Social democracy seems perpetually at a crossroads. But today, more than a hundred years after the first of the parties affiliated to the Second International won a plurality in a parliamentary election (in Finland in 1907; Anderson, 1992, 307), social democrats may finally be running out of rope. All the main European social democratic parties are facing a crisis, registering at long last endlessly postponed questions about their fundamental purpose.
Republicans seek to protect and promote individual freedom. So do libertarians of the right. The difference? Republicans recognise that the market is constructed through political, public action. Freedom in the republican tradition requires enjoyment of the fundamental liberties with the security that only a rule of law can provide. You must be publicly protected and resourced in such a way that it is manifest to you and to all that under local (not unnecessarily restrictive) conventions: you can speak your mind, associate with your fellows, enjoy communal resources, locate where you will, move occupation and make use of what is yours, without reason for fearing anyone or deferring to anyone. You have the standing of a liber or free person; you enjoy equal status under the public order and you share equally in control over that order. [This post is part of the Democratic Wealth series, hosted by Politics in Spires in partnership with Our Kingdom.]
Historically, republicanism has failed to reconcile the principle of non-domination with the realities of economic life. What do contemporary republican thinkers have to say about work and domination? [This post is part of the Democratic Wealth series, hosted by Politics in Spires in partnership with Our Kingdom. It is Part Two of a two-part piece on the history of republicanism and work]
After the 1830 revolution, French workers waited for the introduction of the republic into the heart of production. It never came. The struggle that ensued was to shape French politics during the Second Republic and after as republicans sought to reconcile work with the principle of non-domination. [This post is part of the Democratic Wealth series, hosted by Politics in Spires in partnership with Our Kingdom.]
The key principle of Republicanism is to minimise domination wherever it is found. The Zapatero governments in Spain, for example, showed how this idea can shape the policies of nation states. Is it possible to extend Republican principles to the global arena? I’ll start with what everybody knows. We live in hard times. There is much more suffering in Europe right now than just five years ago – much more domination too. Arguably, a sort of global redistribution is benefiting ‘developing’ countries to the detriment of the ‘developed’ world. But Western democracies are doing badly, and their prospects are not promising. [This post is part of the Democratic Wealth series, hosted by Politics in Spires in partnership with Our Kingdom.]
Democracy is morally prior to the economy. The structure of the economy is something a sovereign people may and should design and redesign to secure its common good – that is, the shared interest of each and every citizen in life, liberty and economic opportunity. This is the basic premise of the ‘Democratic Wealth’ series that I have the pleasure of editing. This is, however, by no means an uncontroversial premise.
Republican thinking today relies heavily on a classical conception of citizenship. Can this ever be compatible with modern commercial society? If there are resources in republicanism for re-thinking the contemporary economic order, it might be worth turning to a republican thinker who wrote on the topic of political economy. Jean-Jacques Rousseau in “A Discourse on Political Economy” articulated a key worry now held by various groups today, including the Occupy movement, dissatisfied with existing political responses on poverty, education, health care and economic opportunity.
Britain has been fooled. Told that ‘republicanism’ just meant sacking the monarchy, the British have missed its radical vision for the future. James Stern-Weiner, co-editor of the New Left Project, interviews Dan Hind, the author of a new pamphlet that seeks to ignite the flame.