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What is Living and What is Dead in Social Democracy – Tony Judt

Oh good evening I'm David McLaughlin Provost of New York University and as Provost I'm very pleased to welcome you all to what most certainly will be an interesting and important event one of my most rewarding activities as Provost is to attend just this kind of event university-wide lectures that feature the work the ideas and the scholarship of some of the most distinguished members of NYU's faculty this evening is particularly gratifying as tonight's event marks the inauguration of a new lecture series that will highlight the work of the university-wide Institute's that my office supports and oversees lectures in this new series will be held twice a year with each lecture hosted by one of these Institute's the ten Institute's nourish interdisciplinary collaboration and cross school activities they span a wide array of disciplines each drawing from together groups of scholars from across the university and beyond they range from the Center for the Study of gender and sexuality to the hemispheric Institute for performance and politics from the humanities initiative at NYU to the Institute for african-american affairs and they include the International houses such as Africa house and China house the oldest the New York Institute for the Humanities was founded over 30 years ago the newest the Institute for public knowledge was established just two years ago the remark Institute was founded in 1995 under the direction of tonight's speaker professor Toni Judd it was named after Erich Maria Remarque the author of all Quiet on the Western Front and whose widow Paulette Goddard made a generous bequest to New York University the remark Institute aims to promote the study and discussion of Europe and its neighbors and to encourage mutual understanding between Americans Europeans among the most high-profile of remarks many activities has been its biannual remark lectures these lectures have gained a distinguished reputation for scholarship and productive thought for a provocative thought I'm very pleased that tonight's remark lecture is also the inaugural lecture for the Institute's lecture series I will now turn the podium over to my close friend and colleague dick Foley professor of philosophy and the university's vice chancellor for strategic planning dick welcome everyone it's my great great pleasure to introduce Tony Chet tonight Tony is by any measure one of the great and most influential historians of our time he's been at NYU for more than two decades now 22 years to be exact he served many capacities here at NYU chair of the history department Dean of humanities University professor as Dave said also founder and director of the remark Institute he came here to NYU from from Oxford prior to that he had been at UC Berkeley and King's College Cambridge he has of course been prodigious publisher thirteen books starting with early works on French socialism and intellectualism to his majesty Rio but also hugely readable history of Europe since 1945 and his very most recent book reappraisal is reflections on the Forgotten 20th century his list of awards and honors seems almost endless American Academy of Arts and Science British Academy Royal Historical Society Guggenheim Fellow his book on post-war Europe has been translated into 19 different languages won the Arthur Ross prize the remark Peace Prize the buna Kreisky prized European Book Prize and he himself for lifetime achievement has the Hana rent prize in the Orwell prize this is of course a spectacular resume but even it does not capture the pool impact and certainly not the texture of Tony's work which I like to think is linked to one of the qualities about Tony that I admire most his engagements with the world and the foundation of his work and things that he himself has done seen experience this engagement began early for Tony his education was at the finest European institutions Cambridge and he kept it called normal superior but before entering Cambridge he spent what we would now call a gap here in Israel where there he for he farmed annika boots and served as a driver during the six-day war in 1967 as a young man he also travelled extensively and exhaustively in Europe seeing firsthand how it hung together or in some cases did not hang together even now to this day he can tell you is one of his many side expertise just how long it takes to get by train from say Bucharest to Hamburg what time the trains leave which track they leave from where you will have to change you can tell you these things because he's travelled these lines many many times and while travelling thought how the history and relationship between any two given points in Europe has been shaped by their distance from one another and how how extensive the difficulties are in getting from one point to another it is this link between ideas and actual lives experienced I think permeates his work and is central to its trajectory though sometimes especially in the early work has been the absence of that link that's been the subject of his enquiries for example his early books on French intellectuals which focused in part on the dangerous ease with which ideas thoughts theories can weigh sometimes too lightly on one's actions one's engagement with the world that gap never exists in Tony what Tony's works and it is it is one of the primary reasons in my mind why Tony is not just one of the great historians of our time but also one of the great publicans lectures of our time it is with enormous pleasure that I introduce Tony Jaa to speak on what is living in dead in social democracy Tony Judd you hear me good thanks thank you all very much for coming I hope you don't mind if I begin by shooting the elephant in the house if you'll forgive the first of the number politically incorrect observations as you can see I'm lecturing to you from a wheelchair the reason is that I was diagnosed here ago with a progressive variant of a by atrophic lateral sclerosis which you will do as Lou Gehrig's disease this destroys progressively most of the muscles of the body in my case as you can see it's produced the situation where I'm paralyzed from the neck down that also use this rather ridiculous looking to but my face to breathe since those muscles don't work either this has certain advantages from your point of view I promise you I shall dot distractedly walk around the stage I shall dot deploy redundant body language or excessive that's Italian hand gestures what do you get this evening latest year for them it's the original talking head right I should say just a couple of more points and uh prove people did ask me if I would lecture instead about the topic that I'm going to talk about if I would lecture instead oh the disease that I have Gehrig's disease because this would be useful to raise public understanding awareness and so on but I gotta talk to her so what I would have given you would have been sort of show-and-tell it does seem to me that so far as show is concerned you can see perfectly well for yourselves what the disease looks like and what it does to people as far as tell goes all I can assure you is that this is in every sense of the word odd communicable disease so you will have to pass on the specialized medical lecture if I were American I might have responded both positively to those of my colleagues you said that it would be uplifting for you and for me for you to see that a quadriplegic wearing facial Tupperware could give a public lecture but I'm English we don't do uplifting there is however one last point the connection between my condition my subject that it's this that if I lived in Sweden I would get at least this good medical treatment but I would save about a hundred thousand dollars a year that should give me some justification for slipping into my subject which is what is living what is dead in social democracy if you look over the past few years the public opinion polls and surveys this country you'll find that if people are asked would you like your child to have better life chances at birth would you like your wife's survival in maturity to be more guaranteed would you like your children to be better educated would you like better guarantees of support if you lose your job would you like universal medical coverage low-cost would you like longer life expectancy would you like less crime football public services people in this country universally say yes if they're then told that these things are available in Austria or Finland Sweden Denmark that they come with somewhat higher taxes and role directive role by the state their provision they say in those same surveys there though