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David Harvey: The Limits of Social Democracy and of the Welfare State (2/2)

well one of the at the the presidential race especially on the side of the Democrats and with Bernie Sanders at the forefront calling for what he says is democratic socialism but of course many people point out that what he's really calling for is a form of social democracy in other words a reform of capitalism not a complete overthrow of capitalism and that that raises the question and this is something that to feud seems to be too few people seem to be talking about is something that at least back in the 1970s I would say people had did question social democracy in the sense of saying well it has internal contradictions of its own that it has not resolved it cannot resolve and you could even say that's the reason why it alternately failed at least in Europe and went on a downhill decline because it it couldn't basically deal with the international context of basically a neoliberal financial system where capital is completely D territory alized and can go wherever at once and forcing basically the social democracies to adapt to this global condition because otherwise they would face whether it be faced with a capital strike or a capital flight and so I'm wondering now I won on the one hand there's there's no real debate it seems at least on the left about so to speak reform versus revolution I guess that is the the debate about can capitalism be formed in the form of social democracy again or do we need to understand why it declined eventually you know from the 1970s onwards was there a logic that went beyond just ideology and that there were in other words global financial forces that work in undermining social democracy what's your response to that that train of thought yeah right of course that I mean the left that I was associated where the beginning of the 1970s was very critical of the welfare state as it had been constructed in the social democracies in Europe and to the degree that was welfare even in the United States was critical or bad because many people saw or the welfare state is an organized way to reproduce a class relation not to challenge a class relation and furthermore it was also structured in such a way as to be anti with anti women and so many feminists that think felt that the way their welfare state was orchestrated was with perilous for them so yeah in the left in the mid-1970s was highly critical of welfare state and then of course the right took power and said ok we'll get rid of the world for fair state will wipe it all out and when and then that that led to certain nostalgia of the left and say what is it that we wanted to get rid of but I don't think right now there is really an appetite for a restoration of that kind of welfare state and I'm very nervous about the Democratic field right now to the degree that it seems to me there is a tendency towards the restoration of a system that was about a reproduction of class relations and will be so again unless we do something radically different now again fortunately it seems to me that there are elements around particularly feminist socialists and so on are going to say no we are not going to tolerate the restoration of that kind of welfare state we we want to guarantee people a decent life and a decent living space and and and decent protections of Social Security we want all of those things but not in a way that simply replicates the the social social order furthermore we recognize right now in many parts of the world social welfare has been privatized through the NGOs and the non-governmental organizations of course are working out there dealing with a lot of the social problems and the state basically says I don't want anything to do with this let the NGOs take take care of all other social issues this is a big summation because as recipient if I'm getting something from the state I make a claim upon the state and say I'm a member I I'm a I'm a subject in this state or I'm a citizen of this state and I have rightful claims and I want the state to deliver on those claims when it all goes to the NGOs in effect you have to go and beg for charity now this changes the position of a low income person begging for charity or putting a legitimate demand upon the state which they believe has have some responsibility for guaranteeing their welfare so I think here too there is something which is saying there will not be a radical revolution in social relations without challenge in that NGO structure which is very difficult because there are a lot of progressive people in the NGOs and you probably will remember that the initial sort of world Social Forum there were radical elements but then also the NGOs and the NGOs were in the end kind of doing a separate game from the popular movements so I think that there's there there are these issues which the left is not grappled with and which need they need to grapple with if we are not to end up with a restoration of a kind of a soft version a more sort of efficient version of the social democracy which which was sort of hanging around us in the sort of early 1970s before we conclude I think one of the key things that you said is about avoiding the restoration of class relations through reform and I'm wondering exactly what that might mean specifically and that is okay in the case of NGOs versus making a demand on the state and claiming a right I think that's relatively clear but even that claiming a right by itself doesn't necessarily mean challenging or changing the class relations and so I'm wondering what would a change of class relations actually look like well just think for a minute how certain class relations were transformed in say major latin-american countries one of the ways in which it was done was land reform and so the power of a landed aristocracy was essentially challenged by expropriation of of the big estates and the division out of them and of course that tradition is continued by occupations by the MST and all the rest of it so you're in effect taking a power block which was the landed elites and you're breaking their power and you're taking their assets and you're distributing those assets and so if this is a real attack upon the class relations what I'm going to suggest now is selling terribly outrageous in which is this needs to be done to the capitalist class the concentrations of wealth in the capitalist class are now so enormous so huge that the capitalist class needs to be broken up and actually it's interesting if you turn it to corporations there's now a genuine debate going on over should we break up Google should we break up Facebook should we break up these these these huge monopolies and these huge concentrations of power so what we're beginning to see is a kind of a political movement that says we've got to break up these pattern at some point a rather that is going to carry over to breaking up that huge wealth which existed in the capitalist class now the capitalist class is protecting itself and I think is well aware of this threat if they're not there must be daft but they they they're well aware so they are securing their control over the state apparatus to make absolutely sure that the state apparatus will do two things one is that the state will never ever pass any legislation like land reform which kind of appropriates them so they're gonna sort of control the state that way second any movements outside of the state that start to kind of actually do that are going to be repressed by police power and exactly the same way that the sort of Occupy movement was repressed by police power kind of rather brutally and unnecessarily precisely because Wall Street knew that if you didn't squash these people early on they might get traction and if they got traction their well-being and their their position in society would be threatened well regarding the point about breaking up of these big concentrations of power I mean one of the criticisms that people have made of that is that well you're just setting the clock back essentially a cup maybe a decade or two but eventually they're just going to reconsolidate as a matter of fact that's of course what are the points that Marx always makes is that there's a concentration of capital and tendencies towards monopolies and wouldn't the perhaps better strategy in that case be an actual not necessarily state takeover but certainly for example we could say are at perhaps or argue perhaps that a social media platform such as Facebook or a search platform such as Google or a distribution platform such as Amazon are actually forms of public utilities and therefore should be turned over to the users essentially not necessarily in the form of a state nationalization but actually more in the form of something like Wikipedia let's say in other words turned over to the people who are actually using it and benefiting from it and a matter of fact that argument could be made because it's it's good that they're big because that's where we get the benefit and we're having one search platform having one social media having one distributor makes sense from a you know efficiency perspective at their very least so you don't need to go to ten different places and comparison shop or or to need ten different kinds of social media platforms what do you think of that argument I think that's an interesting argument and I think that to some degree what you see for instance in the Labor Party in Britain right now McDonnell is proposing that there be a fund which will gradually give workers control over the corporations in which they work because the work on the thesis that the productivity of the corporation resides with the workers not with the capitalists and this was of course the thrust of the Meitner plan sort of sort of back in Sweden in which each year by year a certain amount of the worker remuneration was put into purchasing the stock of the corporation so that after about 20 years the corporation would be totally controlled by by the workers so I think there are ways of starting to think about taking over or splitting up the power whichever way you go you're going to disempower a capitalist class and that has to be the ultimate objective it seems to me of the left politics which is to disempower it one way or the other no way you're proposing it's one way to try and do it the other way is to break it up and kind of say alright we want to go back to the original format of the internet where the lower peer-to-peer individual kind of it was almost an anarchistic utopia for a little while but then that ultimately gets consolidated and you're right that there's no such thing as a move you can make which there won't be a counter move and therefore this idea that once you've got that you're the home-free know there will be a constant kind of attempt to rebuild traditional centers of economic and political power okay well we're going to leave it there for now thanks so much David for having joined us yeah and thank you for joining the real news network


