Third Way

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Bill Clinton and Tony Blair, early adherents of the Third Way in the 1990s Clinton Blair.jpg
Bill Clinton and Tony Blair, early adherents of the Third Way in the 1990s
Manuel Valls and Matteo Renzi, contemporary political leaders considered to follow the Third Way in the 2010s Manuel Valls and Matteo Renzi - Festival Economia 2015.JPG
Manuel Valls and Matteo Renzi, contemporary political leaders considered to follow the Third Way in the 2010s

The Third Way is a position akin to centrism that tries to reconcile right-wing and left-wing politics by advocating a varying synthesis of some centre-right and centrist economic and some centre-left social policies. [1] [2] The Third Way was created as a re-evaluation of political policies within various centre-left progressive movements in response to doubt regarding the economic viability of the state and the overuse of economic interventionist policies that had previously been popularized by Keynesianism, but which at that time contrasted with the rise of popularity for neoliberalism and the New Right. [3] The Third Way is promoted by social liberals [4] and some social democratic parties. [5]

Centrism describes a political outlook or specific position

In politics, centrism—the centre or the center —is a political outlook or specific position that involves acceptance or support of a balance of a degree of social equality and a degree of social hierarchy, while opposing political changes which would result in a significant shift of society strongly to either the left or the right.

Progressivism is the support for or advocacy of social reform. As a philosophy, it is based on the idea of progress, which asserts that advancements in science, technology, economic development and social organization are vital to the improvement of the human condition.

Economic interventionism economic policy perspective favoring government intervention in the market process

Economic interventionism is an economic policy perspective favoring government intervention in the market process to correct the market failures and promote the general welfare of the people. An economic intervention is an action taken by a government or international institution in a market economy in an effort to impact the economy beyond the basic regulation of fraud and enforcement of contracts and provision of public goods. Economic intervention can be aimed at a variety of political or economic objectives, such as promoting economic growth, increasing employment, raising wages, raising or reducing prices, promoting income equality, managing the money supply and interest rates, increasing profits, or addressing market failures.


Major Third Way social democratic proponent Tony Blair claimed that the socialism he advocated was different from traditional conceptions of socialism and said: "My kind of socialism is a set of values based around notions of social justice. [...] Socialism as a rigid form of economic determinism has ended, and rightly". [6] Blair referred to it as a "social-ism" involving politics that recognised individuals as socially interdependent and advocated social justice, social cohesion, equal worth of each citizen and equal opportunity. [7] Third Way social democratic theorist Anthony Giddens has said that the Third Way rejects the traditional conception of socialism and instead accepts the conception of socialism as conceived of by Anthony Crosland as an ethical doctrine that views social democratic governments as having achieved a viable ethical socialism by removing the unjust elements of capitalism by providing social welfare and other policies and that contemporary socialism has outgrown the Marxist claim for the need of the abolition of capitalism. [8] In 2009, Blair publicly declared support for a "new capitalism". [9]

Tony Blair Former Prime Minister of the United Kingdom

Anthony Charles Lynton Blair is a British politician who served as Prime Minister of the United Kingdom from 1997 to 2007 and Leader of the Labour Party from 1994 to 2007. He was Leader of the Opposition from 1994 to 1997. As of 2017, Blair is the last British Labour Party leader to have won a general election.

Social justice is a concept of fair and just relations between the individual and society. This is measured by the explicit and tacit terms for the distribution of wealth, opportunities for personal activity, and social privileges. In Western as well as in older Asian cultures, the concept of social justice has often referred to the process of ensuring that individuals fulfill their societal roles and receive what was their due from society. In the current global grassroots movements for social justice, the emphasis has been on the breaking of barriers for social mobility, the creation of safety nets and economic justice.

Economic determinism

Economic determinism is a socioeconomic theory that economic relationships are the foundation upon which all other societal and political arrangements in society are based. The theory stresses that societies are divided into competing economic classes whose relative political power is determined by the nature of the economic system. In the version associated with Karl Marx, the emphasis is on the proletariat who are considered to be locked in a class struggle with the capitalist class, which will eventually end with the revolutionary overthrow of the capitalist system and the gradual development of socialism. Marxist thinkers have dismissed plain and unilateral economic determinism as a form of "vulgar Marxism", or "economism", nowhere included in Marx's works.

