DECLARATION of PRINCIPLES
Adopted by the XVIII Congress, Stockholm, June 1989
I. Global Change and Future Prospects
The idea of Socialism has caught the imagination of people across the world, promoted successful political movements, decisively improved the lives of working men and women, and contributed to shaping the 20th century.
However, justified satisfaction about the realisation of many of our goals should not prevent us from clearly recognising present dangers and problems. We are aware that essential tasks still lie ahead which we can master only through common action, since human survival increasingly depends upon the joint efforts of people around the world.
Current economic, technological, political and social changes reflect a profound transformation of our world. The fundamental issue we now face is not whether there will be change in future years, but rather who is going to control it and how. The socialist answer is unequivocal. It is the people of the world who should exercise control by means of a more advanced democracy in all aspects of life: political, social, and economic. Political democracy, for socialists, is the necessary framework and precondition for other rights and liberties.
All the peoples of the world should be involved in the process of transforming our societies and promoting new hope for humankind. The Socialist International calls on all men and women committed to peace and progress to work together in order to translate this hope into reality.
The challenge of global change opens up enormous possibilities:
- The internationalisation of the economy and wide-spread access to information and new technologies can, if brought under democratic control, provide a basis for a world society better suited to cooperation. It is obvious that a world family is no longer a utopian dream, but, increasingly, a practical necessity.
- The technological revolution can and should be used to preserve the environment, create new employment and provide the means to liberate people from routine work rather than ruthlessly impose unwanted idleness.
- On the basis of suitable and humane democratic structures, freedom, equality, security and prosperity can be achieved within the framework of a democratic world society.
However, many current trends also give rise to unprecedented threats:
- Proliferation of the technologies of destruction promote a precarious balance of terror where there are inadequate guarantees for the security of humankind.
- The physical conditions for life on the planet are threatened by an uncontrolled urban and industrial expansion, the degradation of the biosphere, and the irrational exploitation of vital resources.
- Hunger, famine and death threaten whole regions and communities in the South, even though the world has enough natural and technical resources to feed itself.
This transformation of social and economic structures is at least as dramatic and far-reaching as the transition from laissez-faire to the corporate capitalism and colonialism of pre-World War I days. The social cost of these transformations – unemployment, regional decline, destruction of communities – has affected not only the very poor but also working people in general.
The rapid process of internationalisation and interdependence in the world economy has given rise to contradictions within existing political, social and national institutions. This growing gap between an international economy and inadequate international political structures has been a contributory factor to the poverty and underdevelopment of the South, as well as to mass unemployment and new forms of poverty in many areas of the North.
Real progress has been made since World War II in vital areas such as decolonisation, the growth of the Welfare State and, more recently, disarmament, where the first hopeful steps have been taken. However, age-old injustices remain. Human rights are still violated, racial and sex discrimination are rife, and individual opportunities in life are still determined by the region and class in which people are born.
Faced with such crucial issues, the Socialist International reaffirms its fundamental beliefs. It is committed, as ever, to the democratisation on a global scale of economic, social and political power structures. The same principles and political commitments which socialism has always held have to be attained in a world that has changed radically since the Frankfurt Declaration of 1951.
The Socialist International was founded a hundred years ago in order to coordinate the worldwide struggle of democratic socialist movements for social justice, human dignity and democracy. It brought together parties and organisations from different traditions which shared a common goal: democratic socialism. Throughout their history, socialist, social democratic and labour parties have stood for the same values and principles.
Today the Socialist International combines its traditional struggle for freedom, justice and solidarity with a deep commitment to peace, the protection of the environment, and the development of the South. All these issues require common answers. To this end, the Socialist International seeks the support of all those who share its values and commitment.
Freedom, Justice and Solidarity
Democratic socialism is an international movement for freedom, social justice and solidarity. Its goal is to achieve a peaceful world where these basic values can be enhanced and where each individual can live a meaningful life with the full development of his or her personality and talents and with the guarantee of human and civil rights in a democratic framework of society.
