DECLARATION OF PRINCIPLES – TOGETHER TOWARDS A SUSTAINABLE WORLD
Adopted by the 46th Party Congress 23.8.2020
The Finnish language version is the official document
We have a shared responsibility for our planet, for sustainable development, for the development of our societies and for each other. We work together to achieve a better future. By trusting each other we can change the world together, through democratic and peaceful means. We are able to make deliberate choices and influence our living environment.
The Social Democrats are part of the international labour movement. We stand on the side of the vulnerable and strive to eliminate inequality and exclusion in society. We want to create a future based on socially, ecologically and economically sustainable development.
We build peace through international cooperation and strive to strengthen democracy and the rule of law with others pursuing the same goals. In a world of sustainable peace, we do not resort to the use of force, but to agreements and cooperation. We envisage a society in which people are free from deprivation and fear and in which trust and a sense of security reign.
We believe that every human being is born equal in dignity and rights. Every one of us must have the right to a good life, education and respect as a part of the community.
A free individual in an equal society
Freedom, solidarity and equality are the fundamental values of a good society. With these values realised, a sense of ones own significance as a member of the community and as a citizen can be fully formed. Every person is both unique as themselves and as part of their community.
Freedom is a power that transforms society. Freedom strengthens human resources and enables people to both achieve their full human potential and strengthen their community on an equal footing with others. Freedom must not only be the freedom of the strong. No one has the right to act at the expense of others´ freedom and no community has the right to chain anyone’s individuality. It is an individual’s duty to act in accordance with the democratic rules of society without violating the rights or human dignity of other members of the society.
In a society of solidarity, the balance of rights, obligations and equal opportunities as well as the freedom of opinion will be realised. A democratic society must not be brought together by force or violence, but by everyone´s desire and opportunity to participate in the building of society according to their own capabilities.
Social Democracy is building a society in which power structures, prejudices and restrictive practices preventing the realisation of equality are systematically dismantled. A sustainable society is equal both between members of society and across generations.
Social justice belongs together with freedom, solidarity and equality. They are best achieved in strong welfare states. A democratic society based on trust and solidarity has a sustainable legitimacy.
Solidarity and responsibility for the world
Human activity has affected all life on our planet. The pursuit of a better life and well-being is legitimate and justified. At the same time, the continuing pursuit of material growth combined with the distortions of the capitalist economy has created a risk of destroying entire ecosystems. It is vital that our actions are adapted to the limits of the planet’s carrying capacity. Humankind is part of nature. Nature must be protected for the sake of its intrinsic value and people´s well-being.
Social Democracy works to ensure the viability of our planet and to safeguard biodiversity. We need to develop human capital so that increased economic knowledge and skills will also lead to an ecologically sustainable, more democratic and more equal society. We utilise science, research, creativity and invention to urgently shift onto a sustainable path. Social Democracy aims to protect the diversity of species and to enable species-typical behaviour.
The transition to ecologically sustainable economy and society will affect everyone. The transition must be implemented swiftly, fairly, and based on the carrying capacity within and between nations. Everyone has the responsibility to adapt his or her own lifestyle, choices and consumption habits to suit the carrying capacity of nature and climate. In doing so, we are able to guarantee a good life and a safe future for all.
An independent Finland is a key starting point for the Social Democrats. International cooperation must be founded on respect for national self-determination and respect for cultures. Global problems cannot be avoided by isolation. Cross-border environmental challenges and other threats to our security can only be solved sustainably through the joint efforts of societies with a sense of responsibility. Cooperation must be based on a multilateral, rules-based global order and strong, common institutions.
Social inclusion for everyone
Every person has the right to work, be active and participate in society and democratic decision-making. Working together brings inclusion. Essential social, cultural and educational rights, as well as engagement through civic, political and trade-union activities, are at the heart of inclusion.
Everyone should be guaranteed the opportunity to participate in society according to his or her own abilities, without distinction to physical or other characteristics. A safe daily life is created by trust in social services which provide a safety net in case of distress and illness. In the future, society must be able to respond to increasingly individual needs. Work, livelihood and social security must work together in such a way that the work is always profitable.
Making political choices must be kept democratic. We respect parliamentarism and also support providing more direct influence for citizens. Understanding the complexity of societal issues and decision-making requires commitment to democratic principles, clear language in social debate and responsible, multi-voiced and truth-based media.
