Manual Mirages and Miracles: Crisis in Global Fordism

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What have been the social effects of these processes on equality, gender relations, public ownership and so on? Is it correct to say that we are moving toward one European social model? What are the basic features of such a model? What are the prospects for alternative linkages between national and European welfare policies? How can the struggle over the welfare state today best be incorporated into a strategy aimed at strengthening broad and progressive social and political alliances, even pointing beyond the universal welfare state? What basic elements of a new radical subjectivity — a new hegemonic force —, directed to transforming the capitalist mode of production and regulation, are possible to identify?

The European Welfare Models: Changes, Prospects and Strategies

The corporatist also called the conservative model, with traditional family values, is tied historically to the church. The state is strong in this welfare system, but normally does not intervene as long as the family can provide the care needed. The state intervenes in a limited way in the market mechanisms, and the model has especially compared to the universal model a low degree of redistribution among the population. It is of great importance empirically and theoretically to analyse how these different models changed in the last decades.

This is the premise of the Stockholm workshop. The Nordic welfare models will be a specific focus. They are of special interest since they express the balance of class interests in a society with a strong social-democratic labour movement. They can be regarded as the most progressive social models resulting from social-democratic power. The Swedish welfare state, with the most egalitarian social structures in the Western world, as regards, for example, class and gender, was the most famous example of what Esping-Andersen called the Nordic or the social-democratic Universal Welfare Regime.

Like other welfare models, it has changed in many ways in the last two decades, and it would seem important that the European left analyse and learn from this experience, in order to elaborate strategies for a future welfare model and the struggle beyond it.

Swedish social democracy, supported and pushed by the Communist Party, implemented a sophisticated social insurance system which included more or less the whole population, in order to gain its support for the system and bridge gaps between different classes and segments. In this way, it was, in a Gramscian sense, a hegemonic formation, meaning that social democracy was the dominant actor in the political, ideological and cultural fields but not in the economic sector. The model guaranteed almost full-income compensation for child-care, unemployment and sickness. The social democrats built public hospitals and health care, elder care, schools, child-care, new houses, etc.

In the late s the labour movement in Sweden also succeeded in implementing a beneficiary pension system, after long and hard struggles against unified bourgeois forces Olson One of the cornerstones of this Swedish model was the social-democratic labour-market policy, based on active measures for full employment combined with a solidary wage policy.

The basic feature of this policy was the holding back on the part of workers and unions in high-profit companies and branches of their wage demands in solidarity with workers in low wage branches, who were, on the other hand, able to raise their demands and wages. In comparison with other countries in Western Europe exhibiting other forms of welfare capitalism, as Esping-Andersen puts it, this welfare model resulted in Sweden becoming the most just and egalitarian society.


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This applied to class, for example as regards income and living standards, and also in many ways to gender. The universal welfare services e. The large public sector and the active labour-market policy meant a very high degree of employment among women as well as decreasing income gaps between men and women. However, from the beginning of the s the Swedish welfare model has been experiencing huge cutbacks.

In monetary terms this means a loss of about 20 billion Euros per year in public expenditures, which is a great deal for a rather small economy. This has caused problems in the public health sector.


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  4. The share has been continuously growing ever since. Only years ago private entrepreneurs were barred from the health care sector. There have also been cutbacks in the social-security systems. One very important change is the new pension system, established in and then implemented by four bourgeois parties together with the social democrats. This means that the public pension system is now combined with a private sector with hundreds of pension funds controlled by private banks, insurance companies, etc.

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    Crisis of Fordism

    This new system was implemented by the same, or actually a rather different, social democracy that fought so hard to implement the public pension system in the s. The fact is also that it was actually the social democrats who in the late s first opened up to private alternatives in the public sector; a bourgeois government in could then go on and amplify an already initiated development. Montin Since then this process has continued under social-democratic governments, and it has accelerated under liberal-conservative governments like the present one.

    When it comes to the theoretical understanding of these processes of change in the Swedish welfare regime, and in other European ones, it makes sense to relate it the theoretical framework of the transition to a post-Fordist mode of production, accumulation regime, and — especially relevant to the Stockholm workshop and perhaps of most interest — regulation system. How can this theoretical framework help us analyse the changes of the welfare systems? What are the basic relations between fundamental changes of the mode of production and accumulation regimes, and the changes of the regulation systems and welfare models?