The Third Way supports the pursuit of greater egalitarianism in society through action to increase the distribution of skills, capacities and productive endowments while rejecting income redistribution as the means to achieve this. [10] It emphasises commitment to balanced budgets, providing equal opportunity which is combined with an emphasis on personal responsibility, the decentralisation of government power to the lowest level possible, encouragement and promotion of public–private partnerships, improving labour supply, investment in human development, preserving of social capital and protection of the environment. [11] However, specific definitions of Third Way policies may differ between Europe and the United States. The Third Way has been criticised by certain conservatives, liberals and libertarians who advocate laissez-faire capitalism. [12] [13] It has also been heavily criticised by other social democrats and in particular democratic socialists, anarchists and communists as a betrayal of left-wing values, [14] [15] [16] with some analysts characterising the Third Way as an effectively neoliberal movement. [17] [18] [19] [20] [21]

Egalitarianism, or equalitarianism, is a school of thought within political philosophy that prioritizes equality for all people. Egalitarian doctrines are generally characterized by the idea that all human persons are equal in fundamental worth or moral status. According to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, the term has two distinct definitions in modern English, namely either as a political doctrine that all people should be treated as equals and have the same political, economic, social and civil rights, or as a social philosophy advocating the removal of economic inequalities among people, economic egalitarianism, or the decentralization of power. Some sources define egalitarianism as the point of view that equality reflects the natural state of humanity.

Balanced budget Financial plan where revenues equal expenses

A balanced budget is a budget in which revenues are equal to expenditures. Thus, neither a budget deficit nor a budget surplus exists. More generally, it is a budget that has no budget deficit, but could possibly have a budget surplus. A cyclically balanced budget is a budget that is not necessarily balanced year-to-year, but is balanced over the economic cycle, running a surplus in boom years and running a deficit in lean years, with these offsetting over time.

Equal opportunity similar treatment of all people

Equal opportunity is a state of fairness in which job applicants are treated similarly, unhampered by artificial barriers or prejudices or preferences, except when particular distinctions can be explicitly justified. According to this often complex and contested concept, the intent is that the important jobs in an organization should go to the people who are most qualified – persons most likely to perform ably in a given task – and not go to persons for reasons deemed arbitrary or irrelevant, such as circumstances of birth, upbringing, having well-connected relatives or friends, religion, sex, ethnicity, race, caste, or involuntary personal attributes such as disability, age, gender identity, or sexual orientation.


The term third way has been used to explain a variety of political courses and ideologies in the last few centuries. These ideas were implemented by progressives in the early 20th century.

The term was picked up again in the 1950s by German ordoliberal economists such as Wilhelm Röpke, resulting in the development of the concept of the social market economy. Röpke later distanced himself from the term and located the social market economy as first way in the sense of an advancement of the free-market economy. [22]

Ordoliberalism is the German variant of social liberalism that emphasizes the need for the state to ensure that the free market produces results close to its theoretical potential.

Wilhelm Röpke German economist

Wilhelm Röpke was Professor of Economics, first in Jena, then in Graz, Marburg, Istanbul, and finally Geneva, Switzerland, and one of the spiritual fathers of the social market economy, theorising and collaborating to organise the post-World War II economic re-awakening of the war-wrecked German economy, deploying a program sometimes referred to as the sociological neoliberalism.

The social market economy, also called Rhine capitalism, is a socioeconomic model combining a free market capitalist economic system alongside social policies that establish both fair competition within the market and a welfare state. It is sometimes classified as a coordinated market economy. The social market economy was originally promoted and implemented in West Germany by the Christian Democratic Union (CDU) under Chancellor Konrad Adenauer in 1949. Its origins can be traced to the interwar Freiburg school of economic thought.

During the Prague Spring of 1968, reform economist Ota Šik proposed third way economic reform as part of political liberalisation and democratisation within socialist society.

Prague Spring the period of liberalisation in Czechoslovakia from January 5th to 21 August 1968

The Prague Spring was a period of political liberalization and mass protest in Czechoslovakia as a Communist state after World War II. It began on 5 January 1968, when reformist Alexander Dubček was elected First Secretary of the Communist Party of Czechoslovakia (KSČ), and continued until 21 August 1968, when the Soviet Union and other members of the Warsaw Pact invaded the country to suppress the reforms.

