Hepher and Emmanuel Jarry, ‘Sarkozy tackles Hu on yuan and human rights,’ Reuters, November 26, 2007.

Nonprofit Voter Engagement Network, America Goes to the Polls: A Report on Voter Turnout in the 2006 Election, p. 6-9, www.nonprofitvote.org/wpcontent/uploads/AGttP.pdf.

6

All Gross Domestic Product figures and some population figures from the International Monetary Fund’s World Economic and Financial Surveys, World Economic Outlook Database, September 2006 Edition, www.imf.org/external/pubs/ft/we o/2006/02/data/index.aspx. 7

According to the World Economic Forum’s measure of national economic competitiveness for 2006-2007, European nations took the top four spots, seven out of the top ten spots

76 Social Europe the journal of the european left Winter 2008

11

See statistics published by the Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance (IDEA) at http://idea.int/vt/survey/voter_ turnout_pop2.cfm.

12

Frank Rich, ‘Survival of the Fakest,’ New York Times, August 26, 2000. The ever-witty Rich, comparing the dreary presidential conventions to the TV season finale of ‘Survivor,’ wrote: ‘Through a weird cultural reversal, America is now a place where there’s more spontaneity and


‘reality’ in a prime-time network entertainment series than there is in the TV spectacles staged by our political parties over supposedly momentous issues of public policy.’ Observing that neither of the party’s nominating conventions on their best nights drew close to half the audience of ‘Survivor, Rich further commented that ‘the audience that cast its vote by Nielsen isn’t stupid. It does prize authenticity over canned showmanship…As that minority of Americans paying attention knows, the choice this year is between two distinctive brands of in authenticity.’ 13

Frances E. Lee and Bruce I. Oppenheimer, Sizing Up the Senate (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1999), 4–5.

dependent on the ‘victory threshold’ of representation, which is derived by making all contested seats in a multiseat district equal to the same number of votes. If 10 seats are being elected at once from a multiseat district, each seat will be worth 10 percent of the vote in that ten-seat district. Winning 30 percent of the vote will gain three out of 10 seats, 60 percent of the vote will gain six out of 10 seats, etc. By adjusting the victory threshold it is possible to fine-tune your democracy and decide how inclusive or exclusive you want it to be. See the website of FairVote (www.fairvote.org) for additional resources about proportional representation.

Sets Shining Wi-Fi Example,’ CNet News.com, November 1, 2005, http://news.com.com/ Estonia+sets+shining+Wi-Fi+ example/2010-7351_ 3-5924673.html?tag=html.alert. 20

Blaine Harden, ‘Japan's WarpSpeed Ride to Internet Future,’ Washington Post, August 29, 2007; p. A01, www.washingtonpost.com/ wp-dyn/content/article/2007/08/ 28/AR2007082801990_pf.html; Esme Vos, ‘100 Mbps for 30 Euros in Paris,’ Muniwireless.com, August 31, 2007, www.muniwireless.com/article/ articleview/6367/1/2. France, Japan and other nations are offering broadband access with typical speeds of 100 megabytes per second, whereas in the US typical speeds are 2.5-3.0 Mbps.

16 14

Throughout the 1990s and into the 2000s, the Democrats and a Vermont independent represented a total of 240 million adult Americans (if one counts the total adult population of a state once for each senator representing that state), and Republicans represented a total of 190 million adults – yet the Republicans had the majority. In 2004, 52 percent of the two party votes were cast for Democratic senatorial candidates, yet Republicans elected 19 of the 34 contested seats (56 percent). Richard Winger, Ballot Access News, Vol. 22 No. 9, January 1, 2007, p. 4.; Matthew Shugart, ‘Filibuster Protects the Majority – of Voters,’ San Diego Union Tribune, May 18, 2005; Hendrik Hertzberg, ‘Nuke ’Em,’ New Yorker, March 14, 2005. 15

In PR systems, the percentage of vote it takes to win one seat is

Italy tops the list with 93% participation, Belgium, Austria and the Netherlands at 85%, Sweden, Denmark and the Czech Republic at 83% and Germany at 81%.

21

Paul Krugman, ‘The French Connections,’ New York Times, July 23, 2007 22

17

Thomas Jefferson to Richard Price, 1789, from The Writings of Thomas Jefferson, Memorial Edition (Lipscomb and Bergh, editors) Washington, D.C., 190304, Volume 7, p. 253.

18

See ‘Review of Public Service Broadcasting around the world,’ a report by McKinsey & Company, London, September 2004, http://www.ofcom.org.uk/ consult/condocs/psb2/psb2/ psbwp/wp3mck.pdf

19

S. Derek Turner, ‘Broadband Reality Check II: The Truth Behind America’s Digital Decline,’ Free Press, August 2006, p. 8, www.freepress.net/docs/bbrc2final.pdf; John Borland, ‘Estonia

77 Social Europe the journal of the european left Winter 2008

Henry Milner, Civic Literacy: How Informed Citizens Make Democracy Work (University Press of New England: Hanover and London, 2002).

23

Paul Krugman, ‘Behind the Great Divide,’ New York Times, Feb. 18, 2003. Krugman was trying to understand the incredulous fact that polls were showing a majority of Americans believing that some or all of the Sept. 11 hijackers were Iraqi, and that Saddam Hussein was involved in Sept. 11, a claim even the Bush administration never had made. Such a startling level of ignorance, Krugman optimistically surmised, was because the American media, particularly TV, had rendered them ill-informed.


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THE EUROPEAN UNION AND THE UNITED STATES Competition and Convergence in the Global Arena

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24

Arend Lijphart, Patterns of Democracy: Government Forms and Performance in 36 Countries (Yale University Press: New Haven and London, 1999), p. 275, 280-2, 301-2. 25

While both the United States and the European Union are capitalist economies, there are important and diverging differences. A fascinating book from 1993, Seven Cultures of Capitalism, was written by two business consultants who had distributed questionnaires to some 15,000 business managers from around the world. They used the results of these questionnaires to gauge how values, habits and cultural styles affected the pursuit of economic success. Respondents in each of the ‘seven cultures’ stud-

ied – the United States, Britain, France, Germany, Japan, Sweden and the Netherlands – reacted in startlingly different ways. Not surprisingly, the authors found profound differences between the United States and Europe, with Britain straddling a line between the two. European business managers were more disposed to communitarian values and teamwork, while American managers were hyper-individualists, producing businesses that were hierarchical and narrowly focused on quarterly profit sheets. These postures naturally spilled over into social attitudes. For instance, the American-British brand of capitalism regarded poverty as a sign of personal failure, idleness and disgrace; but Germany, Austria, Scandinavia and Japan

78 Social Europe the journal of the european left Winter 2008

regarded poverty as the economic consequences of workers finding themselves mired in declining industries.


A Discussion of Public Opinion Trends in Transatlantic Relations

I Frederico Romero Professor of North American History at the University of Florence

S 2008 THE new magical number in transatlantic affairs? Elections in the US will bring a new President to the White House and possibly a larger Democratic majority in Congress. New policies or at least new manners will emerge. We will finally get over the spat about Iraq and the war on terror to enter a new era. Europe is already well prepared for it, with a complete changeover in its leadership. Sarkozy, Merkel, and Brown were not part of the early 2003 rupture. As soon as an analogously fresh and free counterpart is in charge across the Atlantic, they will all get down to business. Transatlantic relations will revert to their natural state of (quasi)-harmonious cooperation. I do not know how many Europeans (or Americans, for that matter) actually entertain these expectations. The European press usually refrains from such naïve-looking predictions. Foreign affairs commentators duly remind their readers that our views and interests might be different no matter who is in charge. But media coverage of the American elections is so disproportionately focused on freshness and renewal

‘Unilateralism was brought to its hubristic extreme by the Bush administration but it was not invented by it’ 79 Social Europe the journal of the european left Winter 2008

that it conveys a barely concealed desire along those lines. A reiterated desire becomes, perhaps already is, an unspoken forecast, a loaded expectation. What is wrong with it, anyway? Stereotypes have more than a grain of truth. Time does actually heal. New faces carry less baggage and can very well start a new dialogue. Transatlantic relations did go through a roller-coaster of ups and downs in their long history. Umpteen break-ups were feared and predicted, but never came to fully pass. Healers succeeded. New faces shifted gear, reshuffled the agenda and turned old arguments into distant memories. Why not now? There are two good reasons not to assume such an outcome. The first pertain to the realm of strategy and political culture. I will not go into it except for saying that unilateralism was brought to its hubristic extreme by the Bush administration but it was not invented by it. It is simply an option that is always available to the pre-eminent power – a tempting one since in its milder forms it can have some advantages. Thus, it will never be entirely off the table just because its most excessive version failed. Nor will Europe’s interests be always defined by its overall desire to entrench multilateralism and sanctify a language of consultation and collaboration. On several issues we might very well want to pursue autonomous policies. Thus, new faces will be freer from accumulated constraints but will not start with a blank sheet entitled


‘cooperation’. This will be an option, not a given. The second, more important reason has its roots in history. In the run-up to the war in Iraq, the clash revolved around strategic attitudes, policy decisions, and conflicting views on international norms. But the crisis at the UN Security Council catalysed a much broader – but hitherto dormant – dissonance between Europeans and Americans based on diverging expectations and mutual perceptions. What we saw in the heated transatlantic arguments of 2003 was the sudden eruption of a divergence that had been growing ever-larger, although rarely noticed, for quite some time. In the aftermath of the war, opinion polls revealed much more than disagreement on international policy choices. They registered a historical shift to an unfavourable overall opinion of the US for a majority of (West) Europeans. Many observers brushed that aside as a momentary, emotional reaction. Almost five years later, we can now see that it was no temporary blip. Quite the opposite. It has actually congealed in a persistent attitude that appears to grow firmer at each poll. The latest Pew ‘Global Attitudes’ poll (2007) tells us that 60% of Germans, French and Spaniards have an unfavourable overall opinion of the US. Even in Britain and Italy favourable views are held by scant majorities (as opposed to overwhelming majorities in every country surveyed in 2000). Positive opinions are more widespread in Eastern Europe, but even there they are regressing overtime. More than two thirds of French and Germans dislike ‘American ideas about democracy’ as well as ‘American ways of doing business’. Most people like the export of US technology and pop culture, but the spread of their ‘ideals’ is approved by less that a quarter of all those interviewed in Western Europe, with little differences between Germany and Britain, Sweden or Spain. 80 Social Europe the journal of the european left Winter 2008

When it comes to ‘global leadership’ things do not look any better. Those who believe that US policies do not consider their own country’s interests range from 70% in Germany to a whopping 90% in France and Sweden. The previously large support for the ‘war on terrorism’ has collapsed to 40% or less in every country. In Spain, Germany and France 70% or more blame US actions for increasing the gap between rich and poor. Of the most pressing global issues only nuclear proliferation is seen as an area of responsibility for the US. But for responses to pollution, AIDS and other epidemics, poverty and even ‘religious and ethnic hatred’, most people believe that other countries or the UN should take responsibility.1 A recent poll on foreign policy issues across 11 European countries, including all the large ones, makes clear that wide differences across the Atlantic on the use of force have not abated one bit. The recourse to military options in Iran, or an increased military effort in Afghanistan remain the most divisive issues. More importantly, 60% of Europeans deemed US leadership desirable in 2002, but that figure dropped to 36% in 2004 and has since remained unchanged. The ‘indispensable’ nation of the 1990s is no longer appreciated as the leading international force by almost two thirds of Europeans (East and West). This is not to say that the huge majority (88%) that wants a larger role for the EU in international affair would not like it to cooperate with America. With the sole exception of France, most people prefer a partnership with the US when dealing with global threats (and want to retain NATO). But it is quite significant that 43% overall would prefer Europe to act independently.2 In short, the image of the benign US hegemony that most Europeans had valued for 50 years was not simply dented in 2003. It was shattered and replaced by the perception of an over-


‘The desire for convergence and the obverse dread of Americanized uniformity defined the crucial divide between ‘Americanisers’ and anti-Americans in Western Europe’ bearing power pursuing wrong strategies with illegitimate motivations. Explanations ranged from realist considerations (the end of the Cold War had loosened the bind of mutual dependence) to socio-cultural emphases on Europe’s peacefulness versus America’s martial virility, to syllogistic fulminations against antiAmericanism. None of them is entirely off the mark. Structural ties are obviously looser in the absence of the Soviet threat; the EU and the US have drawn different lessons on the relevance of force from their international experiences; and the language of antiAmericanism is certainly very visible. But these explanations are not satisfactory either, because they seem to miss a broader issue that emerges from historical analysis. When people are questioned on the role of government, on relationships between collective solidarity and individual responsibility, and on moral and religious values, international polls reveal deep, growing differences. Prevailing European opinions not only diverge from American ones, but emphasise a stark contrast between two societal models. In particular, what springs out is the assumption of a more ‘humane’, communitarian, and morally commendable European society. In the younger cohorts this Europe versus America attitude appears especially widespread. Whether this is a realistic assessment or pure wishful thinking – it is a mixture of both, in my opinion – is not the point. The fact is that this growing perception of societal and cultural 81 Social Europe the journal of the european left Winter 2008

differences, with strong ethical underpinnings, has eroded the sense of transatlantic commonality built up over half a century. Throughout the Cold War an assumption of convergence cut across most of the pillars of the Atlantic West, from the ideology of Western Civilisation to the concept of a continental European market. Most obviously, the all-encompassing ideology of liberal modernisation was a theory of historical convergence writ large. The desire for convergence and the obverse dread of Americanized uniformity defined the crucial divide between ‘Americanisers’ and anti-Americans in Western Europe. Internationalist elites in the US worked on the assumption that the US embodied the highest stage of Western development, and that (Western) Europe could be reformed and brought into it. It was this expectations of convergence – ‘You too can be like us’ – that sustained Europe’s public consensus on American leadership. The customary view of an undifferentiated ‘West’ was based on the East versus West polarity and on common ideological values (which are still very much alive today). But it derived its strength and reach from powerful social dynamics. From the 1950s to the 1970s convergence was an actual trend and a plausible perspective. Western Europe was catching up with America in GDP levels, per capita income, standards and type of consumption, technological prowess. Accordingly, a single ‘West’ was the obvious view of the future, as our economies and societies were coming together in the undistinguishable prosperity of the ‘industrialised nations’. Besides, European modernisers used the US as the yardstick to measure our march towards the future. Throughout the 1950s and 1960s businessmen, engineers, technocrats and social scientists looked to America as a repository of techniques, pathways and suggestions. The European baby-boomers


adopted parts of American mass culture, moulded it into a specific language of their own, and used it as an emancipatory vehicle for modernising many features of their own societies. Nowadays, however, when Europeans speculate on their prospects they appear to look not to America but to Europe itself – the actual and the projected Europe of our imagination. The European youth of the new century are experiencing different processes of self-identification. They need not borrow from America their cultural icons in order to mobilise them against a local context of conservative traditionalism. Those icons – even when they originate in the US – are perceived as de-nationalised components of a fully global culture. Nor are European social structures and cultural patterns interpreted as suffocating legacies of a past to be overcome. In short, the main difference from the era of (overrated) Atlantic commonality is not so much the rise of anti-Americanism as the fading of ‘Americanism’. Perhaps the most illuminating parameter of such a new attitude is to be found in the astounding gap that separates Americans from (West) Europeans on what had traditionally been, for millions of people, the comparative issue across the Atlantic; whether people who move to the US actually enjoy a better life. Americans overwhelmingly believe this to be the case – 82% of them say so. By contrast, just 17% of Germans, 23% of Spaniards and 37% of Britons think that people who left their countries to the US have achieved a better life.3 How do we explain this momentous change that built up in the late-twentieth century and recently erupted into full view? A few indicators tell us that convergence gave way to actual divergence. A new technology gap began to appear and widen from the 1980s onward. Rates of economic growth occasionally diverged as the catchingup process petered out. Perhaps more 82 Social Europe the journal of the european left Winter 2008

crucially, societal and cultural adaptation to the global imperatives of flexibility, innovation, mobility, and migration acquired different meanings – and took a markedly different pace – on the two sides of the Atlantic. Even the aging of our ‘mature’ societies and other demographics grew dissimilar. These markers of divergence from the US are not uniform across Europe. Some of them might be short-lived. But what matters is that a widening perception of divergence has taken roots in both societies, and crystallised in powerful political cultures. The onward march of American conservatism is also a reaffirmation of American exceptionalism, and an explicit rejection of ‘European’ practices, from the welfare state to secular liberalism. Its narrow, absolute vision of the market place as the crucial organising force meant that the new global challenges went unheeded. Hunger and poverty, diseases, environmental degradation, increasing inequality did not activate appropriate policy responses. Thus, the centrality and prestige of the US as the ultimate provider of public goods was severely diminished, and America’s hegemony began to loose its aura of legitimacy. In the same time-period (the 1980s and 1990s) the dramatic advancements of European unification – economic, geographical, institutional – went hand in hand with the emerging public notion of a ‘European model’, often defined less by its positive contents than by its difference from America. Many Europeans began to connect international with domestic issues and came to emphasise the distance, rather than the affinity, between our societies. As the mid-20th century awe that America inspired was replaced by the turn-of-the-century self-satisfied, even proud identification with ‘European’ ways and values, most Europeans experienced a paradigm shift in their view of Euro-American relations. It is against this background that we have


to assess the chances for future collaboration. Thus, a customary diplomatic reconciliation based on common values and mutual interests (and there are many) is not as uncomplicated as it might look. Comparisons with previous transatlantic crises are misleading rather than suggestive. As European and American societies follow divergent trends, and contemplate their future with different spectacles, the public meaning of those interests is no longer a joint one. In particular, a large section of Europeans attribute a distinct, often decisive value to Europe’s ability to take an independent stance. Politicians might come to be rewarded not so much by the compromises they strike with Washington as by their ability to project Europe’s actual and symbolic autonomy in the international sphere. This urge for a higher degree of detachment from Washington could propel the EU on to more effective efforts to devise new European foreign and security policies. But of course the problem is that a public craving for autonomy is not a sufficient condition for an independent foreign policy. It might prod governments in that direction but cannot dissolve the various impediments that prevent the emergence of the EU as a global power. Since we are too big to accept a minor rank contentedly, but too uncertain and divided to pursue a truly great power role, Europeans might well have set their expectations on a frustrating, receding goal. If a sufficient number of political forces find it expedient to stir up these sentiments, or if another American venture exposes once again the practical irrelevance of multilateralism and of Europe’s attitudes, the stage is set for a politics of resentment. The danger, in short, is not a sustained Euro-American rivalry, but a possible short-circuit. If public ambitions towards an independent European role on the global stage get repeatedly frustrated, and if 83 Social Europe the journal of the european left Winter 2008

Washington’s policies appear once again to assert US unilateral dominance, European opinions could easily turn towards a volatile mix of fervent anti-Americanism and a strident, embittered isolationism. This is not unavoidable, nor is it the most likely outcome. It is ultimately up to European and American elites to avoid such an ugly turn. Over the last two years we have seen consistent diplomatic efforts at a language and practice of transatlantic collaboration. But the prospect of a new, long-term Euro-American compact remains a delicate proposition. We are moving along courses that might run parallel for some time – probably a long time on several issues of common interest – but are no longer intertwined in a common one, and are ultimately less likely to converge than to (amicably) diverge. There are many crucial areas of transatlantic cooperation, and they will likely prevail over frictions and conflicts, but we can no longer think in terms of a transatlantic community. In particular, we must abandon the anachronistic frame of mind that defines Europe by the place it occupies in Washington’s horizon. The transatlantic world of yesterday cannot be a matrix for tomorrow’s relations between Europe and the United States.

