a political ideology of the left on the classic political spectrum. The contemporary social democratic movement seeks to reform capitalism to align it with the ethical ideals of social justice while maintaining the capitalist mode of production, as opposed to creating an alternative socialist economic system. Practical modern social democratic policies include the promotion of a welfare state, and the creation of economic democracy as a means to secure workers' rights.
Historically, social democracy was a form of evolutionary reformist socialism that advocated the establishment of a socialist economy through class struggle. During the early 20th century, major European social democratic parties began to reject elements of Marxism, Revolutionary socialism and class struggle, taking a moderate position that socialism could be established through political reforms. The distinction between Social Democracy and Democratic Socialism had yet to fully develop at this time. The Frankfurt Declaration of the Socialist International in 1951, attended by many social democratic parties from across the world, committed adherents to oppose Bolshevik communism and Stalinism, and to promote a gradual transformation of capitalism into socialism.
Social democracy, as practiced in Europe in 1951, was a socialist movement supporting gradualism; the belief that gradual democratic reforms to capitalist economies will eventually succeed in creating a socialist economy, rejecting forcible imposition of socialism through revolutionary means. This gradualism has resulted in various far left groups, including communists, of accusing social democracy of accepting the values of capitalist society and therefore not being a genuine form of socialism,instead labeling it a concession made to the working class by the ruling class. Social democracy rejects the Marxian principle of dictatorship of the proletariat and the creation of a socialist state, claiming that gradualist democratic reforms will improve the rights of the working class.
Since the rise in popularity of the New Right and neoliberalism, a number of prominent social democratic parties have abandoned the goal of the gradual evolution of capitalism to socialism and instead support welfare state capitalism. Social democracy as such has arisen as a distinct ideology from democratic socialism. In many countries, social democrats continue to exist alongside democratic socialists, who stand to the left of them on the political spectrum. The two movements sometimes operate within the same political party, such as the Brazilian Workers' Party and the Socialist Party of France. In recent years, several social democratic parties (in particular, the British Labour Party) have embraced more centrist, Third Way policy positions. This development has generated considerable controversy.
The Socialist International (SI) is the main international organization of social democratic and moderate socialist parties. It affirms the following principles: first, freedom—not only individual liberties, but also freedom from discrimination and freedom from dependence on either the owners of the means of production or the holders of abusive political power; second, equality and social justice—not only before the law but also economic and socio-cultural equality as well, and equal opportunities for all including those with physical, mental, or social disabilities; and, third, solidarity—unity and a sense of compassion for the victims of injustice and inequality. These ideals are described in further detail in the SI's Declaration of Principles.