Some Notes on the Future of Social Solidarity

Van den Berg, Alex

Ever since the end of what the French call les trentes glorieuses, wave after wave of
commentators has assured us that the future of social solidarity, in particular as expressed
in the welfare state that was largely constructed during that period, is bleak. First the ‘fiscal crisis’
resulting from the era of ‘stagflation’ was forecast to lead to an inevitable dismantling of the
welfare state (see, e.g., O’Connor 1973), then globalization was to force competing nations into
a ‘race to the bottom’ (Mishra 1999), then the introduction of the Euro was seen as a more or less
deliberate strategy to undermine Europe’s welfare states (Hay 2000; Martin and Ross 1999), and
now we are told that the Greek debt crisis is just the beginning of an inevitable wave of cutbacks
to get our collective fiscal houses in order again. It is “payback time” at last, according to a recent
article in the New York Times, as “The deficit crisis that threatens the euro has also undermined the
sustainability of the European standard of social welfare, built by left-leaning governments since
the end of World War II” (Erlanger 2010).

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Perspectives On Europe

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Academic Units
Council for European Studies
Published Here
November 3, 2016