As with classical liberals and libertarians, general knowledge of the worldview associated with a political label – in the case of social democrats, that state power should be used to alter the outcomes of voluntary exchange to favour groups deemed as lacking power or material resources – was confirmed in the Australian political identity survey as being highly predictive of the views of people identifying as ‘social democrats’.
Indeed, more so than for classical liberals the social democratic results (more detail and analysis here) contain few surprises. The pattern observed in the classical liberal responses of on some issues significant minorities holding views apparently at odds with their philosophy is largely absent among social democrats. The main diversity of view among social democrats is not on which side of the debate they line up, but on how strongly they back the social democratic perspective.
For example, only a tiny minority of social democrats opposed unfair dismissal laws, with the ‘dissidents’ being people who wanted to exempt small business. Only a tiny minority opposed minimum wage laws, with the division being between those prepared to concede that the laws may cost some jobs and those who – despite apparently thinking prices are important, judging by their response to price control questions – believe that the laws of supply and demand do not apply to low-wage workers. Only a tiny minority would let schools choose their own curriculum, with the dissidents being those who favour state-based curriculum.
Continue reading “Do classical liberals and social democrats agree on anything?”