POLI 212 Lecture Notes - Protestantism, Party System, Elizabethan Religious Settlement
FEBRUARY 1, 2012
Transformation of radical socialism to radical democracy→ a long run process of
change that begins mid-19th century and continues well into the 20th.
Transition to social democracy= the working class became politically included,
when social democracy emerges there is a much tamer form of working class
politics, acceptance of the economic institutions of capitalism. Social democrats
recognize the principle of profit and loss and accept the prerogatives of organized
business in the economy. Their attitude towards capitalism is an expression of
working class politics. Social democracy implies a certain way of managing the
economy→ a very distinctive type of welfare regime/welfare state. They use the
welfare state to provide a social wage for workers, which is a substitute or
complement for a wage earned in the economy. It is political streamed via the
institutions of the state.
The key to explaining the transformation lies in the extension of the suffrage
(occurred progressively over the 19th and early 20th century). Extending the right to
vote politically empowers the working class→ the criteria changes from ownership
of property to the larger category of wage earner, and the right to vote becomes
associated with citizenship eventually. It is initially gendered, and women don’t get
suffrage until much later. Extending suffrage to male wage earners empowers an
important element of the working class, and at that point socialists had to think
about ways to pursue the socialist project.
To pursue the socialist project there are two options: First, via Revolution, which
implies violence. With the extension of the suffrage a second path is opened up→ an
electoral path to socialism, to peacefully transition connected to the appropriation
and use of political institutions of power.
That moment in socialism produces a debate within socialist movements about how
to proceed. Purists (suspicious of political route, they fear using electoral
institutions will corrupt their commitments→ electoral democracy will corrupt
socialist virtues and the social project will be coopted and derailed) vs. Pragmatists
(who are willing to take the risks of an electoral transition if it keeps the transition
peaceful→ willing to make compromises).
Why would pragmatists think electoral democracy is something the working class
could use to their advantage? Electoral rules imply a constituency large enough to
form a government. The working class on its own (the natural constituency of
socialism) would need to be large enough to form the government. Did they have
the numbers to win the election?
They must have thought that at some point the working class would be large enough
to elect a socialist party into power. Socialists that chose the democratic route
thought the working class would grow over time because they thought capitalism
would develop and produce a working class electorate that would grow in both
absolute and relative size→ a model of the capitalist economy where they expect it
to go through crises and each one would grow the proletariat.
The proletariat never grew in relative size. At some point, electoral socialists faced
an electoral dilemma. This is when radical socialism begins to mutate into social
The socialist party with the natural constituency in the working class faced a choice.
Either it looks for support outside of its core constituency with the expectation that
this could produce enough support to form a government; or they reconcile the
party to a life of permanent political opposition if the working class will never be
The pragmatists were willing to mobilize support from outside the core
constituency, even if it meant some loss of support in the working class. For every
vote you gain in the non-core constituency, do you lose support in the core
constituency? It is a trade off because to mobilize outside of the working class they
need to water down some of the socialist commitments.
Purists didn’t want to sacrifice the commitments and identity of the socialist party
for the purpose of winning the election.
If the purists lose this debate and they decide to mobilize, it will fragment the
socialist party. How the party moves is a consequence of who wins the debate
between purists and pragmatists. One upshot of this debate is that at some point
the left will chose between socialist democracy and a more radical option
(communist, socialist). Every successful social democratic party has to have cross-
Once the socialist party is ready to do this trade off, the party has begun the
mutation from socialism into social democracy. The issue becomes how to
maximize protection of workers while having accepted the capitalist economy.
Two types of post-war (1945) settlements:
o North (Germany, Britain): Class compromise is more entrenched. It is
“labour included.” This is very close to social democracy (ex. The
Scandinavian countries are the classic examples of social democracy). There
tends to be a single party that organizes the working class, there is no
division of the left between communists and social democrats because social
democrats dominate the left. In the labour market, you tend to have a single
central trade union association that organizes a relatively large portion of
the workforce→ rate of unionization is relatively high. There are close
connections between the trade union and the political party. With a
powerful single party on the left and a powerful trade union movement, you
have the political and economic clout to have a say in how the economy is
managed. Examples are Germany and Britain.
o South (France, Italy): This is labour-excluded. The party system has
political fragmentation of the left. There is a social democratic option and a
powerful communist party. The working class is divided between
competing parties (no hegemony, unity). The labour market has a low rate
of unionization. There is competition between trade unions for the
organization of the working class that has political connotations (several
trade union confederations). There are trade unions connected to each
party (socialist, communist, social democratic, etc). That fragmentation in
politics and economizes makes it harder for the management of the
There are two cases of states that have long histories, and two cases where states
form relatively late. There are early cases (France and Great Britain) and the late
state formers (Italy and Germany).
British pattern of nation and state formation→ the British state is a composite or a
union state. This is largely a process of accommodation. There regions give
something up, in each case they give up their right to their own parliaments in order
to become part of a larger union. In all cases except Ireland the British state
recognizes the distinctive cultural features of these regions. There is a certain
settlement built into the logic of British state formation. There is a religious
o 1535: Wales is incorporated into the larger unit. This is a process of political
fusion of multiple kingdoms. (Welsh are protestant, but non-conformist).
o 1707: Scotland is incorporated. (Scotland was Presbyterian. They maintain
separate institutions in law, education, and religion).
o 1801: Ireland gives up its homeland and signs an act of union with Great
Britain. Ireland isn’t incorporated in the same way as Wales and Scotland
because it was Catholic. It continues to be governed much like a colony from
o 1921: Irish Free State is formed.
o 1997-1998: the British government agrees to create legislatures in Wales