    In his path-breaking study, Michel Aglietta turns against the equilibrium theory of neo-classical economics, which he finds divorced from reality. Instead of a harmonious, linear development of capitalism, Aglietta sees frequent crises and seeks to find the long-term sources of ruptures in the process of accumulation. This means a long-term perspective beyond, for instance, the scope of Keynes, and especially the concrete policies of Keynesianism aimed at mitigating conflicts and crises for a harmonious development of the mode of production. Aglietta identifies three different simultaneous patterns of capitalist development: paradigms of industrialisation, accumulation regimes and modes of regulation.

    These aspects are of course intertwined but the workshop will focus on the third, the modes regulation, which include laws, institutions, culture, behaviours and expectations corresponding to the accumulation regime. The Swedish model was perhaps the most notable example of that compromise. The Fordist compromise aimed at mitigating institutionalised conflicts, with the state in the role of a neutralising factor.

    At the level of economic theory, Keynesianism functioned as the theory corresponding to this mode of regulation, and was used as an economic policy to mitigate and counteract the economic trends and crises of the mode of production. As the case of the Swedish social-democratic model showed, this helped the compromise to function and survive while the unsolved latent conflict of property and capital concentration was left unsolved.

    The s were a time of changes: oil crises, overproduction, lower profit rates, stagflation, unemployment, rationalisation and automisation through new technology, and at the same time a period giving rise to radical class struggles. The s meant the crisis of Fordism and the breakdown of the Keynesian mode of regulation.

    Product details

    A structural crisis of the accumulation regime means social and political conflicts and societal changes, a process of searching for a new accumulation regime and social structures. These are processes of dissolution of the whole Fordist compromise and hegemonic structure, and it also means fundamental changes of the welfare states.

    Mark Rupert

    Return to Book Page. Preview — Mirages and Miracles by Alain Lipietz. Get A Copy. Paperback , pages. More Details Other Editions 1. Friend Reviews. To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up. To ask other readers questions about Mirages and Miracles , please sign up. Lists with This Book. This book is not yet featured on Listopia. Community Reviews. Showing Rating details. Sort order. Jul 13, Constantinos Gus Kalogeropoulos rated it it was amazing. In Mirages and Miracles, Alain Lipietz, one of the premiere economists in the 'French Regulation School' of left economic thought examines the prevailing theories of the underdevelopment - or as he says, the "development of under development" - of peripheral countries.

    He takes a contrarian position to many other leftists and Marxist, arguing that they had put too much emphasis on, and expended far too much time in looking at and analyzing the 'external factors' which have kept countries on the In Mirages and Miracles, Alain Lipietz, one of the premiere economists in the 'French Regulation School' of left economic thought examines the prevailing theories of the underdevelopment - or as he says, the "development of under development" - of peripheral countries. Borrowing some concepts from the eminent Marxist theorist of the state Nicos Poulantzas - specifically his ideas of the relative autonomy of the state and the concept of the 'domestic' or 'national' bourgeoisie - Lipietz focuses on the 'exceptions to the rule' which problematized the 'traditional' Marxist and leftists interpretations of underdevelopment, interpretations and theorizations which basically amounted to the belief that these countries were poor and underdeveloped because that's how the rich countries wanted them.

    By the s this view, a view which posited that the peripheral countries were to always remain nothing but the suppliers of raw materials and perhaps labour of the rich countries, a view which could not ever allow for these countries to themselves industrialize began to run in to serious empirical difficulties.

    Adrien M & Claire B - Mirages & miracles / BIAC 2019

    The rise of a group of newly industrializing countries showed the inadequacy of these old and antiquated canards of the left and Marxism. Many countries in Latin America, began to industrialize, helped along by policies such as import substitution industrialization ISI. These were joined by the 'newcomers' of Europe Portugal, Greece, Spain , countries who experienced their own mini-industrial revolutions in the two decades following the war.

    Clearly the old theories were wanting.

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    Theories which saw everything that happened in international development as the result of the whims and needs of the center core had a had time explaining why, rather counter intuitively, these formerly totally dependent countries were creating the conditions whereby their own firms and industry would compete with those of the center, if not on the world level, then at least domestically.

    Lipietz offers an explanation, utilizing the Poulantzian concepts previously stated. These states were not totally dependent, or 'ruled' by fiat from Washington or London.