Ota Šik was a Czech economist and politician. He was the man behind the New Economic Model and was one of the key figures in the Prague Spring.

Subsequently, Enrico Berlinguer, General Secretary of the Italian Communist Party in the 1970s and 1980s, used the term third way to advocate a vision of a socialist society that was more pluralist than the real socialism which was typically advocated by official communist parties whilst being more economically egalitarian than social democracy. This was part of the wider trend of Eurocommunism in the official communist movement and provided a theoretical basis for Berlinguer's pursuit of the Historic Compromise with the Christian Democrats. [23]

Most significantly, Harold Macmillan, British Prime Minister from 1957 to 1963, based his philosophy of government on what he summarised in the 1938 book The Middle Way .

Modern usage

The Third Way has been defined as such:

[S]omething different and distinct from liberal capitalism with its unswerving belief in the merits of the free market and democratic socialism with its demand management and obsession with the state. The Third Way is in favour of growth, entrepreneurship, enterprise and wealth creation but it is also in favour of greater social justice and it sees the state playing a major role in bringing this about. So in the words of [...] Anthony Giddens of the LSE the Third Way rejects top down socialism as it rejects traditional neo liberalism.

1999 report from the BBC [2]

Usage by social democrats

A social democratic variant of the Third Way which approaches the centre from a social democratic perspective has been advocated by its proponents as an alternative to both capitalism and what it regards as the traditional forms of socialism, including Marxian and state socialism, that Third Way social democrats reject. [24] It advocates ethical socialism, reformism and gradualism that includes advocating the humanisation of capitalism, a mixed economy, political pluralism and liberal democracy. [24]

The Third Way has been advocated by proponents as competition socialism, an ideology in between traditional socialism and capitalism. [25] Anthony Giddens, a prominent proponent of the Third Way, has publicly supported a modernised form of socialism within the social democracy movement, but he claims that traditional socialist ideology (referring to state socialism) that involves economic management and planning are flawed and states that as a theory of the managed economy it barely exists any longer. [18] In defining the Third Way, Tony Blair once wrote: "The Third Way stands for a modernized social democracy, passionate in its commitment to social justice". [26]



Under the nominally centre-left Australian Labor Party (ALP) from 1983 to 1996, the Bob Hawke and Paul Keating governments pursued many economic policies associated with economic rationalism such as floating the Australian Dollar in 1983, reductions in trade tariffs, taxation reforms, changing from centralised wage-fixing to enterprise bargaining, heavy restrictions on trade union activities including on strike action and pattern bargaining, the privatisation of government-run services and enterprises such as Qantas and the Commonwealth Bank and wholesale deregulation of the banking system. Keating also proposed a Goods and Services Tax (GST) in 1985, but this was scrapped due to its unpopularity amongst both ALP and electorate. The party also desisted from other reforms such as wholesale labour market deregulation (e.g. WorkChoices), the eventual GST, the privatisation of Telstra and welfare reform, including Work for the Dole which John Howard and the Liberal Party of Australia were to initiate after winning office in 1996.

Various ideological beliefs were factionalised under reforms to the ALP under Gough Whitlam, resulting in what is now known as the Labor Left, who tend to favour a more interventionist economic policy, more authoritative top-down controls and some socially progressive ideals; and Labor Right, the now dominant faction that is pro-business, more economically liberal and focuses to a lesser extent on social issues. The Whitlam government was first to use the term economic rationalism. [27] The Whitlam government from 1972 to 1975 changed from a democratic socialism platform to social democracy, their precursor to the party's Third Way policies. Under the Whitlam government, tariffs across the board were cut by 25 per cent after twenty-three years of Labor being in opposition. [28]

Former Labor Prime Minister Kevin Rudd's first speech to parliament in 1998 stated:

Competitive markets are massive and generally efficient generators of economic wealth. They must therefore have a central place in the management of the economy. But markets sometimes fail, requiring direct government intervention through instruments such as industry policy. There are also areas where the public good dictates that there should be no market at all. We are not afraid of a vision in the Labor Party, but nor are we afraid of doing the hard policy yards necessary to turn that vision into reality. Parties of the Centre Left around the world are wrestling with a similar challenge—the creation of a competitive economy while advancing the overriding imperative of a just society. Some call this the "third way". The nomenclature is unimportant. What is important is that it is a repudiation of Thatcherism and its Australian derivatives represented opposite. It is in fact a new formulation of the nation's economic and social imperatives. [29]

