Welfare and the “Third Way”

Welfare and the “Third Way”

Robert Kennedy was fond of this quote from Camus: “Perhaps we cannot make this a world in which children are no longer tortured. But at least we can reduce the number of children who are tortured.”

In both the United States and Europe in the 1990s, we are told that the answer to such problems as the suffering of some of our children is a new politics that has been given the name of the Third Way. Championed by Bill Clinton and Tony Blair, it claims to be situated somewhere between old-style social democracy and neoliberalism.

The Third Way, we are told, involves the superiority of neither the government nor the corporate sector, but the partnership of both with a third force, civil society. The Third Way, we are told further, combines a belief in the dynamism of the free market with a commitment to social justice. A hallmark of that combination is said to be the end of entitlement politics, the end of people getting something for nothing, the end of the era in which rights exist without corresponding responsibilities.