What the Cold War meant, however, was that the socialists could accede to power only once they had accepted the international hegemony of the USA, the only capitalist power devoid of a strong socialist party. Thus, West European socialism had to develop under the international protection of a country whose ethos, traditions and outlook were deeply hostile to socialism and to a socialist project in any form. It was an international order which could tolerate socialism on certain conditions, but never encourage it.
This fundamental subordination of socialist ideas to the requiremetns of a bipolar world was an aspect of the decay of European power following the Second World War. The fate of socialism was inseparable from the political destiny of individual nation-states. With Europe divided and subject to outside constraints, socialists found themselves on hostile terrain. To them fell the painful task of living with a particularly grievous paradox: they must advance the cause of socialism, while fighting a ‘cold war’ against the only existing ‘socialist’ nation.