While critical of economists such as Friedrich Hayek, [30] [31] Rudd described himself as "basically a conservative when it comes to questions of public financial management", pointing to his slashing of public service jobs as a Queensland governmental advisor. [32] [33]


The former Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi is considered a Third Way politician Matteo Renzi 2015.jpeg
The former Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi is considered a Third Way politician

The Italian Democratic Party is a plural social democratic party including several distinct ideologic trends. Politicians such as former Prime Ministers Romano Prodi and Matteo Renzi are proponents of the Third Way. [34]

Under Renzi's secretariat, the Democratic Party took a strong stance in favour of constitutional reform and of a new electoral law on the road toward a two-party system.

It is not an easy task to find the exact political trend represented by Renzi and his supporters, who have been known as Renziani . The nature of Renzi's progressivism is a matter of debate and has been linked both to liberalism and populism. [35] [35] [36] According to Maria Teresa Meli of Corriere della Sera , Renzi "pursues a precise model, borrowed from the Labour Party and Bill Clinton's Democratic Party", comprising "a strange mix (for Italy) of liberal policy in the economic sphere and populism. This means that on one side he will attack the privileges of trade unions, especially of the CGIL, which defends only the already protected, while on the other he will sharply attack the vested powers, bankers, Confindustria and a certain type of capitalism". [37]

Renzi has occasionally been compared to former British Prime Minister Tony Blair for his political views. [38] Renzi himself has previously claimed to be as supporter of Blair's ideology of the Third Way, regarding an objective to synthesize liberal economics and left-wing social policies. [39] [40]

United Kingdom

In 1938, Harold Macmillan wrote a book entitled The Middle Way, advocating a compromise between capitalism and socialism which was a precursor to the contemporary notion of the Third Way. [41]

Former Prime Minister Tony Blair is cited as a Third Way politician. [42] [43] According to a former member of Blair's staff, Blair and the Labour Party learnt from and owes a debt to Bob Hawke's government in Australia in the 1980s on how to govern as a Third Way party. [44] Blair wrote in a Fabian pamphlet in 1994 of the existence of two prominent variants of socialism, namely one based on a Marxist–Leninist economic determinist and collectivist tradition and the other being an ethical socialism based on values of "social justice, the equal worth of each citizen, equality of opportunity, community". [45] Blair is a particular follower of the ideas and writings of Giddens [43] as was his successor Gordon Brown.

Two Third Way proponents, namely Professor Anthony Giddens and former United States President Bill Clinton Bill Clinton with Professor Anthony Giddens (Joint Chair), 2001.jpg
Two Third Way proponents, namely Professor Anthony Giddens and former United States President Bill Clinton

In 1998, Blair, then Labour Party Leader and Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, described the relation between social democracy and Third Way as the following:

The Third Way stands for a modernised social democracy, passionate in its commitment to social justice and the goals of the centre-left. [...] But it is a third way because it moves decisively beyond an Old Left preoccupied by state control, high taxation and producer interests; and a New Right treating public investment, and often the very notions of "society" and collective endeavour, as evils to be undone. [18]

In 2002, Anthony Giddens listed problems facing the New Labour government, naming spin as the biggest failure because its damage to the party's image was difficult to rebound from. He also challenged the failure of the Millennium Dome project and Labour's inability to deal with irresponsible businesses. Giddens saw Labour's ability to marginalise the Conservative Party as a success as well its economic policy, welfare reform and certain aspects of education. Giddens criticised what he called Labour's "half-way houses", including the National Health Service and environmental and constitutional reform. [46]

United States

In the United States, Third Way adherents embrace fiscal conservatism to a greater extent than traditional economic liberals, advocate some replacement of welfare with workfare and sometimes have a stronger preference for market solutions to traditional problems (as in pollution markets) while rejecting pure laissez-faire economics and other libertarian positions. The Third Way style of governing was firmly adopted and partly redefined during the administration of President Bill Clinton. [47] The term Third Way was introduced by political scientist Stephen Skowronek. [48] [49] [50] Third Way Presidents "undermine the opposition by borrowing policies from it in an effort to seize the middle and with it to achieve political dominance". Examples of this are Richard Nixon's economic policies which were a continuation of Lyndon B. Johnson's Great Society as well as Clinton's welfare reform later. [51]

