The Associative Economy: Insights beyond the Welfare System and into Post-Capitalism

The Associative Economy: Insights beyond the Welfare System and into Post-Capitalism

The Associative Economy: Insights beyond the Welfare System and into Post-Capitalism

The Associative Economy: Insights beyond the Welfare System and into Post-Capitalism

Synopsis

Forty years after Gunnar Myrdal's seminal Beyond the Welfare State it is still little grasped in the reform debate that the whole structure and economies of our societies are being transformed. This book reasserts the importance of a new model.

Excerpt

Gunnar Myrdal back in 1960 published (following a series of lectures held at Yale University in 1958) a ‘little book’, which he entitled Beyond the Welfare State: Economic Planning in the Welfare States and its International Implications.

Almost forty years separate us from this work, and yet I feel I can still recommend its reading, because of its continuing topicality. In it, to be brief, the ‘crisis’ of the Welfare State was predicted in ‘rich and progressive Western countries’, unless the development of these countries was accompanied by the development of economic planning methods and integrated on an international scale.

This fundamental contribution by Myrdal has been almost ignored in the course of the wider debate which has taken place (in particular in the last two decades) on the ‘crisis’ and ‘future’ of the Welfare State.

This book does not intend to be other than a revisitation of the basic thesis of Myrdal, in the light of the further present development of the rich and progressive Western societies, and of the advancing crisis of the Welfare State. It is my opinion that the current debate on the crisis and future of the Welfare State and the possibilities of ‘resolving’ this crisis does not grasp any of the essential aspects of the changes which have intervened in the economy and in the structure of Western societies, and that this debate has not produced yet a clear vision (of Myrdal's type) of the appropriate routes which would need to be followed by governments of all types – whether left or right wing – in order to face the real needs for adaptation to the changes in fieri: starting from the introduction of techniques and procedures of decision-making at the various levels of political and public responsibility. These techniques and procedures I and others continue to call – as did Myrdal in his time – economic and social planning.

The current debate, on the other hand, although not devoid of interesting aspects here and there, seems instead obsessively paralyzed with various arguments and versions, by the vexata quaestio of the limits and failures, either of the ‘market’ or of the ‘state’, or of the non-market or non-state, i.e., a continued rigmarole in favour of or against public intervention, and how ‘mixed’ the private and public economy should be. And this occurs without taking into consideration the substantial or ‘real’ objectives to be achieved; and how they should be achieved and through which suitable instruments and inevitable alternative choices (called ‘Public Policies’) by public decision-makers or institutions.

Myrdal's basic thesis, therefore, pervades the whole development of this book.

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