  1. Fred Slocombe
    Fred Slocombe July 9, 2019

    06:54 Complete Capitalist Class Expropriation.

  2. Paul Bye
    Paul Bye July 9, 2019

    Greg looks maaaad nervous interviewing Harvey. Really important question he asked though, and, of course, a great response.

  3. ron anthony
    ron anthony July 9, 2019

    This asshole does not know he is part of the failing system.
    No wonder it keeps failing.

  4. Theosphilus Thistler
    Theosphilus Thistler July 9, 2019

    Neoliberal persists because it was never an experiment. It's an experiment to the extent that whales are helping Japan do science.
    And yes, the vestigial "left" has now been completely absorbed into neoliberalism. There can never be social justice without economic justice while achieving economic justice automatically increases social justice, but the left surrendered any fight for economic justice and allowed itself to be reshaped into a social justice movement which only serves to steangthen neoliberalism. It does this in 2 ways. Those social policies allowed into the Overton window are those which potentially increase the market (such as gay marriage or corporatising marijuana). Meanwhile the social justice movement divides and alienates people, driving them back to the social right, which is also even more economically right. So the political cycle is now a ratchet, a python coil, which ever tightens the grip of neoliberalism.As for the point about the welfare state having entrenched class systems. Having lived in one of the stronger welfare states of last century that sounds like complete bollocks. The welfare state was what made social mobility possible. Class barriers almost entirely disappeared here under the welfare state but quickly re-emerged with its demise.