Endnotes 1

Pew Global Attitudes Project 2007, at http://pewglobal.org/reports/display.php? ReportID=256 2

Transatlantic Trends 2007, at http://www.transatlantictrends.org/trends/ 3

Pew Global Attitudes Project 2007, at http://pewglobal.org/reports/display.php? ReportID=256


A Game of Two Halves T Gavin Rae Professor of Sociology at the Leon Kozminski Academy of Entrepreneurship and Management in Warsaw

HE COLLECTIVE SIGH of relief was loud and clear; not just in Warsaw, but in the corridors of Brussels and on the streets of London. After two years in government the ruling Law and Justice Party (PiS) had been resoundingly defeated and removed from office, with its rival Citizens’ Platform (PO) set to form a government. Addressing his victorious supporters, PO’s leader, Donald Tusk, claimed that Poland had shown Europe that it can act responsibly when needed, adding that the sight of his fellow smiling citizens coming out to vote had made him the happiest man in the world. Exaggerating the moment, Tusk idealistically announced that in life love is more important than power. This was a story of social mobilisation. Tales of an unprecedented high turnout and lines of patient voters waiting in the cities of Britain and Ireland. In Warsaw, on a bright autumnal Sunday, this story seemed to tell the truth. Our local election booth was one of many which incredibly ran out of ballot papers. Rumours of a rigged election

‘The burgeoning consumer sector was monopolised by the multi-nationals and the Polish producer marginalised to the edges of the economy’ 84 Social Europe the journal of the european left Winter 2008

spread around the city, but in the end the people’s voice was heard. This at least is the story for part of Poland, for the other a different tale is told. When PiS formed a government in 2005, it did so in an election when barely 40% of the electorate had bothered to vote. In effect, a party claiming that it had a mandate to change the constitution and establish a new republic, had only gained around 10% of society’s support. The party had managed to draw upon the resentment and frustrations of a part of society that had been degraded and marginalised by a decade and half of neo-liberal reform. For years the lure of EU accession had pulled the country through a series of intense and harsh economic reforms. Unemployment had crept up to nearly 20% and social divisions had risen to amongst the highest in Europe. A decade and a half of privatisations had seen the nation’s most desired assets sold off to foreign buyers. The burgeoning consumer sector was monopolised by the multi-nationals and the Polish producer marginalised to the edges of the economy. As Poland entered the EU and millions of Poland’s youth flocked westwards in search of a better life, the political unanimity that had underpinned the liberal reforms dissipated. PiS had managed to capitalise on the dismal support given to the liberal and left parties that had introduced the neo-liberal reforms. It could offer an eclectic mix of promises of social spending, anti-corruption campaigns


and traditional conservative values. The party managed to articulate a conspiracy theory that the problems in Poland were due to the existence of a political and economic network (układ) that had its roots in the previous communist system and those from the Solidarity movement who had collaborated with it. According to this version of history the defining moment was the Round Table talks in 1989, that had negotiated Poland’s transfer of power to a democratic capitalist system. From these negotiations it was agreed to draw a ‘thick-line’ on the past and allow those who had worked for the communist regime to participate in public life. PiS wanted to put an end to all this. They proposed both a sustained anti-corruption campaign, that would clean up the country’s political and economic life; and a renewed anticommunist drive that would root out those who had previously worked with the secret services and cut any remaining links to the past. In order to popularise this programme, promises of social spending, including the building of three million homes, were made. For the first time since 1989 power had moved away from the liberals and a more socially orientated Poland was to be formed. Listening to the words of Jarosław Kaczyński, the leader of PiS, always arouses the disturbing sensation familiar when listening to other firebrands of the conservative right in this age of global capitalism. As he speaks I find myself nodding in agreement with many of his observations. He is right that Poland is ridden with inequality and pathology. It is hard to disagree with him as he laments the arrogance of the elites and the inexcusable irresponsibility of cheaply selling off the country’s industry and banks. However, this is all but a obscurification for the policies of reaction and regression. The government of PiS, formed with the populist and far-right nationalist parties, had not only failed 85 Social Europe the journal of the european left Winter 2008

to deliver on its social policies but brought perpetual political instability at home and derision and conflict abroad. Once in power PiS created and reformed a number of government institutions, most notably the Central Anticorruption Bureau (CBA). This office soon became a political tool of the government and was used to intimidate and denigrate political opponents. The campaign of vetting those who had connections to the communist system was used for similar purposes and threatened to widen into a more general McCarthyite witch-hunt. The government made an alliance with the most intransigent and xenophobic element of the Catholic Church, grouped around the radio station Radio Maryja and its maverick leader Father Rydzyk. PiS pursued extreme conservative social policies on issues such as abortion and sexual rights; with members of the government making retrogressive, and sometimes bizarre, statements against evolution, in favour of the death penalty and warning of the homosexual propaganda message of teletubbies. The government’s foreign policy played on the horrors of Poland’s past, antagonising both Moscow and Berlin, while proving itself to be Washington’s most loyal ally in the region. With the government’s social-welfare proposals remaining just policies on paper the support for the government declined and the voters from the cities once again raised their political voice. The ruling PiS administration faced intense hostility in the municipal centres of Poland. The style and manner of the ruling twins and their allies grated the nerves of the well to do and the chattering classes. In the final weeks of the government I could hardly come across anyone in the capital who would admit to supporting PiS. The opinion polls showed a close race, but it was almost as though the supporters of the government resided in another land. Poland is a country where the


‘The elections became a plebiscite on whether the country wanted to continue along the course set out by PiS, and the answer given was a definitive no.’ division between town and country is stark. It takes only a short drive out of the cities to discover another world that contrasts starkly with the urban oases of globalisation. The journey from Poland’s western cities of Wrocław or Poznań to the eastern towns on the Ukrainian or Belarusian borders is a journey between civilisations. The rust-belt towns hosting Poland’s subsiding heavy industries bear no resemblance to Warsaw’s burgeoning financial district. The elections became a plebiscite on whether the country wanted to continue along the course set out by PiS, and the answer given was a definitive no. Despite this rejection, the Polish elections once again reveal the country’s social divisions. While the turnout in the large cities exceeded 60%, in the villages it was just over 40%. The election results were split along regional lines, with the poorer rural eastern areas won by PiS, although the turnout here was significantly lower. In general, while the young urbanites came out to vote against the government, the elderly and poor stayed at home. Political power has returned to the cities, with PO cultivating an image to appeal to the young urban milieu. The extreme social conservatism, authoritarianism and lack of a real social program meant that PiS was unable to sufficiently mobilise the voters in the industrial and rural areas that have been emptied of their young seeking better opportunities abroad. Nevertheless, support for PiS has sta86 Social Europe the journal of the european left Winter 2008

bilised at over 30% and it became only the second governing party in modern Polish history to increase its vote in a parliamentary election, gaining nearly 2 million more votes that it had done in 2005. The smaller populist and farright nationalist parties have failed to enter parliament, with PiS gaining much of their electorate and consolidating itself as the sole political party of the Catholic-nationalist right. PiS stands as a large, and generally united opposition party and, crucially, retains the Presidency. It has said that it will be a ‘hard opposition’ in parliament and will seek to exploit any divisions or weaknesses in the government camp. The language of conspiracy and secret networks remain. In his speech on election night Jarosław Kaczyński declared that they had not managed to defeat the ‘front’ that ranged from PO, through the mainstream media and even supposedly included those who had been involved in the murder of the Priest Jerzy Popiełuszko in the 1980s. President Lech Kaczyński has not congratulated Tusk on his victory and his brother has even declared that he should apologise to the President for innocuous comments made during the election campaign. These are just signs of the future conflicts to come. PO is now set to form a coalition government with the Polish Peasants’ Party (PSL). PSL is a party who has its roots in the communist system and which has previously only been in government with the left. It is making the transition towards being a party representing the countryside’s wealthy and developing a Christian-Democratic programme. Both PO and PSL belong to the Christian Democratic caucus in the European parliament. However, the rural social base for Christian Democracy in Poland is small, especially when it is so closely connected to neo-liberal economics. PO faces a number of dilemmas. Despite winning the support of millions of people who rejected the policies of the previous government, PO


hold many policies that are similar to those of PiS and are clearly a party of the conservative right. The policy of PiS, to create a new Fourth Republic, was originally proposed by members of PO. When in opposition it supported a number of the government’s proposals, including setting up CBA, and have presented themselves as the more acceptable face of the conservative right. However, the wave of disgust with the PiS administration, that swept PO into power, shows how a large majority of the electorate do not accept the conservative authoritarian policies of PiS. PO needs to choose whether and how to persist with the policies of anti-corruption and de-communisation. Institutions such as CBA are staffed with employees loyal to PiS and the President. Even if they manage to gain control of this organisation, its credibility as an independent institution of the state will be questioned. The process of de-communisation opens up a myriad of complications and contradictory information, which can be used to undermine political opponents, whether from the government or opposition. Furthermore, there are a number of scandals left over from the PiS government that need to be dealt with. The possibilities of conflicts in parliament, with the President and within the internal ranks of PO are numerous. PO is also a party that shares many of the social conservative policies of PiS. PO helped to ban a gay parade in Kraków and supports retaining one of the most restrictive abortion laws in Europe. It is a conservative party that believes in the close connection between the church and state. Despite reports in the international media stating the contrary, Donald Tusk is not a politician that comes from the centre; he is no Tony Blair and his undiluted support for free-market capitalism includes few elements of social conciliation. Tusk’s origins are in the liberal intellectual opposition movement in Gdańsk, the intellectual heirs of Hayek 87 Social Europe the journal of the european left Winter 2008

who clung cynically to the mass working class movement unfolding in their city. Over the years, Tusk has steadily immersed himself into the Catholic mainstream and in an interview during the election campaign he stated that both freedom and the market are inventions of God and that he is seeking to create a synthesis of traditional Christian values and economic freedom. Repeatedly I hear that Tusk is someone who, in comparison to the previous Prime Minister, looks ‘normal’ and behaves in a reasonable and rational manner. His appearance is casually formal and his self-depreciating manner appeals to the urbanites who yearn for ‘normality’ in their country’s public life. The smiling face of free-market capitalism offers them such hope. Another feature of this return to ‘normality’ is the declaration by Tusk that his government will return Poland to the ‘heart of Europe’. Poland’s foreign policy, during the two years of the PiS government, was defined by both its aggressiveness and incompetence. The government combined a strong anti-Russian policy with a euro-sceptic stance. Within the EU it pushed its social conservative politics on issues such as abortion and the death penalty. The government allied itself closely with the United States, to the detriment of its relationship with its European neighbours. An opinion is often aired in Poland that the countries of Western Europe are indebted to it due to the destruction it suffered during the Second World War; the selling out of the country by the West at Yalta and the huge role played by Poles in the overthrow of communism. PiS attempted to harness these feelings and contrasted its own patriotic diplomacy with the submissiveness of its liberalleft opponents. PO are forming a government at a time when relations between the USA and Europe are changing. The calamity of the unilateral war inflicted on the


people of Iraq has forced the US policy makers to forge a closer alliance with its European allies. The elections of Sarkozy in France and Merkel in Germany have created a new pro-US axis within the continent. PO was a strong supporter of the participation of Polish troops in Iraq, although it has since announced that it will begin to bring its troops home. Tusk, similar to Brown, can gain from governing at a time when the West is escaping the carnage in Iraq. However, Poland’s present foreign policy will not be judged by how it clears the debris of the Iraqi war. The major policy decision is whether or not it will allow the establishment of the US National Missile Defence system in Poland. PO has declared that it will support this, which will prevent any real thawing of relations with Russia, although the Polish government may seek to renegotiate some of the arrangements or ‘internationalise’ it through the structures of NATO. Tusk will follow the lead of Merkel and Sarkozy when making decisions on questions such as supporting a war against Iran; and will also give his unequivocal backing to the further liberalisation of the EU economy. Such is the face of New European liberalism. The post-election atmosphere is one of optimism and of the opening up of a new era in Polish politics. PO has declared that it will seek to reunite the country, with promises of a better future for all Poles. It evokes the image of being a party continuing the demo-

‘The new government has the good fortune to be governing at a time when the economy is growing, boosted by large inflows of EU money’ 88 Social Europe the journal of the european left Winter 2008

cratic path laid by Solidarno´s´c. However, once the immediate shine of success began to recede then the inequitable quality of PO’s programme has returned to the fore. This was evident in the main commentary written two days after the election in Gazeta Wyborcza, the country’s leading liberal newspaper and scourge of PiS and its allies. They remind PO that it was the young professionals in the major cities who mobilised during these elections and it is to them that PO are indebted. The argument continues that this electorate expects a professional and effective government and not one that gives everyone a pay rise, delivers flats and provides a citizen’s day-to-day health care. The message is clear; remove the burden of the state and allow these voters the freedom to spend their money and live their lives as they please. The social solidarity of those who consistently refer to the traditions of Solidarno´s´c is expressed through an extreme neo-liberal programme, that includes plans to introduce a flatincome tax, privatise parts of the health service, and further the privatisation of remaining state assets. The party supports as rapid entry into the eurozone as possible, which will place even more pressure on the government’s budget and domestic producers. The new government has the good fortune to be governing at a time when the economy is growing, boosted by large inflows of EU money. The direct funds from the EU have begun to do what nearly two decades of free-market capitalism had failed to deliver and invest in parts of the country’s infrastructure and communications. Unemployment has begun to decline, mainly due to the estimated two million workers who have emigrated abroad. This economic upturn, and the shortages of labour that have appeared in some areas, have meant that workers are beginning to make demands on their employers after years of restrictive wage policies. In particular public


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sector workers, the most radical class in those countries that are leaving their welfare states and command economies, are demonstrating for pay rises after falling disastrously behind on the nation’s wage-scale. Already there have been nation-wide teacher’s demonstrations, calling for the PO government to introduce a 50% pay rise. It was the inequalities and injustices, existent in Poland, that led to the election of the Catholic Nationalist parties two years ago. The negative vote that swept PO into office, could very easily dissipate if the government allows these already considerable social divisions to further widen. Unfortunately it seems that Poland’s ‘liberals’ have not learnt the lessons from their previous errors; and with the mainstream left immersed into this liberal framework the political initiative could be handed back to PiS, as the social consequences of the new wave of neo-liberal reforms are felt. 89 Social Europe the journal of the european left Winter 2008


United in Diversity A. Europe’s starting-point

Gerhard Stahl Secretary-General of the Committee of the Regions. (All views expressed in this paper are personal.) (German Version)

Since it was founded in 1957 the European Union has been expanding both economically and politically. The various stages of economic integration, from customs union to internal market to monetary union, have led to a blurring of national borders in many areas of life. Political and social integration in the EU has progressed to an unprecedented degree. Since their accession to the EU, Member States which before had stood on the margins of economic and political development – e.g. Portugal, Spain and Greece – have been going through an impressive economic and social modernisation process. In the case of the European Monetary Union in particular, increased integration has meant that it makes less and less sense to set economic policy in a national context and that economic integration goes hand in hand with the transfer of national sovereignty.1 Consequently not only the European Central Bank but also economic policy research institutes publish aggregate economic data for the euro area as a whole and less and less for individual Member States. At the same time there is widespread agreement that with globalisation, regional factors are becom-

90 Social Europe the journal of the european left Winter 2008

ing more important for the competitiveness of companies and the labour force. Hence the debate has widened to embrace regional as well as national competitiveness, and regional statistics and regional benchmarking are growing in importance. B. The general public is insufficiently aware of the scale of European integration

In the several decades that it has existed, the EU has pushed ahead with the integration of people’s living conditions to a much greater extent than the public realises. Public discourse is still geared to national political structures and has yet to respond adequately to the actual level of economic and political integration which has been achieved. While in the public debates in the Member States there are calls for national responses, our economies and political systems have already largely outgrown national boundaries. The economic patriotism with a special role for public enterprises which inspires the debate and politics in France, or the preservation in Germany of a unique tripartite banking model in which the savings banks use the regional principle to turn their backs on Europe, are com-


‘In the several decades that it has existed, the EU has pushed ahead with the integration of people’s living conditions to a much greater extent than the public realises’

ing increasingly into conflict with the economic realities of EU integration. When Spanish government representatives think about preventing the takeover of an energy company by a German competitor, they are pushing against the European boundaries of national sovereignty just as much as those players in the UK or Sweden who would like to stop their citizens from availing themselves of health services in other European countries. C. The legitimacy crisis in the EU and the challenge of globalisation

I. The rejection of the Constitutional Treaty puts the EU to the test Compared with other parts of the world, over recent years the EU has lacked economic dynamism and its capacity for research and innovation has been inadequate. Despite the historic enlargement of the EU to embrace ten new Member States in 2004 and two more in 2007, despite the increasing importance of the euro as a major world currency since its introduction in 1999, despite the fact that the EU is the world’s largest trading partner and largest aid donor, it once again faces a legitimacy crisis.

