social democracy

           Ill fares the land, to hastening ills a prey,
           Where wealth accumulates, and men decay:
            Princes and lords may flourish, or may fade—
            A breath can make them, as a breath has made:
            But a bold peasantry, their country’s pride, 
            When once destroyed, can never be supplied.
                        The Deserted Village: Oliver Goldsmith

  This column follows on from ‘Whence Europe; Whither Europe’.

Less than a year before he died, Tony Judt, paralysed from the neck down by motor neuron disease, gave a much-acclaimed two-hour public lecture. Shortly after he extended it to a book, Ill Fares the Land: A Treatise on Our Present Discontents, setting out his commitment to social democracy.

Although completed a decade ago, Tony Judt’s history of postwar Europe presaged some of the challenges that it faces today.

Shortly after the collapse ot the Berlin Wall in 1989, one of our greatest contemporary historians Tony Judt resolved to write a book to sort his thinking out. It took fifteen years, but the resulting Postwar: A History of Europe Since 1945 is an (almost 900-page) extraordinary achievement.