Contradictions of the welfare state (Contemporary politics)

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History Branches Classification. History of economics Schools of economics Mainstream economics Heterodox economics Economic methodology Economic theory Political economy Microeconomics Macroeconomics International economics Applied economics Mathematical economics Econometrics. Concepts Theory Techniques. Economic systems Economic growth Market National accounting Experimental economics Computational economics Game theory Operations research. By application. Notable economists. Glossary of economics. This article's lead section does not adequately summarize key points of its contents.

Please consider expanding the lead to provide an accessible overview of all important aspects of the article. Please discuss this issue on the article's talk page. September Liberals and Social Democrats. Cambridge University Press. On purely socialist criteria, social democratic reform is always a failure since all it does is invent new devices for strengthening the system, which should itself be attacked.

The Road to Serfdom. London: University of Chicago Press. The Welfare State We're In 3 ed. Ivan R. The Making of Modern Liberalism. Princeton and Oxford University Presses. In Hamowy, Ronald ed. The Encyclopedia of Libertarianism. Cornell University Press. Although insurance reform was merely tolerated in early socialist manifestos, passage of such reforms appears to have been a hallmark of conservative and liberal appeals to working-class voters and responses to socialist threats at least in Germany and the United Kingdom.

As a result, capitalists will have little incentive to invest and the workers will have little incentive to work. Capitalism works because, as Marx remarked, it is a system of economic force coercion. Archived 17 June at the Wayback Machine. Encyclopedia of Activism and Social Justice. They supported and tried to strengthen the labor movement.

The latter, as socialists, argued that capitalism could never be sufficiently humanized, and that trying to suppress the economic contradictions in one area would only see them emerge in a different guise elsewhere. Some hold out for a non-market, participatory economy. All democratic socialists agree on the need for a democratic alternative to capitalism.

Why Market Socialism? In this three-sided conflict, proponents of protection and of marketization clashed, not only with one another, but also with partisans of emancipation: with feminists, to be sure, but also with socialists, abolitionists and anti-colonialists, all of whom endeavored to play the two Polanyian forces off against each other, even while clashing among themselves. However promising in theory, such a strategy was hard to implement. These associations would prove surprisingly durable, long after liberal competitive capitalism collapsed under the weight of its multiple contradictions, in the throes of inter-imperialist wars, economic depressions and international financial chaos—giving way in the midth century to a new regime, that of state-managed capitalism.

Emerging from the ashes of the Great Depression and the Second World War, state-managed capitalism defused the contradiction between economic production and social reproduction in a different way—by enlisting state power on the side of reproduction. This aim was embraced by the democratic welfare states of the capitalist core and the newly independent developmental states of the periphery alike—despite their unequal capacities for realizing it. Once again, the motives were mixed. The creation of the state-managed regime was a matter of saving the capitalist system from its own self-destabilizing propensities—as well as from the spectre of revolution in an era of mass mobilization.

In this situation, social reproduction had to be internalized, brought within the officially managed domain of the capitalist order. Accepting unionization, which brought higher wages, and public-sector spending, which created jobs, policy-makers now reinvented the household as a private space for the domestic consumption of mass-produced objects of daily use.

But it was above all the working classes—both women and men—who spearheaded the struggle for public provision, acting for reasons of their own. For them, the issue was full membership in society as democratic citizens—hence, dignity, rights, respectability and material well-being, all of which were understood to require a stable family life. In embracing social democracy, then, working classes were also valorizing social reproduction against the all-consuming dynamism of economic production. In effect, they were voting for family, country and lifeworld against factory, system and machine.

Unlike the protective legislation of the liberal regime, the state-capitalist settlement resulted from a class compromise and represented a democratic advance. Unlike its predecessor, too, the new arrangements served, at least for some and for a while, to stabilize social reproduction. For majority-ethnicity workers in the capitalist core, they eased material pressures on family life and fostered political incorporation.