The European Constitutional Treaty drawn up by a Convention working intensively over 16 months in 2004 and 2005 has been rejected by two Member States. In May 2005 the French rejected it by 54.8% and the Dutch by 61.6% in referendums. Although more than half the Member States have already ratified it in the meantime, the heads of government felt obliged to impose a one-year pause for reflection at the June 2005 summit. The flagging public support for the EU and the rather pessimistic assessments of its future are often attributed to a loss of international competitiveness. Economic difficulties and fears contribute to the rejection of the EU. II. The globalisation debate is coloured by national perspectives The political and economic debate on the consequences of international competition and globalisation are determined by widely differing perspectives and positions. Politicians, associations and interest groups, but also academics, often stress individual developments and risks associated with globalisation without attempting a coherent assessment.

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Anyone observing the debate in individual European Member States will notice that, despite some points in common, public discussion tends to focus on very different areas. In Germany there has been strong criticism of an actual or imagined reform logjam. Economic stakeholders have urged politicians to reform social law, make the labour market more flexible, and cut costs and the tax burden in order to make Germany more attractive as a location for business. In this debate the European Union is regarded as an ally, which, for example, in its annually adopted broad economic policy guidelines gives an important impetus to reform initiatives and which, with the Stability and Growth Pact, contributes to budgetary consolidation. In France, on the other hand, there is more emphasis on the role of the state and state-controlled enterprises and the need for coordination of monetary, fiscal and structural policy at European level. Against this background there are calls for a more intensive exchange of views between the Eurogroup, i.e. the national economy and finance ministers, and the European Central Bank. Prime Minister Juncker, who in September 2006 was re-elected for a new two-year term as President of the Eurogroup, publicly supported this call to the ECB President. The need for a European industrial policy is also stressed. In the Scandinavian countries, when discussing international competitiveness, the strengths of the flexicurity approach tend to be invoked, as does the need for research and


innovation. There is therefore support for calls to strengthen the research effort under the EU’s Lisbon agenda. In Great Britain stress is laid on the need for further market opening and for an efficient European financial market. There is support for implementation of the European Financial Services Action Plan and the opening up of markets which have hitherto been to some extent protected, e.g. in the energy and transport sectors. The majority of the new Member States support these calls for further market opening and are critical of the remaining obstacles to the free movement of workers. This doubtless incomplete and rather schematic summary of the public debate in the EU Member States gives the impression that the response to the challenge of globalisation is very heterogeneous and uncoordinated. A joint European response has so far not been forthcoming, given the extent to which these issues are inextricably bound up with national economic and political debates. This certainly does much to damage the EU’s image. The people of the EU expect effective action from their politicians on the vital issues of international competitiveness and mitigating the negative consequences of globalisation. Despite its practical importance, the EU is reflected in a very contradictory way in national debates, which makes it is difficult to awaken people’s trust and interest in European policy.2 This will only change when the true scope of EU cooperation comes to be understood by the public.

D. The European response to the challenges of globalisation3

I. The development of a new system of governance In response to the changed economic, social and political situation in Europe and worldwide, a new system of governance was developed in the EU, which makes it possible to formulate joint responses in many areas. As a basis for European action the system goes well beyond the fields of legislation and application of the law. Research activities and innovation are promoted using the European budget, the Structural Funds support regional-policy measures, initial and further training and measures to promote economic activity. Small-scale cross-border cooperation can also be supported, as can cooperation on a larger scale, such as the Baltic Sea region or between Mediterranean states. Trans-European infrastructure measures, which extend beyond national borders, are planned and promoted at European level. In the World Trade Organisation the Commission represents the interests of the EU Member States against illegal barriers to trade erected by world market competitors. The ECB guarantees price stability and sets interest rates for the euro area. Apart from legal and budgetary instruments, the EU has developed other procedures in order to ensure coordinated action by the various local, regional, national and European stakeholders. The challenge in the EU is to work together successfully with state actors, which have very different opportunities for action and legal competences.

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Some of the European states with seats and votes in the Council of Ministers are not even as big as regional entities like the German Länder, Spain’s autonomous regions, or Italian or French regions. The internal allocation of powers between the local, regional and national levels is very disparate in the EU. In some Member States regions have powers which in other countries are the preserve of the central government. Metropolitan regions like Paris and London have economies which are bigger than those of a number of EU Member States. In relation to research activity, metropolitan areas like Stuttgart and Helsinki carry more weight as discussion partners that some Member States. On the one hand, in accordance with the EU Treaties, the institutional role of the Member States and the internal allocation of powers has to be respected in the legislative process. But on the other hand, multi-level cooperation with variable geometry is needed in order to solve practical problems and achieve real progress.4 1. In some cases this multi-level cooperation arises, as it were, from the bottom up, through local initiatives aimed at solving specific implementation problems. Two examples can be cited to illustrate this: a) In the framework of the SaarLor-Lux cooperation, German Länder like the Saarland and Rhineland-Palatinate have negotiated agreements with Luxembourg and France, which exercises powers on behalf of Lorraine. Because European


support was given for some of the actions, the European Commission was also involved in the negotiations. b) The Austrian Transport Ministry decided, during the Austrian Council Presidency, in cooperation with the European Commission, to work together systematically not only with European industry but also with the Committee of the Regions and the local and regional authorities on the development of applications for the Earth resources observation systems. Spatial planning, urban development, as well as natural disaster management and environmental protection measures, like the reduction of particulates, can be aided by satellite-assisted measuring and planning instruments. As implementation in these areas has to take place at local level, it is obvious that the regional and local authorities should be involved in the design of new Earth resources observation systems from the outset. 2. The EU has also developed coordination mechanisms from the top down, which provide a general European framework for this multi-level cooperation. a) The earliest example of this was cohesion policy. Under the Structural Fund regulations Member States were encouraged to assign regional authorities direct responsibility for the drawing up and implementation of regional support programs, although the detailed arrangements clearly differed considerably from one country to another. Thus the second biggest European policy in terms of

expenditure has made a significant contribution to strengthening the regions in the Member States and to developing systematic forms of cooperation between the regional, national and European levels in promoting economic development. b) But the effects of European cohesion policy extend beyond the implementation of structural-policy support measures. The European Convention, responsible for drafting the Constitution, took the debate further and proposed that territorial cohesion be made an objective of EU policy alongside economic and social cohesion. This was associated with a call for European, national and regional policies to be so designed and coordinated as to permit regionally balanced development. As early as 1989 the European Spatial Development Perspective (ESDP) was adopted, under the German Council Presidency, as an instrument to this end. The ‘governance philosophy’ underlying this approach entails the drawing up common objectives, while maintaining the respective powers and competences, and developing multi-level coordination of different policy areas (e.g. transport, agricultur-

al, regional, and research and innovation policy). c) The Lisbon agenda is a further example of the European level giving an impetus to strategically coordinated action by different stakeholders. The strategy to promote growth and employment, adopted in 2000 by the European heads of government and revised in 2005, calls for the submission of national reform programmes. When drawing up these programs it is necessary not only to integrate the various policy areas at national level but also to involve the regional level of government. The Committee of the Regions, as representative of the regional and local levels of government in the EU, assesses the national reform programmes and the extent to which they involve the regional and local authorities and presents the results in the context of a territorial dialogue in Brussels before the Spring Summit. 3. The various European coordination mechanisms have led to an intensive exchange of views between specialists from the national, and in some cases regional, administrations, repre-

‘There is a European consensus on following the social market economy model – in other words, pursuing a policy that couples competitiveness with economic, social and territorial cohesion’

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sentatives of business, European institutions, political decisionmakers and associations. The general public is as yet inadequately informed about the intensity and institutional basis of European coordination and consultation structures. The European Parliament, as part of the budgetary authority and the European legislature, discusses issues of key importance for Europe’s future in its specialised committees. These discussions are assisted by the role of consultative bodies like the Committee of the Regions and the European Economic and Social Committee, which prepare decisions of the European legislative authorities and discuss these in advance with their members and partners. CoR rapporteurs, for example, address the European Parliament’s committees to put across the CoR’s views. The CoR is also represented at informal meetings of ministers and events organised by the Council Presidency, when matters falling within its sphere of competence are being discussed. Where the internal allocation of powers allows, some regions sit at the table during meetings of the European Council of Ministers. The political views of the CoR are intensively prepared in the context of the main coordination processes which affect the competences of the regional and local levels of government. This is done, for example, by systematically distributing questionnaires to Committee members, through meetings with the national and European associations representing regional and local authorities, and through in-house studies.

II. The formation of a European consensus as a response to global competition The very varied coordination procedure within the Community – in which the parties mentioned above participate in varying degrees – has produced a consensus on how the EU Member States need to react to the challenge of globalisation. The consensus is essentially this: The EU must react actively and as one to the challenge of fiercer international competition. Measures to improve competitiveness must be combined with care and support for those adversely affected by international competition and structural change. A successful policy requires the coordination of all levels of government. The partnership between private and public players must be consolidated in order to accelerate adaptation to structural change. While the extent of stronger competition and flanking measures may be a bone of contention in particular cases, this should not obscure the fact that there is a European consensus on following the social market economy model – in other words, pursuing a policy that couples competitiveness with economic, social and territorial cohesion. III. The European multi-level model as a response to globalisation Globalisation is a challenge for politics and not just for the economy. European businesses are learning to adapt themselves to international competition:

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even SMEs are looking beyond the borders. Cities and regions, too, are forming European partnerships, participating in networks to pool experience and joining European associations to represent common interests – sometimes directly – ‘in Brussels’. Through the CoR they also play an advisory role in making European legislation. Matters appear more difficult when it comes to national politics. European systems of government are based on national sovereignty.5 Often the supranational structures of the EU, European legislation and European democracy through the directly elected European Parliament still come off badly in terms of public awareness and the conduct of national governments. In a European Union of twenty seven members, a negotiating model which tries for consensus among national governments and allows a national veto is being stretched to its limits. Yet globalisation also requires politicians to make decisions ever more quickly. This cannot be done well as long as the principle of unanimity operates in many fields of EU policy. This is why further progress is needed towards majority voting in the EU Constitution process. In addition, national policies in countries such as France, Spain, Italy, Great Britain and Germany should go further in the direction of decentralisation and creating more effective federal structures. This broadens the sphere of operation of devolved bodies and makes it possible to develop appropriate


and issue-specific modes of public and private action in the European multi-level model. One thing that produces good results, for example, is tripartite agreements that set goals for regional, national and European levels.6 The quickest way to solve problems are agreements concluded directly between local authorities which respect the subsidiarity principle and as far as possible leave crossborder cooperation in education, healthcare, local transport and town and country planning to those affected. Competition between regions and metropolitan areas brings a new dynamic into play, but also requires uniform supervision of market rules. In short, a multi-level coordination has evolved in the EU – largely unnoticed by the general public – that complements national actions with the European dimension and with decentralisation at local and regional level. In the process of coordination, a certain European consensus has also crystallised that makes it possible to react in concert to the challenge of globalisation. Economic policy guidelines, open coordination methods, benchmarking, the sharing of best practices, the presentation of innovative regions, and model projects of integrated urban development: these are versatile instruments that further the pooling of experience and facilitate the process of adapting to change. Time will tell whether this system of European governance, which is very much based on the voluntary principle and susbsidiarity, will suffice, together

with the continued development of existing European institutions, to ensure European competitiveness. I am confident that this historically evolved European model has a very good chance of proving itself.

Endnotes 1

Working Paper 120 of the Austrian National Bank by Otmar Issing ‘Europe's Hard Fix: The Euro Area’ puts it this way: ‘But Monetary Union in itself already has a clear political dimension. The transfer of national sovereignty in such an important field as the currency to a supranational institution [ .] is a substantial contribution to political integration’ (page 20). 2

Michael Zürn, Ein Nein, das auch ein Ja ist (A No that is also a Yes), WZB-Mitteilungen, Vol. 113, September 2006, pp. 17 et seq., comments on national debates in Europe. 3

Globalisation covers a wide variety of areas. The report Globalisation, Growth and Poverty, World Bank 2002, for example, shows that it embraces economic, social, environmental, cultural and security issues. 4

Peter Straub, Die europapolitische Rolle der Landes- und Regionalparlamente in der EU (The European Role of ‘Land’ and Regional Parliaments in the EU), Rudolf Hrbek (Pub.), 1998, gives a good overview of regional powers.

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Michael Keating (Pub.), Regions and Regionalism in Europe, Cheltenham, 2004, gives a comprehensive overview of the various influences which are intensified by regionalisation processes 5

‘Constitution Building in the European Union’ (ed. Brigid Laffan, Dublin, 1996), sets out the various definitions of national sovereignty and citizenship and discusses the relationship between national and European identity (p. 51 et seq). 6

Martino Mazzoleni, The First Tripartite Agreement in the EU. An actor-centred Analysis of an Experimental Multi-level Interaction, in Regional and Federal studies, September 2006, Vol. 16., No 3, 263-279.


A Left-Wing Godesberg – the SPD’s new Hamburg Party Programme

T

Detlev Albers Chief Editor of Social Europe Journal and Professor of Politics at Bremen University (German Version)

HE EVENT DESERVES Europe’s attention: the German Social Democrats adopted a new party programme at their party conference at the end of October 2007. After Berlin (1989) and Godesberg (1959), this is the third post-war party programme. If one wants to cover even the whole party history, the Weimar Republic party programmes Heidelberg (1925) and Görlitz (1921) as well as the German Empire party programmes Erfurt (1891) and Gotha (1875) also preceded the Hamburg Programme too. Hence for the seventh time, a new party programme was adopted. So, which parts of this event deserve attention? Let us begin with the normal things within this remarkable event. The Hamburg Programme is the first party programme of one of Europe’s big leftwing parties in the new 21st century and has been written for the coming two or three decades. Unlike all its predecessors, the programme was compiled whilst the SPD has been in government and not in opposition. And the SPD needed 8 long years, from

‘The Hamburg Programme is the first party programme of one of Europe’s big left-wing parties in the new 21st century and has been written for the coming two or three decades’ 96 Social Europe the journal of the european left Winter 2008

1999 to 2007, three successive programme commissions and not less than four party chairmen to finish the programme. With the Hamburg Programme, the SPD has returned as a ‘programme party’. The party has always felt committed to such claim. This commitment is reflected in the two parallel parts of the Erfurt Programme. Whereas the allegedly natural way towards a classless socialist society is outlined in its first part, the second part comprises a concrete catalogue of measures ranging from transition claims to the creation of a democratic republic. The knowledge of the merit of such tension arc between the vision of a social democratic party, its historical duty and its day-to-day political goals has evaporated in the last years and decades. Examples for this were inter alia the 1999 Schröder-Blair paper, extensive privatisation of public goods, not just a few aspects of the ‘Agenda 2010’ and attempts to dismiss central programmatic objectives such as ‘democratic socialism’ and ‘economic democracy’ as in principle outdated and therefore obsolete. Layout, methodology and basic messages of the Hamburg Programme contradict this tendency. One could argue now that the SPD has actually never abandoned its commitment of being a ‘programme party’. This is however only seemingly true but not factually. Despite important and still valid aspects, the last party programme, the so-called Berlin Programme, adopted in