Freedom is the product of both individual and cooperative efforts – the two aspects are parts of a single process. Each person has the right to be free of political coercion and also to the greatest chance to act in pursuit of individual goals and to fulfil personal potential. But that is only possible if humanity as a whole succeeds in its long-standing struggle to master its history and to ensure that no person, class, sex, religion or race becomes the servant of another.
Justice and Equality. Justice means the end of all discrimination against individuals, and the equality of rights and opportunities. It demands compensation for physical, mental and social inequalities, and freedom from dependence on either the owners of the means of production or the holders of political power.
Equality is the expression of the equal value of all human beings and the precondition for the free development of the human personality. Basic economic, social and cultural equality is essential for individual diversity and social progress.
Freedom and equality are not contradictory. Equality is the condition for the development of individual personality. Equality and personal freedom are indivisible.
Solidarity is all-encompassing and global. It is the practical expression of common humanity and of the sense of compassion with the victims of injustice. Solidarity is rightly stressed and celebrated by all major humanist traditions. In the present era of unprecedented interdependence between individuals and nations, solidarity gains an enhanced significance since it is imperative for human survival.
Democratic socialists attach equal importance to these fundamental principles. They are interdependent. Each is a prerequisite of the other. As opposed to this position, Liberals and Conservatives have placed the main emphasis on individual liberty at the expense of justice and solidarity while Communists have claimed to achieve equality and solidarity, but at the expense of freedom.
Democracy and Human Rights
The idea of democracy is based on the principles of freedom and equality. Therefore, equal rights for men and women – not only in theory, but also in practice, at work, in the family and in all areas of social life – are part of the socialist concept of society.
Democratic socialists strive to achieve equal rights for all races, ethnic groups, nations and denominations. These rights are seriously in question in many regions of the world today.
Forms of democracy of course may vary. However, it is only possible to speak of democracy if people have a free choice between various political alternatives in the framework of free elections; if there is a possibility for a change of government by peaceful means based on the free will of the people; if individual and minority rights are guaranteed; and, if there is an independent judicial system based on the rule of law impartially applied to all citizens. Political democracy is an indispensable element of a socialist society. Democratic socialism is a continuing process of social and economic democratisation and of increasing social justice.
Individual rights are fundamental to the values of socialism. Democracy and human rights are also the substance of popular power, and the indispensable mechanism whereby people can control the economic structures which have so long dominated them. Without democracy, social policies cannot disguise the dictatorial character of a government.
There can be no doubt that different cultures will develop their own institutional forms of democracy. But whatever form democracy assumes – nationally or internationally – it must provide full rights for individuals and for organised minority opinions. For socialists, democracy is of its very nature pluralist, and this pluralism provides the best guarantee of its vitality and creativity.
Freedom from arbitrary and dictatorial government is essential. It constitutes the precondition whereby peoples and societies can create a new and better world of peace and international cooperation – a world in which political, economic and social destinies will be democratically determined.
The Nature of Socialism
Democratic socialists have arrived at the definition of these values in many different ways. They originate in the labour movement, popular liberation movements, cultural traditions of mutual assistance, and communal solidarity in many parts of the world. They have also gained from the various humanist traditions of the world.
But although there are differences in their cultures and ideologies, all socialists are united in their vision of a peaceful and democratic world society combining freedom, justice and solidarity.
The national struggles for democratic socialism in the years to come will show differences in policy and divergences on legislative provisions. These will reflect different histories and the pluralism of varied societies. Socialists do not claim to possess the blueprint for some final and fixed society which cannot be changed, reformed or further developed. In a movement committed to democratic self-determination there will always be room for creativity since each people and every generation must set its own goals.
In addition to the principles which guide all democratic socialists, there is a clear consensus among socialists on fundamental values. Despite all diversity, it is common ground that democracy and human rights are not simply political means to socialist ends but the very substance of those ends – a democratic economy and society.
