Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Social Democracy

The concept of social democracy, quite popular in Sweden (some people often sing the anthem of social democracy in a party occasion), is something very unfamiliar to me. I know what it means. It just doesn't sound natural to me. It sounds very foreign to me. I now understand why.

After the Second World War, the Japanese politics was dominated by the Liberal Democratic Party, a conservative, right-wing party. The main opposition party was the Japan Socialist Party. This party, unlike those social democratic parties in Europe, did not abandon communism. While social democratic parties in Europe supported the US in the Vietnam War, the Japan Socialist Party criticized the US. The party was always close to Soviet Union, mainland China, and Eastern European countries during the Cold War.

In a nutshell, the political party who was supposed to bring the idea of social democracy to Japan failed to do it by sticking to the ideal of achieving socialism via violent revolution.

As a result, the concept of social democracy is quite foreign to Japanese people including myself. If you have a Japanese friend, ask him or her what social democracy is. I bet you won't get any answer.

And that's one of the reasons I'm so perplexed by Sweden where the social democratic party had been in power for a long time.

It seems I should learn the history of social democracy in Europe.

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