On the Political Economy of Social Democracy: Selected Papers of JC Weldon


213 pages
Contains Bibliography
ISBN 0-7735-0812-0
DDC 335.5'0971




Edited by Allen Fenichel and Sidney H. Ingerman
Reviewed by Phillip J. Wood

Phillip J. Wood is an associate professor of political studies at
Queen’s University.


John Cathcart Weldon was a professor of political economy at McGill
University, as well as a union and New Democratic Party activist. His
editors have brought together a selection of his published and
unpublished work covering the period from 1961 to his death in 1987. The
selections are organized into two parts: the first on social democracy
and the performance of the state, and the second on topics in economic
policy. Both sections reflect concerns that social democratic policy
should have a firm foundation in economic theory, and that economics
should be a socially relevant and progressive field of endeavor.

The second section has a useful discussion of the effects of wage
controls on the labor movement and two more-technical essays on the
theory of pensions. For the general reader and the social democrat,
however, the first section will be of greater interest. Here, there are
essays on the goals of social democracy, planning and trade,
nationalization, the state, privatization, the neo-liberal attack on
labor and the Left, and the centrality of full employment and the social
wage for social democracy in power. Some of these topics are products of
an earlier age, and seem dated in the context of contemporary tendencies
in social democratic thinking. It is not easy to imagine the current
provincial government in Toronto doing much thinking about systematic
economic planning or nationalization, for instance. Moreover, Weldon
never seems fully to come to grips with the politics of the situation in
which social democracy finds itself in the late twentieth century,
leaving much to the residual category of political will, or rather its
absence. Nevertheless, there is much of interest here. Although some
topics seem dated, others—especially those dealing with the politics
of anti-inflationary policy, trade, the social wage, privatization and
the labor movement—are not, and Weldon’s thoughts on them can be
read with profit.


“On the Political Economy of Social Democracy: Selected Papers of JC Weldon,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed April 25, 2024, https://cbra.library.utoronto.ca/items/show/11204.