we do not want socialism though we do not want the state interfering in our affairs but above all please though we don't wish to pay higher taxes there is this curious cognitive dissonance between the heads that people are willing very large numbers to approve and even seek that the beads that they are willing to consider I want to ask initially why that is obviously this is an old question in the United States years ago the German sociologist Venice or but asked why is there those socialist America there are very odd Sicily some of which are deeply structural some of which have to do with the sheer size of the country it's very hard to institute organized collective activity and services in countries which are essentially empires in scale whether they are the United States there are also cultural factors which we're all very well aware there be also many considerations about which we could not do anything even if we wished if you ask yourself what is it that the various countries that have a system of welfare that we associate with social democracy what do they have in common now of course if you think of the list I gave you your first thought would be that in order to have successful social democracy you need a large number of people who are able to do cross-country skiing but it's not by chance that the kinds of system that I get to talk about sealing ah most successfully implanted in small the budget us countries Scandinavia Austria the Netherlands to take the best third cases these countries issues of trust issues of acceptance of a willingness to pay for other people's services in generation boy the future generation it's closely connected with the assumption that they will do the same for you did your children because they are as it were like you and it's not accidental that social democracy and enthusiasm for the welfare state this declined in countries like the Netherlands with the rise of multicultural communities and considerable suspicions about the willingness of others minorities to look different than sound different to behave in the ways that the homogeneous white Protestant community that's done for decades before we don't have that kind of country yeah that may be a consideration it may also be the case I'll come back to this that social democracy at the welfare states but they're not quite the same thing to face real practical problems today which make them difficult to imagine in the future not only if you're American but also for Europeans but I want to look at a slightly different question that is the very difficulty we have even posing the question of how should we imagine a different sort of society now should we imagine the different set of collective arrangements to mutual advantage I want to argue that our problem it's not sociological it's not economic it is if you like forgive me this academic phraseology discursive we don't know how to talk about these things anymore to do this I want to go back a little in time I have on my side made hot Keynes do I shall quote once or twice this evening to famously wrote that a study of the history of opinion is a necessary preliminary emancipation of the mind so to Betsy petabytes this evening I want to study for a minute the history of an opinion the opinion I have admired of course is what you might call it caught abysm the way we talk about public affairs today for the last thirty years in this country in the United Kingdom in Ireland in general in the english-speaking world to a much lesser extent in continental Europe and elsewhere we have lost the capacity to think of public affairs except in a very restricted sense in economic terms but we ask of a policy or a proposal is it good or bad we don't actually ask is it good or bad we ask is it efficient is it productive would it benefit gross domestic product would it be inefficient did that respect would it contribute or not contribute to growth and so on we asked get a very restricted sense economic questions we talked economics as a language of public policy that is not a natural condition it's a required one it's not the first time that people have done this in 1905 the great William Beveridge for 40 years later would go on to found the British welfare state gave a lecture at Oxford where he asked why it was the political philosophy debate obscured in public debates by classical economics obscuring of political thought by economic language happened together the nineteen twenties and it has happened to us it's been going on for a while now so we've lost many of us the capacity to realise that is in fact a required condition it's not by the way the way that the great classic law The Economist's themselves used to think and talk if you go back to the 18th or 19th century considerations of ethics of what Adam Smith called moral sentiment well up a boost economic conversations indeed the idea that we might reduce public debate public policy considerations to purely financial or economic calculations was already in the 18th century something that worried the more perceptive observers of the early years of capitalism Kedah say the Bakke record of say the late 18th century in France shortly before the Revolution expressed the into him horrifying thought and I quote that Liberty will be no more did the eyes of an avid nation ebed frauds that the necessary condition for the security of financial operations the idea in short that we would mistake the freedom to make buddy the feat of itself how did we come to think it exclusively economic terms such that when we have the purportedly national debate about whether or not we should fix our collective arrangements for health care we can only ask how much will it cost ooh how about you'll be willing to sacrifice I will it be efficient rather than is it good is it right is it wrong is it bad is it just is it fair I think I could answer the question we live all of us in the log shadow of a debate most people in this room will be quite unfamiliar with if you ask yourself you were the founding fathers of America and English economic thought today they are depending on which particular risk aspect you look at five been some of you will be familiar to you here Ludwig fabi's Frederick Hayek Joseph Schumpeter Karl Popper Peter Drucker Drucker a bearish with guru enormous significance it influenced the 60s fifties and sixties and seventies in this country papa the great theorist of the open society that it's a debate sort of totalitarianism Hayek the founding father of as it were the Chicago School of Economics he is his colleague Schumpeter the theorist you've created the structured in capitalism all five of these men were bored within to give me a short training journey four of them aboard in Vienna one of the Moravia the few dozen miles to the north they were all influenced shake it up my deed to law catastrophe that hit Austria little Austria is the source of much of the way we think could fail to think in public life today because what happened in it to Austria was firstly of course the catastrophe of World War one dead a socialist experiment in Vienna dead progressively your reaction to me response to that experiment that eventually of course the Nazi takeover 1938 all of these men were refugees felt that experience all of them Hayek especially the most influential of them all cast their thought in terms of a question why did liberal society fall fail collapsed in the face of the challenge of totalitarianism and give way to the extreme right in that case the Austrian case their answer was because of the odd successful attempts by the left to introduce state-directed planning state directed services state lady economic activity and so forth if in other words the great collapse of European civilization for them was the defining quality of the 20th century the defining question of the 20th century to be brought about by the failure of the left first to achieve its objectives led to the Fed liberalism against its failed objectives the conclusion was quite simply that in future the best defense of liberalism the best defense of an open society the best defense of freedom would be to keep government away from the economy if you kept government away from the economy if you kept politicians away from planning regulation direction whoever well-intentioned left-wing socialist social democratic clans to improve society then you would not open the path to totalitarians right or left dead you could protect the liberal heritage the Bayard Steen crumble before their eyes before they fled to America to England to do zealand upon this case now there was another person you've responded to this same challenge from a different angle made out Keynes the great English economist was born in 