December 1989 remained in the thinking of system contradiction, national partition as well as the Cold War. It was therefore easy to brush the programme’s valid statements, for example on the principle of sustainability, with reference to the radically changed world order aside. Indeed, the Berlin Programme had long ago lost its guiding impact on the social democrats’ governmental policies. Only a small step was missing to rid themselves forever of the burden of uncomfortable visionary objectives. It is thus all the more important that the Hamburg Programme has set an end to this tendency. It is not a backtracking bow to the past that already the introduction follows ‘democratic socialism’s proud tradition. The paragraph on Our Values and Beliefs explicitly states that democratic socialism means nothing less than the programmatic horizon of social democratic objectives for the 21st century – the ‘first real global century’ according to the introductory time analysis. Consequently less than two decades later, the most resolute commitment to the validity of these socialist objectives is expressed by a country in which once the Berlin Wall stood. Who wants to disagree that this commitment demonstrates a crucial landmark for the whole present European left? At the end of the 19th century, the Erfurt Programme inspired all other continental social democratic and socialist parties, which were at that time only in their creation stage. The Godesberg Programme of the post-war Federal Republic of Germany, which served as an important role model for the European social democracy, symbolises another watershed due to its recognition of ‘core value socialism’ (Grundwertesozialismus) and social market economy. As a sort of ‘left-wing Godesberg’, the Hamburg Programme has a good chance to become as significant as the SPD’s two most influential party programmes. 97 Social Europe the journal of the european left Winter 2008

The Programme’s core messages

To stop climate change: In the introductory paragraph The time we live in, this question is given a prominent position placing it over and ahead of all other contradictions. This shows which importance the Hamburg Programme assigns to the fight against global warming caused by human activities. In all paragraphs that follow, the ‘sustainability principle’ including a radical turn of energy policy as well as the entering of a solar era is picked up again. This sustainability principle must determine the activities of an ‘UN economic, social and environmental council’ – a core demand for the creation of a desired ‘global domestic policy’. The responsibilities of such a council are obvious – it has to coordinate ‘economic interests, social needs and ecological necessities’. Yet, the key question of how this council could assert its authority worldwide unfortunately remains unclear. Sustainability is after all not less insistently called for in the treaties of the European Union and for the reshaping of the economy of one’s own country. Nevertheless, it could also happen that all theses objectives are fading in the light of dramatic culmination of the real climate conditions and therefore much more direct interference in industrial living is required – especially there where a responsibility for climate change can be detected. To fight against global capitalism: The less likely it is to reverse the globalisation of capital and goods, services and labour – in fact globalisation holds unquestioned advantages – the less acceptable global capitalism created by globalisation is. Global capitalism characterises a ‘lack of democracy and fairness’. ’It worsens old injustices and creates new ones.’ Global capitalism thus evokes an opposing stance behind which Social Democrats must rally. The struggle against poverty throughout the world, Europe and Germany


offers the most common rationale for the advocacy of a just global economic order. The claim for democratic control of financial market, which has to be implemented at national, European and global level, belongs to this very old, but increasingly charged debate about global economic order. Although the programme describes how important it is to provide frameworks, it on the other hand stays vague and notbinding once effective measures are concerned. Neither stock exchange tax nor Tobin tax nor restrictions of hedge funds’ activities, which must include more than just transparency, are mentioned in the programme. Social Europe must become our answer to globalisation. Like in no other party programme before, the SPD focuses in Hamburg on the EU as strategic arena for the realisation of its policies. Against all contradictions and half measures of the current European affairs, it is said right at the beginning of the relevant paragraph: ‘Democratic Europe needs a government accountable to parliament on the basis of a European constitution.’ Yet, the Programme also explicitly dismisses Brussels’ steady tendency to extend the lead of the internal market compared to social integration into a permanent predominance of the market principle at the European level. ‘Besides the EU’s Economic and Monetary Union a European social union of equal rank needs to be created.’ Therewith and only therewith the EU can gain such degree of internal cohesion and interna-

As part of a plausible full employment strategy, ‘job and occupational change’ and even more importantly ‘constant learning’ are supported. 98 Social Europe the journal of the european left Winter 2008

tional attractiveness in order to fundamentally reform global capitalism. It is therefore only consistent when the Hamburg Programme expressly supports the further development of the Party of European Socialists ‘towards a capable members and programme party’. Decent work: ‘Every work well done deserves respect, but not every work is decent work. Work is part of a life in dignity, but the work has to be decent.’ This is the core piece of our programme; if anywhere then it is worthwhile here to have a short comparing digression about the history of the SPD’s programmes. Each previous programme approached differently societal reality continuously endeavouring to find answers ‘on the basis of its current time’. Apart from employees’ jobs, ‘decent work’ in the Hamburg Programme also deliberately includes ‘self-employed jobs’ and ‘decent work without profit’ (volunteer work). As part of a plausible full employment strategy, ‘job and occupational change’ and even more importantly ‘constant learning’ are supported. By embracing the requirements derived from this strategy, the Hamburg Programme can even more convincingly explain the resultant expectations of ‘decent work’. ‘Fair distribution of profits’, protection against social and wage dumping, collective bargaining autonomy and co-determination are part of these expectations. Fair services of public interest: The struggle for the best possible realisation of ‘decent work’ provides the basis for the welfare state as ‘major civilising innovation of the 20th century’. In the run-up to the party conference in Hamburg it was heavily debated whether the ‘post-caring’ elements of the welfare state carried out as transfer payment, for example unemployment benefit or pension, should recede in favour of its ‘precautionary’ elements such as different aspects of education system, integration of immigrants or


the field of health protection. Eventually, the understanding of the indispensability of both systems prevailed. This led to statements like: ‘The earlier, more individual and more effective the precautionary principle is applied, the better the welfare state is capable of justly protecting against major life risks.’ At the same time, it becomes obvious that question of justice in each subarea of the welfare state ranging from education and health system to old-age provision demands for independent answers to often dramatically growing problems. These problems vary from available resources to participation of the people involved to democratic form of responsibility of the whole of society. A modern programme party

Party programmes need life: this is particularly true for a programme such as the Hamburg Programme which redefines the basic values of a party. They gain life from the belief systems of their members for whom they speak and whose different opinions they bring together. Party programmes however also need to be realistic and effective. Therefore, their examination never stops; their capability will constantly be tested – inside by members and supporters, outside by the public, media and rival parties and last but not least in democracies by elections. These are the tests, which the SPD’s Hamburg Programme has yet to pass. It starts with the process of implementation of the adopted text by the members at every level – in local branches and local government, at state and federal level. Everywhere it has to be seen as to whether the programme can convince the party members: If the programme has accepted numerous grassroots proposals, convincingly fitted in with the programmatic heritage of Social Democracy, provided enough space for answers to the new challenges of our time, it is really viable for the future. Is it possible to combine the 99 Social Europe the journal of the european left Winter 2008

core messages, how do they go along with the programme’s individual messages and can we extract orientation and instructions of action from these? Yet, on the other hand member’s reality must also match the programme: How do the basic messages of the programme relate to one’s own political acting and to the political practice of Social Democrats regardless of which policy field and level? In doing so, one thing becomes apparent: If a party adopts a new party programme, pragmatism within the party will be limited and everyday necessary political compromises will increasingly need justifications. If a party ignores these, its credibility would be in fact more damaged than this would be the case during times of programmatic emptiness. The fact that the German Social Democrats, whilst being in government, dare to try to meet the updated credibility criteria of the Hamburg Programme shows their confidence. No one needs to fear now that the SPD will become a dogmatic party of programmatic ‘exegetes’. However thanks to the Hamburg Programme, an invaluable gain in internal solidarity and willingness to self-confidently enter political disputes with the rival parties on the right or on the left can already be noted.


Social Europe the journal of the european left • Volume 3 • Issue 2 • Winter 2008

Appendix Hamburg Programme Principal guidelines of the Social Democratic Party of Germany Adopted at the Federal Party Conference of the SPD in Hamburg on October 28, 2007

(German Version) (Spanish Version)

Introduction 1. Our lifetime 2. Our core values and core convictions 3. Our aims, our policy 3.1 A peaceful and fair world 3.2 Social and democratic Europe 3.3 Civil society based on solidarity and democratic state 3.4 Gender equality 3.5 Sustainable development and qualitative growth 3.6 Good work for all 3.7 The preventive social welfare state 3.8 Better education, society suitable for children, strong families 4. Our way

Introduction Progress and justice in the 21st century

The future is open – full of new opportunities, but also full of threats. Therefore we must fight for progress and social justice by democratic means. Committed to the people, in the proud tradition of democratic socialism, with sense for reality and energy the German Social Democrats are accepting their tasks in the world of the 21st century, for permanent peace and safe ecological foundations in life. For a free and fair society in solidarity. For equality and self-determination of all people – independent of origin and gender, free from poverty, exploitation and fear. We are aiming at a free and fair world order. We are favouring the strength of law to overcome the law of the strongest. A social Europe must become our response to globalization. Only in joint security and responsibility, only in solidarity and partnership will peoples, states and cultures shall we be able to safeguard the survival of humankind and our planet. We are working for sustainable progress combining economic dynamism, social justice and ecological reason. We want to overcome poverty and exploitation by means of qualitative growth enabling good


work for all and counteracting the menacing climate change. The natural foundations for life shall be safeguarded also for future generations and quality of life need to be improved. To this end we want to put the opportunities of scientific and technical progress into the service of humankind. We are developing the preventive welfare state combatting poverty, offering people equal opportunities for a life in self-determination, granting fair participation and providing reliable security for major risks in life. We are favouring togetherness of the generations and equality of women and men. We are dedicating our support to families, focussing our special support on the weakest groups in our society. We want a healthy life and good education for all. We do not want to leave behind any child. We are favouring the strengths of civil society in solidarity. With the creative power of democratic policy we want to strengthen cohesion in our country enabling a sense of belonging and being at home. We want to promote a culture of recognition in Germany: people shall live together in mutual respect of dignity, culture and contribution of their neighbours. We are working for our social and democratic constitutional state granting security in freedom. In our times of rapid change many people are searching for orientation and perspective. We know that millions of people in the entire society are sharing our values and goals. We want to win over this majority in solidarity for our social democratic policy.

1. Our lifetime The 21st century is the first really global century. Never before people relied on each other so much worldwide. With the collapse of Communism the division of our country and the political split of the world were overcome. Since then we have experienced the most profound historical change since the industrial revolution. Science and technology are driving change. This century will either become a century of social, ecological and economic progress bringing more wealth, justice and democracy for all people or it will become a century of fierce distribution struggles and raging violence. Today’s lifestyle of our industrial societies will overstrain the earth’s ecological power of endurance at the latest when nine instead of six billion people will act and consume as we have done up to now in the richest part of the world. Dignified human life, peace in the world and the habitability of our planet are jeopardized. An increasing part of the world population already suffers from the repercussions of global warming, from desertification and water shortages. People from regions where ecological conditions cause famine are flooding into less jeopardized parts of the world. Slowing down and stopping the climate change is therefore one of the main challenges in the 21st century. The contradictions of globalization

The world is growing together. Digitalized media and other technical developments have revolutionized the relevance of space and time. For the first time in history we are experiencing worldwide division of labour involving major parts of mankind. Globalization, open borders and markets are not only the result of technical innovations but also of political decisions. This offers the chance to overcome famine, poverty and epidemics. World trade brings new work and wealth for many people. At the same time, however, global capitalism is characterized by a lack of democracy and justice. Thus it is opposed to a free world living in solidarity. It enhances old and creates new injustice. Therefore we fight for a policy defining a social response to global capitalism in our own country, in Europe and in the world. Global capitalism is heaping up large quantities of capital which, however, do not necessarily create new wealth. Raging finance markets bring speculation and expectations conflicting with sustainable and long-term economic action. If the sole target is rapid and high return on capital jobs are destroyed and innovations prevented many times. Capital must serve the purpose of value added and wealth. With globalization the world increasingly amalgamates in one single market. Economic power is concentrated in global corporations, banks and funds. Transnational corporations plan their profit-making strategies worldwide undermining democratically legitimized decisions. Nation states, even the largest amongst them, run the risk to become mere locations competing for investments of global capital. Therefore nation states must join forces and strengthen their influence together. Europe has adopted this course. A social Europe can also play a model role for other parts of the world. The world holds more 101 Social Europe the journal of the european left Winter 2008


knowledge than ever before. Technical progress has gained breathtaking speed. Heavy physical work can be substituted. We can overcome deseases considered unhealable for a long time. Average life expectancy is increasing. But not all people benefit from knowledge and other public goods just because they are available for sale. In many countries the gap between poor and rich is widening. The destruction of nature is progressing worldwide. Where borders fall chances increase for peaceful togetherness of peoples and cultures. However, the more the world is growing together the more it becomes vulnerable. We are experiencing the disintegration of states, the development of breeding grounds for anarchy and terrorism and the arbitrary division of the world in good and evil by religious and political fundamentalists. Privatized denationalized violence and the dissemination of weapons of mass destruction are creating new hazards. All of this jeopardizes peace. After two murderous world wars and the Holocaust the peoples of Europe have created a continent of peace and open borders. The peaceful revolutions of 1989 have overcome the division of Europe in East and West. German unification has brought freedom and democracy for our entire country. People are enjoying wealth and quality of life as never before, not only in Germany but almost all over Europe. At the same time, however, Europe is experiencing a crisis of confidence amongst citizens. People in the states of Europe, even in Germany, want more consideration of social concerns, more respect of national identities and cultural traditions. Therefore Europe must be more than a confederation of states, it must become a social and democratic alliance of its citizens. Profound changes in the world of employment and in society

For the first time there is worldwide competition of services and labour parallel to the world market of capital and commodities. More people than ever before are directly affected by globalization and international competition. Russia, China and India are future markets for us. With their appearance on the world market, however, the workforce available within the scope of global division of labour is also growing enormously. Competition is becoming fiercer. Germany has benefitted from globalization thanks to the strength of its industry. But not everyone in our country is a winner. Workforces are experiencing how even flourishing companies are being relocated. Anonymous fund managers are bying and selling companies like traders sell their commodities on a wholesale market. Our working society is undergoing profound change. Speed of innovation and variety of employment are increasing. Qualifications and knowledge are becoming increasingly important. New creative occupations are developing. Traditional normal employment contracts, permanent and with regular working hours, are losing importance. Working life is now characterized by a change between employment, unemployment, phases of family work and self-employment. These changes, often experienced as constraint, may overstrain and frighten people. Many people are afraid of being left behind and being neglected or even forgotten by politics. Older workers and people with lower qualifications are more excluded from the labour market than others. Even women with excellent qualification still do not get fair access to career making opportunities and paid employment to make a living. Those in work frequently fear that their quality of life is jeopardized because of increasing pressure, fiercer competition and the demand for permanent availability. After the Second World War Social Democrats, trade unions and social movements made major progress in the Federal Repubic of Germany. More people than ever before were able to take part in cultural and social life while social security reached a high standard. Unrestrained global capitalism jeopardizes these success stories. Poverty is spreading again and the gap between rich and poor is widening, even in Germany. Not everyone is able to earn a living by his or her own work. This is especially true for many people in the new Federal States. Many migrant families and single mothers and fathers are struggling hard to earn a living and create a good life for their children. Many have been living on benefit for three generations. Poverty is frequently inherited because in Germany, more than elsewhere, opportunities for good education depend on parents’ background. For many people the ladder of social advancement is still out of reach. Our society has progressed far on the way towards equal opportunities for women and men. The traditional role assignment, however, has not yet been overcome. Legal equality in itself does not mean equal opportunities. In the world of work and occupation old discriminations continue to exist. Compatibility of family and occupation still is predominantly a problem of mothers, women earn less than men, they 102 Social Europe the journal of the european left Winter 2008


are more threatened by loss of job and by poverty. Life expectancy in Germany is increasing which is a great gift. Living longer means having more time for activity, education and enjoyment relegated to the background for a long time. On the other hand, more old people will depend on assistance by society, especially when they live alone. At the same time fewer and fewer young men and women are fulfilling their wishes for children. This is leading to drastic changes in many areas of everyday life, from the world of employment to the social systems, totally changing the atmosphere in our society. The few young people are leaving entire regions whilst the old ones are staying. If we do not want to abandon any region we must help the people to create future perspectives for their home places. Globalization also has a cultural dimension. Religions and cultures are meeting more than ever before. Nowadays almost everywhere in the world, people find members of their culture, products from their home countries and media helping them to stay in touch with their countries of origin. On the other hand they meet members of other cultures in their home countries. Foreign worlds are approximating with the chance to understand them. Wherever the fear of the foreign predominates there is an increasing risk for prejudices to become conflicts. Where cultural conflicts are enhanced by social antagonisms violence will spread. Cultural variety, however, is nowadays a characteristic element of successful societies. Democracy and Politics

Globalization reduces the possibilities of the nation state to shape life. At the same time politics has to accept new tasks like climate protection, social integration of millions of people and demographic change. Many people sense the state’s loss of power in the global era. They do not believe any more that things can be changed by politics. The most crucial tasks of Social Democrats are therefore reestablishing the confidence of people that society can be shaped, encouraging them to accept their destiny in selfdetermination and solidarity. Our democracy is experiencing a crisis of confidence. Traditional party affiliations are decreasing. The readiness to accept social responsibility is still high since we are not living in an apolitical epoch. The political parties are still indispensable elements of a democratic society. They are bundling convictions and interests of the population. They are taking citizens’ needs and expectations to the levels of decision-making and action of our society. This requires internal democratic structures, mobility, imagination, clear profiles, reliability and trust. We are convinced of shaping the future in peace, justice and solidarity. We derive our ideas of a future worth living from a clear and realistic analysis of the time in which we live. There is no return to the era of the old industrial society and the nation states of the 20th century. The great task of the 21st century is to shape globalization by democratic policy. We are looking ahead.

