Whilst I agree that the concrete gains achieved by social-democracy after 1945 not just in Britain but across Western Europe and Scandinavia and to a smaller degree in the USA benefited the working classes and middle classes and therefore should be supported and defended by socialists and communists. I would argue the main difference between the 'reformist' social-democrat and the 'revolutionary' socialists is the analysis of Marxism vs. Bernsteinism that the contradictions within capitalism can be managed and eventually lead to a democratic socialist outcome. The failure of Keynesian welfare capitalism by the mid 1970’s and the subsequent neo-liberal/neo-conservative era would seem to justify the Marxist position and Leninist view of the imperialist nature of capitalist development.
To quote Robin Archer
‘‘Margaret Thatcher pursed a militant preference-shaping strategy on the right. Tony Benn pursued a similarly militant, albeit unsuccessful, preference-shaping strategy on the left.’’
‘‘Tony Blair, reacting in part to the failure of the Bennite approach, adopted an exceptionally militant centre-seeking approach…. We can now see what the consequences of that approach…..by moving Labour to the centre; this strategy creates a new centre to the right of the old one… and leaves Labour itself moving endlessly to the right in pursuit of it.’’
I would say that principles and ideals are the driving force and pragmatic compromises should never betray the fundamentals of a political ideology or you end up like the Blair government following an alien ideology and principles which betray the basic philosophy, which isn’t the same as a pragmatic compromise.
Rather than try and reclaim the term ‘‘social-democracy’’ it would be far better to reclaim Labour as a social-democratic/socialist alliance where those who chose a ‘‘reformist’’ and ‘‘revolutionary’’ perspective can coexist in a common pursuit of socialism. For my part I think that social-democracy belongs to the historical-materialist period from 1945-1975 which was in the bourgeois democracies of the developed world capitalisms ‘‘golden age’’ of social progress.
Therefore the defence of 20th century social-democracy isn’t the way for progressive politics to move forward. This must come from the renewal of revolutionary socialist activism by building a coalition of Red and Green politics, the coalition of resistance and the march for an alternative. What’s the alternative, watch as the centre of the political ‘‘bell curve’’ move further to the right as Robin Archer has said has happened over the last thirty years.