1883 the same year as Schumpeter Keynes grew up in in stable secure confident safe prosperous powerful England and he watched in world war 1 after the war into the thirties does that culture that economy that society collapsed and declined it fell but all the certainties of his culture his class fell with them Cades responded to the same questions that Hayek and his Austrian colleagues League's that posed with the different answer yes he said the collapse of liberalism the collapse of the confidence the certainties of the 19th century is the great question of our time but the answer to it is not to reduce government's so that it remains a free and untrammeled society but to provide security from above so that people will not in desperation turn sort of write total far-left in the hope of protection against the terrifying world Cades his response in other words to the question he posed in 1944 which was how shall we provide after the war a security which will prevent a return to the pre-war conditions was that it must be decreased role for the state Hayek's was that there must be a reduced role for the state both were observing as they saw it for the very different circumstances of England and Austria the challenge of the failure and the collapse of liberalism a Hayek in 1945 it is classic the Road to Serfdom famously wrote speaking of the Labour Party program which wanted to introduce welfare state and I quote no description in general terms could give an adequate idea of the similarity a bunch of current English political literature debate the Labour Party program to the works which destroyed the belief in Western civilization in Germany that created the state of mind which Nazism became successful in other words if the Labour Party won in 1945 Nazis would come to England the Labour Party did win it implemented policies very close to those which Cades had advocated as in much of the Western world for the next thirty years this debate so to speak was won by Keynes since the 1970s we have seen the as it were revenge of the Austrians but it bears consideration that it affect what we have done is live through since the 1970s the echo the Dib echo like a fading star of a debate conducted in the 1930s and 40s about how to defend liberalism against totalitarianism I did this shadow of that debate we've learnt to talk public policy as do classical economics this is our problem the welfare state which Cades beverage and very continental Europeans to set up at remarkable achievements to its credit sub countries it was social democratic yet others like England for example it was really simply a set of programs to alleviate poverty its success remarkable reduction in equality if you compare wage between wealth and poverty between rich and poor between the high incomes and low incomes it all continental European countries and Great Britain at the United States from the 1930s to the 1960s you see a quite drastic shrinking of the gap with that shrieky of the gap went along with many other social benefits the collapse of the fear of a return to extreme politics the politics of desperation the politics of envy the politics insecurity and so forth and we the Western industrialized world lived in a thirty-year paradise if you like bubble if you will all security provisions now the paradox of the welfare state out of the social democratic states of Europe was quite simply that its success and abide its support firstly people forgot why they wanted these kinds of securities in the first place the generation that remember the 1930s which was the generation which were made politically active through the early seventies in all of the West was implicitly had quite often explicitly committed to preserving those institutions those systems of taxation their systems of social services state provision which would prevent a return to the remembered horrors of the 1930s this was true by the way the middle class as much as it was of poorer social classes what social democracy in Scandinavia but the welfare states of continental Europe and the UK did for the middle class was if anything more strikingly effective it buydig the middle class to liberal democracy that it was fond with the working population because the middle class got the by middle class I mean the European sense professional people people with solid secure incomes but not rich they got all the welfare and social provisions that the poor got free education cheap or free medicine at health insurance protection pensions and so forth but they were therefore left with a much greater disposable income since they did not have to spend their own ID come on these things what they paid in tax so the middle class of Europe precisely that class which would be most adrift in the 1930s was bound closely to the post-war democratic states by the very social systems that have been introduced in theory to benefit those below them the forgetting of these background considerations was an important part what happened in the 70s since the 1970s inequality is opened up again the inequalities which were diminished steadily in the West from the 1870s through the 1960s in a variety of ways well we opened and expanded a decrease today the so-called Gd coefficient which is the measure of the gap between rich and poor wealth and poverty is the same in this country as it is in China when you consider that China is a classic case of a developing country where there is bound to be huge gaps between the wealthy few the impoverished many the fact that we in this country have a wealth gap approximating to that of China tells you something about how far back we have moved bothered that take a look at the 1996 law introduced outside by Clinton the personal responsibility that Work Opportunity Act the moral well Ian title I could not offer you it's the act which essentially reformed welfare in this country it should remind you all of another Act passed in 1834 in England the so called nude poor law please don't shake your heads you although the do poor law very well the reason you know it of course this because it is second complete novel Charles Dickens targeted the do poor law which introduced the work houses Oliver Twist is about the new Poor Law when Noah Claypole famously sneer said Oliver calls him work us he was doing for 1838 what we do today baby stare at someone let's say welfare creed welfare what we have done after a century in which we moved from the idea that people are full members of a polity by virtue being citizens we've moved back to the idea did you what could only be the full member of a society if you work you don't have work that you are in some sense I did fearing a person you are slightly less of a citizen you are required to do certain things you must take a job at whatever wage is available you don't do that that you're not entitled to the collective support of your fellow citizens your entitlement comes to you early if you pay the price what you're willing to do and how low you are willing to go but I did said recalled that least eligibility he went into the workhouse only if you were unable to find work even at rock-bottom wage for the next hundred years but in 40 years social reformers all across Europe the states fought to get rid of this stigma the stigma which defied citizens by their economic position their banking their opportunity for work they lack of it how much they hunted so forth rights were assigned people by virtue of their citizenship rather that's a consequence of the status they held the economic table as it might be we have reverted to that old system we've reverted this country happy boobs so far mostly unsuccessful to do so got a little Europe as well why we should have felt the desire to do this clear why we would wish to move from a system which we had achieved by the 60s whereby all of our fellow citizens had equal rights equal standing that if they buy some misfortune failed to find a job failed to find a place in the economic life of the nation they did not lose of that standing presence opportunity rights credibility in the social life of the nation we've moved back and it's interesting to ask why we've done this why we fail to produce a language which stigmatize is this chage condemns this change as earlier time which matter we did so much to fight their way out of it's certainly true that it's very easy to accept new realities new circumstances do inequalities strike you get equalities the kind we now have everyone else treats them as normal we could take Tolstoy's word for this created a few observes in passing that there are and I quote no conditions of life to which a bad cannot get accustomed especially if he sees them accepted by everyone around him but this disposition