2. Our core values and core convictions The German Social Democratic Party, the oldest democratic party in Germany, has always been part of an international liberation movement. After its foundation it was both emancipation movement of workers and democracy movement supposed to overcome the authoritarian state. In Germany it continued the ideas of the French Revolution and the revolution of 1848. In Germany the history of democracy cannot be separated from the history of the Social Democratic Party. It brought rights of freedom and democracy, it fought for women’s rights and rejected any dictatorship. Early on it realized the hazard of National Socialism rejecting the Act of Empowerment in the Reichstag. Many social democrats offered resistance and fell victim to the NS terror. The will to freedom made the break with the communists inevitable. The refoundation of the Social Democratic Party in the GDR became a signal of freedom. The Social Democratic Party developed as part of the labour movement. It fought for workers’ rights, developed the social welfare state, and together with the trade unions it enabled disdained proletarians to become self-confident state citizens with equal rights. Unlike other parties the Social Democratic Party always had both an international and European orientation. This is why we are still working on the project of a united Europe which used to be a vision in the Heidelberg Programme of the SPD which can now be complemented. Although many wholehearted pacifists considered the Social Democratic Party their political home it has never been a pacifist party but it has always been immune to chauvinism and 103 Social Europe the journal of the european left Winter 2008


militarism. In power it served peace. We are proud that we have never brought war, oppression or dictatorship to our people. From the onset the SPD was the party of democracy. Social Democrats decisively shaped the political culture of our country. Women and men of various origins, religious and philosophical convictions are cooperating in it. Since the Godesberg Programme of 1959 they considered themselves the people’s party of the left with roots in Judaism and Christiandom, Humanism and Enlightenment, Marxist analysis of society and the experience of the labour movement. The people’s party of the left ows many impulses to the women’s movement and new social movements. We know that each time requires its own solutions to social and political issues. In our strife for contemporary programmes of social development we profess open debate. We welcome and respect personal convictions and beliefs. They must never be subjected to party decisions. We are united by the conviction that society can be shaped instead of capitulating to blindfold action of capitalistic globalization. We are also united by the historical experience pursuant to which social democratic policy can only be successful if it is linked to democratic commitment of people in trade unions, movements of peace, women, environment, civil rights, one world as well as movements and networks criticizing globalization. Social democrats will be close to such movements even in future. Our concept of humankind

Equal dignity of all people is the starting point and aim of our policy. People have diverse inherent potentials that are neither inherently good nor evil. They have the gift of reason able to learn. Therefore democracy is possible. People are fallible and may err and revert to inhumanity. Therefore democracy is necessary. Everybody is responsible for his/her own life. Nobody should be relieved of this responsibility by anybody. People must never be humiliated for any purpose, neither by the state nor by economy. We reject any ambition of omnipotence over people. If politics itself promises bliss and fulfilment it runs the risk of slipping into totalitarian rule. Democracy is the only political system living up to self-responsibility of people tailoring the limits of politics accordingly. Human and civil rights set limits for politics and state institutions without which democracy cannot exist. However, human beings are not only individuals with rights and duties but also social beings and as such ready for cooperation. Democracy supports readiness for cooperation by its institutions organizing solidarity through various social strata, generations and origins. ‘Free and equal in dignity and rights’, as stipulated by the General Declaration of Human Rights, every person shall shape his/her life in self-determination together wih others. We are striving for a society of free and equal persons where everyone can develop his personality in freedom without impairing the dignity and freedom of others. We are rejecting any discrimination. The dignity of humankind is independent of performance and economic usefulness. Therefore society has a special commitment in case of disablement, age, at the beginning and end of life to protect human dignity. Our core values

‘Freedom, equality, fraternity’, the basic demands of the French Revolution, are the foundation of European democracy. Since the goal of equal freedom in modern times has become the notion of justice freedom, justice and solidarity have become core values of democratic socialism in freedom. They remain our criterion to assess political reality, the yardstick for better social systems and orientations to actions of Social Democrats. Social Democrats have always aimed at establishing both material and legal conditions of freedom and equality of law, in parallel to equal participation and opportunities in life hence, social justice. Quite often, conservatives and liberals are playing off core values against each other: the more freedom, the less justice and vica versa. In the Social Democrats’ philosophy both form a unit. They are of equal value and rank. Above all they condition, complement, support and limit each other. The philosophy of our core values prevents us from reducing freedom to the freedom of markets, justice to the constitutional state and solidarity to care for the poor. Freedom means the possibility of self-determination. Every person is qualified and competent for freedom. The question if he/she can live commensurate with this vocation is decided in society. Every person must be free of undignified dependencies, misery and fear, with the chance to develop talents and to become a responsible participant in society and politics. People can only use their freedom if they know they enjoy a sufficient amount of 104 Social Europe the journal of the european left Winter 2008


social security. The freedom of individuals ends where it impairs freedom of others. People expexting others to live without freedom cannot be free in the long run. Justice is grounded on equal dignity of every person. It is a synonym for equal freedom and equal opportunities, independent of background and gender. Therefore justice means equal participation in education, work, social security, culture and democracy as well as equal access to all public goods. Where unequal distribution divides society into people giving and following instructions it infringes upon equal freedom and is thus unfair. Therefore justice requires equal distribution of income, property and power since major inequality in distribution jeopardizes equal opportunities in life. Therefore social democracy is necessary. Equal opportunities in life do not mean uniformity but space for the development of personal predilections and capabilities. People are different. However, natural inequalities and social differences in somebody’s origin must not become social destiny. Paths through life must not be fixed from the beginning. We are rejecting any form of privilege or disadvantage because of origin, class, colour, gender, sexual orientation or religion. Performance must be acknowledged and respected. Performance oriented distribution of income and property is fair. Property commits: those earning above average or owning more property than others must also contribute more to the welfare of society. Solidarity means mutual attachment, belonging and assistance. It is the readiness of people to stand up for each other and provide support between the strong and the vulnerable, between generations and peoples. Solidarity creates strength for change. This is the experience of the labour movement. Solidarity is a strong force that ties our society together – in spontaneous and individual readiness to give assistance, with common rules and organizations, and the welfare state’s solidarity guaranteed and organized by politics. Democratic Socialism

Our history is shaped by the idea of democratic socialism, a society of free and equal people where our core values are realized. It requires a structure in economy, state and society guaranteeing civil, political, social and economic basic rights for all people living a life without exploitation, suppression and violence, hence in social and human security. The end of the soviet type state socialism did not disprove the idea of democratic socialism but it clearly confirmed the orientation of social democracy towards core values. In our understanding democratic socialism remains the vision of a free and fair society in solidarity. Its realization is a permanent task for us. The principle for our actions is social democracy. Primacy of Politics and the Principle of sustainability

Since we are abiding by this aim we are insisting in the primacy of democratic policy rejecting the subordination of political to economic interests. In doing so we are applying a wide notion of the political domain which must not be reduced to the state but includes alliances and networks of civil society but also free action of people in self-determination. Politics must guarantee that certain goods are not reduced to mere commodities: law, security, education, health, culture and natural environment. In future democracy will have to stand the test by guaranteeing access to these public goods by keeping political responsibility for welfare enabling fair distribution of opportunities in life. This is needed more than ever before in a world of scarce resources, therefore it must not be left to market forces. In our understanding markets are a necessary form of economic coordination superior to other ones. However, a market left to itself is blind in social and ecological terms. It is not able by itself to provide public goods in sufficient quantity. Markets need rules, a state able to apply sanctions, efficient laws and fair prices to develop its positive efficiency. In view of the challenges of the 21st century, in view of globalization and ecological crisis we consider sustainability the sole core principle of political and economic action. The principle of sustainability means thinking in terms of the future, resisting the primacy of short-term orientation giving preference to economy purely based on the logics of business management. It means applying the concept of society shaping politics and democratic variety, ecological sustainability, social integration and cultural participation as guiding concepts of social democratic policy. Our concept of progress in the 21st century requires the combination of social, economic and ecological responsibility aiming at qualitative growth and improving quality of life, increasing opportunities in life and individual freedom by shaping tech105 Social Europe the journal of the european left Winter 2008


nology, scientific progress and responsible handling of limited natural resources and the unlimited possibilities of human creativity. Politics of Social Democracy

The Social Democrats are contrasting the economically curtailed concept of society with the image of people oriented towards human values of equal dignity and respect. People are not only competing with each other, they also need one another. They do not gain sense in life through commodities they can buy on markets. People are more than consumers and producers, therefore we are rejecting economization of all spheres of life. Quality in life is more than chasing material wealth. People want intact communities where people act peacefully and in solidarity, where equal opportunities and rights are valid, even between the genders. People search recognition and the feeling to be needed, not only at the workplace. They live in and through relations in the family, with partners, children and friends. For this they need time. People are only really rich in a society giving them more free time in self-determination. A life exclusively following the rules of the stopwatch in the rhythm of uninterrupted availability is contradictory to this concept. We want a society in which dynamism and innovation create progress, but at the same time we want to maintain and strengthen the foundations of human cohesion. Individuality and the chance for various options in life are supreme values but they can also cause loss of cohesion and new conflicts. Lack of transparency is the reverse side of variety and social change increasing the longing for support and orientation. With our contribution we want to give people the feeling of acceptance and belonging to feel safe. The Social Democrats are not only guaranteeing civil, political and cultural basic rights for all people but also social and economic rights. This safeguards equal social participation of all by social democratization, especially by codetermination, by the preventive social welfare state based on civil rights, and by a coordinated market economy guaranteeing the precedence of democracy over markets.

3. Our aims, our policy 3.1 A peaceful and fair world The international policy of the German Social Democratic Party aims at preventing conflicts and creating peace. Our principles for this aim are mutual understanding, international solidarity and common security by cooperation. We are favouring the conviction that power must be subjected to law. For the first time in its history humanity can solve central problems only together. Comprehensive security can only be achieved together. This requires developing a world domestic policy with strong United Nations and creating a fair world economic order. Europe shall play a key role in the attempt to reach both aims. The European Union must become our political response to globalization. Social democrats want all nations, peoples and human beings to benefit from peace and wealth. The SPD want to make sure that cooperation becomes the keyword of the new century. Social Democrats are aware of Germany’s growing responsibility for peace in the world. We are actively adopting this international role. The SPD is a peace force in Germany and Europe. We are rejecting any form of wars of aggression and prevention. The indivisibility and universal validity of all human rights are non-negotiable for us. Our Basic Law, the European Charta of Basic Rights, the Charta of the United Nations, the General Declaration of Human Rights, the International Humanitarian Law and the Millenium Development Goals are the guidelines for our international policy. Capital punishment shall be banned worldwide. It is not the law of the strongest but the strength of law creating international security. In the global era any state trying to enforce its interests unilaterally cannot be successful in the long run. We are supporting multilateralism, hence organized cooperation of states. We are linking up with Willy Brandt’s successful dŽtente policy in Europe with crucial elements like common security, confidence building measures and both economic and civil cooperation. We are pleading for a new dŽtente policy enabling comprehension and peaceful conflict solution avoiding armament. We are grounding our international policy on a comprehensive concept of security. Security for all people requires peace, justice and freedom, democracy as 106 Social Europe the journal of the european left Winter 2008


well as social, economic, cultural and sustainable development. Towards other peoples we are acting in a spirit of friendship, openness and respect. We recognize that many civilizations contributed to the cultural heritage of humankind. We clearly reject people evoking clashes of civilizations. Foreign cultural policy is part of good foreign policy creating interest and understanding for our own country promoting a dialogue with other countries. Since the end of the East-West conflict a new security architecture for the global age has not yet developed. New powers want to climb up onto the world stage and play their roles. Our foreign, security and development policy must develop close relations with countries in Asia, Latin America and Africa. They are partners in the construction of a fair world order. Germany has special responsibility for Israel’s right to exist. For this reason too we have committed ourselves to comprehensive peace in the Middle East on the basis of international agreements. We are supporting self-determination of the Palestinian people and the creation of a viable Palestinian state. The SPD wants to renew the transatlantic partnership. Germany, Europe and the United States of America are sharing common values. On this foundation we also cooperate closely in NATO. After the collapse of communism, however, the Transatlantic Alliance needed a new orientation towards the global age. A peaceful world order can only be achieved together with the United States, therefore our relations to them have special weight. Friendship and cooperation between Germany and France have always been the engine of European unification with its own inherent value even in future. We also want to strengthen our relation with Poland in the same way. Strategic partnership with Russia is indispensable for Germany and the European Union. Russia’s opening to Europe safeguards peace and stability on our continent. Strengthening global and regional cooperation

To achieve peace in the world common interests, alliances and organizations need to be strengthened. For this reason we want to strengthen the United Nations to become the supreme instance of a global legal system. We want to create and enforce global law. For this purpose international jurisdiction must be strengthened. International law will only become binding able to solve conflicts if sanctions can be enforced. In order to strengthen the legitimation of the United Nations its institutions must be reformed and democratized. We want to strengthen the rights of the UN General Assembly and the Secretary General. Appropriate participation by all continents must be safeguarded in each reform of the UN Security Council. We reject the veto rights of individual member states. Germany should accept more tangible responsibility in the United Nations, also by a permanent seat in the UN Security Council. In the long run the European Union must get a permanent seat in this body. We are pleading for a Global Council of the United Nations for economic, social and environmental policy. It shall coordinate economic interests, social needs and ecological necessities, and it shall help to limit the risks of uncontrolled capital movements as well as social and ecological dumping. All regions and international trade and finance institutions shall be represented by high-ranking officials in this Council. Peace and security are global public goods. Therefore financial and economic stability, warding off the climate desaster, safeguarding the eco systems and protecting from epidemics are global political tasks. The international community of states must raise the necessary funds in their own interest enabling the United Nations to take its responsibility. Uncontrolled capital movements on the finance markets may jeopardize entire national economies. We are aiming at an efficient structural framework for the finance markets at international level. International institutions and organizations like the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank and the World Trade Organization must be measured with the yardstick of economic, social and ecological sustainability, human rights and the rights of working people. Their decisions must be transparent. The distribution of votes must more strongly consider the interests of developing countries, especially the poorest ones. We want to strengthen the International Labour Organization (ILO). The Core Labour Standards of the ILO must be anchored and considered more strongly in decisions of the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank, the World Trade Organization and the United Nations. As regional international organizations the Council of Europe and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (CSCE) are models for overcoming antagonisms among peoples. Germany will support the establishment of similar organizations even in other regions of the world. Organizations in civil society play an important role in international understanding. We consider ourselves partners of the International Trade Union 107 Social Europe the journal of the european left Winter 2008


Confederation, the Non-Governmental Organizations and the churches repeatedly directing the focus on international conflicts and developing approaches for solutions. We are supporting a stronger role of the Socialist International (SI) as transnational alliance of social democratic parties in the world capable of politics. It must play an important role in the democratization of international politics especially in forming a global public. Comprehensive Security Policy

Peace means more to us than the absence of war. Peace is the principal foundation for a civilized development of our global society. Crisis prevention is the most efficient policy to overcome root causes of conflicts like famine, poverty and lack of resources. War shall not be a means of politics. In our understanding a fair world economic order and development cooperation in partnership are not only a necessity of humankind but building blocks of a comprehensive security policy. Step by step we therefore want to increase our funds to fight poverty and underdevelopment to 0,7 percent of the gross domestic product by 2015. Fighting corruption, promoting good governance, fighting AIDS/HIV and epidemics, as well as systematic debt relief of developing countries are important aims in the fight against poverty. In many societies women are bearing the main responsibility for social and economic development. Without equal participation of women in the entire world democracy, global justice and sustainable development are impossible. We need more justice in world trade. The developing countries do not want alms – instead they want fair opportunities on the markets. To this end the industrialized countries within the scope of the World Trade Organization must open their markets by gradually reducing and finally stopping the subsidization of their agricultural exports. Disarmament and non-proliferation

Increasing proliferation of weapons of mass destruction requires a new policy of efficient arms control, arms limitation and disarmament. We are supporting the removal of all nuclear warheads stored on German ground. We underscore our aim of a world without nuclear weapons, campaigning for international monitoring of uranium enrichment. We want to enforce an international, legally binding ban on the use of nuclear weapons. Space must be free from weapons. We are also dedicating increased efforts to the limitation and control of conventional arms. Regarding disarmament we favour strenghtening of multilateral treaties. Production and exportation of land mines and cluster bombs must be prohibited. In future too, we shall make sure that Germany does not aim at producing, owning and utilizing weapons of mass destruction. We are committed to strict arms export policy. Arms are no ordinary commodities. Compliance with human rights, good governance and a ban on arms delivery to conflict regions are decisive criteria for export licences. Arms exports to developing countries shall be rejected since they jeopardize the sustainable development of countries. Responsibility for security and peace

Scarce resources and climate desasters have an enormous conflict potential. Climate protection and access to energy, raw materials and water are outstanding issues of global security in the global era. Renewable energies and improved energy efficiency are keys to peaceful development. The decay of states leads to the dissemination of anarchy and lawlessness. Germany must be prepared to take responsibility in reestablishing statehood and structures of civil society. The most dangerous form of denationalized violence is terrorism. The struggle against terror is not war but fighting crime. This is the task of police, judiciary and secret services. Only when they are overstrained in the international fight against terrorism will the military be the last option. Even in view of terrorism we are rejecting any softening up of international law. Conflict solving by military means must be the last resort. Therefore we are favouring a peace policy based on preventing conflicts. Federal Army missions must always be embedded in a concept of political, diplomatic, economic and cultural measures as well as development policy. Therefore we want to increase the funds for civil crisis prevention and crisis response improving the instruments for such a policy. In our understanding the use of military means is always the last resort. Even for peace stabilization we want to deploy soldiers only if other means do not suffice. Germany may take part in such missions if they are legitimized by an internationally binding mandate of the United 108 Social Europe the journal of the european left Winter 2008


Nations, if the missions do not contrast with Germany’s interest in world peace and welfare of the nation and if the Federal Parliament approves them. By overcoming Europe’s division and with Germany’s unification the Federal Army accepted more responsibility within the scope of our cooperative peace and security policy. Soldiers are enjoying high confidence and respect worldwide because of the way they present themselves. Their anchor and the acceptance of the Federal Army in society must be maintained. Modernizing the concept of universal conscription will guarantee this. Therefore we favour strengthening the voluntary concept of army service. Every person has the right to reject active duty for reasons of conscience. This right shall be enforced also internationally.