Clinton along with Blair, Prodi, Gerhard Schröder and other leading Third Way adherents organized conferences to promote the Third Way philosophy in 1997 at Chequers in England. [52] [53] The Third Way think tank and the Democratic Leadership Council are adherents of Third Way politics. [54]

Other countries

Wim Kok led two Purple Third Way coalitions as Prime Minister of the Netherlands from 1994 until 2002 Wim Kok 1994.jpg
Wim Kok led two Purple Third Way coalitions as Prime Minister of the Netherlands from 1994 until 2002

Other leaders who have adopted elements of the Third Way style of governance include Gerhard Schröder of Germany, Wim Kok of the Netherlands, [55] António Guterres and José Sócrates of Portugal, [56] [57] Ehud Barak, Ehud Olmert and Tzipi Livni in Israel, [58] [59] David Lange, Roger Douglas and Helen Clark in New Zealand, [60] [61] François Hollande, Dominique Strauss-Kahn, Manuel Valls and Emmanuel Macron in France, [62] [63] [64] [65] Costas Simitis in Greece, [66] Viktor Klima and Alfred Gusenbauer in Austria, [67] Ingvar Carlsson and Göran Persson in Sweden, [68] [69] Paavo Lipponen in Finland, [69] Helle Thorning-Schmidt in Denmark, [70] Kim Dae-jung and Roh Moo-hyun in South Korea, [71] Jean Chrétien and Paul Martin in Canada, [72] Ferenc Gyurcsány in Hungary, [73] Victor Ponta in Romania, [74] Leszek Miller and Marek Belka in Poland, [75] Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva in Brazil, [76] Alan Garcia and Alejandro Toledo in Peru, [77] Thabo Mbeki in South Africa, [78] Muammar Gaddafi in Lybia [79] [80] and Ricardo Lagos and Michelle Bachelet in Chile. [81]


After the dismantling of his country's Marxist–Leninist government, Czechoslovakia's conservative finance minister Václav Klaus declared in 1990: "We want a market economy without any adjectives. Any compromises with that will only fuzzy up the problems we have. To pursue a so-called 'third way' is foolish. We had our experience with this in the 1960s when we looked for a socialism with a human face. It did not work, and we must be explicit that we are not aiming for a more efficient version of a system that has failed. The market is indivisible; it cannot be an instrument in the hands of central planners". [82] In historical context, such proposals were better described as liberalised centrally-planned socialism rather than the socially-sensitive capitalism that Third Way policies tend to have been identified with in the West.

Left-wing opponents of the Third Way argue that it represents social democrats who responded to the New Right by accepting capitalism. The Third Way most commonly uses market mechanics and private ownership of the means of production and in that sense it is fundamentally capitalistic. [83] In addition to opponents who have noticed this, other reviews have claimed that Third Way social democrats adjusted to the political climate since the 1980s that favoured capitalism by recognising that outspoken opposition to capitalism in these circumstances was politically nonviable and that accepting capitalism as the current powers that be and seeking to administer it to challenge laissez-faire capitalists was a more pressing immediate concern. [84] With the rise of neoliberalism in the late 1970s and early 1980s and the Third Way between the 1990s and 2000s, social democracy became synonymous with it. [85] [86] As a result, the section of social democracy that remained committed to the gradual abolition of capitalism and anti-Third Way social democrats merged into democratic socialism. Many anti-Third Way social democrats overalp with democratic socialists in their committiment to an alternative to capitalism and a post-capitalist economy and have not only criticised the Third Way as anti-socialist [87] and neoliberal, [17] [18] [19] [20] [21] but also as anti-social democratic in practice. [87]

Democratic and market socialists argue that the major reason for the economic shortcomings of command economies was their authoritarian nature rather than socialism itself, that it was a failure of a specific model and that therefore socialists should support democratic models rather than abandon it. Economists Pranab Bardhan and John Roemer argue that Soviet-type economies and Marxist–Leninist states failed because they did not create rules and operational criteria for the efficient operation of state enterprises in their administrative, command allocation of resources and commodities and the lack of democracy in the political systems that the Soviet-type economies were combined with. According to them, a form of competitive socialism that rejects dictatorship and authoritarian allocation and support democracy could work and prove superior to the market economy. [88]

