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The Left Facing the “Collapse” of Neoliberalism: Could the Anti-Capitalist Left Replace Social Democracy as an “Agent of Resistance”?

Mathieu Vieira
Université Libre de Bruxelles
Anissa Amjahad
Université Libre de Bruxelles
Fabien Escalona
Sciences Po Grenoble
Mathieu Vieira
Université Libre de Bruxelles
Open Panel

Abstract

Although the legitimacy of neoliberalism has been weakened, the public policies implemented illustrate the resilience of this doctrine. Besides, while it is commonly admitted that social-democratic ideas have gained popularity since the great financial crisis, we do not observe a subsequent electoral rise for such political parties. Thus, social-democratic parties do not seem to offer any concrete alternative to neoliberalism. The paper argues that this failure is due to the “partisan reconversion” of social democracy, partially characterized by a form of “neo-liberalization”, which is not expected to be reversed. Indeed, the ultimate cause of this evolution is linked to the “path dependence” of social democracy, which success in the “Glory Days” (1950s to 1970s) depended deeply on the exceptional economic growth of this period. If it is very likely that social democracy will keep a central position in the party systems in Europe, it is obvious that a political space has opened since the 1990s for what could be called the "anti-capitalist" family (De Waele and Vieira, forthcoming). Some of the anti-capitalist organizations have produced a significant analysis of the crisis of capitalism, which was inspired by post-keynesians and Marxists economists and led them to call a confrontation with capital. Therefore, after analyzing the responses to the crisis the social democrats made and demonstrating that they are no more "agents of resistance", we will examine whether the anti-capitalist left has the ability to replace them. Finally, we will draw possible scenarios of the future of these political families.