Critique of Neoliberal Conflations of Social-Democracy and Pure Socialism


I felt that I needed to write another follow up comment due to the implications of the information that I had gathered in my own research. On my Blog, I had been trying to develop a Work-Standard alternative to the “Shopping Mall” that could fulfill a number of key functions. Historically, the architect of the Shopping Mall, Viktor Gruen, envisaged it as a sort of “Third Place,” an intermediate between the household and the workspace, where people could gather to socialize and relax. He saw this “Third Place” as an opportunity for a Volksgemeinschaft to congregate without having to be readily ostracized by their class or social status. His vision of the Shopping Mall differed immensely from how it was later implemented around the world in subsequent decades. The Shopping Mall would have been a communal institution as opposed to the commercial one that it ultimately became.

Half of the inspiration behind the Shopping Mall in Gruen’s architectural designs stemmed from the urban planning of Wien (or Vienna), the Austrian cityscape a tapestry of traditional and modern architecture. He advocated for a delicate balance between the automobile and mass transportation systems as opposed to being entirely dependent on the automobile. The other half came from the philosophical influences of Josef Popper-Lynkeus, an Austrian Jewish inventor, scholar and philosopher whose works were well-received among more prominent Jews throughout the German-speaking world. Popper-Lynkeus devoted his philosophy to social reform in the former Austro-Hungarian Empire and I have reasons to believe that he played an influential role in the articulation and development of Austrian Social-Democracy.

There has been a lot of misinformation on the World Wide Web (WWW) about Gruen being a “Socialist.” In actuality, he was a Social-Democrat aligned with the SPD’s Austrian counterpart, the SPÖ, and had a politically active life during the timeframe of your research. When he was not designing buildings and interiors for various clients in and around Wien, he was a part of a “Political Cabaret” that made social commentaries and political satires about the prevailing trends of the broader German-speaking world. He was especially critical of Pan-Germanic Socialism, not just because of Hitlerism (Gruen was Jewish), but because he shared the views of the pro-Neoliberal factions among the SPD and SPÖ. In essence, the belief that Pan-Germanic Socialism is not a “Pure Socialism” and that it was an elaborate ruse to swindle the Germanic working classes into supporting Capitalist interests. His vocal criticisms of Pan-Germanic Socialism and his Jewish ancestry were what compelled him to emigrate to America in response to the Anschluss of 1938.

Arguably the most characteristic aspect of Gruen is that his life was marked by bittersweet ironies. Instead of building a communal institution for the “Third Place,” he ended up creating a commercial one. Instead of succeeding in becoming more Socialistic than the Pan-Germanic Socialists, he ended up furthering the aims of Neoliberalism after 1945. And instead of beginning a trend of urban renewal and reduced dependency on the automobile in America and the German-speaking world, he created growing reliance on automobiles by designing the Shopping Mall. The real problem is that his vision of Social-Democracy in the German-speaking world and America was too utopian to be practical. Despite always having an idea or two on what to design on paper, Gruen consistently struggled to put his ideas into practice. In a way, it can be interpreted as another extension of the larger issue that Social-Democrats have in trying to mitigate the worst tendencies of Liberal Capitalism and enhancing its best ones.

To be blunt, however, these people conflating Social-Democracy with Pure Socialism or incorrectly referring to Gruen as a Socialist (instead of a Social-Democrat) are neither true Socialists nor true Social-Democrats. They are really Liberal Capitalists trying to swindle the working class into supporting Neoliberalism. Their real position is that Capitalism, in its contemporary Neoliberal form, cannot exist without borrowing certain Socialistic ideas. More specifically, they advocate for increased government spending to ensure that Welfare Capitalism’s “social safety net” will continue keeping people away from openly criticizing Neoliberalism and seriously entertaining Pure Socialism. They do not care about how Parliament is going to find the Kapital to pay for those expenses, be it from taxes or borrowing from the Central Bank. They also do not care if they need to prop up the “social safety net” amidst rising Interest and Inflation Rates.     

These people who I am referring to are the same ones who will pursue, what the Social-Democrats of the SPD and SPÖ have long accused Pan-Germanic Socialism of condoning in the German-speaking world. In fact, one of them happens to be the incumbent UK Prime Minister, Liz Truss, who is literally a Whig (or Liberal Democrat) pretending to be a Tory. Not a Pan-Germanic Socialist or a Fascist, but a Liberal Capitalist first and foremost. The proof lies in her economic and social policies, the intended outcomes of those same policies, the negative reactions of the financial markets and diminishing economic livelihoods of the British people.


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