For decades democratic socialists have debated whether it is desirable or possible to reform capitalist society. The fundamental question has hardly changed: does what has come to be known as the welfare state represent a new type of society, a suitable way station to socialism, or is it rather (as Michael Harrington has argued in these pages) “a new way of protecting the older order”? Our objective is to introduce a different way of approaching this debate and, in the process, to suggest some criteria for judging the policies of the Carter administration.
The key to evaluating “welfare state” measures is to recognize the imprecision of the term. It would be difficult to discover a modern Western regime to ...
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