An individual needs community support to grow to his or her full potential. Education provides freedom from ignorance and forms the basis for achieving personal fulfillment as a full member of the community. Education is the freedom of thought and ability to participate in society and understand one’s own value and that of others. It is also a matter of respect for life and nature. Education and skills pave the way for economic independence. This path must be open throughout a person´s life.
Everyone has the right to participate. Work, entrepreneurship and other activities create social inclusion that generates well-being, income and wealth for the society. It is not only a means for creating income for oneself and their families. Decent work provides meaning and purpose to life, dignity and attachment to the community.
Social Democracy holds onto the principle that employment must guarantee a living wage for the employee. The employee has to receive a fair share of the added value created by productivity growth and the employee´s work input.
New ways of democratising working life, developing work and workplaces, and balancing work and leisure time must be developed. The transformation of working life affects everyone: workers, entrepreneurs and those in an insecure position in the labour market.
The influence of employees and self-employed people on their own workplaces and working conditions must be strengthened and developed through collective actions. This is linked to the democratisation of the economy and a fair distribution of income. Everyone must have the right to leisure time and society´s safety net in changing life situations. Society has to support everyone’s opportunity to participate actively in society.
Towards an economy that serves the people
Economic globalisation and technological development have accelerated growth and reduced absolute global poverty. At the same time, inequality has increased. Technology, digitalisation and globalisation are transforming work and the link between growth, productivity and well-being. People’s confidence in the fairness of society is undermined and the functioning of democratic systems is under threat when, due to the fundamental characteristics of capitalism, the wealth and market power are concentrated. This hampers transition to sustainable growth and a fair economy.
Democratic socialism has sought and will seek the continued democratisation not only of the economy, but also working life and other areas of life by increasing transparency and defining the rules by which the market operates. Our aim is to enable free and equal people to use public power, in order to care for all members in society, and to reduce inequality. The legitimacy of each economic system is based on its ability to increase people’s equal well-being.
Basic services that are essential for people’s well-being and the key support functions of society must be provided by public institutions or kept under public control. Public ownership of the means of production must be assessed and decided on the basis of appropriateness and the overall interest of society. The Social Democrats promote diverse social ownership, for example through cooperatives. The aim of the Social Democrats is to bring both unpaid care work and other invisible economic sectors into the economy. Tax revenues are needed to finance services and reduce inequality. In a fair society, high incomes and capital are taxed more heavily than small ones, and all incomes and wealth are taxed.
Social Democracy wants to ensure fair competition and the fair distribution of knowledge and wealth. This idea of predistribution means that the welfare state creates equality by shaping the economic environment and its processes to be fair and create equal opportunities for all. This requires international cooperation and regulation.
From a strong foundation to the future
The journey of Social Democracy began as a liberation movement of the oppressed. Today, it touches people all over the world. The ideal of the Social Democrats is a society in which freedom and equality win against oppression, humanity intolerance and justice selfishness.
Social Democracy was born in the class society of the 1800’s as an international response to the world, where economic and social change produced human suffering, injustice and inefficiency. In that world, the majority lacked human rights, ownership and participation rights, and humane working conditions.
Social Democracy developed through political, professional, cooperative and cultural activities as part of a diverse civil society. Social Democracy is philosophically a pluralistic movement whose ideological heritage, alongside the theories of socialism, has been influenced by philosophy, Christian ethics and the philosophical ideas of the Enlightenment. Social Democracy is actively building cooperation with other progressive political forces and new social movements in order to achieve its objectives and bring new ideas into the democratic process.
The Nordic countries have created the most comprehensive welfare states and the happiest societies in the world. Nevertheless, many of the shortcomings of the previous century still prevail and new ones are emerging. Mitigating climate change, safeguarding biodiversity, eradicating poverty, combating inequality and preventing the concentration of wealth are global tasks which require international cooperation. In the transformation of work, the goal must be decent employment and a good working life. Technology and digitalisation must serve people and the environment.
Social Democracy works courageously to eliminate human suffering and inequality throughout the world. This Declaration of Principles is a part of the ongoing and timely social reform work in line with our ideological heritage.
Together we can create a better world.