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Recent articles by Andreas Bieler
This author has not submitted any other articles.Recent Articles about International Economy
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Forget the Welfare State?
international | economy | non-anarchist press Wednesday October 02, 2013 23:11 by Andreas Bieler - The Bullet
The welfare state has been under pressure since the mid-1980s and the onset of neoliberal economic policies across Europe. Capital has used the current crisis to intensify this pressure further. In Southern Europe, this is often directly enforced through the Troika (European Union, European Central Bank, and International Monetary Fund) in exchange for bailout packages, but in other countries such as the UK too, drastic cuts are justified by reference to increasing national debt and the global financial crisis. Trade unions and civil society organizations have struggled hard to defend the welfare state, but it has been a defensive struggle all the way and many aspects have already been lost. Trade union rights have been curbed in many countries, key industries such as telecommunications and postal services privatized and core services such as health and education increasingly marketized. Full employment policies have been a thing of the past for quite some time. In this blog post, I will reflect on the nature and contents of the welfare state and the possibilities of defending its achievements.
The welfare state is generally considered a major success of labour movements in industrialized countries. And indeed, as Asbjørn Wahl outlines in his book The Rise and Fall of the Welfare State [ http://andreasbieler.blogspot.no/2012/01/rise-and-fall-....html ], it was the strength of labour movements, built up in industrial struggles at the beginning of the 20th century, which forced concessions from capital against the background of regime competition during the Cold War. In exchange for continuing control over the means of production, capital accepted an expanded welfare state, policies of full employment and a strong role of trade unions in economic and social policy-making.