Individual freedom and basic rights in society are the preconditions of human dignity for all. These rights cannot replace one another, nor can they be played off against each other. Socialists protect the inalienable right to life and to physical safety, to freedom of belief and free expression of opinion, to freedom of association and to protection from torture and degradation. Socialists are committed to achieve freedom from hunger and want, genuine social security, and the right to work.
Democratic socialism also means cultural democracy. There must be equal rights and opportunities for the different cultures within each society as well as equal access for everyone to the national and global cultural heritage.
Peace – A Basic Value
Peace is the precondition of all our hopes. It is a basic value of common interest to all political systems and necessary for human society. War destroys human life and the basis for social development. A nuclear holocaust could spell the end of human life as we know it.
A lasting peace cannot be guaranteed through nuclear deterrence nor through an arms race with conventional forces. Therefore disarmament and new models of common security are imperative.
What is now essential is the achievement, not merely of military stability at the lowest possible level of defensive weapon systems, but also a climate of mutual political confidence. This can be developed through cooperation on projects for our common future and a new emphasis on peaceful competition between societies with different political, economic and social structures.
Peace is more than the absence of war. It cannot be based on fear or on ephemeral goodwill between the Superpowers. The fundamental economic and social causes of international conflict must be abolished by the achievement of global justice and by the creation of new institutions for the peaceful resolution of conflicts around the world.
The establishment of a New International Economic and Political Order is an essential contribution to peace. This should involve respect for national sovereignty and the right to national self-government, negotiated settlement of conflict, and suspension of arms supplies to the parties in conflict. There must be both global and regional systems for cooperation and peaceful conflict resolution in all parts of the world. These could be brought about through the action of the UN, complementing agreements between the Superpowers.
Peace is equally a necessity within nations. Violent ways of handling conflicts destroy opportunities for development and human rights. Education for peace and disarmament must be intensified.
The militarisation of relations between nations of the South has become a serious threat to the future of humanity, as are the tensions between East and West. In some cases the major powers, with their tendency to globalise conflict, have engaged in proxy struggles in countries of the South. In others, the arms merchants of both East and West have contributed to raising the level of violence in the South as they sought political advantage or profit. It is undeniable that every war in the past four decades has been fought in those regions of the world. Social, economic and other causes of conflict in the South must be eliminated.
Initiatives for Peace
Democratic socialists reject a world order in which there is an armed peace between East and West but constant bloodshed in developing countries. Peacekeeping efforts must focus upon putting an end to these confrontations. Europe has a unique role in this process. For decades it has been the most likely battlefield for armed conflict between East and West. Europe can now become the area in which a new climate of mutual trust and restraint can develop and grow.
Initiatives for peace require that different socio-economic systems and nations cooperate with one another on projects for confidence building and disarmament, justice in the South and protection of the planet’s biosphere. At the same time, they should engage in peaceful competition in the fields of wealth creation, welfare and solidarity. Societies should be prepared to learn from one another. It must become the norm for the different systems to trade, negotiate and work together. There should also be a place for frank and open exchange of views, in particular where issues of human rights and peace are at stake.
East-West cooperation in the common struggle to close the gap between North and South and for the protection of the environment are perhaps the areas of greatest potential for fruitful action to build human solidarity regardless of frontiers and blocs.
IV. North and South
Recent decades have been characterised by an accelerating internationalisation of world affairs, or globalisation. Oil shocks, exchange rate fluctuations and stock market crashes are directly transmitted between the world’s economies, North and South. New information technologies disseminate a mass culture to every corner of the world. Financial decisions by multinational corporations can have far-reaching effects overnight. National and international conflicts are generating huge and growing refugee movements of continental and intercontinental dimensions.