to admire and I'm quoting again that all of us to worship the rich the powerful that despised or at least neglect persons of poor beed condition is the great most universal cause of the chrome option of our moral sentiments there's a lot my words those are the words of Adam Smith who regarded the risk that we would come to it by our wealth despise poverty but by a success scorn failure there's the greatest risk the greatest sentimental the ethical risk that we faced did the new commercial society that he could see coming it's now upon us let me give you perhaps what seems to be the most striking example of the kind of problem we face when it comes in the form of what will strike many of you Father other died the economic process the process of privatization in the last thirty years the cult of privatization has taken over Western governments why the short-haired version is that it's cheap if you have an inefficient public program the publicly owned activity but it's a waterworks good electric company a trade system a factory you sell it if you sell it you big buddy into the state you sell it some of the private sector they're more efficient because of the profit motive the figured question works better the state offloads appropriate responsibility and the public sector it's a bit of buddy in the sale but that's the theory the practice is very different what we've experienced over the last 30 years is the steady odd loading of public responsibilities into the private sector in the first place this is not efficient most of the things the government's have seen fit to offload on to the private sector they bought it to offload because they're not profitable whether it's a railway company Oh a coal bide or a utility in order to get people to buy it in a public offering but they sell it they have to sell it cheap where they sell it cheap the public takes a loss they give you one example it speed calculated but where in the course of the Thatcher Blair privatizations 1980 food the late nineteen nineties because of the deliberately low price at which long-standing public assets were sold to the private sector 48 billion pounds was transferred from the taxpaying public to the private purchases a further three billion was transferred to the city of London in the form of fees charges to the banks which handle the transactions 17 billion pounds 30 billion dollars in other words shifted from the public to the private sector in order to get the private sector to buy public assets they would not otherwise have been willing to buy 30 billion dollars let's give or take the Dalbert of Harvard the annual gross domestic product due Paraguay that's a very large sum of Buddy it's not obviously an efficient way for government to use public money secondly the famous question moral hazard arises the reason the people in the private sector are willing to buy apparently inefficient public sector goods it's because the public sector are the rights the outcome by this fair way or the case of London give you a precise example by the London Tube if it doesn't make a profit we will compensate you if it does make a profit it's yours now firstly this divides the classic economic argument for privatization but is that the profit based private sector will be more efficient secondly of course by promising someone even if they don't make a profit they make a profit you ought to buy their motive to make a profit this is called pretentiously moral hazard but thirdly most of the goods which the state sells off it sells off because it cannot itself not the very well but it's not the less obliged to regulate in one form or another there's a consequence it continues to subsidize support guarantee the private activities which we made half public half private this is not just an efficient it takes us back to a very old story about the way States discredit themselves if you are audited today by apologies to those members of the audience on the 21 for whom is made up seem to matter very much but for those of you who might imagine being audited this country or in England you will not be audited by the state you'll be audited by a private company which is contracted with the state pretty much the same way the private companies contracted with the government in Iraq nor the way private companies in England today contract with the government to provide residential care services for the elderly the government farms out in other words its responsibilities to private companies the gated said tree in France this was called tax farming the government was not very efficient not very good collecting taxes so what it would do would be to invite bids from private individuals to collect the taxes for it the highest bidder got to be the tax collector he was then free to collect as much money as he could then it all went to him he in turn paid the government the agreed figure the government discounting so to speak its tax income for the guarantee that it would get something then the guy would go out and screw the peasants in any way he could to get the maximum about in it was decided after the fall of the a dossier regime so this is a very inefficient system firstly it discredits the state secondly you bring in less money that you otherwise would thirdly you get very disgruntled peasants in this country today we have a discredited state a blessed buddy comes in that otherwise would curiously what's the matter with Kansas we don't get disgruntled peasants but the problem is the same we have sold many of the state's responsibilities to the private sector the advantage of this is clear in terms of reducing the state's responsibilities but the price is clear excuses reduces the state's credibility and its standing what you get are gated communities in many senses of the word community is parts of society that do not feel that they deal directly with the state the deal within to be to individuals they deal with private entrepreneurs acting for the state so doing things the state used to do but doing them either less well or at a higher cost in either case reducing our sense of allegiance to the state proximity to the state and commonality with fellow citizens this has been very well theorized by one of its greatest practitioners Doggett such a notorious Lee said of social policy that I quote there is no such thing as society there are only individual better women and families but if there are only individual better women and families the state keeps its distance from the book there is no sense of collective responsibility collective activity collective goods that we share it cupboard and for which the state is responsible whether those goods road the provision of medical care the collecting of taxes the provision of armed protection we now have private police forces something that the molten state spent a hundred years working to get rid of the corset that I did surgery if you don't have those things they do like anything that separates the individual from the state but all you have is the state as a repressive force the state as an absent comfortable individuals at the bottom competing for power and position within the space between that state the consequences of this not attractive they were not attractive before the modern state the rose and it was well observed in the early years of the building modern responsible states that the idea and I quote again is essentially repulsive the society held together only by the relations but feelings arising out of private interest that was written by John Stuart Mill another great liberal classical economist what there is to be done where could we go from here we have to begin with the notion of the state the state as the incarnation of collective interests collective purposes collective goods the state which the the state which does not slough off its responsibilities on to the private sector but is specifically responsible for certain things that the private sector cannot do or cannot do fairly and consistently there are after all but certain public institutions the society needs that of which that I quote again the profit could never repay the expense to any individual or small darpur of individuals only the state out of spit what can the state do what should it do there are certain things we can do log recover from the old approach to States entered government xx said to you narrative of the state was bound up with the idea that progressives socialists reformers that history on this side the universe in the words of the late philosopher Bernhard Williams was cheering on our projects we knew we were on the side of history we don't know that anymore we don't have confident stories to tell about the purposes of history about the way history is