by Michael Smith (Veshengro)
The short answer would and must be No. They are not socialists in the main even though there may be one or two socialists among the ranks of the Social-Democrats in this or that country. In the main, however, the social-democratic parties are a bit in the vein of the liberal parties in that they think that they can tinker at the edges of capitalism without needing to change the system too much and thus give workers a little more influence. This does not work.
While it may be possible to have a kind of free-enterprise socialism where small businesses, as in owner-operated or family businesses, operate different to larger ones which all should and must be worker-owned as the means of production must be in the hands of the worker, capitalism with a social face and -conscience does not socialism make, not even socialism-lite.
The latter is, however, what many social-democratic parties, the British Labour Party included, are trying to achieve. They try to work with the bourgeoisie and capital rather than doing the right thing for the workers and society. Capitalism cannot be reformed into something that will give the workers a fair share; it is not in its character. The two are diametrically opposed, to be truthful.
And when it comes to the term of social-democracy we are back at that word democracy and the true meaning of it and it just does not work in the way that most parties, even those on the very left, including socialist and communist ones see society and the world. Democracy means that the people govern themselves and as long as there is a state and a government the people are slaves to the two and do not govern themselves. But, for some reason, everyone seems to believe that being permitted to vote for this or that party and this or that candidate a democracy makes. It does not. As Mark Twain put it so well, and I paraphrase: “If voting would make any difference they would make it illegal”. Got it?
Just to recap, social-democracy does not equal socialism and most social-democrats are not socialists and a great many of them are scared stiff of the very idea of true socialism because they are themselves so enmeshed in the capitalist system that they are afraid to let go of it. The politicians especially would basically remove themselves and they no longer would have any power but that is why most ever got into politics in the first place; to be able to wield power over the “little” people.