Further, globalisation of the international economy has shattered the bipolar division of the world which dominated the era of the Cold War. New industrial powers have emerged in the Pacific rim and, until recent setbacks, the rapidly developing Latin American nations. There are also new international forces such as China and the Non-Aligned Movement. Interdependence is a reality. It is more important than ever to establish multilateral institutions with a more equal role for the South under the aegis of the UN.
At a global level, economic crisis and conservative deflationary policies have brought the return of mass unemployment to many of the advanced economies. They have also had a destructive effect on poor countries. They have wiped out export markets, sharpened the debt crisis and undone progress already made. At the same time, such regress in the South, combined with the necessity to service enormous debts, closed huge potential markets to the North. Thus the declining living standards of the debtor nations became a factor promoting unemployment in the creditor nations.
A transformed global economy must involve the growth centres of the South in a radically new way if it is to advance the development of either South or North. Programmes to stimulate economic and social development in the South can and must become a vehicle for stimulating the world economy as a whole. Such issues must feature as integral parts of global macro-economic strategies.
In Africa, the continuation of the apartheid regime in South Africa is not only a crime against the majority of the people of that nation but has subverted the economic efforts of the Front Line States and had a negative impact throughout the entire continent. There, as elsewhere, the fight for human rights and democracy goes hand in hand with the battle for economic and social justice.
Africa and Latin America are in particular faced with an intolerable debt problem which precludes the investments and imports which are needed to ensure development and provide jobs for rapidly growing populations. Global action to alleviate the debt burden is a precondition for progress. It must be a central goal of East-West cooperation in the common search for North-South justice.
The Environmental Challenge
A critical and fundamental challenge of worldwide dimensions is the crisis of the environment. ln both the North and the South, the ecological balance is jeopardised. Every year, animal and plant species are being exterminated while there is increasing evidence of a depletion of the ozone layer. In the North, irresponsible industrialism destroys forest areas; in the South, the rain forests which are vital to the survival of the whole world are shrinking with alarming speed. In the rich countries, soil pollution is increasing. In the poor countries, deserts are encroaching upon civilisation. Everywhere clean water is in short supply.
Since environmental destruction extends across national frontiers, environmental protection must be international. It is, above all, a question of maintaining the relations between natural cycles, since ecological protection is always more economical and more responsible than environmental renovation. The best and cheapest solutions to the crisis are those that change the basic framework of production and consumption so that environmental damage does not occur in the first place.
We advocate joint international efforts to replace all environmentally damaging products and processes by alternatives which enhance nature. The transfer of technology from North to South must not be allowed to become a matter of exporting ecologically unacceptable systems, or the toxic wastes of rich economies. Renewable energy sources and decentralised supply structures should be encouraged in both North and South. Moreover, there must be an international early warning system to identify environmental threats and catastrophes which cross national frontiers.
These environmental problems affect the whole world community as well as doing harm to the developing countries. Without multilateral assistance and cooperation, poor nations cannot solve them. For these reasons it is crucial to achieve a substantial transfer of resources through development aid.
Such policies are compatible with qualitative economic growth, in the North and South, in order to meet the social and economic responsibilities of the future. Social investment in ecological reconstruction – which many experts count as an expenditure without benefits and which is not computed as part of the Gross National Product – is one of the most positive investments a society can possibly make.
Social Control of Technological Development
The technological revolution which has already begun in the advanced industrial economies will profoundly change the conditions of the environment and resource management within the life-time of the present generation. Moreover, the impact of this change will be experienced worldwide. Micro-electronics, robotics, weapons technology, bio-engineering – plus innovations which are not yet dreamed of – will transform the circumstances of both individuals and the structures of society in the world as a whole.
Technology is not simply a matter of objective science or inanimate machines. It is always guided by particular interests and designed according to human values, whether implicit or explicit. It has to be brought under social control in order to use the positive opportunities offered by new technologies for humankind, to minimise the risks and the dangers of uncontrolled developments and to prevent socially unacceptable technologies.