moving the way societies are moving the collective purposes that we could be sure we should be aiming at we've lived through a century of ideologies which purported very confidently to do what the state should do have to tell individuals the state do better than them we can't return to that so we have to know that there were limits what we could ask of an activist state we also can't return to the confident rhetoric of language of social democracy itself that language of the left which emerged before World War one flourished in post-world War two years did shaped much of what I was describing earlier that's the great generation of social democratic welfare states it's not accidental but today in Europe Social Democrats do badly again and again and again at elections even in traditionally social democratic countries even at the midst of a shameful catastrophic financial crisis the reason is because their language no longer bears any convincing relationship to their programs social democracy emerged as the alternative within the left to Marxist socialism a little later to communism if you look at the great texts of the Social Democrats to the 30s and 40s they are all defensively targeted towards their left we are democratic they say not authoritarian we believe in freedom not repression we are not communists to some extent on this period we are not Marxists we are Democrats who happen to believe in social justice and so on when the made objective of Social Democrats was to show that they were not communists to plot themselves firmly in liberal societies there's plausible alternative governments it's made sense today this rhetorical tick makes no sense it's not accidental that Angela Merkel commits an election in Germany against social democratic opposition with a set of policies that essentially resemble theirs the Social Democrats of today have a problem they won in Europe social democracy in one form or another is with apologist Amalia the prose that people speak it's the way they talk politics they make assumptions about the state about social services state provisions and so forth so Social Democrats there's nothing distinctive to offer they have no directive to offer the story which distinguishes them for the center and setter right mainstream it's different in this country I'll compact Latin but Social Democrats need a new language they need to begin by asking the house should we talk politics before asking what are our policies policies are not the problem so what can be recovered because we cover that old self-confident vocabulary that historically informed vocabulary that vocabulary which separated Democrats from authoritarians but who are though lager steady authoritarians against which to separate yourself well we could begin with the practices of social democracy what after all is distinctive about the kinds of policies the kinds of approach to policies that I want to bring out here to the next ten or fifteen but its price the first is but I'll use if I may railways I believe something was said about railways earlier to illustrate my point the batch of the railway station I me the wheels railway station stop Penn Station which is unsuccessful 1960s shopping below for a seller don't grad central this is a glorious mausoleum commuter railway station I mean something like Waterloo station in London the guard list in Paris Central Station a bolide Berlin spective is a new terminal if you look at these stations you could see that there is no reason why the sandwich bar should be in the public sector the private sector does Savitch pass better for my childhood but British Railways sandwich bars we're in the public sector this is a wall arena in which competition works but you cannot run trains competitively trades like agriculture both the economic and the public service I can't render the more efficient by putting two trades on a track see which one is this one better you can't actually do this the english god help them to try this with bus services you have you got competing bus services what happens of course yes the bus service is more profitable which only stops the profitable stops just don't go into little villages where the impoverished old ladies live and provides an express service people could afford it the state that has to pick up the tab to provide the unprofitable inefficient bus service which is a social service not the same is true of trades which are social services in the sense that anyone could run an efficient profitable trade service if all you had to do was make it go Paris to Marseille Boston to New York but if you want to run a trade service which provides a service that people may have occasion to use good areas but they won't use it frequently but it will have to be used sometimes then someone is going to have to pay for that that it will require public subsidy the only reason you can justify the public subsidy this by a theory what a social service should look like in 1996 last year before the British trades were privatized the British subsidy for the train service was 9 pounds per head of the population the fridge subsidy was 21 pounds per head of the population the Italian same year 33 pounds that difference is reflected in the trade service that's provided it explains why the British service for so poor which is why it was privatized but could OD be privatized the great loss as I said but it also explains what the French and Italians were doing they have a concept love trades as a social provision if you've got a trade to a remote country region you not only keep that part of the society alive you reduce the environmental damage that's done by the need to use cars if there is no trade service and of course you have the collective sense what kind of a country you are trying to preserve and promote that constitutes the sense of collective purpose if the question you asked but simply how could we make this trade service efficient you would think very differently you would close down different parts we would sell off the efficient parts why you had so many cars on the subsidized roads that now substituted but the doll existed we service the public-private distinction here is crucial only the state can beat demands that all of us have but we don't have each one of us all the time I don't want to go up to Vermont every day and I've certainly probably don't willing to put aside some of Buddy every week to make sure that this is trained for what I do want to go but what I do want to go it's good that there's a trade to take only the state can think collectively provide the option that we would not separately provide but do we collectively desire in aggregate there's another way to think about what the state should do that is to ask ourselves what are the social goods that we believe in not what works what's productive but what do we want in the first place did we give it example it's cheaper on the whole to provide benevolent assistance to the poor let's provide the full range of social services to them but ever that assistance beading churches private charities private foundations occasional assistance in the form of food stamps and so on but it's humiliating to be on the receiving end of that kind of assistance it's not humiliating to be ugly Steve ahead of right the right to whatever it might be welfare unemployment assistance but housing good so forth now you may say and we are used to saying but it's so much cheaper to provide the benevolent assistance that's what we should do provided that there's enough of it but what if we treated humiliation as a social cost what if we what if we said but there is something wrong about a society in which people are humiliated in order to get the necessities of life what have we factored in so to speak humiliation as a cost or benefit then it's not efficient to allow people to be humiliated they might well say as indeed in some societies we have said that we should provide the social services even though they're more expensive even if they're less efficient because we are there are broader sense of our calculations acting efficiently the pursuit of our border objectives that is a way of saying that social democracy consists it has to consist you're articulating what we think the good society is we have lost the capacity not to do that but to talk about it ask yourself again what do you think of the conversation now going on around the healthcare ask yourself about the infamous torture members of the previous administration which highly educated young middle-aged man exchanged complicated thoughtful memos the pros and cons of torturing people what struck me about reading those was that never did you see the question raised as to whether this was the right or