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Dismantling the social-democratic welfare state : common ground between (neo-)liberals and social conservatives

February 7, 2018

I linked to this previously, but want to re-emphasize it.

Jacobin’s Book review of Family Values: Between Neoliberalism and the New Social Conservatism, by Melinda Cooper.


A lot to chew on here.

The article works hard to emphasize an aspect of the contradictions of modern Democratic party ideology, one that was most obviously visible during the Bill Clinton presidency (though the article doesn’t look at that specifically).

On the one hand, mainstream Democratic ideology celebrates diversity and empowerment of disadvantaged groups. On the other hand, it must consistently defend the now 30-40 year old neoliberal movement, which systematically strips the nation-state of the ability to actually empower. In doing so, Democrats consistently find common ground with social conservative Republicans on issues of the governments’s role in economic matters.

This should be relevant to supporters of leftist third parties, or reformist Democratic candidates like Sanders.

I am not sure to what degree the dimension of “defending-vs-reforming attitudes toward family values” is a clear-cut fit here. For example, African Americans and Latinos tend to poll pretty conservative on these issues today, and I think so did the various champions of social-democratic redistributive policies, back when the US government was committed to such policies.

Nobody says it’s simple, but I guess that’s the point of reading stuff like this — Line up some more pieces of the puzzle. Build awareness of the balancing acts and sometimes-conflicting needs of different support groups (such as, belief in traditional family, vs neoliberal economics, vs aspects of social justice that may to some people be in opposition to one or the other). Save time for extra thought and care when trying to build a movement and articulate policy objectives in the next political cycle.


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