In 2006 Clive Hamilton wrote an obituary on the “Death of social democracy.” His view was that
sustained increases in living standards for the great bulk of working people have so transformed social conditions as to render social democracy redundant as a political ideology. (p.7)
Certainly, (nominal) social democrats such as Paul Keating, Helen Clark, Tony Blair, and Gerhard Schroeder seemed to agree: their ‘Third Way’ economic policies had far more in common with the New Right than the Old Left.
Yet, the darkest hour for (real) social democrats was just before the dawn. By mid-2008, a financial crisis generally regarded as the worst since the 1930s had gripped the global economy. Intervention became essential, at least for the welfare of corporations, as taxpayers fronted with enormous bailouts for businesses (banks in particular) which were “too big to fail”. The economies of smaller European nations, which had wholehearted embraced the call to “enrichissez vous” at the expense of all else, were prostrate. The miracle of neoliberalism was shown to be nothing more than a brief mirage.
According to Tony Judt, the best possible response to this economic meltdown is the rebirth of social democracy.