Social democracy

From ProleWiki, the proletarian encyclopedia
Not to be confused with democratic socialism.

Social democracy is an ideology that advocates for reforming capitalism and creating a welfare state without changing the mode of production or creating a dictatorship of the proletariat.[1] Social democrats are sometimes called "social fascists" because they usually side with the bourgeoisie over revolutionary socialists, such as in Germany in 1919.[2] Examples of social democratic states are Finland, and Sweden. The most well-known social democrat in the United States is Bernie Sanders.


The term "social democracy" has a complicated history. Many communists identified with the term in the late 19th and early 20th century. The Communist Party of the Soviet Union was formed from the Bolshevik faction of the Russian Social Democratic Labour Party. Following the October Revolution, the Bolsheviks rejected the term "social democracy" because democracy is a form of state power and the higher stage of communism will be stateless.[3]

The term was only ever popular in western Europe, and thus its association with communism or Marxism died with the rise of liberal economics in western Europe.


In 1918 March[4], Lenin made the distinction between Social-Democrats and communists as follows,

"...As we begin socialist reforms we must have a clear conception of the goal towards which these reforms are in the final analysis directed, that is, the creation of a communist society that does not limit itself to the expropriation of factories, the land and the means of production, does not confine itself to strict accounting for, and control of, production and distribution of products, but goes farther towards implementing the principle “From each according to his ability, to each according to his needs”. That is why the name of Communist Party is the only one that is scientifically correct. The objection that it may cause us to be confused with the anarchists was immediately rejected by the Central Committee on the grounds that the anarchists never call themselves simply Communists but always add something to that name. In this respect we may mention the many varieties of socialism, but they do not cause the confusion of the Social-Democrats with social reformers, or national socialists, or any similar parties."


  1. "Marxists Internet Archive Encyclopedia". Marxists Internet Archive. Retrieved 2022-02-07.
  2. Mark Jones (2016). Founding Weimar: Violence and the German Revolution of 1918–1919. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. ISBN 9781107115125 [LG]
  3. Vladimir Lenin (1917). The Tasks of the Proletariat in Our Revolution: 'The Situation within the Socialist International'. [MIA]
  4. Vladimir Lenin (1918). Extraordinary Seventh Congress of the R.C.P.(B.): 'Section Nine'. Moscow: Progress Publishers.