Reflections on the Welfare State

Reflections on the Welfare State

The New Utopia

The technicians claim that a general use of nuclear energy in industry could bring about a reduction of the work day to two or three hours. It is not easy to predict how men will use the resulting surplus of energy. Strangely, no politician has so far given his opinion as to the social consequences of this possibility. Even those politicians who are traditionally tied to nineteenth-century utopias prefer not to think about it. Their perplexity is easily understood, for one is able to imagine how it would be possible to keep alive the Order and the Hierarchies (even the New Order and the New Class) in a society where the whole population is free from the burden of physical labor and is idle twentytwo hours out of twenty-four. Nuclear energy for public welfare may be as frightening a perspective as the atomic war.

The Negation of the Negation

One can never be wary enough of the illusion of logical and consequential reasoning. Although for a century the terminology of the dialectic has been abused, few men understand the nature of contradiction. Consider the fate of democracy. Since it represents, first of all, the rights of society against the expansionism of the state, democracy should logically imply an order in which the concentration of power is minimized. But in order to supply the neediest classes of society with everincreasing public assistance, the forces of democracy work to the advantage of the state, and thus to their own ruin. Social democracy stifles political democracy. Note that we are here talking of principles, and not of the struggles of parties which call themselves democratic. A society able to assist itself, to promote the welfare of its members, through a plurality of mutual and free associations, could also give life to the democratic principles of self-government. But this its mediocre representatives, suffering from chronic worship of the state, cannot do.