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Analysis of the pragmatism of the British prime minister Tony Blair and his New Labour and of the German chancellor Schroeder and his Social Democrat Party prompts the author to conclude that social democrat parties are, despite their emancipatory rhetoric, still very bound to a paternalistic approach to government. The social democratic "third way" is thus neither a liberal programme under a false name, nor the beginning of a new chapter in social democratic thought and ideology. The point of departure of supporters of the "third way" is not individual freedom, but the collectivist ideas which still dwell in the recesses of socialist thought. The social democratic "third way" is nothing if not a middle passage in which left-wing ideas continue to dominate.