The Welfare State, a non-negotiable essential for left and right
Often derided in the neoliberal era, the welfare state has proven to be the hero of the pandemic. But in good times and bad the Welfare state is both the engine of the economy and the essential safety net in creating a civilized society. the success of a society, its prosperity, and its overall standard of living is inextricably linked to the welfare state. It needs to be seen again going forward as a non-negotiable essential by the left and right. whether your political views are socialist or a pro-business capitalist the welfare state is essential to both and must be seen as such.
We need a political consensus where the left one hand can push for more trade union power, more publicly and comparatively owned business, and the right is more about free enterprise within the confines of a large welfare state. This is a politics that can foster healthy debate and disagreements without arguing over how much to undermine the essential viability of the state as left and right have both done during the neoliberal era.
The welfare state is a classic win-win for both capital and labour. It provides workers with an essential safety net and a basic minimum standard of living, it provides businesses with a safe environment with excellent infrastructure and a well-educated workforce in which to avail of. It also increases the money spent in the economy as it provides jobs and supports with the funds being directly reinvested into local businesses and communities. It is the engine and foundation of stability and economic growth and in the long run, conservative governments who continue to undermine the welfare state will only succeed in undermining themselves.
For socialists, the welfare state can be viewed as a necessary instrument of capitalism to keep workers happy educated, and society stable for economic growth. They often envisage a world of socially owned business where the wealth created isn’t so unevenly distributed as to necessitate a large welfare state. But the best way to achieve more public and worker control and ownership is also through a large welfare state. workers who feel more secure and cared for are more likely to unionise and demand better conditions and more control in society.
There simply is no viable political ideology or strategy at present that should see the welfare state as a negotiable or a problem that needs to be removed. the correlation between social spending and the standards of living is undeniable as countries like Austria, Sweden, and Denmark for example show. For those on the right who prophesise about economic growth and stability then the welfare state is the most essential component of that, being the driving force of economic growth. For those on the left, a well-funded and successful welfare state is also an essential non-negotiable as it provides the crucial safety net to keep basic standards of living high not only now but allow workers the platform they need on which to build movements to increase control and co-determination. if there is a renewed political consensus on the welfare state then left and right can argue about does a strong private sector within a strong welfare state better society or does more socially and worker-owned businesses provide a better society. But left and right debating over how much money to cut from payments and programs which help the poorest in society need to be consigned to history where they belong