We’ve lived so long under the spell of hierarchy—from god-kings to feudal lords to party bosses—that only recently have we awakened to see not only that “regular” citizens have the capacity for self-governance, but that without their engagement our huge global crises cannot be addressed. The changes needed for human society simply to survive, let alone thrive, are so profound that the only way we will move toward them is if we ourselves, regular citizens, feel meaningful ownership of solutions through direct engagement. Our problems are too big, interrelated, and pervasive to yield to directives from on high.
—Frances Moore Lappé, excerpt from Time for Progressives to Grow Up

Thursday, July 5, 2012

The Western Welfare State: Its Rise and Demise and the Soviet Bloc

Click here to access article by James Petras from Dissident Voice. 

The author lays out an historical argument which explains much of what has happened in both the West and the former Soviet Union since WWII. The intense rivalry that existed after that devastating war initially forced Western elites to provide fairly decent social safety nets. He offers some excellent insights on the process of the unraveling of the latter in relation to what happened in the Soviet Union. 
Immediately following the defeat of fascist-capitalist regimes with the defeat of Nazi Germany, the Soviet Union and its political allies in Eastern Europe embarked on a massive program of reconstruction, recovery, economic growth and the consolidation of power, based on far-reaching socio-economic welfare reforms. The great fear among Western capitalist regimes was that the working class in the West would “follow” the Soviet example or, at a minimum, support parties and actions which would undermine capitalist recovery.