Social progress requires, and inspires, technological progress. What is needed is technology appropriate to the different conditions, experiences and levels of development prevailing in the North and in the South. There must be a substantial transfer of suitable technology – and of basic technological know-how – between North and South. The North has much to learn from the experience of the South, especially its use of low-waste technologies. There should be social dialogue, and democratic political control of the context in which new technologies are introduced. This should ensure that their availability:
- contributes to autonomous development in the countries of the South, mobilising their resources rather than wasting them, and creating new jobs rather than increasing unemployment;
- humanises labour, promotes human health, and enhances safety in the workplace;
- facilitates economic rights and increases the scope for popular decision-making in working life.
In order to ensure that these standards are met throughout the world there must be institutions and procedures for assessment of technology. Innovation should be introduced in accordance with social needs and priorities as expressed through democratic debate and decision-making.
Manipulation of human genetic material and exploitation of women through new reproductive technologies must be prevented. Likewise ways must be found to protect humanity from nuclear danger and chemical risk.
Disarmament and Development
Disarmament agreements between the Superpowers will do more than remove the threat of annihilation from the planet. With such agreements in place, many of the resources now wasted on thermonuclear, chemical, biological and conventional weapons could be released for investment in economic and social development programmes in the South. Disarmament between the East and West should be linked with programmes for justice between the North and South.
A proportion of the substantial funds which the highly industrialised countries of the West and the East would save as a result of negotiated disarmament should be utilised to create a multinational fund to promote a secure and sustainable development in the countries of the South.
V. Shaping the Twenty – First Century
Political and Economic Democracy
Recent events have made the achievement of political, economic and social democracy on a world scale more feasible than ever before. Democracy represents the prime means for popular control and humanisation of the otherwise uncontrolled forces which are re-shaping our planet without regard for its survival.
Human rights include economic and social rights; the right to form trade unions and to strike; the right to social security and welfare for all, including the protection of mothers and children; the right to education, training and leisure; the right to decent housing in a liveable environment, and the right to economic security. Crucially, there is the right to both full and useful employment in an adequately rewarded job. Unemployment undermines human dignity, threatens social stability and wastes the world’s most valuable resource.
Economic rights must not be considered as benefits paid to passive individuals lacking in initiative, but as a necessary base from which to secure the active participation of all citizens in a project for society. This is not a matter of subsidising those on the fringe of society, but of creating the conditions for an integrated society with social welfare for all people.
Democratic socialism today is based on the same values on which it was founded. But they must be formulated critically, both assimilating past experience and looking ahead to the future. For instance, experience has shown that while nationalisation in some circumstances may be necessary, it is not by itself a sovereign remedy for social ills. Likewise, economic growth can often be destructive and divisive, especially where private interests evade their social and ecological responsibility. Neither private nor State ownership by themselves guarantee either economic efficiency or social justice.
The democratic socialist movement continues to advocate both socialisation and public property within the framework of a mixed economy. It is clear that the internationalisation of the economy and the global technological revolution make democratic control more important than ever. But social control of the economy is a goal that can be achieved through a wide range of economic means according to time and place, including:
- democratic, participative and decentralised production policies; public supervision of investment; protection of the public and social interest; and socialisation of the costs and benefits of economic change;
- worker participation and joint decision-making at company and workplace level as well as union involvement in the determination of national economic policy;
- self-managed cooperatives of workers and farmers;
- public enterprises, with democratic forms of control and decision-making where this is necessary to enable governments to realise social and economic priorities;
- democratisation of the institutions of the world financial and economic system to allow full participation by all countries;
- international control and monitoring of the activities of transnational corporations, including cross-frontier trade union rights within such corporations.
There is no single or fixed model for economic democracy and there is room for bold experimentation in different countries. But the underlying principle is clear – not simply formal, legal control by the State, but substantial involvement by workers themselves and by their communities in economic decision-making. This principle must apply both nationally and internationally.
