SOCIALISM ACROSS THE WORLD
Strong socialist or Labor parties have remained substantially confined to Europe or to countries whose population is or was mainly of European extraction, such as Australia, New Zealand, and Israel. The United States, which has never had a significant socialist party, is the main exception to this rule—something that has often puzzled socialist theorists who wrongly assumed that industrialization would always be associated with a strong socialist movement. The Social Democratic Party in Japan was out of power from the end of World War II to 1993 when it led, albeit briefly, a governing coalition. In Indonesia, after gaining independence from the Netherlands, there was a relatively strong left that included both socialists and communists. The 1965 anti-communist military takeover led by Suharto equated socialists with communists and persecuted both in equal measure, in effect annihilating them. No socialist tradition remained to take advantage of the return to democracy in the 1990s. In Latin America only Chile produced a significant socialist party, strong enough to survive underground after the military takeover of 1973 and be elected to power after the end of the dictatorship. In the 1990s Brazil, after years of military dominance, saw the new social democratic party of Fernando Henrique Cardos win the presidential election, but as his administration veered between neo-liberalism and social reforms, his social-democratic credentials were in dispute. His more radical successor, Luis Inacio Lula da Silva, generally known as Lula, won the presidential elections in 2002 at the head of a recently created Workers’ Party. Lula himself was a trade union leader and his new party has considerable support from organized labour. This is not a necessary sign of leftism, especially in Latin America where the most important political movement supported by the trade unions was the right-wing populist party founded in Argentina by Juan Perón, whose influence outlasted its creator.
Elsewhere socialism was usually a local variant of communism, hence the frequent references to African socialism or Arab socialism. In Asia and much of Africa, socialism was an ideology advocating modernization by the State, rather than an outright anti-capitalist doctrine. Socialist ideas, though they seldom led to the formation of significant separate parties on the West European pattern, greatly influenced independence and anti-colonial movements, notably the National Congress Party in India, the African National Congress in South Africa, and post-colonial regimes such as those of Tanzania, Zambia, and Zimbabwe. When in power, African socialist parties concentrated on nation-building and social reform often at the expense of democratic rule and civil rights. The ideas of social democracy also influenced many parties outside Europe, particularly, though not exclusively, those in the economically advanced parts of South East Asia since the economic crisis that has affected the area in the late 1990. An appeal to ill-defined “Asian values” was made to provide a justification for proposing forms of social control over markets that are reminiscent of social democracy. Notable examples of Asian parties and leaders which might be defined as social democrat have been Kim Dae-jung, elected president of South Korea in 1998, and Chen Shui-bian, the leader of the Progressive People’s Party of Taiwan, elected president in 2000.