wrong thing to do it was asked is it efficient is it it's tremendous does it achieve its goal I saw what Weibo which even asked there the sophisticated philosophical sort of way whether odd rule utilitarian crowds we should torture I is it wise to torture even if it works because we might be setting up precedents and practices that we would not on other grounds find very functional but never was it asked is this the evil this is good this right is it wrong is it just is it unjust that's a vocabulary that we need to reintroduce into public discourse we can do it by starting with the question to what kind of society we want there are two ways to do that one is if you like the normative way to simply say let's begin again to think what sort of purposes what sort of narrative if you like within which we wish to place public policy debate public policies public choices let's learn to talk in moral narrative they make decisions for we did it rather than from within the economic narrative that we've become accustomed to that's hard Social Democrats used to do that but because they're their ative was inserted in a historical one they didn't have to ask it is something right or wrong but is it moving in the right historical direction is capitalism now dubois capitalism the future we have to ask because those questions don't make sense to us anymore we have to ask what's right and what's wrong about a particular policy to do that we have to have a larger sense what we mean by those words the second option would be to return to the 18th century which I've quoted what's or twice here ask what is it about commercial society as they called it financial capital a service we might call it that is abhorrent to us what is it that we instinctively fied wrong about our public arrangements what can we do about those within the terms that make sense to us which respond to our sense of fairness which respond to our sense of impropriety which respond to our sense of something that we've lost something we know but not articulate very well collectively something that's wrong where we have private police forces something that's wrong when we far about responsibility for tax collection something that's wrong will be far the health responsibility for the care of the age but there's a third way to think the close of this one we are there to I believe the New Age debate security the last stage of insecurity was the one that Keynes brilliantly described by age of its security I mean this the great age of what was not then called globalization the first great age ended in 1914 no one expected it to end everyone then believed it less necessary benevolent increase in trade did peace in stability in prosperity growth Cades himself brilliantly described this of course the opening paragraphs the economic consequences of the peace the pamphlet he wrote 1921 now why the Versailles Treaty but don't work describing the world before 1914 is he remembered it we I think entering a similar period we already took at age economic insecurity of cultural insecurity into a period but people will no longer be so sure as they were from 1950 to 1980 that the world they their children see would look like the world that they do we are going to need to rediscover somehow the ways in which the earlier generation responded to its security to the dangers of insecurity the political extremes which emerge the difficulties that people have believing that present arrangements are likely to endure there the risk that they will turn to siren voices as an alternative to the insecurities of their own existence social democracy in Europe the New Deal here the Great Society here where responses to that insecurity from a generation which experienced it we I think you have not experienced it most of us the audience here know what it meant to see a world collapsed the world of liberal Europe to collapse into the catastrophe out of which the Hayek Keynes debate with which I began but good for which the kids he had consensus that we grew up in was born was forgotten did the reversion to pre Keynesian view of it less security therefore they need to worry about the how to preserve it over the last thirty years if social democracy has a future it has the future as the language of fear if you like not the language of endless the hopeful progress but the language of memory better Social Democrats of the nineteenth century first emerged they were talking about the future the future that was yet to be created in which they would be reduced the inequality public services the state which acted on behalf Duvall which there would be collective purposes collective services collective institutions public goods that was achieved we had our losing it the task of social democracy now is to remember not only what was achieved but the consequence is not the failure to achieve it the consequences our failure to recall what happened to a liberal society but it enters that age of uncertainty that insecurity social democracy public goods collective welfare state provision of the services that today we it adequately provide privately they are not a perfect answer what we've learned for the 20th century so the perfect answers are frighteningly imperfect but my own feeling by a sense of social democracy possible language the possible alternative possible way to begin to talk publicly about our collective goals yes that it's all we have we should be angrier than we are much angrier that we are about what we've lost rhetorically collectively ethically in the three decades that we moved away from the astonishing achievements of the previous hundred years there is something to return to something worth fighting for something worth collectively aspiring to I would end if I may by quoting George Orwell not a quite different occasion returning from Barcelona it is classic I wish the cattle there yeah good writing good I quote there was much in it he's speaking of Barcelona the revolution 1937 it was much in it that I did not understand some ways I did not even like it I was not sure that it could work there is not sure did it did work but I recognized it immediately there's a state of affairs worth fighting for that I believe is true whatever we can retrieve for the 20th century bevor we have social democracy they leave you with that thought thank you we have time for a few questions there's microphones in each aisle I would ask people to come forward keep your questions brief questions it's hard to see through the the lights here okay very good very good does your microphone right behind you okay so on a daily basis if you're having a conversation say even a debate about some of these issues and the word socialism is mentioned sometimes it's as though a sort of brick has fallen on the conversation and there's no way to return it to its form it's sort of indistinguishable what would you suggest on a daily argumento basis you would do to restore this conversation to its form I'm not sure if I thought to reveal yeah the identity of the question I but he's my younger son Nicholas and that kind of conversation that happens with terrifying regularity okay look firstly you have the great good fortune at the cultural disadvantage to be bought American the brick does not fall in quite the same way in that part but it does fall all the same but the answer to your question comes in two parts the first is that we cannot get away from the fact that we have lived through a century in which the word socialism was both pejoratively I enthusiastically identified with political systems which turned out to be or could be seen to a bid for the beginning both economically inefficient politically repressive culturally sterile we can't deny that there's no point in pretending otherwise the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics was after all by its own account socialist most copied estates described themselves various ways for various purposes constitutionally it soared socialist I don't think there's much point defending the word what we have to do is rather different and that is shift the conversation from abstractions to substance I'm not interested even if I were to live another 20 years in trying to promote some abstraction called socialism forgot to promote abstractions I'd rather promote justice or fairness I'd rather promote equality I would promote equality by the way not because this could get you off a hook your socialist conversation not because of a belief the desirability stop saved us but because the inequality advances many things that we do not like inequality advances poverty inequality advances ill health inequality advances shortness of life expectancy poverty ignorance and very abstractions which even in your