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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.

  In terms of the financial crisis, there are fascinating links between the Rawlsian theory of justice and the economic liberal theory which has drawn criticsm for failing to predict the crash. For Rawlsian adepts: this is not an attempt to apply Rawls’ theory of justice to explain the current economic crisis. It would not be suited to do so and neither was it designed to do so. But highlighting these links may teach us a thing or two about both endeavours and also give us pause about the Rawlsian project itself. Much (too much?) has been written about Rawls, both in defense of his project and against it. Those in disagreement generally use one of two strategies: attack the …