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Frances Fox Piven
Is It Global Economics or Neo-Laissez-Faire?
For Ralph Miliband, socialism was more than an intellectual and theoretical preoccupation. [*] He was intensely concerned with socialism as a practical political project, and with the key element of that project, working-class power. I would be less than respectful of Miliband’s lifelong commitment if I did not acknowledge that, conceived in this way, the socialist project is foundering. The symptoms are obvious. Unions, the bedrock of working-class power, are on the defensive, and in most advanced capitalist countries have begun to lose members.  Left parties are in disarray, and losing elections. Welfare-state protections are under assault in campaigns to make the labour market more ‘flexible’, with the consequence that coverage is being narrowed, and expenditures are falling, particularly for the crucial programmes that reach the active labour force.  And economic inequalities are growing. In Britain, where the richest 1 per cent of the population owns 18 per cent of the nation’s wealth, fully half the population now lives in households that receive means-tested benefits.  And in the United States, where wages have been falling steadily, especially for the less skilled, and real poverty is increasing sharply, the richest 1 per cent now owns nearly 40 per cent of wealth. 
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