Social Democracy and Identity Politics: Ill Fares the Land

I recently finished Tony Judt's fine book Ill Fares the Land. The book is a full-throated defence of European style social democracy. It is particularly strong in explaining the rich history that lead to social democracy, the forces that mitigate against it, the regrettable consequences associated with historical amnesia, the social need for all classes of a more egalitarian distribution of wealth, the poisonous effects of lack of empathy for others, the continued role of the state in a globalized society, the perils associated with unregulated capitalism, and a discussion of how we can move toward a less manically individualistic and more communitarian politics. The book, however, is marred by a deaf ear toward the need for identity politics in an egalitarian society. Judt is hostile to the new left as a self-indulgent crowd that is partially responsible for leading us away from a communitarian politics to the individualism that…

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