In the first part of his analysis Paul Sweeney pointed to a variety of causes behind the decline of social democracy over the past 30 years or more. In this second part he looks at wider economic and social trends since the 2008 crisis, including the ever-widening gap between rich and poor and growth in inequality, and concludes that social democrats must revaluate and revalue the role of the (benign) state – not least in defending precious liberties.
Social Democrats embraced conservative parties’ populist appeals for low taxes on incomes, inheritances and, particularly, on corporates profits. Thomas Piketty has shown how far taxes on top incomes and wealth have been reduced over decades from rates over 90 percent on incomes in the USA, Germany, Britain and France in the 1950s to less than half of that today. There was also a pronounced shift to more regressive taxes on consumption. This impacted the poor most – traditional SD supporters. Industrial-scale tax avoidance and evasion enabled by hyper-globalisation went unaddressed.