quick lated conversation you'll have no trouble defending the undesirability of we don't want inequality we don't want injustice for believed simple of resuts we don't want unfair thus what I think good can be reasonably well demonstrated is that the system which is which rests upon respect admiration for wealth respect admiration for the acquisition of possessions and goods advantage privilege over persons who doesn't necessarily therefore become disadvantaged unprivileged with lack of access to necessities that system cannot meet our desire our intuitive desire for justice equality that is why we need something other than what we have does not mean we need what socialism we don't have to resort to the isms of the 19th century in order to justify 21st century social purposes social ambitions but you do need to be much more willing that we are to say what is wrong with the way we currently live that gets you off the hook stop defending something which is not the alternative to what we currently do there are better alternatives to what we currently do don't be all the defensive guard the attack ask if socialism it's a very undesirable what exactly is it that's so very desirable about a system in which over the last 20 years we have produced that outcome whereby the chief executives of the top 200 companies in this country approximately 365 times the average wage of their employees went 30 years ago they had about 45 times that about something has gone wrong they stopped the absence of socialism that helps other questions yes yes sir hi professor Jude I really appreciated the comments you've opened up some big questions but I do have to respectfully disagree right because social democracy is not all that we have we do have communism we have a different synthesis of communism and in that context I would invite the audience and you to check out Raymond Laura stock on October 26th at the Cantor Film Festival everything you know about Carmen you've been told about communism is wrong capitalism is a failure and revolution is the solution and it puts in in one it puts forth in Bob awakens new synthesis of communism which builds and mouths ruptures with Stalin and goes beyond right but a big part of it is we do the reason this has been ruled off the map is there a lot of lies slander and disinformation this is that about communism and the past experiences we need ACK we need a question please I really unite with you with your sentiments about torture that the discussion isn't about whether it works or not works right but the point is that you can is it possible to talk about social democracy maybe the question is it possible to talk about social democracy and these states prosperity in Europe and the United States without talking about slavery colonialism and imperialism thank you thank you I will concede readily that it's extremely difficult to talk about the prosperity the advantages the success the privileges of the social democratic capitalist states of the Atlantic the northwest Europe if you I'm not asking for a response if you will concede that it's not possible to talk about copy this up without reference to the gulag yes please yeah let me ask devil's advocate question yeah so you pointed out that social democratic countries with a higher level of solidarity basically work in small middle-class white countries which ethnic scene not so diverse which is kind of observation as well so do we have to choose between being ethnically diverse and multicultural only one side or having a society which is depends on solidarity so it's a contrast Oh would it work otherwise ladies if I do the answer I beard Brussels Radek Detroit I wasn't joking okay I was joking but I was at half joking are the subjects of cross country skiers it is true that historically most of the successful solid orest experiments that have endured across generations but across classes have bearded countries with few outsiders cubed R it is not necessarily which culture is scattered a via was not which the right in thirties forties Austria certainly not but the problem of the by Daugherty's is a real one but it should be understood politically culturally the problem in freaks are born dead Bach to take one case all the Netherlands is that the decline of the Social Democratic sense is actively accelerated by politicians taking advantage of the presence of invisible minority with a religiously visible door different color only quizzically different to advance a local agenda the irony is that they often that's so the gender that we would recognize that's more or less social democratic the great irony is that the most edgy the anti-muslim anti-islamic sentiments to come from the party of two parties which advance what they call duchess of the belief that there is native Dutch culture of tolerance solidarity mutuality etc etc it sounds an awful lot to area like social democracy but which of course doesn't include these people from the outside to earth or not to share it the task we face in other words huh used to read ascribe social solidarity in languages which don't correspond so closely to the language of ethnic solitaire ISM the language of us versus them the language of protecting us against the danger that they pose to our utopia so to speak that is a that suggests to me that it's not impossible that it's a political choice there's nothing about Denmark today the Netherlands which makes social policies of the kind they've practiced 3040 years public health policies policies of social solidarity policies of income transference order nothing about their changed cultural mix that makes those technically impossible they've read difficult by the uses to which cultural differences put politically so I see that is a political challenge not some sort of structural impossibility easier to get an Irishman to give money to Ireland then to his fellow black neighbor you surprise me one final question one final question I think you're saying that we need to make a major change in language but also values I think and change that I would certainly support we just went through a crisis that I think has the color of the issue that you're talking about the financial crisis I'm talking about it last year and two years ago and you know a failure of called classical capitalism but let's just call it failure of capitalism and a massively government response which arguably stanch the damage and I find a disparity and I'm curious to know if you do that we we just went through a crisis of failure of capitalism successful government response and yet the dialogue hasn't changed the underlying feeling of it hasn't changed and you're talking about having to make that kind of change and you know we know our chief of staff just said you never waste a good crisis I feel like where's the change gonna come from if we just had this kind of crisis and there hasn't been any even the even the shadow of it okay thank you I don't agree could you hear me okay yeah I don't agree that we went through the crisis of capitalism as the Italian say by Gary I wish we went through a very distinctive crisis of Nod regulated financial markets dad it was solved in a rather dispiriting way by the state into again as the supporter of last resort to the practitioners of those momentarily failed markets what is wrong is our failure to be ball I guess angry this the right word to be are that we should live in a situation like this that have their response to it this is not the uniquely American problem the Socialists of Europe Social Democrats of Germany the left in Italy the left in France god help us I have no response to this crisis partly this is in a way structurally for the same reason that I had no response to the 1931 crisis either which also ushered in a series of conservative right-wing governments on the back of the major economic collapse the left doesn't know what to do with unsuccessful capitalism because the story of the left of course historically was the capitalism keeps on succeeding the till it finally fails but super old till it fails once it fall they didn't have much to say on the subject it hasn't failed once it for all what has failed is our ability our capacity to articulate alternative cover the battle response to a distinctive partial failure of the financial system you can't blame the bankers for this but I don't just say that because I see some in this room the dirt wish to cause offence this is failure on our own part we don't know how to talk epically about politics we don't know how to say that something is wrong we don't have to say that something is unjust we don't have to say it's unfair but only with respect to our personal situation face I be given crisis give it action give it consequence