3.2 Social and democratic Europe As early as in 1925 the Social Democrats stood up for European unity with their demand for the United States of Europe. A concept which seemed to be out of reach at that time has become reality: Europe’s unification after two World Wars has brought the most peaceful period in the history of our continent. War, expulsion and famine have been overcome. The European Union is primarily a peace project, we want to expand it to become a functioning peace power. Europe, however, is also a democratic and social community of values. The European model of society combines economic progress, social equilibrium and individual freedom. It provides guidelines for the equality of women and men and guarantees minority rights. Social Democrats are favouring a tolerant Europe understanding and nurturing its various nations and regions, cultures and religions as precious goods. Where the nation state is no longer able to provide the markets with social and ecological frameworks the European Union has to take over. The European Union must become our response to globalization. Democratic Europe

The European Union has gained traits of ist own statehood. More and more areas of life are affected by European decisions. We want to create a Europe of the citizens. We want to venture more European democracy. Our model is a political union granting all European citizens democratic rights of participation. The democratic Europe needs a government answerable to parliament on the foundation of a European constitution. We want a federal Europe in which the nation states are involved in European legislation together with the European Parliament. Matters affecting people only locally in one region or one country shall be handled within the respective political scope to take decisions close to the citizens. This principle must not be eroded by European law. Competences of the European Parliament must be strenghtened. This is the only way to take part in European legislation on equal footing with national governments under the umbrella of the Council of Ministers. The European Parliament needs comprehensive parliamentary rights of control versus the European Commission as well as the right to undertake its own legislative initiatives. The President of the European Commission shall be elected by the European Parliament. European democracy requires a European public scope. European media, organizations of civil society, social partners, but even strong European political parties are indispensable for this. Our aim is to develop the Social Democratic Party of Europe to become a functioning members’ and programme party. We are favouring the elaboration of a programme of social democratic principles for Europe. In the elections to the European Parliament we want to present a pan-European candidate. Enabling the European Union to become a real democratic organization must not fail because of lacking will of individual states or their governments. Therefore it may adopt the form of increased cooperation of some member states. This cooperation must remain open for all member states. Social Europe

Europe has created the largest single market in the world and even introduced its common currency. This happened in the interest of Europe’s citizens. Neither in Germany nor in Europe, however, we shall accept that market economy leading us into a market society. After the Europeanization of the fiscal and monetary policy we are pleading for growth and employment oriented coordination of economic, fiscal and monetary policy. This requires generally binding economic rules. The European Social Union must be 109 Social Europe the journal of the european left Winter 2008


juxtaposed to the Economic and Monetary Union on equal footing. There are various national traits and traditions of the European Social Model. Common ground for all social states in Europe, however, are efficient states, social systems providing security for elementary risks in life, high standard of education, public welfare, regular working conditions as well as rights of participation and codetermination of workers. The European Social Union respects traditions of the nation state and at the same time creates binding European rules and standards member states must not fall below. We do not want to make social systems uniform but agree on a Social Stability Pact with other member states. For the agreement on a Social Stability Pact we are suggesting aims and targets for national social and educational expenditures orientated to economic performance capability. Where economic activity crosses borders workers’ rights must not come to a halt at them. Therefore we want to safeguard and enhance codetermination of the workforce in European corporations. In order to strengthen and enforce the autonomy of collective bargaining at European level we are favouring a European legal foundation for cross-border collective bargaining and collective labour agreements. To prevent the financial collapse of nation states due to competition about the lowest corporation taxes we want European-wide minimum rates and a uniform assessment basis. Free access to supreme public services belongs to the European social model. Each member state cares for it in its own way but its principles should become binding for the European Union. For their future’s sake the members of the European Union must invest in education, research and innovation. These foci must also be mirrored in the European budget. We are pleading for lower assignments from the national budgets and in favour of long-term development of separate European sources of income. However, this requires transparent, effective and democratically controlled budget policy of the European Union. In order to enable young people to experience Europe and to strengthen our common European identity we favour opportunities for all adolescents to familiarize themselves with everyday life in other European countries by means of exchange programmes and events for young people. Peace power Europe

We are striving for further development of the European Union to become a functioning peace power. Independent European peace policy must focus on its strengths: diplomacy, dialogue and support of democracy and human rights, also by means of assistance to economic cooperation in conflict regions. Europe has congruent security interests. We are aiming at common foreign, security and defence policy. Therefore member state armies must also grow together more closely. In the long run we want a European army whose missions shall be legitimized by Parliament. The Union’s enlargement has created peace, stability and wealth. We are standing up for the fulfilment of promises to countries provided with a perspective for accession and fulfilling criteria. This also applies to Turkey. Turkey, if committed to European values, may become an important bridge to other islamic states. This is also in the interest of Germany and Europe. For states of the region which cannot join the Union even on a mid term basis we continue the European neighbourhood policy.

3.3 Civil society based on solidarity and democratic state Democracy lives by ist citizens’ commitment. Therefore we want a strong and vital civil society where people make use of their freedom of opinion and association. The democratic state is the political selforganization of the citizens. A lively civil society may and is supposed to control, correct, stimulate, relieve and complement state action. It cannot substitute it. Only where the state fulfils its obligations can a vital civil society form itself. A strong civil society offers shelter in times of stormy change. Where people stand up for each other they will experience sense of responsibility and justice, mutual recognition, solidarity and reasonable use of individual freedom. Democracy depends on such learned and lived democratic virtues. In a civil society people take responsibility in their own initiative acting on behalf of public interest. Many times they realize earlier than authorities where remedy is needed. They work voluntarily in clubs, foundations, initiatives and non-governmental organizations. We want to couch voluntary functions in more recognition and enhanced security. A culture of non-profit donation shall make society multi-faceted and give it a more humane appearance. Other pillars of civil society are political parties, 110 Social Europe the journal of the european left Winter 2008


trade unions, churches, religious communities as well as social and environmental associations. They are our partners on the way to a humane and future oriented society. Sports are an important part of our culture. It is beneficial for health, imparts tolerance and fairness, ties people together and helps to overcome social antagonisms. Therefore we promote mass sports, high-performance sports and sports of the disabled and their clubs. This includes the fight against doping. Authoritarian and totalitarian rule discredited the state in the 20th century. This is used by market radicals having the intention to reduce the state to protecting property and organizing markets. Wherever possible they try to pass state tasks to markets. But whatever is left to markets is bound to become a commodity some can afford but others cannot. The democratic and social welfare state, supported and limited by civil society, is responsible for what is not to become a commodity. The state is bound by law to provide education because it is not a commodity but a human right. Security from crime must never become a commodity. It is a debt to be discharged by the state representing the reverse side of its monopoly of power. Culture is more than a commodity, it is expression of a humane society. It is not the state that has to rule what culture is but it has to enable culture, even such culture which could not survive on the market. The state is not in charge of truth, neither philosophical nor religious nor historical truth but it is in charge of conditions apt to find truth. Social security is not a commodity but task of the state committed to the dignity of humankind. The state’s task is to set law and thus setting and enforcing binding rules. Legalization of all wakes of life without any gaps, however, does not bring more justice. Deregulation is repeatedly required where outmoded rules become shackles. Deregulation as a principle, however, contradicts the purpose of any state. The democratic constitutional state may and must subject any power to law, even its own. This legitimates its monopoly of power. We shall defend this monopoly of power because society is most unfair where some can buy security but most cannot. The SPD stands up for an efficient and citizen oriented welfare system in public responsibility. The state does not have to provide all services itself, instead it shall guarantee access to public goods. Privatization may be purposeful and responsible. However, we are rejecting privatization when it obstructs access to public goods questioning the monopoly of state power. Where public tasks shall be privatized we do not only ask about the short-term benefit for public coffers but also about future creative power and democratic responsibility of politics. We do not want to open core areas of public welfare to profit-making interests of global capital markets. Direct participation of citizens by census and memorandum also serves the purpose of linking the activating state with active civil society. Within legal limits they shall complement parliamentary democracy, not only in municipalities and Federal States but also at national level. Where the Constitution sets limits for parliamentary majority this also applies to memorandums. Most citizens meet the state in the guise of its administration. Therefore we need an administration in the neigbourhood of citizens serving their needs. We are doing away with useless bureaucracy. We do not want a guardian state. Democratic parties have a key role in political will formation. They are indispensable mediators between civil society and state. They shall translate citizens’ concerns into issues for political action. They are schools for political debate with the responsibility to make sure that the electorate may vote for women and men grown in local councils and parliaments. Democracy needs strong, vital parties capable of decision-making, just the same like strong parliaments. Parliaments are the hearts of democratic will formation. Strong communities

Civil society based on solidarity finds its place mainly in local communities. They shape social welfare and everyday life of people. It is in the communities where the decision is taken whether all children get support in their early childhood. Here we observe whether people of various cultures are living together or in parallel. Here it becomes apparent whether adolescents organize their leisure time in a meaningful way, if the elderly remain integrated and if people feel safe in public places. This applies to rural areas and big cities likewise. It is the local and regional sphere of life with its unique history and culture offering a home, community and security in change. Therefore we are strengthening local selfgovernment improving its quality and enlarging its freedom of organization. We are enlarging the communities’ financial scope for action without conferring tasks on them void of funds needed. 111 Social Europe the journal of the european left Winter 2008


Social municipal policy

More than half the population is already living in conurbations. The future of the cities decides on the future of society. Organizing the living together of people with different origin, social situation and life orientation is task of a social municipal policy. Guideline for our policy is a city in solidarity where all inhabitants are invited to active contribution in social, economic and cultural life. Inhabited city centres can only be maintained and strengthened if there is sufficient affordable living space. Living space must not become object of speculation. Keeping both elderly people and families with children in city centres is condition for a lively city. The aim of social democratic policy is to improve cohesion in cities and quarters. We want to promote multi-generation forms of living without barriers. To keep cities viable when they become older we want to tap potentials of active old age and promote civil commitment especially of older citizens. Processes of abasement and exclusion in neighbouring city quarters must be prevented. Interlinked concepts and joint action is needed for more jobs, strengthened integration and participation as well as improved access to education and skill development. The ‘social city’ is a cross-sectional task for all areas of politics. The social federation

The Federal Republic has always been a social federation. In the federal system there is subsidiarity: only if the smaller unit is not able to perform will the larger take over. We profess this federation because it lives up to German tradition, prevents consolidation of power, makes abuse of power more difficult and enables democratic will formation at all levels. We want functioning states in a functioning federation with clear responsilibitlities. Best conceivable task fulfilment must be guideline for separating competences instead of clinging to them by all means. Differences in the economic and financial strength of regions and Federal States have increased. Our guideline is equality of living conditions. Therefore we are favouring the obligation to assist in solidarity between all parts of Germany, East and West, South and North. Eastern Germany has the right to claim pan-German solidarity. The federal nation state is not necessarily weakened by each conferrence of decision-making power to the EU. This also applies to taxation policy. Minimum rates for corporation taxes, decided by the EU, would even strengthen it. Security in freedom

Freedom and constitutionality are yardsticks of social democratic legal and domestic policy. In our understanding constitutionality means unconditional respect of human and civil rights by all powers of the state, granting independent jurisprudence within reach for all people. People need security. They can even use their freedom only if they feel safe. The constitutional state has to care for security. In Germany it is jeopardized by crime through extremists and terrorists, even organized in international networks. We fight it with the means of the constitutional state. Police and judiciary are immediately responsible for it. We reject domestic missions of the Federal Army. People who want to ward off enemies of the constitutional state must never abandon its principles. It is not the defence of civil rights and rights to freedom but their restriction which requires justification. The prohibition of arbitrariness and torture applies in absolute terms. However, we shall only win the fight against violence, hatred and crime if we fight its root causes with the same consistency. We are granting the right of self-determination by information standing up for effective data protection. Social Democrats are ostracizing rightwing extremism, racism and antisemitism. They led Germany into its worst desaster. Our constant fight shall therefore make sure that our country shall never again slip into barbarism. Any form of violence, by whichever form of motivation, is an assault on our civil society in solidarity, be it violence among men or violence at home against women and children. Forced marriage, forced prostitution and so-called murders of honour must be prevented and persecuted. There is no space for extremism substantiated by religion. Even by referring to religious rules or tradition human rights cannot be put out of force. Here we draw our separating line of tolerance versus other cultures. Integration and immigration

Germany is a country of immigration. Immigration has enriched our country in business and culture and 112 Social Europe the journal of the european left Winter 2008


will continue to do so, and we want to prepare our society for it. We need more qualified immigrants. Immigration requires integration as joint effort. Both sides must be prepared for it. Immigrants must integrate themselves, and we must give them all opportunities to take part in the life of our society. Therefore integration requires fair chances but also clear rules. Our Basic Law offers space for cultural variety. Therefore nobody need to deny cultural origin. However, it also defines limits nobody must surpass even by referring to religion or tradition. Therefore nobody must prevent girls and women from developing and educating themselves in the freedom of choice. People who want to have and use equal opportunities in Germany must learn and finally command the German language. We want to improve educational services. We hope and expect that they will be used. Integration, even by language, can succeed at best if it begins in childhood. Opportunities residing in multilingualism of immigrants shall be used. We are aiming at nationalizing people coming to us. This is not the end of integration but it facilitates full political participation. In doing so we do not exclude multi-nationality. People who lived here for quite some years without German citizenship shall get the the right to take part in local elections even if they come from non EU member states. We are professing the basic right of asylum of politically persecuted persons. Persons fleeing from persecution or discrimination for political or gender specific reasons shall find shelter and refuge in Germany, and finally a safe stay. We are in favour of joint European refugee policy even fighting root causes of flight and expulsion. Disabled people

A civil society in solidarity is also characterized by granting the disabled equal opportunities and participation. On the way to this aim a lot remains to be done to remove all barriers, thus offering people with disablements access to the best conceivable education, reliable gainful employment and unhampered participation in political, cultural and social life. We want to do justice to the needs of people with disablements enabling them for comprehensive participation in social life. Public and media

Democracy needs publicity. Free media enable people to know facts, form opinions, participate in politics and monitor power. New media like Internet and mobile radio increasingly join newspapers, books, radio and television. Different types of media are amalgamating increasingly characterizing our daily lives. Handling them is a learning process. We want to make media competence a focus of education. We are defending media independence from state intervention and economic interests of power. We do not dispense with effective self-control of the media and ethic standards of journalism. In our understanding broadcasting under public law indispensably belongs to democratic publicity as crucial corrective element versus increased commercialization of the media. We are rejecting manipulation, political bias and harm to the youth. We are fighting sexist, racist and violence adoring content. The culture of a democratic society

From ist origins social democracy has also been a cultural movement. We always had a broad notion of culture. It reaches beyond the arts and also includes education, historical heritage and forms of living together. We need a political culture supporting our democracy. In a specific way culture is the space where society ascertains its concepts of values and aims. It strengthens people, creates belonging, the awareness of being rooted and social cohesion. We are in favour of a dialogue among cultures. It serves the purpose of domestic and external peace but also integration. If peaceful globalization shall succeed we need a culture of recognition counteracting the exclusion of minorities and the formation of parallel societies. We want cultural variety instead of fundamentalist constriction and politicization of religious and cultural differences instead of global monoculture. Only a vital culture of recognition enables a society where we can be different as human beings without fear. Peaceful variety is only possible if we safeguard our mental roots in Jewish Christian tradition as well as Humanism and Enlightenment – influenced by Greek philosophy, Roman law and Arab culture. Only a value based and tolerant culture is able to withstand temptations of abusing culture and religion as means of exclusion. For the dialogue of religions and peaceful living together in 113 Social Europe the journal of the european left Winter 2008


Germany the contribution of Muslims living in Germany is indispensable. Culture is a public good. It is the task of civil society and state to promote it. We are welcoming and supporting privat civil commitment. Yet, the state has responsibility that cannot be delegated. We believe in Germany as a state of culture. It safeguards the diversity of the cultural scene, cultural education nurturing our heritage and culture of remembrance. It promotes the arts and takes responsibility for social security of freelance artists. It campaigns for our culture abroad. Promotion of culture is not subsidization but investment in the future of our democratic communities. Churches and communities of faith and conviction

We profess the Judeo-Christean heritage of Europe and tolerance in issues of religious conviction. We defend freedom of thought, conscience, faith and proclamation. Foundation and yardstick for this is our Constitution. In our understanding the work of churches and communities of faith and conviction cannot be substituted by anything, especially where they encourage people to take responsibility for others and the community, and where they impart virtues and values characterizing democracy. We want to talk with such organizations cooperating with them in free partnership on joint projects. We are respecting their right to organize their internal affairs autonomously within the scope of generally applicable law.