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But before we rush to proclaim a golden age, we should register the constitutive exclusions that made these achievements possible. Social reproduction, for the vast majority in the periphery, remained external, as rural populations were left to fend for themselves. Like its predecessor, too, the state-managed regime was entangled with racial hierarchy: us social insurance excluded domestic and agricultural workers, effectively cutting off many African-Americans from social entitlements. Nor was gender hierarchy absent from these arrangements. As a result, the broad tendency of state-managed capitalism in the countries of the core was to valorize the heteronormative, male-breadwinner, female-homemaker model of the gendered family.

Public investment in social reproduction reinforced these norms. Institutionalizing androcentric understandings of family and work, they naturalized heteronormativity and gender hierarchy, largely removing them from political contestation. What would be sacrificed, were those two parties to join forces, would be social protection. Like the liberal regime before it, the state-managed capitalist order dissolved in the course of a protracted crisis. By the s, prescient observers could discern the emerging outlines of a new regime, which would become the financialized capitalism of the present era.

Globalizing and neoliberal, this regime promotes state and corporate disinvestment from social welfare, while recruiting women into the paid workforce—externalizing carework onto families and communities while diminishing their capacity to perform it. The result is a new, dualized organization of social reproduction, commodified for those who can pay for it and privatized for those who cannot, as some in the second category provide carework in return for low wages for those in the first.

The major driver of these developments, and the defining feature of this regime, is the new centrality of debt. Debt is the instrument by which global financial institutions pressure states to slash social spending, enforce austerity, and generally collude with investors in extracting value from defenceless populations.

Whereas the previous regime empowered states to subordinate the short-term interests of private firms to the long-term objective of sustained accumulation, in part by stabilizing reproduction through public provision, this one authorizes finance capital to discipline states and publics in the immediate interests of private investors, not least by demanding public disinvestment from social reproduction.

And whereas the previous regime allied marketization with social protection against emancipation, this one generates an even more perverse configuration, in which emancipation joins with marketization to undermine social protection. The new regime emerged from the fateful intersection of two sets of struggles. One set pitted an ascending party of free-marketeers, bent on liberalizing and globalizing the capitalist economy, against declining labour movements in the countries of the core; once the most powerful base of support for social democracy, these are now on the defensive, if not wholly defeated.

All of them—including anti-racism, multiculturalism, lgbt liberation, and ecology—spawned market-friendly neoliberal currents. Like each of its predecessor regimes, financialized capitalism institutionalizes the production—reproduction division on a gendered basis. Unlike its predecessors, however, its dominant imaginary is liberal-individualist and gender-egalitarian—women are considered the equals of men in every sphere, deserving of equal opportunities to realize their talents, including—perhaps especially—in the sphere of production.

Reproduction, by contrast, appears as a backward residue, an obstacle to advancement that must be sloughed off, one way or another, en route to liberation. As well as diminishing public provision and recruiting women into waged work, financialized capitalism has reduced real wages, thus raising the number of hours of paid work per household needed to support a family and prompting a desperate scramble to transfer carework to others. Typically, it is racialized, often rural women from poor regions who take on the reproductive and caring labour previously performed by more privileged women.

Far from filling the care gap, the net effect is to displace it—from richer to poorer families, from the Global North to the Global South.

The Welfare State Is Not a Thing of the Past - Articles - L’internationale

Two recent developments in the United States epitomize the severity of the situation. This is a country, too, in which breastfeeding is de rigeur but has changed beyond all recognition. In a context of severe time poverty, double-cup, hands-free pumps are considered the most desirable, as they permit one to express milk from both breasts at once while driving to work on the freeway.

Or are they recruited with more or less compulsion? What ethos governs the work of service? How is paternalism tempered, contained, refused? Is there a professional ethos? What are the forms that liberalism can take in such settings? Who are the service workers? How are they recruited and trained?

Are there distinctive social, political and professional formations? What is the stake and significance of voluntary workers? Are they state provided? State funded? State directed? State licensed or regulated?


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Peter Hitchens, Welfare State, 2014

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