In societies structured in this fashion, and committed to genuine economic and social equality, markets can and must function as a dynamic way of promoting innovation and signalling the desires of consumers through the economy as a whole. Markets should not be dominated by big business power, and manipulated by misinformation.
The concentration of economic power in few private hands must be replaced by a different order in which each person is entitled – as citizen, consumer or wage-earner – to influence the direction and distribution of production, the shaping of the means of production, and the conditions of working life. This will come about by involvement of the citizen in economic policies, by guaranteeing wage earners an influence in their workplace, by fostering open and accountable competition both domestically and internationally and by strengthening the position of consumers relative to producers.
A democratic society must compensate for the defects of even the most responsible market systems. Government must not function simply as the repair shop for the damage brought about by market inadequacies or the uncontrolled application of new technologies. Rather the State must regulate the market in the interests of the people and obtain for all workers the benefits of technology, both in work experience and through the growth of leisure time and meaningful possibilities for individual development.
Culture and Society
Education is crucial for the development of a modern, democratic and tolerant society. The goals of education which we advocate, are:
- information, learning and knowledge;
- the passing of a spiritual and cultural heritage from generation to generation;
- the preparation of the individual for life within society on the basis of equal opportunity for all;
- helping each individual to develop his full personal potential.
The values of freedom, social justice, solidarity and tolerance must be central messages in the process of education.
We advocate tolerance and cooperation between different groups in multicultural societies. Cultural diversity enriches rather than endangers our societies. Cultural uniformity is a threat to freedom and democracy.
Special attention must be given to the relations between different generations. Elderly people in particular need the respect and support of the young. They need a guaranteed income through social security and public pension, homes and nursing in the community, room for cultural and social activities, and the right to live their old age in dignity.
The Role of Men and Women in Modern Society
Inequality between men and women is the most pervasive form of oppression in human history. It may be traced almost to the origin of the species itself and has persisted in almost every socio-economic order to the present time.
Recent years have seen a new surge of feminist consciousness, both within and outside the socialist movement, leading to the emergence of one of the most important social movements of our time. In part, the renewal of feminism occurred as the women of the most advanced welfare States came to realise that, despite the progress made in many fields, they were still often relegated to subordinate positions in occupational and political structures.
The social costs of economic crises, at national and international levels, have been borne to a disproportionate degree by women. Poverty, unemployment, homelessness and low-wage exploitation have all contributed to this effect. In some areas of the South, the overcoming of patriarchal attitudes is a fundamental precondition for both the vindication of the rights of women and the achievement of sustainable economic development.
The Socialist International supports the struggle of women for equal rights and opportunities everywhere in the world. In some countries there has been progress, while in others the struggle for equality is only beginning. Equality and justice for women is a crucial element of a just and peaceful world. The UN has played an important role in facilitating the emergence of a global feminist consciousness which links the women of the South and the North.
The Socialist International specifically endorses the following measures:
- legislation and positive action programmes which guarantee full equality between men and women;
- support for programmes to promote education, vocational training and professional integration for girls and women;
- legislation to ensure equal pay for work of equal value;
- dissemination of information and practical assistance for family planning;
- good facilities for child care;
- public backing for full and equal participation of women in the social and political activities of every country by positive steps which ensure women’s representation at all levels of decision making.
Women constitute slightly more than half of the population on our planet. Justice and equality for them is a sine qua non of international justice and equality.
A New International Culture for Political Dialogue
The increasing interdependence of the world leaves little space for fundamentalist controversies and hostilities. Common survival and development demand both cooperation and civilised forms of dispute even between antagonistic political forces and ideas. We therefore reject and condemn any form of religious or political fundamentalism.
Communism has lost the appeal that it once had to parts of the labour movement or to some intellectuals after the October Revolution or during the struggle against fascism.
The crimes of stalinism, mass persecution and the violation of human rights, as well as unsolved economic problems, have undermined the idea of communism as an alternative to democratic socialism or as a model for the future.
