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Research

 

(VI Congreso Red Española de Políticas sociales, Sevilla 16-17 February 2017)

In the current period of uncertainty and anxiety for the future, it gives confidence to look back at the not so far away past, in order to see what was possible then and what has been real only fifty years ago: national social pacts within developing welfare states in the North and global agreements on the need for social progress in the South. It is also good to remember that it is not the recent crisis of 2008 that has put an end to these pacts and agreements. Indeed, the real turn came with the crisis of the 1970s and the ‘structural adjustment’ programmes in the South from the 1980s onward. More recently and everywhere, social protection acquired a new meaning, aimed at ‘human capital’, protecting the most vulnerable while promoting markets and growth. What is new today, is that we are also faced with fundamental changes in modes of production and consequently changes on the labour markets. While several innovative proposals for social protection are being made, the need for a new and global social pact in order to promote the sustainability of life, for humans and for nature, is particularly urgent.

 

Nos encontramos ante la muerte de una de las mayores

 

 estafas ideológicas de los siglos recientes

 

(Álvaro García Linera, La Jornada, 28 de diciembre 2016)

 

The emergence of rentier capitalism

 

To all those who think ‘capitalism’ is the major obstacle to the success of the left and progressive forces, it may come as a surprise: capitalism continues to change and transform itself, to develop into something different from what it was before. And each time the left decides to better analyse what exactly is happening, ‘the enemy’ is taking one step ahead and succeeds in stopping all reflection on alternatives and strategies in order to surpass it.

 

To-day, this is happening once again. Thirty-five years after the introduction of neoliberalism which defined new rules for the functioning of the world, nearly two years after the IMF (International Monetary Fund) used the concept for the very first time and stated it might have perverse effects, the system is undergoing a metamorphosis and gives rise to political changes to which we are not prepared.

 

On the problems of debating with advocates of basic income

Discussing the question of basic income (BI) and social protection (SP) is a very delicate exercise. In the many debates I was involved in these past years, it was very rare to see  any convergence of ideas. Even if it should be clear for everyone who knows the social problems, that there are many points in both positions – in favour of BI or in favour of SP – that are perfectly compatible. It also happened many times that debates I myself tried to organise, could not take place because the people invited – advocates of BI – resigned at the last moment.

 

In this article, I will only speak about my own experience and I will try to look for explanations for the non-debates. There surely is a lot of semantic confusion, there clearly is a lot of ignorance about social protection and its mechanisms, there may also be some ‘post-truth’ elements, by which I mean that people state something they should know can never be true, and yes, I think that some people do not want to put their own beliefs into question. They are afraid of a confrontation with other beliefs.

 ‘Social Europe’ has followed a very bumpy road since the inception of the European Community. This is not only a consequence of the lack of competences at the European level, or the lack of ‘political will’ at the level of Heads of State and Governments, but also and mainly of the ideological tendencies that have permeated all policies for the past six decades.

 

Since the Treaty of Maastricht in 1992, most social movements in Europe have been demanding a ‘social and democratic’ Europe. However, never has it been clarified what this could or should mean. Even today, there are no clear demands on what precisely the European Union should do or not do. This article is meant to shed some light on the past, the present and the possible future of ‘social Europe’.[1]

 

 

The world of work is changing. The European Union already has a very high unemployment rate, especially for its young people (respectively around 10 and 20 %). Moreover, the new technological revolution probably will destroy millions of jobs in the near future and consequently destabilize society. With the development of ‘on demand labour’ a general precarization is in the making.

 

The only answer so far given to these negative developments, is the emergence of new forms ow production and work: cooperatives, collaborative and sharing economy, self-managed enterprises, P2P, etc. coupled with a demise of social protection and the introduction of a basic income for all. While it is far from clear that these new modes of production and protection can mean a real alternative to the existing world of work, progressive forces should carefully examine their potential for the construction of ‘another world’.

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