Although close to New Labour and a key figure in the development of the Third Way, sociologist Anthony Giddens dissociated himself from many of the interpretations of the Third Way made in the sphere of day-to-day politics. [89] For him, it was not a succumbing to neoliberalism or the dominance of capitalist markets. [90] The point was to get beyond both market fundamentalism and traditional top-down socialism—to make the values of the centre-left count in a globalising world. He argued that "the regulation of financial markets is the single most pressing issue in the world economy" and that "global commitment to free trade depends upon effective regulation rather than dispenses with the need for it". [91]

In 2008, Charles Clarke, a former United Kingdom Home Secretary and the first senior Blairite to attack Prime Minister Gordon Brown openly and in print, stated: "We should discard the techniques of 'triangulation' and 'dividing lines' with the Conservatives, which lead to the not entirely unjustified charge that we simply follow proposals from the Conservatives or the right-wing media, to minimize differences and remove lines of attack against us". [92]

In 2013, American lawyer and former bank regulator William K. Black wrote that "Third Way is this group that pretends sometimes to be center-left but is actually completely a creation of Wall Street—it's run by Wall Street for Wall Street with this false flag operation as if it were a center-left group. It's nothing of the sort". [14] [15] [16]

Third Way and social capital

The shift towards a political discourse heavily influenced by social capital is observable comparing the 1979 and 1997 Labour Party manifestos. [93] [94] In 1979, the Labour Party professed a complete adherence to social democratic ideals and rejected the choice between a "prosperous and efficient Britain" and a "caring and compassionate Britain". [93] Coherent with this position, the main commitment of the party was the reduction of economic inequality via the introduction of a wealth tax. [93] In the 1990s, this agenda drastically changed with the progressive dismissal of traditional social democratic ideology. In particular, New Labour de-emphasised the need to tackle economic inequality and instead focused its political strategy on the expansion of opportunities for all, keeping public intervention in the market to a minimum. In this context, the aim to foster social capital creation by holding together the modernisation of the state and the creation of stronger social ties became the flagship of New Labour. [95]

This change of political orientation was based on a profound revision of social democratic principles. These principles were considered by New Labour to be an obstacle to the activation of evidence-based policy-making. In this context, the prevention of market failures which is targeting child poverty and educational disadvantage was preferred over the redistributive approach endorsed by the Labour Party during the 1970s. The new vision implied the full acceptance of market principles and pushed traditional social democratic values even further away. This ideological shift took place despite the fact that the period between 1979 and 1995 was characterised by the sharpest increase in economic inequality since World War II. The importance attributed to the creation of social capital is symptomatic of New Labour's interest in civil society. This interest can be explained by the effect of growing individual freedom, fostered by economic and technological modernisation, in a context where traditional forms of solidarity and interdependence are needed to prevent social disintegration, a social paradox already identified by the founding fathers of sociology. For this reason, New Labour considered the creation of social capital as a good antidote to the tension between traditional and modern values. [95]

Tony Blair proposed to manage social change by unifying moral values, represented by the Tocquevillian quest for community and scientific evidence, used to inform evidence-based policy-making. According to Blair, the fusion of these two elements in the Third Way was the only remedy for the social paradox illustrated above. One could say as Émile Durkheim that during an age of modernisation and transformation the values cultivated in secondary groups need to be universally accepted because they confer a human face to a society dominated by competition and the pursuit of efficiency. In this vision, the creation of social capital balances growing individualism with the need for interdependence, serving as a sort of glue to prevent modernisation from heading towards societal disintegration. After merging social capital's argument and the Third Way discourse. [91] New Labour also bridged theory and practice through policy making at various levels, namely in education, health and neighbourhoods; and attempting to measure the direct impact of these reforms on social capital. In this context, the objective of creating social capital through the empowerment of families and communities and the decentralisation of social services became one of the leading driving forces of New Labour's political action. [95]