The Socialist International supports all efforts aimed at the transformation of communist societies through liberalisation and democratisation. The same support must apply to the development of decentralised market mechanisms, struggles against bureaucratisation and corruption and, above all, the realisation that human rights and political openness are important elements of a dynamic and progressive society.
Detente, international cooperation and peaceful competition create an atmosphere in which the most promising of the present initiatives may prosper. The Socialist International wants to promote a culture of international dialogue. All sides must cooperate in mutual trust where there are basic common interests, and argue openly and frankly where the commitment to human rights, democracy and pluralism is at stake. Socialists want to play a prominent role in that dialogue.
A New Model for Growth
In order to generate employment and prosperity all across the world, there is a need for ecologically balanced development. Growth which is not designed to meet ecological and social imperatives runs counter to progress, since it will cause environmental damage and destroy jobs. The market system alone can never ensure the attainment of the social goals of economic growth. It is the legitimate function of democratic economic policy to promote development which opens up future opportunities while improving the quality of life.
To achieve these objectives on a global basis, it is imperative to establish a genuinely new international economic order. This must reconcile the interests of both industrialised and developing countries. A fundamental reform of financial relations must create the conditions for international economic cooperation. A more equitable international economic order is necessary not only for reasons of solidarity, but also in order to create a more efficient, productive and balanced world economy.
The priority in the case of international debt must be to write down, write off or capitalise the debts of the poorer countries. Institutional arrangements are needed to stabilise both the terms of trade and the export earnings of the countries of the South by establishing internationally supported commodity funds. The North must open its markets to the products of the South, and end its policy of subsidising exports from the North.
As productivity rapidly increases due to new technologies, it is also necessary to redefine working life. The aim must be to humanise working conditions by both appropriate production technologies and workers’ participation. Employment should be created by investment in social services and in environmental reconstruction, as well as by public spending on the development of new technologies and on improving infrastructure. By contrast, conservative economic policies in many industrialised countries have allowed for mass unemployment, thus jeopardising social justice and security, and giving rise to new manifestations of poverty in the rich world. It is of paramount importance that governments take on in practice their overall responsibility to provide for full employment.
In many cases, a reduction of working hours can help achieve a fair distribution of both paid jobs and work at home between men and women. It also increases the leisure time of workers, farmers and employees, thus giving them more time for other activities.
Solidarity between North and South
Economic development is unquestionably a priority for the South. This is not to say that there is a simple formula for ending poverty in the developing countries, be it socialist in origin or not. Economies need a reduction in trade barriers, improved access to markets and the transfer of technology. They need the opportunity to develop their own scientific resources – for example, in the area of biotechnology – and to end dependence on second-hand technologies.
Where the poorer countries are concerned, traditional development assistance remains vital. Many of them, in different regions of the world, need land reforms, incentives to farmers to achieve a sustained food supply, and support for cooperative traditions within their rural cultures. But, increased food production alone will not end hunger and famine. Sadly, in some cases, an increase in export agriculture can destroy traditional patterns of food supply, at one and the same time adding to farm output and hunger. It must be the task of the political system to guarantee both the right to food and employment.
The debt crisis has led to a net financial flow away from developing countries to industrialised ones. The UN development target of 0.7% of GNP in official development assistance, which is twice the current rate, must be achieved without delay. Internationally coordinated efforts are urgently needed to alleviate the burden of the external debt of developing countries.
Programmes of cooperation with the South must support development goals which relate to economic growth as well as a fair distribution of income. Aid programmes must focus on the development of the poorest groups. They should help to transform stultifying social structures and improve the situation of women in society. Specific programmes for children are of the greatest importance. Assistance through cooperatives and popular movements serves to promote democratic development.
A broadly based approach to development is also an important factor in stemming the massive tide of migration to the big cities of the South, many of which are threatened by uncontrollable population growth and are becoming huge megapolitan slums.