3.4 Gender equality The Social Democrats want to build a society for women and men with equal rights and opportunities – not only on paper but in daily life. We are fighting for a society in which men and women can live together in equality, freedom and solidarity. We want to make sure that women and men – together or separate, with family or without – can choose their ways in self-determination. Both the SPD and the women movement have their roots in the liberation movement of the 19th century. They are linked by the concept of equal opportunities for women and men. Social democrats fought for many rights of women: they achieved the right to vote for women, equal rights in married and family life and equal access to education. Nowadays women are self-confident and want to shape their lives according to their own ideas. The relationship between men and women is changing. An increasing number of women and men want to share occupational life and family tasks in partnership. Equality before the law as such does not mean factual equality. Therefore we need active women promotion just like gender mainstreaming checking each political decision regarding its impact on the lives of women and men, girls and boys amending it where it is needed. Old inequalities continue to exist especially in the world of work and occupation. Key positions in business and society are predominantly held by men. Often women receive lower wages than men despite the same qualification. It is hard to tune demands for flexibility and availability with family and children. Especially women have to cope with both occupational and family burdens in everyday life. Sharing tasks between women and men in partnership, however, is not yet the rule. A major portion of family work is still rendered by women, often in addition to their gainful employment making real equality in occupational life even more difficult. Many times women have to choose between children and work. With the countrywide and demand oriented expansion of care facilities for children and security in child-raising phases compatibility between work and family can be improved. In various phases in life women and men have different tasks: be it career-making, child-raising, care for family members or qualification, political or civic engagement – they need time for it. By means of flexible working time patterns we want to shape work such that work and private life can be balanced. We want more time sovereignty for women and men. Only this enables freedom of choice. We want equal and fair participation of women and men in reliable gainful employment. Work predominantly done by women is often remunerated with lower pay. However, the same wage must be paid for the same work. We want to overcome typical separation between women’s and men’s occupations. This requires legal measures for equal participation of women in leading positions of corporations, administration, science and research as well as in supervisory bodies. We want to reshape tax law 114 Social Europe the journal of the european left Winter 2008


such that women searching gainful employment do not consider it a hurdle. It shall no longer be in the way of their occupational emancipation. If we want to achieve equal participation of women and men we must reshape all spheres of life. If we want a humane society we need to overcome the male dominated society.

3.5 Sustainable development and qualitative growth Wealth and high quality of life have always been priorities in the Social Democrats’ economic policy. In the past progress was mainly understood in terms of quantitative growth. Nowadays we are forced by rapid climate change, overstrain of the eco systems and growth of the world population to give development a new future oriented direction to turn development into progress. We want sustained progress by combining economic dynamism, social justice and ecological responsibility. This requires qualitative growth in combination with reduced consumption of resources. People shall have a chance to earn their own living by good work without fearing exploitation. Every person shall receive a fair share in wealth creation. We want to safeguard the natural foundations of life also for future generations. We are favouring scientific and economic progress, education and qualification to enable sustainable development. The precondition for qualitative growth is competitive national economy with high productivity and value added. This creates the foundation to overcome poverty, exploitation and waste of natural resources. In our understanding globalization brings opportunities for new jobs and worldwide development of wealth. The dynamism of markets shall serve humankind. This requires structured competition triggering longterm growth, overcoming the focus on short term profit. Social market economy in the 21st century

In the 20th century the social market economy has become our outstanding model for success. It combines economic strength with wealth for broad strata of society. Social market economy, predominantly shaped by social democrats and trade unions, turned participation and codetermination of workers into a productive force promoting social peace. However, global finance and capital markets without borders are challenging this tested structure. Orientating exclusively towards short term and excessive profits blindly jeopardizes social cohesion and economic necessities. At the same time it undermines longterm economic success of our corporations and our national economy. Markets need to be shaped by politics, in the era of globalization and beyond national borders. Our guideline is to have as much competition as possible and as much regulation by the state as necssary. Joint action in the European Union is of crucial importance for the future of social market economy. Economic democracy is indispensable to fill the postulate of our Basic Law with life: ‘Property commits. Its use shall also serve the general wellbeing.’ Codetermination at the shopfloor and in corporations, freedom of collective bargaining and the right to strike are basic elements of social market economy. Shopfloor democracy means participating by having a say. It promotes entrepreneurial success. We are professing parity codetermination in supervisory boards of large corporations. In an increasingly Europeanized economy our aim is to increase workers’ rights and codetermination at European level. In our understanding strong trade unions are indispensable. When shaping working conditions we abide by the tested division of tasks between legislator, parties to collective labour agreements as well as works and personnel councils. Freedom of collective bargaining applies without any restriction. We want to strengthen industry wide collective agreements. We are safeguarding workers’ rights including protection against unlawful dismissal. There is no fair distribution of income and property in Germany. The Social Democrats’ tax policy shall limit imbalances and promote equal opportunities. We are supporting wage increases oriented towards productivity growth and inflation. We want to put more capital into the hands of the workforce. Participation of workers in corporative capital as an additional source of income grants fairer participation of the workforce in their company’s success. It also promotes innovation and productivity. Conferring entrepreneurial risk to the workforce can be prevented by establishing inter-company funds. Additional jobs are mainly created where creative people realize their ideas and take them to the market. We are improving conditions for new business establishments as well as for small and medium-sized 115 Social Europe the journal of the european left Winter 2008


enterprises, crafts and self-employed people. Strong small and medium-sized business establishments strengthen value added. Non-profit companies and cooperatives are crucial parts of social market economy. In our understanding entrepreneurial freedom and social responsibility are two sides of the same coin. Social democratic policy promotes responsible entrepreneurship by means of fair competition. We want a culture of self-employment in Germany. We want to create more social security for low income free lance, crafts and trades people. Modern service policy

Not all jobs in Germany are facing international competition in the same way. However, highly skilled and simple services for people in education and health, local crafts, private households and social services offer the largest employment potentials. To tap them we need more public and private demand for such services. A higher share of gainful employment of women and men will also strengthen the demand for such services. Strategic and ecological industy policy

Humanity is facing major social and ecological challenges. We need innovative and high-quality products and services to overcome them. We are favouring better ideas, new technologies and processes, specialization and quality. This enables economic use of resources and energy saving, fighting the climate change, healing deseases, improving mobility and facilitating communication. The state is not able to and shall not substitute markets. However, it can provide guiding markets with impulses. It must set priorities for industry policy and focus on strategic fields in partnership with business and science. The state must bundle its funds and instruments, from research and targeted regulation through to procuring specific products. Industry still is of decisive importance for the German national economy. Many services, both qualified and simple ones, directly depend on industry. Industrial products will increasingly build on knowledge and services. Strategic industry policy favours the qualitative lead of our business locations. It strengthens industrial centres and regional economic competences. Even the growth centres in the new Federal States illustrate how knowledge can be turned into new economic strength. We want to strengthen this development in the East in cooperation with the EU just the same like regional economic promotion and regionalized structural policy all over Germany. Strategic industrial policy must be ecological industrial policy. Ecological market incentives are drivers of qualitative growth. Our chance is to develop problem solutions which can be applied worldwide. To coin new products rapidly into new products and jobs we want a policy closely interlinking research, product engineering and entrepreneurial investment. Functioning state and active growth policy

Social democracy needs a functioning state. Only rich people can afford a poor state. The state needs sufficient reliable income to shape by political means. In our understanding sound finance policy means that today we should not live at the cost of future generations. However, we must not leave weak infrastructures to coming generations due to excessive consolidation of public budgets. Our obligation to future generations means lowering the indebtedness of pubic budgets and at the same time investing more money in education, research and infrastructure. Corporations and private households must take part in funding state tasks in line with their performing capability. This means that we are professing the tested progressive income tax. We want fair taxation of large capital and inheritance. We want to finance social welfare systems more through taxes than by levies on all types of income. High domestic demand creates more employment. Therefore it is not only fair but also economically necessary to orientate wage increases at least to productivity and inflation. We need minimum wages to avoid exploitation and safeguard fair competition. Our fiscal and monetary policy in Germany and Europe is targeted to consolidating the business cycle and promoting strong consistent growth. By means of national and international stabilization policy the state must care for overcoming crises of the business cycle. The public sector must spend money to provide impulses for the business cycle and to enable the entire society to benefit from it. Sustainable growth development requires consistent increase of public investment in education, research and infrastructure. 116 Social Europe the journal of the european left Winter 2008


Capital and finance markets: using opportunities, controlling risks

A modern, globally interlinked national economy requires well-functioning finance and capital markets. We want to tap the potentials of capital markets for qualitative growth. Our policy grants young innovative enterprises better access to venture capital. If finance markets only want to generate short-term profits they jeopardize long-term growth strategies of enterprises which destroys jobs. By means of tax and shareholder law, among other things, we want to strengthen investors focussing on long-term commitments instead of quick profit. We need rules for investors and funds preventing lopsided profit orientation to the detriment of the long-term substance of enterprises. With increasing international interlinkage of commodities and finance markets their international regulation becomes increasingly crucial. Stable national and international finance markets are important public goods. We want joint action with other states and international institutions to improve predictability of legal decisions and trust. By means of clear rules and efficient supervision risks to stability and erroneous development doing damage to national economy shall be prevented. Wherever possible we want to support this by national tax and stock corporation law. For small and medium-sized enterprises small banks and savings banks play a decisive role. Therefore we want to maintain their specific role. Numerous banks in Germany, mainly savings banks and cooperative banks, are characterized by longterm enterprise funding. In addition, with their orientation towards the common weal, the savings banks fulfil a crucial social task. Therefore, even in future, they must stay under public law. We want to strengthen this precious pillar of our competitiveness. Knowledge and ideas as productive forces

Inventiveness, good ideas and innovations deriving from them are the most important productive forces of our country. Developing them and caring for skilled workforce we consider a major joint task of enterprises, trade unions and politics. Product and brand piracy are not only harmful for economy and its innovative strength, they also endanger consumers by goods of minor quality. Therefore we want to protect intellectual property and safeguard copyright. This includes the freedom to offer one’s own intellectual property to the public. Creative business is gaining importance. In our opinion the recipee for more innovation, creativity and value creation is the right combination of technology, talent and tolerance. In Germany we must create an atmosphere of openness for new ideas and influence by unconventional thinkers. Not every innovation means progress. Therefore we are checking whether it is beneficial for free development, dignity, security and togetherness of people. This also applies to bio and gene technology as well as new developments in medicine. In some areas they take us to ethical boundaries. Therefore researching and applying them requires ethical reflection and a broad debate. We want to discuss this issue with scientists as well as with the churches and communities of faith. The dignity of human life in all its phases must not be violated. We abide by the prohibition of targeted genetic intervention in the human germ path. Change in energy policy and environmental protection

Energy, just like air and water, is the living foundation of our civilization. In future we cannot waste energy and resources like now. Therefore, in our understanding, changing our energy policy is a key task of the 21st century. We are consistently driving the change from exhaustive to inexhaustive and from toxic to non-toxic resources. Our aim is the epoch of solar energy. To combat global warming the worldwide emission of greenhouse gases must be halved by 2050. We are urging for more ambitious agreements to reduce greenhouse gases. To many people nuclear fission seemed to be the great hope for permanently available energy. It cannot fulfil these hopes. A nuclear accident jeopardizes millions of people. Nuclear waste is a focus of hazards for thousands of years to come. In view of new terrorist threats nuclear business is a source of hazard. We are realizing the exit from nuclear power. Renewable energies are the largest permanently available indigenous energy potentials everywhere. Increasing efficiency, saving resources and shifting to renewable energies requires varied new technologies and storage media. They are creating numerous new jobs in industry, crafts and services as well as in agriculture and forestry. We want to move away from oil and other exhaustible energies where we rely on imports. As a bridge to the solar energy epoch we favour modern coal and gas power plants with high117 Social Europe the journal of the european left Winter 2008


ly efficient combined heat and power production. In industry too we want to substitute exhaustible raw materials by renewable ones. This is primarily feasible with chemical base materials. Recycling processes save material, avoid waste and environmental damage. This can create a modern cyclical economy with sustainable opportunities for small and medium-sized enterprises. We are promoting necessary and desired mobility. We want to avoid superfluous traffic by means of better logistics and more intelligent settlement structures. We must heavily invest in our transport infrastructure. In doing so we are favouring the most efficient ecological modes of transport and combined transport. We want modern and efficient railroad transport. It is very meaningful for Europe’s cohesion. It safeguards the living quality of cities and regions. In our understanding public commuter traffic remains a public task. Networks of busses and trains must become more economical. Technical innovations reduce antagonisms between environment and motorized individual traffic. We want to accelerate them and use opportunities of hybrid, hydrogen and fuel cell technologies with determination. We want to maintain nature in its variety and wealth of species and considerably reduce land consumption to save space for recreation and leisure. We want effective protection of oceans and coastal regions. In our understanding nature has an inherent value, we want to learn from it and use its potentials for a better life. We are protecting the national heritage of nature. We abide by the ethical obligation to care for animals even if this is not of immediate benefit for humankind. Wherever possible animal tests shall be avoided. Species compatible animal husbandry shall be enforced. We are combatting torture of animals. Sustainable agriculture and rural areas

The internationalization of agricultural markets continues. We want strong agriculture in Germany even in future. It shall maintain man-made landscapes, protect natural foundations of life and contribute to sustainable development of rural areas. We are promoting a type of agriculture which is apt to cover growing demands for healthy high-quality foodstuff, also from ecological production, at the same time sparing natural resources. Farmers and consumers have the right to claim cultivation free of gene technology. We want a type of agriculture where environmentally and animal compatible production are paying. Enabling farmers to strengthen their position versus highly consolidated food retail business they need new forms of cooperation in combination with traditional organizations. Rural areas have their own development opportunities which can be linked with sustainable cultivation. This includes tourism and renewable raw materials. Structural change in rural areas accelerated by demographic change requires adaptations in infrastructure. We want to foster inherent strengths of rural areas. Responsibility and strength of consumers

Responsible consumers are pioneers of sustainable progress. Every person can take influence with each purchase. Individuals may be weak but the strength of consumers is increasing and their organized power is an efficient means to give economic development a better sustainable direction. Emancipated consumers prepared to buy high-quality products are creating new markets for innovative products. Therefore we want transparent conditions to know how products are created and services rendered, especially on global markets. We want active consumer policy with enhanced information rights versus enterprises offering goods of minor quality or disrespecting workers’ rights. We need more transparency on the growing market of financial services. Independent consumer consultation, reliable quality criteria and comprehensive consumer enlightenment are indispensable.The public sector must play a model role with its procurement and investment decisions.

3.6 Good work for all Every woman and every man has the right to work. Work is the key to participating in social life. It provides sense in life and recognition. Work prevents social exclusion enabling self-determined life. Unemployment, however, mostly not self-induced, impairs human dignity, it excludes and makes sick. Every work well done deserves respect, but not every work is good work. Work belongs to a dignified life but it must also live up to human dignity. We want work with fair pay, enabling full participation in 118 Social Europe the journal of the european left Winter 2008


social security systems, offering recognition, not making sick, using and enhancing gained qualifications, guaranteeing democratic participation and enabling compatibility of occupation and family. Good work also comprises self-employed forms of gainful employment. Even voluntary and socially valuable work beyond gainful employment shall be promoted. Work for all

We want to enable good work for all people. We do not abandon the aim of full employment, even after decades of high unemployment in Germany. We know that it is not easy to achieve this aim. Globalization is changing the labour market: on the one hand, there is an increasing supply of workers looking for employment outside their home countries. On the other hand locations – even in one and the same group of companies – are competing with each other. Often short-term company strategies are in the foreground. The constraint of permanent availability goes hand in glove with increasing precarious working conditions. Due to limited contracts, outsourcing, contract labour and the massive increase of employment for low pay there is no reliable foundation for life any more. Growing economic dynamism brings the need for people to change their jobs or even occupations and they must learn constantly. Therefore full employment does no longer represent the unvoiced guaranty for everyone to keep the same job in the same company for a lifetime. In our understanding full employment nowadays means that every person should repeatedly get opportunities for good work and necessary qualifications for it. Necessary and desired times for qualification and further training, child raising and family work, for voluntary and political work shall find appropriate recognition and get social security in social solidarity. Work in Germany will not end. Existing and new potentials shall be used. The Social Democrats’ policy for full employment is based on four pillars: first, high qualitative growth, lead in innovative products and specific employment dynamism in the service sector leading to higher job supply. Second, by means of coordinated labour market, education, equal opportunities and family policy, the preventive social welfare state supports people in coping with transitions and interruptions in their gainful biographies and in maintaining their capability to be employed. Third, for people without perspective on the first labour market, specific jobs are required for publicly promoted work oriented towards public interest. Fourth, modern working time policy is required promoting flexibility and self-determination bringing more people into employment also by reducing working time. Participating by having a say

Together with the trade unions we are fighting for a fair share of the workforce in the yield of social work and the right of codetermination in economic and social life. Freedom of collective bargaining is a precious good. In Germany employers and employees decide on wages and working conditions in their own responsibility. This remains untouched. We want strong and functioning trade unions able to strike representing large parts of the workforce. In view of increasing influence of the finance markets the workforce’s democratic rights of codetermination regarding corporative decisions must be strengthened. In the changing world of work shopfloor codetermination must be strenghtened. Rights of codetermination must be anchored at European level. Fair participation in economic profit is a rule of social justice and economic reason. We want wage increases oriented towards productivity and price increases. Since the gap between income from gainful employment and return on capital is widening we want to put more capital formation in the hands of the workforce. People in full time employment shall be able to earn a living with their wages. We are fighting for minimum wages in Germany and Europe guaranteeing a living. They must be enforced by collective agreements and law. Our aim still is: equal wage for equal work, for both women and men. Security in change

Only if people have reliable perspectives in life can they fully develop their talents and performance capability. Good work combines flexibility and security. More flexibility is required due to rapid change in scientific and technical progress, ever faster change in the world of work and enhanced competition. At the same time this offers more opportunities for an individual lifestyle. Constant learning is gain. New vocational experience is enriching. People want to 119 Social Europe the journal of the european left Winter 2008


develop their own talents. Having more sovereignty regarding their own time is something worth striving for to most people. People have a right to free time. To combine freedom and flexibility and to grant security in change we want to develop a modern working time policy and reshape unemployment insurance to become employment insurance. Modern working time policy is feasible in different forms: by abolishing extra working hours, safe working time accounts and flexible forms of working time reduction. In additon there are socially desired and individually chosen phases of child raising, further education and training, care dedicated to family members or time out. We need to promote in solidarity what is needed by society. Therefore our social systems must be more efficiently adapted to changing biographies of gainful employment. Employment insurance shall safeguard vocational transitions and interruptions of gainful employment, and it shall guarantee further training and education in all wakes of life. For this purpose we shall enforce the right to further education and training. This shall widen opportunities of choice and maintain the ability to be employed. Humanizing the world of work is a permanent task. Bad working conditions and high pressure to perform jeopardize the quality of work but also the health of the workforce. Health and safety at work shall be improved. Working conditions must orientate towards the needs of an ageing workforce. Necessary immigration and growing freedom of the workforce must not lead to social and wage dumping. Law and order on the labour market guarantee good work. We are combatting illegal work. Flexibility may be required and desired but it must not be abused. We want to strengthen unlimited and socially safe working relations. We want to overcome precarious work to prevent workers from being unprotected. Good work includes guaranteed workers’ rights: codetermination, works constitution, freedom of collective bargaining, industry wide collective agreements, protection from unlawful dismissal are indispensable.

