In the FT, Christopher Caldwell has a fascinating analysis of a shift away the from the post war social democratic consensus that is beginning to kick in Europe every bit as much as it already has in the US. He looks at that most controversial decade, the 1960s.
He goes back to the social activism of the sixties:
“The movements of the 1960s wiped out local injusticises, but they are a global phenomenon, and those local injustices are not why the 1960s happened. Its are not to be sought in ideas but in large social and demographic forces. That is why Marxist historians like Eric Hobsbawm have had better luck than most in explaining the 1960s, even if there is room to differ on which forces predominated (Education? Prosperity? The baby boomers sensing their future electoral might?)”
He quotes French Socialist Mark Baumel:
“The ideological coherence forged in the 1960s and 1970s – anti-liberal on economics and libertarian on social questions – corresponded to a society in which capitalist domination and bourgeois moral order seem to make up a coherent system. This coherence is no longer obviouos because capitalism has adapted itself easily to libertarianism”.
Indeed he quotes a columnist from Suddeutsche Zeitung describing the plans of Germany’s Social Democrat Chancellor as a “mishmash of McKinsey jargon, leftover inventory from the sociology of 1968, and psuedo-futurist visions”.
And he finishes:
“Mr Blair has bet – and France’s socialists are about to bet – that Europe’s electorate is much more like the American one than many European leftists would like to believe.