Enhanced South-South relations form an important path for economic progress. A substantial growth in trade between the nations of the South will contribute to their well-being and will enhance their prospects of dealing with the crises which arise from dramatic changes in production and occupational structures. Close economic links and rapidly growing markets in the developing world are a vital prerequisite of any positive development of the world economy.
An open world economy can stimulate development in the South. But it can also bring vulnerability. Thus, the North should not pursue economic and trade policies which impose drastic reductions in living standards and erode the bases of stable democracy.
Inequality and dictatorship are the enemies not only of human rights, but also of genuine development. Social and economic democracy cannot be regarded as luxuries which only the rich countries can afford. Rather, they are necessary for any country to make progress on the road of development. That is why the strengthening of democratic socialism in the South is so crucial. In this context the recent expansion of the Socialist International in the South, especially in Latin America and the Caribbean, is a good omen for both North and South alike.
Ending poverty in the South is also a common project for the North. It can promote disarmament, and create both wealth and jobs in the advanced as well as the developing countries. This is central to the strategy of socialists in dealing with wide-ranging economic change during a period of crisis and transition at world level. It is also an integral part of democratic socialist proposals for new economic and social structures which can bring the world peacefully and prosperously into the 21st century.
VI. With the Socialist International Towards a Democratic World Society
The Unity of International Socialism
At a time of rapid internationalisation, the goals of democratic socialism cannot be attained in just a few countries. The fate of people living in many different parts of the world is more interlinked than ever before. The various socialist parties of the world must therefore work together, both in their individual national interest and in their common international interest. The Socialist International, whose history dates back to 1864, was re-established in 1951 to serve this purpose.
Although it unites movements with long-standing national histories, the Socialist International is not a supranational, centralised organisation. It is an association of independent parties with common principles whose representatives want to learn from one another, jointly promote socialist ideas and work towards this objective at international level.
The purpose of the International is to facilitate this work of solidarity and cooperation, while being aware of the fact that there are different ways of promoting the basic values of a pluralist democratic socialism in different societies. Each member party is itself responsible for the manner in which it puts the decisions of the Socialist International into effect in its own country.
In recent years, the membership of the Socialist International has become more genuinely international, with very marked growth in Latin America and the Caribbean, and new members in other continents. It is the goal of the Socialist International to cooperate with all democratic socialist movements throughout the world.
Since the Frankfurt Declaration of the Socialist International in 1951, the world has become closer in economic and social terms, but not in terms of democratic community and solidarity. It is now clear that the socialist movement – as it looks towards the 21st century – is becoming more truly internationalist in outlook and in practice.
A New Democratic Order
The international challenge is nothing less than the beginning of a new, democratic world society. We cannot allow blocs, nations and private corporations to shape the political structure of the planet as a mere by-product of their own self-interest.
Strengthening the United Nations is an important step in the creation of this new, democratic world society. Where there is a consensus among the major nations, significant peace-making and peace-keeping initiatives are possible. The UN specialised agencies, like the WHO, and UN organs like UNDP and UNICEF, have demonstrated that the governments and citizens of various nations can work effectively together in pursuit of common international goals.
It is unrealistic to assume that justice and peace can be legislated in a world of fundamental inequality where many millions barely cling to life while a favoured few enjoy a standard beyond the dreams of most of their fellow human beings. Socialist struggles in the original capitalist nations made gains in welfare and solidarity, which in turn made the extension of democracy possible in individual countries. Likewise the work of abolishing international inequality will be a crucial step forward on the road to a democratic world society.
There is no illusion that this ideal can be quickly accomplished. However, the creation of a pluralist and democratic world, based on consensus and cooperation, is a necessary condition for the advance of humankind. This is both a challenge and an enormous opportunity. The Socialist International is ready to meet the challenge and to strive for a world in which our children can live and work in peace, in freedom, in solidarity and humanity.
We are confident that the strength of our principles, the force of our arguments and the idealism of our supporters will contribute to shaping a democratic socialist future into the 21st century. We invite all men and women to join us in this endeavour.