Why Do We Expect More from Politics at a Time When It Is Supposedly Able to Do Less? Comparing Interwar Crisis Economics and Post-War Welfare Politics

Author: Carl Marklund
Institution: Södertörn University, Sweden
Year of publication: 2013
Source: Show
Pages: 170-190
DOI Address: https://doi.org/10.15804/kie.2013.06.09
PDF: kie/99/kie9909.pdf

Looming crisis, public discontent with privatization, and widening inequalities are factors which have historically set the electorate in favour of social democratic welfare policies. Today, however, these concerns rather appear to support new right-wing populist countermovements, even in the traditionally progressive Nordic countries. This article asks why there is not more explicit support of progressive policies, despite the presence of socio-economic factors which would normally favour such a policy shift , at least not just yet. In response to this query, the article first analyses the comparisons between the present crisis and the crisis of the 1930s with regard to alleged political inertia. It then reinterprets the contemporary political consequences of crisis by revisiting three classical social theorists who took pains at analysing the political responses to the economic crisis of the 1930s: Karl Popper, Gunnar Myrdal, and Karl Polanyi. On the basis of this revisitation of these three classics, the article argues that the combined effects of distrust in politics and the persistence of admittedly rolled-back welfare systems mutes the progressive reform potential of the present crisis.


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