Social Democracy in the Making Political and Religious Roots of European Socialism Gary Dorrien

Publication date:
11 Jun 2019
Yale University Press
600 pages: 235 x 156 x 40mm
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An expansive and ambitious intellectual history of democratic socialism from one of the world’s leading intellectual historians and social ethicists

The fallout from twenty years of neoliberal economic globalism has sparked a surge of interest in the old idea of democratic socialism—a democracy in which the people control the economy and government, no group dominates any other, and every citizen is free, equal, and included. With a focus on the intertwined legacies of Christian socialism and Social Democratic politics in Britain and Germany, this book traces the story of democratic socialism from its birth in the nineteenth century through the mid‑1960s.
Examining the tenets on which the movement was founded and how it adapted to different cultural, religious, and economic contexts from its beginnings through the social and political traumas of the twentieth century, Gary Dorrien reminds us that Christian socialism paved the way for all liberation theologies that make the struggles of oppressed peoples the subject of redemption. He argues for a decentralized economic democracy and anti-imperial internationalism.

Gary Dorrien is the Reinhold Niebuhr Professor of Social Ethics at Union Theological Seminary and professor of religion at Columbia University. His previous books include The New Abolition and Breaking White Supremacy. He lives in New York City.

“This book is a brilliant tour-de-force. As the questions of democracy, economic democracy, and socialism are of growing interest to so many, the time for this book has surely come.”—Joerg Rieger, Vanderbilt University

"In this important and timely book, Dorrien gives us a masterful synthetic overview of democratic socialism as a distinct moral and political tradition, outlining the theological and philosophical currents that were vital to its development. His exemplary scholarship is driven by a passion for the existential importance of this tradition."—Luke Bretherton, Duke University

"Social Democracy in the Making provides a superb, erudite history of the evolution of democratic socialist ideas and practices, thereby highlighting the vital efforts of the democratic Left to create a new and better world."–Lawrence S. Wittner, University at Albany, SUNY

“This well-researched, insightful, and nuanced account successfully presents a strong case for democratic socialism as a compelling political alternative in our radically pluralist society.”— Rubén Rosario Rodríguez, Saint Louis University

“This book is a profound and important interpretation of the intertwined legacies of Christian socialism and Social Democracy, interpreting both as movements for economic democracy–an indispensable common ground for social justice movements today.”—Jung Mo Sung, Methodist University of São Paulo, Brazil