3.7 The preventive social welfare state The social welfare state is a great achievement of the 20th century. It combines civil rights of freedom with social civil rights. Therefore democracy and social welfare state belong together. The social welfare state freed millions of people from the shackles of their origin, protected them from hardships of the market and opened opportunities for a life in self-determination. It is a decisive foundation for economic dynamism creating our wealth. The social welfare state is organized in solidarity between the strong and weak, the young and old, the healthy and sick, people in work and the unemployed, the non-disabled and disabled. Even in future the foundation of the social welfare state guarantees social security and participation, suable legal claim for social benefits and workers’ rights. Global capitalism is widening the gap between rich and poor. Even in our society social antagonisms are enhanced. Some countries accept this as a fact of destiny. However, successful social welfare states protect people from poverty enabling social rise. When forms of employment become more flexible and often times also more precarious the central function of the social welfare state becomes even more important: guaranteeing security in change. Fear from social decline is paralyzing. Only people with security will accept risks. Only people with opportunities will make an effort. To renew the promise of security and rise in our time we are developing the social welfare state to become a preventive welfare state. It combats poverty enabling people to master their lives in self-determination. Preventive social policy promotes safe gainful employment, helps in child raising and favours health prevention. It shapes demographic change and promotes a higher quota of women’s gainful employment. It prevents exclusion and eases occupational integration. It never discharges people from responsibility for their own life. The preventive social welfare state conceives education as central element of social policy. The integration of all people in society is one supreme task of the preventive social welfare state. Therefore preventive social policy combines various tasks like economic, finance and labour market policy, education and health policy, family and equal opportunities’ policy and the integration of immigrants. The central aims of the preventive social welfare state are security, participation and emancipation. Security means protecting people from risks of survival, exploitation, discrimination, elementary risks in life like unemployment, disease and the need for care. At the same time security as 120 Social Europe the journal of the european left Winter 2008


such creates the preconditions for a life in self-determination. Participation of all people in economic, cultural, social and political development is the aim of the Social Democrats’ policy. Good education, reliable work and health, but also fair distribution of wealth are of central importance to this end. The quality of the social welfare state is not only measured with the yardstick of the amount of transfer benefits but also by granting real chances in life which must be repeatedly opened for all from the beginning. Precondition for emancipation is security and participation. People want to shape their lives in freedom and self-determination. Nobody should experience disadvantages because of origin. Preventive social policy wants to realize security, participation and emancipation for all – independent of social origin, gender, age or disablement. The earlier, the more individual and efficient the principle of preventive care is applied the better the chance for the social welfare state to secure major risks to life in solidarity. The Berlin Programme of the SPD stipulated already: ‘Social policy does not only want to repair and help out in case of emergency but rather shape in anticipation.’ More and better social services for children, adolescents, families, the elderly and disabled are key to a society not excluding anyone. We want to lay the tracks for this approach in our kindergartens, schools and universities as well as in our hospitals and nursing wards. People working in social institutions have a claim to first-class qualification and promotion. People available for others in social occupations deserve recognition, respect and fair pay. Social services must not always be rendered by the state. Free welfare associations are important partners of ours, and we are especially committed to the Arbeiterwohlfahrt (Industrial Welfare Organization) and the Arbeiter-Samariter-Bund (Industrial Samaritan Association). However, the state has the responsibility for quality and equal access to such services for all. Justice and solidarity must also be applicable to the funding of our social welfare state. The contributions paid in solidarity by employers and employees form the foundation of our security systems even in future. We want to complement them by higher and safe tax funding with contributions by all in line with performance capability. Even for economic reasons funding of the social welfare state must be put on a broader foundation to relieve the burden on gainfully employed people. Therefore the preventive social welfare state must be oriented more towards the status of citizens than the status of gainful employment. Health

The Social Democrats’ preventive health care wants to prevent diseases, maintain health and overcome differences in health opportunities. We are aiming at healthy living conditions for all people promoting health aware behaviour. We are promoting health education from the beginning as well as statutory preventive health checks, even at child day-care facilities and schools. Each child has the right to grow up in good health. Medical progress must be used at the same time to heal diseases and to care for people who cannot be healed in a dignified fashion. Independent of origin, age or gender the sick have the same right to participate in medical progress. We do not want a two-class society. Therefore we want the insurance of citizens in solidarity with contributions by all. We want to apply the principles of the citizens’ insurance in solidarity also in old age care insurance. For humane care in dignity family, private sphere, outpatient and inpatient treatment facilities must complement each other. People need special solidarity at the end of their lives. Every person has the right to die in dignity. Safe and active in old age

In future people will live longer. Since people will also enjoy a longer healthy life a third extended phase in life will follow the life of gainful employment. We want to shape the transition to pension with more flexibility. In old age every person shall have the chance to take an active part in social life and in the world of work. Commitment and experience of older people enrich our country’s economy, politics and culture. Statutory pension insurance remains the pillar of poverty-proof security in old age. However, it must be complemented by corporate pensions or pubic schemes of private preventive care to make sure that people in their old age can maintain their standard of living. In the long run we want to extend statutory pension insurance to all gainfully employed people. In doing so we abide by gainful employment and the duration of gainful employment as a yardstick for the amount of pension. Pension must be related to contribution payment. We are rejecting uniform pension. We want to avoid poverty in old age. The introduction of basic security was an important step to this end. In addition there must be old age security for women. 121 Social Europe the journal of the european left Winter 2008


Preventive social policy in municipalities

Good preventive social policy is filled with life in communities in the first place – in high quality kindergartens and schools in an attractive living environment with many services for the integration of immigrants, for employment and qualification, for sports, recreation and health. We are supporting a policy for social communities developing suburbs and communities in this understanding. In doing so, the readiness of citizens for togetherness, self-help and accepting responsibility need to be encouraged. The task of municipalities is to provide appropriate assistance for people in specific emergency situations. We are supporting the efforts undertaken by municipalities to provide affordable living space. We are protecting the rights of tenants.

3.8 Better education, society suitable for children, strong families Social participation and education were the first aims of the labour movement in the 19th century which gave birth to social democracy. An important motive of many people in the struggle for a better future was ‘our children shall have an easier life’. Under changing conditions of the presence these aims once again must be put into the focus of political practice. We want equal opportunities in life for all. First and foremost education and family decide on equal opportunities in life. Therefore we want to enforce better education for all and strengthen families. Our aim is a society suitable for children. Education is decisive for our future, it is the most crucial social issue of our time. It is education only enabling people to set goals for themselves in self-determination and to realize dreams. It enables access to a world undergoing change. It qualifies for democracy and social responsibility and repeatedly cares for participation and perspectives of social rise. It represents a fast growing productive force of economy. We want to considerably increase the number of employees with better qualification. In the global knowledge society only societies with an open, socially permeable and highly developed education system can prosper. Education is more than imparting knowledge useful for people’s jobs. We want holistic education caring for discovery and knowledge, but also for social competences, creativity, aesthetic experience, ethical reflexion and sensitivity for values. Orientation does not necessarily derive from knowledge, therefore we need to appreciate political education and enlightenment for democracy. Education strengthens personality and qualifies for tolerance. Knowledge increases at breathtaking speed, acquired knowledge is outmoded after short time. People have always learned for life, nowadays even a whole life long. We want to impart joy in learning and awaken openness for the results of research. Education for all

The state has to make sure that everybody has equal access to education independent of personal origin. Every person has the right to claim an educational path free of charge from creche and kindergarten through to university. We want to realize this. Exclusion by lacking educational opportunities is injustice. Better education requires higher expenditures. This has priority because it invests in people. We need a culture of second and third opportunities. If somebody gets into a dead end in the course of life there must be opportunities to gain school graduations free of charge at a later stage and to acquire occupational graduations. From the beginning our educational system must focus on equal opportunities for girls and boys to overcome restrictive role patterns. Even for the integration of immigrants education is key. Joint learning promotes social integration. This is also true for the disabled. We are combatting illiteracy to make sure that education reaches all. We are also promoting competent, conscious and critical handling of computers, Internet and other media. However, education always depends on people imparting it. In child daycare centres, at school or university, all of them can be more successful if they find understanding, recognition and support in society. We want to improve their training and promote their further training and education. We must care for a more balanced ratio of women and men amongst the teaching staff from creche to university. This is the only way for boys and girls to find model roles. Nobody can discharge parents from responsibility for their children. By means of education and care programmes we want to help them to live up to their responsibility. 122 Social Europe the journal of the european left Winter 2008


Education from the beginning

Since the first weeks, months and years may be decisive for a life parents, but also midwives, physicians and nurses must be well prepared for their tasks. Daycare centres do not only offer care but also education. We want to turn them into parent-child centres where families find counsel, further training and reliable assistance in everyday life. By means of language promotion, among other things, disadavantages due to origin shall be balanced out. Social democrats fought for the abolition of school fees. Now we demand free of charge all day care for all children from the beginning. We are realizing the legal claim at good care from the second year in life. Learning together

In our educational system decisions on educational paths and opportunities are taken too early. Therefore we are favouring a school system where children are learning together and from each other as long as possible. This can be achieved best in a joint school upto 10th grade. We want to combine joint learning with better individual promotion. Experience from other countries shows that this is not only beneficial for children with learning weaknesses but also for the strong ones. Only this can overcome the correlation between educational opportunities and social background. Germany’s education system needs more permeability. We want more all day schools to transform them into locations of learning and social togetherness. Together with the family they shall become centres in the lives of children and adolescents. Parents are relieved and children have a chance to discover and develop their strengths. All day schools are embedded in a social environment, including enterprises, sports clubs, music schools, adult evening classes as well as institutions of free youth aid and the churches. We want schools to work more independently. They get binding standards and their performance capability is regularly monitored. However, they shall also develop more creativity and competence of their own. Our model are democratic schools where not only the teaching staff but also the learners and their parents are involved in decision-making. Modern vocational training

Vocational first training is a crucial foundation for vocational life. Broad basic training lays the foundation for lifelong vocational learning. It shall impart cross-vocational capabilities. All adolescents have right to training. We want to upgrade the dual system. It must be modernized to keep pace with the breathtaking developments in the world of work. This shall be supported by funding models in solidarity like a levy in favour of enterprises offering training. To guarantee vocational first training for all young people we need high-quality training in public responsibility wherever the dual system does not suffice. General education must be linked more strongly with vocational education and training to prepare adolscents more efficiently to their vocational choice and requirements. In the dual system enterprises are obliged to care for the training of future specialists. They must share the costs of training in solidarity. We are supporting funding models creating additional places for training and promoting business establishments offering places for training exceeding their own demand. Promoting study and research

We want to improve the quality of teaching and research at our universities and create more places for studies. The state remains responsible for universities and must safeguard their funding. This also requires a financial balancing system among the Federal States. Nevertheless the universities shall keep a high level of autonomy. Everybody involved in a university’s life shall have a say. Research and teaching belong together, their unity and freedom must remain the heart of universities. They shall offer the broad range of teaching and research in their entirety. Social sciences and the Humanities shall be promoted as much as natural and technical sciences. In recent decades research institutions outside the universities have become a strong pillar of our scientific system. We are promoting stronger cooperation between extra-university research and universities. We want to increase open access to studies and the share of students from families distant to education. Even for people who have already obtained a vocational degree must get financial access to studies. We are rejecting study fees for first studies. Educational promotion provided by the state shall be 123 Social Europe the journal of the european left Winter 2008


expanded in proportion to the needs. Study promotion must make sure that more students get a chance to make international experience. At the same time our country shall be open for students from other countries. Further education in a learning society

We want to make further education the fourth pillar of our education system for the learning society. It also stands in public responsibility. We want to safeguard further education by funding and by sabatticals. In doing so we want to involve partners to collective agreements and business establishments. Transforming unemployment insurance into employment insurance shall help in funding this pillar. We are also promoting general, cultural and political further education. It shall also benefit the older generation. By means of further education elderly people can stay active in occupational life and society. Education enables the older generation to keep pace with time. Strengthening children and families

Children stand for joyful expectation of the future. They are the foundation of each society. We want a society offering best chances for families with children and a climate of openness towards the needs of children. Successful children and family policy belongs to the key issues of our country’s preparedness for the future. We are favouring families where mothers and fathers are equally responsible for maintenance and care. This is what the vast majority of young people want. It corresponds to the need of children for mother and father and safeguards economic indepence of families. In families people experience love, security, hold, orientation and mutual support, they sense shelter and learn to be responsible for each other. We orientate our family model to social reality. We do not want to dictate a life model for people to choose. Most people want married life which we protect. At the same time we are supporting other joint paths through life, non-marital life communities, life partnerships of the same gender and single parents. Single mothers and fathers need specific support. Family is wherever there are children and where partners for a life or generations stand up for each other. We want to improve conditions for families with children and create openness and understanding for children creating a climate in which children, even not one’s own, are not considered burdens but joy and encouragement. We must make it easier for young couples to fulfil their wishes for children without lagging behind in occupational life. This holds especially for parents who want more than one child. Couples who want three or more children should not have to do without them for financial reasons. When founding their families and later in each phase of life young families need targeted support. We want to grant this by means of good and reliable care, family compatible working times and financial aid. Even the business world has responsibility for families. Precarious gainful employment impairs decisions in favour of children. Families suffer where the ever available workforce becomes the ideal. After all working times orientated towards the needs of parents also benefit economy. We want a world of work suitable for families enabling parents to combine occupational life with family to have more time for children. This is also in the interest of enterprises. When parents separate this must not become a risk for children to empoverish. Single parents, mostly mothers, are not able to work without care facilities. Therefore such facilities are crucial. The right of parents finds its limits where the right of children is impaired. Children have their own rights like the right to being raised free of violence. We want to anchor these rights in our Constitution. Where they are violated state and society must intervene.

4. Our way Future is open. We do not promise anybody to turn a world rampant with conflicts and contradictions into a paradise on earth. We acknowledge realities without accepting conditions as they are. We want to go the way into a future worth living. We want to qualify our country for the future. We want a fairer and more peaceful world. We want a social and democratic Europe. We want a society of citizens in solidarity, a culture of respect and recognition as well as a functioning democratic state. We want to realize equality of the genders. By means of qualitative growth we want to enable wealth and quality in life for all and 124 Social Europe the journal of the european left Winter 2008


protect our natural foundation for life. We want good work and fair pay for all. We want the preventive welfare state granting security, participation and equal opportunities in life. We want better education in a society suitable for families and children. History told us that conditions are changed by people, not by systems. A better future does not come by itself, we must create and shape it. A political party can only be as strong as the people sharing its values and supporting its aims. Many people are committed in trade unions, societies, associations, churches, social movements and networks. Many people want a better and fairer society. The majority in Germany wants to live in solidarity. We want to win over this majority in solidarity for our policy. We are canvassing support encouraging for active participation. The Social Democratic Party of Germany is fighting for sustainable progress and social justice in the 21st century.

125 Social Europe the journal of the european left Winter 2008


Social Europe the journal of the european left • Volume 3 • Issue 2 • Winter 2008

Endnotes

All the views expressed in the articles of this issue are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent the views of Social Europe Forum.

All rights reserved Social Europe Forum © 2008

Social Europe Journal Vol. 3 No. 2  

Europe and the US: The Future of Transatlantic Relations

Social Europe Journal Vol. 3 No. 2  

Europe and the US: The Future of Transatlantic Relations

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