Weakening of Third Way

According to one article submitted in 2017 to open-contribution website Market Mogul, the Third Way movement was at its peak in the 1990s and 2000s, but it has since been on the decline and by 2017 it became clear that the ideology is not as popular as it used to be outside of established Third Way circles. Third Way economic policies began to be challenged following the Great Recession. The rise of right-wing populism has put the ideology into question. Many on the left have become more vocal in opposition to the Third Way, with the most prominent example in the United Kingdom being the rise of self-identified democratic socialist Labour Party Leader Jeremy Corbyn as well as Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Bernie Sanders in the United States. A large number of Third Way politicians have been either voted out of office or forced to change their positions due to the ideology's weakening base. The election of Emmanuel Macron as President of France in 2017 gave some hope to Third Way proponents. [96] However, Macron has become largely unpopular and his presidency has been marked by the formation of the yellow vests movement.[ citation needed ]

See also

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Democratic socialism Form of socialism that advocates political democracy alongside a socially owned economy

Democratic socialism is a political philosophy that advocates political democracy alongside a socially owned economy, with an emphasis on workers' self-management and democratic control of economic institutions within a market or some form of a decentralised planned socialist economy. Democratic socialists argue that capitalism is inherently incompatible with the values of liberty, equality and solidarity and that these ideals can be achieved only through the realisation of a socialist society. Democratic socialism can support either revolutionary or reformist politics as a means to establish socialism.

State socialism is a classification for any socialist political and economic perspective advocating state ownership of the means of production either as a temporary measure in the transition from capitalism to socialism, or as characteristic of socialism itself. It is often used interchangeably with state capitalism in reference to the economic systems of Marxist–Leninist states such as the Soviet Union to highlight the role of state planning in these economies, with the critics of said system referring to it more commonly as "state capitalism". Libertarian and democratic socialists claim that these states had only a limited number of socialist characteristics. However, Marxist–Leninists maintain that workers in the Soviet Union and other Marxist–Leninist states had genuine control over the means of production through institutions such as trade unions.

Centre-left politics or center-left politics, also referred to as moderate-left politics, are political views that lean to the left-wing on the left–right political spectrum, but closer to the centre than other left-wing politics. Those on the centre-left believe in working within the established systems to improve social justice. The centre-left promotes a degree of social equality that it believes is achievable through promoting equal opportunity. The centre-left has promoted luck egalitarianism, which emphasizes the achievement of equality requires personal responsibility in areas in control by the individual person through their abilities and talents as well as social responsibility in areas outside control by the individual person in their abilities or talents.

Liberal socialism is a socialist political philosophy that incorporates liberal principles. Liberal socialism does not have the goal of completely abolishing capitalism and replacing it with socialism, but it instead supports a mixed economy that includes both private property and social ownership in capital goods. Although liberal socialism unequivocally favours a market-based economy, it identifies legalistic and artificial monopolies to be the fault of capitalism and opposes an entirely unregulated economy. It considers both liberty and equality to be compatible and mutually dependent on each other.

Ethical socialism is a political philosophy that appeals to socialism on ethical and moral grounds as opposed to economic, egoistic, and consumeristic grounds. It emphasizes the need for a morally conscious economy based upon the principles of service, cooperation, and social justice while opposing possessive individualism. In contrast to socialism inspired by rationalism, historical materialism, neoclassical economics, and Marxist theory which base their appeals for socialism on grounds of economic efficiency, rationality, or historical inevitability, ethical socialism focuses on the moral and ethical reasons for advocating socialism.

Reformism is a political doctrine advocating the reform of an existing system or institution instead of its abolition and replacement. Within the socialist movement, reformism is the view that gradual changes through existing institutions can eventually lead to fundamental changes in a society’s political and economic systems. Reformism as a political tendency and hypothesis of social change grew out of opposition to revolutionary socialism, which contends that revolutionary upheaval is a necessary precondition for the structural changes necessary to transform a capitalist system to a qualitatively different socialist economic system.

A socialist state, socialist republic, or socialist country is a sovereign state constitutionally dedicated to the establishment of socialism. The term "communist state" is often used interchangeably in the West specifically when referring to single-party socialist states governed by Marxist–Leninist, or Titoist in case of Yugoslavia political parties, despite these countries being officially socialist states in the process of building socialism. These countries never describe themselves as communist nor as having implemented a communist society. Additionally, a number of countries which are not single-party states based on Marxism–Leninism make reference to socialism in their constitutions; in most cases these are constitutional references alluding to the building of a socialist society that have little to no bearing on the structure and development paths of these countries' political and economic systems.


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