  5. Grizzly
    Grizzly July 9, 2019

    They have all the narratives. That’s the problem. They have all the narratives – we don’t. “Democratic socialism“ is all we have and it simply falls on its face. We need the invention and creation and creativity of creating a new narrative that speaks for itself quickly, effectively, and efficiently. Realistically, the only way this is going to happen is by first having a colossal break up of someone like Facebook or Google or Amazon that returns a portion of such an entity back to a public utility as it were. Once that happens, a new “model“ is created. Much in keeping with Buckminster Fuller‘s famous saying about creating a new model to make the old model obsolete.
    In my opinion, Facebook is the obvious first test pilot entity. Followed by the Internet itself.
    Remember, “The first thing that change needs to change – is the words we use.“-GM

  6. Lance Rexington
    Lance Rexington July 9, 2019

    Fake News

  7. BigBennKlingon
    BigBennKlingon July 9, 2019

    13 min and 4 seconds of 2 guys talking about the futility of reform while avoiding talking about revolution.

  8. Troy Walker The Progressive Proletariat
    Troy Walker The Progressive Proletariat July 9, 2019

    yes, "the state", needs to clawback everything from private entities. patents, tech, everything. take back the airwaves, take back the fate of nations

  9. Troy Walker The Progressive Proletariat
    Troy Walker The Progressive Proletariat July 9, 2019

    social democracy was never attempted with our current level of technology. social democracy has never been attempted worldwide. you cant do it half ass. one cannot serve two masters faithfully.

  10. Brian Booker
    Brian Booker July 9, 2019

    I've been doing a deep dive on the structure and evolution of Capitalism and Dr. Harvey, the [email protected] team and the TRNN team have played a valuable role in my current thesis of the structure of Capital in motion. This is my current thesis; it is a dialectic in its truest form; in search of a critique; an antithesis; which leads to a synthesis and a new thesis. Capitalism evolved from Feudalism; a class social structure of Aristocracy; the land owner and everybody else as ordained by the Church. Capitalism; Industrialization is a class structure ordained by Liberalism and the classical economic model. Industrialization creates value and the individual with accumulated value becomes the Aristocracy of Capitalism. This form of Capitalism requires money as Capital and accumulated value takes the form of accumulated money. As Capitalism evolves money Capital in the form of Finance starts to represent more and more of the value; the social component of Capitalism and this is ordained by the neo-classical economic model and a neo-liberal logic. The Capitalism verses Socialism debate revolves around the individual defining the collective or the collective defining the individual. What seems to be happening is more of a Hegelian conceptual idealism evolution. The universe (our climate emergency) is defining our society (Capitalism is collapsing) and our new post Carbon/Capitalist reality will define who we are as individuals. This may not be my thesis tomorrow but I'm sure it will be a synthesis of this logic.

  11. Grizzly
    Grizzly July 9, 2019

    So insightful and clarifying. Needed to be said to better focus remedy…movement…change.

  12. blackiron60
    blackiron60 July 9, 2019

    The seizure of state power by working class and oppressed people is the only way forward. The only way to build a livable future. The fact that so many on the left view this as taboo and fall into lukewarm social-democratic proposals that never worked in the 60s and 70s, let alone in the 21st Century, is a major problem that we face today. The collapse of Syriza in Greece should be a wake-up call.

  13. gaijin geisha
    gaijin geisha July 9, 2019

    Go somewhere else to fail again. We will not allow traitors to experiment on the United States. We the people will keep our constitutional republic that honors private property and allows individual freedom. We will keep our constitution that allows the government very limited powers.

  14. Learn MMT
    Learn MMT July 9, 2019

    Austerity is murder. Neoliberalism is economic fascism.
    BONNIE FAULKNER: You’ve already touched on this, but why has the World Bank traditionally been headed by a U.S. secretary of defense?

    MICHAEL HUDSON: Its job is to do in the financial sphere what, in the past, was done by military force. The purpose of a military conquest is to take control of foreign economies, to take control of their land and impose tribute. The genius of the World Bank was to recognize that it’s not necessary to occupy a country in order to impose tribute, or to take over its industry, agriculture and land. Instead of bullets, it uses financial maneuvering. As long as other countries play an artificial economic game that U.S. diplomacy can control, finance is able to achieve today what used to require bombing and loss of life by soldiers.

  15. Learn MMT
    Learn MMT July 9, 2019

    Ever wonder why neoliberalism began right after the civil rights movement of the 60's and a black female Congress member, Shirley Chisholm, ran for president in '72 (first female ever on the Dem ticket)?

    Dems, if they were true to their party, should be fighting to end this 45 year economic policy that intended to fasten economic chains around the middle to lower classes… and it worked. Our middle class is nearly gone.

    Neoliberalism (created by libertarians) was the end of using fiscal policy for public purpose, no more gov't investment in the public sector. This separated economics from democracy and politics so that progressives would have no real chance at changing anything. Without fiscal policy, there is no healthy society.

