Politics in the Welfare State

Politics in the Welfare State

One day, not soon, the welfare state will extend its benefits to all those men and women who are at present its occasional victims, its nominal or partial members. That day will not be the end of political history. But it will represent the end of a particular history, and one in which socialists have been very much involved, if not always on our own terms.

It is worth reflecting on what that day will be like—what will we want then?— even while we fight to perfect the system of benefits and argue among ourselves about the best strategies. For we are not entering, we are not going to enter, the new world of state-administered prosperity all at once. It is in the nature of the welfare state, I think, that men break into it in groups, some sooner, some much later, some with only moderate difficulty, some after long and bloody struggles. Many of us are inside already, better served by machines and bureaucrats than men ever were by servants and slaves. What do we want now?

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Lima