Third Way  

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The Third Way is a political philosophy and political position akin to centrism that attempts to reconcile right-wing and left-wing politics by advocating a varying synthesis of centre-right and centrist economic platforms with some centre-left social policies. 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 popularised by Keynesianism, but which at that time contrasted with the rise of popularity for neoliberalism and the New Right starting in the late 1970s and throughout the 1980s. The Third Way has been promoted by social liberal and social democratic parties.

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". 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. 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 as a mode of production. In 2009, Blair publicly declared support for a "new capitalism".

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. 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. 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. It has also been heavily criticised by other social democrats as well as anarchists, communists and in particular democratic socialists as a betrayal of left-wing values, with some analysts characterising the Third Way as an effectively neoliberal movement.

Origins

As a term, the 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.

During the Prague Spring of 1968, reform economist Ota Šik proposed third way economic reform as part of political liberalisation and democratisation within the country. In historical context, such proposals were better described as liberalised centrally-planned economy rather than the socially-sensitive capitalism that Third Way policies tend to have been identified with in the West. In the 1970s and 1980s, Enrico Berlinguer, leader of the Italian Communist Party, came 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 communist movement and provided a theoretical basis for Berlinguer's pursuit of the Historic Compromise with the Christian Democrats.

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.

See also




Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Third Way" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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