Sympathetic. Up until recently I was a social democrat myself but the age old adage of “you’re only free as far as you’re willing to test the limits” very much applies. A case of learning through action which then encouraged me to read further and take more seriously the deeper philosophical notions of Marxism.
I have respect for social democracies that have built free education systems, including higher education, free healthcare, decent welfare systems etc. I think it’s important that until capitalism collapses we do what we can to protect the interests of the worker. The end result we want though is the downfall of capitalism, the complete destruction of the class boundaries and a restructuring of society around ideals of true equality. A social democracy can never achieve this because in the capitalist system politics runs on money. From the point of view of historical materialism, no such substantial change in the structuring of society has come without being connected to immense struggle. In a capitalist system the proletariat cannot, through a liberal democracy, take control of the means of production and begin to enact the changes that make social democracy anything other than a bandage to stem the bleeding but not heal the wound.
The bourgeoisie fund political campaigns, because it’s the big donations that make the difference not the little ones (especially as the populace becomes more estranged from politics and party membership drops). This means they can effect what’s focussed on in a manifesto and even have an influence over who runs as MP. Because parties are concerned about gaining and maintaining power more than the policies they adhere to. They pay for lobbying to effect the laws. They can give guarantees to ministers and politicians that they can have a well paid job upon leaving politics.
People with money can send their kids to better schools and have better networking connections. They have access to better education that enables them to become better speakers with less effort while at the same time don’t have to worry about labouring to survive so they can devote more time to political activity. Because they have the lobbying power they can also effect what is focussed on with teaching in schools, especially so with academies. They construct what you’re taught to care about and how you’re taught to care about it.
They own the newspapers and the television and can control what it is that is provided to people in the news and on television, they can encourage biases and select what it is that the media should be focussing on, in what way and for how long.
Factor into this as well that on a sociological level the people who are most active within politics are traditionally white, middle class men. Working classes and other groups are estranged from the political system because they don’t have the time/education/social acceptance for getting involved, which creates a self-perpetuating system where politics doesn’t work to those groups interests and continues to alienate them from the political process. So encouraging people to participate within a political system that actively ignores and often works counteractive to their interests, because it’s set up in such a way that it’s designed not to care about them, is a losing battle.
What really needs to happen to end the alienation of labour and transition to the next level of human development is for the workers to take control of the means of production. Democracy cannot and will not achieve this in so long as the bourgeoisie remain the ruling class, as long as they can make the police and army prevent this from happening (if the workers do not have the means to defend their action) and as long as they hold an uncontested cultural and ideological hegemony.