I think that I find it very sad that the present administration in which so many hopes vested not least by the younger generation in this room should have found so little fierceness so little urgency that it has nothing to offer by way of a response except to invite the same crisis to happen in a few years time we need to go much beyond the present language that we use for example we talk lightly of globalization globalization as either cause a go curing a given set of economic tensions difficulties we look at India or China we don't look very closely take it yeah proximately 1 billion people about 400 billion people there's made it to be paid work 1.3 billion at that 4 billion working the so called you it gotta be the aspect to abating 398 billion still working the pre globalized world much of the world does not leave for work in the battered economic you the first we rhetorically it habit but we talk about our world today we need to ask very different kinds of questions about the choices the politics that we opt for what last point not that we asked you very readily the globalization is a given we must adapt like it or not good or bad but we must adapt globalization arguably will have predictably perhaps it already is having very globalizing response politically the globalization before 1948 produced reversion politically to states protectionism authoritarian responses to outside threats authoritarian protection against external aid security political responses to economic crisis we shall probably the next decade two decades see the same thing with the state as the aid mediate institution responding acting protecting well or badly not clear to the threats the globalization is perceived as posing to voting populations third individual countries it's maybe an internationalized economy but we vote politically make political choices still within individual states so it's at the level of the state that we should be looking to see what sort of policies we practice what sort of political language we favor what sort of regulations we willing to see I don't think the issue capitalism is going to collapse this is on the table but whether the state is up to the challenge of responding to the inadequacies of capitalism that very much is on the table speed on the table on and off since 1914 what I think we don't realize is that it's back off the table little balls serious and significant way for the first time in 18 years you've been waiting patiently this will be the last question I'll ask you to be brief patience is rewarded my name is Joanne Landy and I guess I just want to both appreciate what you say about how coarsened our society has become just in the last 30 years and then when I was growing up you didn't have homeless people except for people who were mentally ill but you didn't have people who were homeless like you see in today's paper because their house was foreclosed this is now and really since the age of Reagan acceptable and this acceptability I think is what you're challenging at the same time though I don't think that the justice equality and was the other one fairness that you hope to achieve especially on a global basis is really possible without challenging capitalism I think that that what we have now are corporate actors who are wreaking exactly the havoc that you described on global populations and on us and that unless we find ways to replace their rule with democratic rule I think we're lost you're right that we have to remember the Gulag and I think that's the first thing we have to say is that we reject Stalin Stalin ISM and all of that despite what the first speaker said but I think what we need to do is find democratic ways to run ourselves locally and globally thank you yeah motherhood apple pie that could degree Bob but I reminded of something in Beatrice Webb's memoirs bitches swept the sanctimonious self-important self-sufficient talented gifted pedantic founder of the co-founder of the fabian movement and one of the early British Democratic socialists choose to get out least and of London that she reported their den dat night is meeting people who she politely avoids describing his Jewish revolutionaries but who were the socialists of East End of London rather like the Socialists of the East End the Lower East Side of Manhattan ten twenty years afterwards huh did she said that her conversations with these gentlemen all they did scared so odd was a blighted egg mystifying at the same time lightning because these guys that a vertical compromising absolutely not the go shovel of you the capitalism was the problem search list of the solution did anything in between was Borel political compromise the economic ethnic towards the cultural abandoned but then she would come away exhilarated but she went back to the west end to her dice upper middle-class Christian life that she would ask herself over drinks with to even bought boring sanctimonious self-important boring husband Sydney she would ask herself that's fine but how do we get there know that she spent the rest of her life trying to work out how you get there that our task is not to say that capitalism is the problem that's dead easy it's not to point out the rapacious corporations overpaid investment bankers good thrashing much of what we built up over the last hundred years that's easy too it's also largely true the question is how do you get there but that's the hard one you get there by those kind of conversations that the young gentleman who passed the first question was alluding to you take socialism off the table not because it's bad but you know it's like talking about your ex-wife sure she was bad but the present is the present you don't have to worry about her you're into the next one so this was an evening that everybody expected it to be full of Tony's intelligence his deep historical knowledge and his courage Tony Jud thank you for being 20-ton you you


  1. manatee2500
    manatee2500 July 18, 2019

    Watching Tony Judt again reminds again of how terribly I miss his articles in the NYR. He was a treasure, much like Bob Silvers was in his capacity as an editor.

  2. KSBpictures
    KSBpictures July 18, 2019

    Does anyone know a link or some more information about the film festival the 2nd questioner was talking about?

  3. fred von drasek
    fred von drasek July 18, 2019

    …I have to wonder what Judt would have thought of the Trump candidacy.  It seems an unpredicatable but, in retrospect, almost inevitable result of  thinking of politics as economics and economics alone, and in a way very particular to the US…

  4. Vara Sue Tamminga
    Vara Sue Tamminga July 18, 2019

    I appreciate Prof Judt quoting George Orwell.  Orwell said we got into trouble because we perverted language, we used words to hide our meaning instead of expressing our meaning.  For instance, we do not live in a capitalist Democracy if there are religious fanatics who poison people in restaurants with cruel diseases like Prof. Judts or Cancer or Parkinsons if these Catholic or Baptist of Communist or Fascist groups dislike your religion or politics.  We have stopped telling the truth.  Every week celebrities or prominent people are murdered in order to provide propaganda for this state.  Democracies do not use their hospitals as concentration camps or gulags or torture chambers.  People do not speak the truth because they are afraid they or their families will be harmed or they will lose their job.  Orwell told us after WWII that we had to have the courage and the anger to tell the truth.  I agree with Prof. Judt that we have stopped speaking in moral truths but he did not say what we all know that we fail to speak or react because of fear.  I am an English Professor with 4th stage Cancer.  I was harassed out of my job by conservative Black Baptists who had my phone tapped and my bedroom and bathroom bugged.  I was poisoned by Hispanic employees of a New Age retreat center who target wealthy non Catholics who they consider immoral for using their spa.  This is racism and religious persecution which is completely out of control.  I wonder if Prof. Judt's illness was also deliberate political or religious persecution.  Until we speak out about what is really going on in our world, we will not find freedom in any form.  Language and courage are the keys to our freedom from this insanity.  Unfortunately much of what we learn in history classes is also lies covering up illegal religious warfare.  As Orwell said, we must stop the lies in our present and in our past to restore sanity and freedom of speech and religion.

  5. Ariel Raphaeli
    Ariel Raphaeli July 18, 2019

    Lecture starts at 07:32

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