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Politics against pessimism

Social democratic possibilities since Ernst Wigforss

Geoff Dow and Winton Higgins

Neoliberalism has now failed, so can a social democratic resurgence replace it? This book retrieves the political thought of Swedish politician Ernst Wigforss to explore the unrealised potential of social democracy. Wigforss drew on many schools of thought to produce an alternative social democratic strategy.
It outflanked economic liberalism, allowed his party to dominate Swedish politics for a half-century, and his country to achieve affluence and social equity as converging rather than competing objectives.
OECD economies have since evolved political capacities – the welfare state, corporatist regulation, expanded citizen entitlements, civic amenity – far in excess of pessimistic evaluations offered by mainstream analyses. This book suggests that such developments confirm Wigforss’s ideas, confounding conventional pessimism.
Full employment, social equity, economic democracy, new political institutions, and transformative economic management are now more imaginable than ever in western countries. But their achievement depends on a radical reformist political mobilisation of the kind that Wigforss inspired, one which integrates these aspirations as mutually reinforcing goals.

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Index 463

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463 Index action programme (for the SAP) 81, 106, 126, 129, 131, 135, 141, 146, 150, 219, 383 active labour market policy 172, 237, 239, 355, 387 Ådalen (1931) 147 affluence, state-building responsibilities 378 After Atlantis (Lindblom 1951), Wigforss’s review 203–208 age of catastrophe (1914–1945) 419 ‘agentless trend’ (structural expansion of the state) 32, 280, 288, 301, 308, 310–312, 332–339 anti-economic liberalism (in Wigforss’s thought) 30, 33 anti-economic-liberal intellectual traditions 344, 421 anti-inflation arrangements, dismantling 386 anti-keynesian counter-revolution 408 ‘bastard keynesianism’ 177 Bauman, Z. on utopian visions 52, 54, 217 on the Holocaust and modernity 91 Bentham, J. 37, 42–43, 163 Bernstein, E. (revisionism) 22, 62, 63–64, 83, 136 Beveridge, W. 118, 171, 300, 385–386 Branting, H. 20, 58, 61, 65, 68, 79, 86, 99, 128, 176, 267 Bretton Woods discussions 179, 331 Britain’s industrial future (1928) 117 budget deficits and surpluses since the 1990s 237, 290–293 surpluses not abnormal 290, 293 bureaucratic competences 366 Calvinism without God 205–206 Can we afford to work? (1932) 147, 149 capital controls 421 capital formation, links to efficiency, equality, freedom 221 capital’s anti-rationalism 357 capital’s contributions to progress diminishing 345 capital’s ‘historic mission’ 343, 348, 351 capital’s hostility to egalitarian wages 253 capital’s hostility to public sector growth 154 capital’s hostility to ameliorative counter- tendencies 410 capitalism and labour 349, 392 as system (rationalistic) 348 defining features 26, 277, 348 its embeddedness 344 pure vs actual 310–312, 349, 354, 395, 414 capitalist dynamics...

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