    "Since World War II, libertarians (who created neoliberalism) have resolutely stood on the wrong side of racial justice, I see no reason to believe they have a grasp of it now."

    Milton Friedman’s Economic Racism

    The godfather of neoclassical economics ignored the market forces of discrimination and slavery.

  16. Andrew
    Andrew July 9, 2019

    Is this a jailhouse interview?

  17. Bazarov
    Bazarov July 9, 2019

    Is it possible to have a system in which certain enterprises are allowed to remain private and profit-driven until they grow to a point and undergo a mandatory process of nationalization? Has anyone written about this? I have a theory — nothing terribly sophisticated but something I've been thinking about — that profit-driven enterprises can be effective at generating growth and innovation until they become too big for their own good, whereby they just become bloated bureaucracies that ride on their former glory. Take Apple as an example of a company that hasn't justified its existence in years and hasn't made anything that isn't a retread of some old ideas in at least a decade. Imagine instead a society where such enterprises can exist, but for a short span of time until they outlive their usefulness. Like all profit-driven enterprises they are exploitative, but perhaps exploitation could be minimized in a society where a social safety net is robust, including free healthcare and education, in a world where a person can leave a job if they feel they are mistreated without their life going up in flames. In other words, a society in which "little capitalisms", if you will, exist in an otherwise state-regulated context. There would of course also be other kinds of jobs — jobs with the state, worker cooperatives experimenting with direct democracy, etc. I often wonder if worker cooperatives can thrive as well as some people think, or whether they inevitably turn into bureaucractic messes in which growth is undermined by squabbles over accessibility.

  18. John Ellis
    John Ellis July 9, 2019

    Most profound, as government is nothing more that the organized morality of society, this reality should be the number one topic of both church and state, and yet, both are dead silent about it.

  19. Dan A
    Dan A July 9, 2019

    The too big to fail experience showed us the reality is these multi national corporations get too big in our current caplistist system. The solution is either to force a regulatory maximize size for corporations or to nationalize the services. I would choose a maximum allowed size and to break up any company which chooses to grow beyond that maximum safe size where their failure will not endanger the rest of our economy.

  20. John Ellis
    John Ellis July 9, 2019

    The more intelligent upper-half of society has always hoarded all of the land, wealth, political power and healthcare, the root cause of there being a 50% working poor and a killer-cop police state needed to enforce it. Six (6) absolute physical facts that cannot in sincerity be denied. Therefore, government is nothing more than the organized morality of society.

    So, as life is a free gift that no one deserves, which means that everything we have is a gift from nature that we do not deserve, the very idea of ownership is pure corruption and the root cause of capitalism.

    And so, we own nothing, everything we have belongs to those who have less and we must give all we can give to those in a lower class.

    And so, until society sees the light and is willing to give up all the glory and power in wealth, to be in harmony with nature and gain any reward due to the harmless, let us be pacifist vegetarians with just enough for a comfortable life.

  21. Robert Bennett
    Robert Bennett July 9, 2019

    The idea that a "Free Market" was spun off by neoliberalism is demonstrably false. Never has the "Market" been micromanaged to such a degree (2019) in order to prevent its total collapse. There are many key historic events to blame, especially the creation of the Private Federal Reserve, but Reagan under the control of his handler Don Regan took major steps toward the creation of a dysfunctional and corrupt Financial Monstrosity. Clinton put some significant nails in the coffin with the repeal of the Glass-Steagull Act and now the US is faced with the unfolding worst Financial Crisis in history. Neoliberalism and the ZioCons have effectively sold the Republic for 30 pieces of silver.

  22. Adam Stark
    Adam Stark July 9, 2019

    You guys have to fix your upload volume, it plays only half as loud as every other video

  23. thecaveofthedead
    thecaveofthedead July 9, 2019

    I work for NGOs and I fully agree. Committed though many people in them are, they work to excuse the non-delivery of states.

  24. Russell E Simonetta
    Russell E Simonetta July 9, 2019

    It,s pretty dismal. The neolib arm of the dems are making a stand against against the progressives. We the people must make the changes. We must drive the dems progressive. .

  25. MGTOW1968
    MGTOW1968 July 9, 2019

    All Social media companies are heavily tilted to the left.

  26. Doctor Forbin
    Doctor Forbin July 9, 2019

    smash the capitalist and the state

  27. marsmotion
    marsmotion July 9, 2019

    we need banks to only be public utilities instead of the predators we have now. and we need interest free money backed by real assets like gold so the foreign adventurism can be stopped.

  28. 九初
    九初 July 9, 2019

    9:25 well said~

  29. 九初
    九初 July 9, 2019

    people vs capital ===> you lose
    people+state vs capital===> a chance to win

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