The Great Global Reset: Back to the Welfare State

By Pasqualina Curcio on June 7, 2021

It is not by chance that we have recently heard rulers and UN spokespersons tirelessly referring to the Welfare State and the need for a new “social contract”. They frame this discourse in the post-pandemic world and in what they have called “a new normal”. It is not that it is fashionable to talk about the “Welfare State” and that is why they repeat it, no, they are following a line, a decision, that comes, no more and no less, from the no more than 1,000 great billionaires and world leaders who annually meet at the Davos Economic Forum. The recent ECLAC report entitled “Social Panorama of Latin America 2020” is dedicated to the Welfare State, justifying its “necessary” creation in the Region within the framework of a new social contract demanded by the post-pandemic world. This initiative was discussed in January of this year in Switzerland, which Kkaus Schwab, founder and executive chairman of the World Economic Forum in Davos had already taken up in his book “Covid-19: The Great Reset” published in October 2020.

Although hard to believe, Schwab says: “…the post-pandemic era will usher in a period of ‘massive redistribution’ of wealth…covid-19 is likely to be the death knell of neoliberalism. Massive redistribution’ and the abandonment of neoliberal policies will have a definite impact on the organization of our societies, ranging from how inequalities can stimulate social unrest to the increasing role of governments and the redefinition of social contracts…policy solutions exist and, in general, consist of adapting the Welfare State to today’s world.”

The “global reset” proposal has nothing to do with the pandemic. Already in January 2019 the headlines were: “Davos calls for a new social contract for the survival of the welfare state”. In 2016 the meeting theme in Switzerland was: “change, the new normal”. In 2018 two articles were published in the IMF’s Finance and Development Review: ‘Redesigning the Welfare State’ and ‘A New Social Contract’. They have been forging this plan for some time and the pandemic fell like a glove. It is striking that it is the capitalists themselves who are revising neoliberalism and proposing a return to the Welfare State. What are they worried about? What are they up to? There are two great fears that surface in their writings and interventions:

Social unrest.

Schwab’s book reads: “One of the most profound dangers facing the post-pandemic era is unrest…when people have no jobs, no income, no prospects for a better life, they often resort to violence. If governments have to resort to the use of paramilitary or military forces to quell, for example, riots or attacks on property, societies could begin to disintegrate…the last two years, more than 100 major anti-government protests have taken place around the world.” They fear that the growing inequality will lead to a loss of confidence in political institutions, not only manifesting itself in social rebellions, but also in the migration of votes to left-wing political parties, as Thomas Piketty shows in his recent book: “Political cleavages and social inequalities”.

End of the rule of capital. The existence and domination of the bourgeoisie depends on its ability to continue accumulating and concentrating capital, which is only possible with the presence of wage labor. The great inequalities generated from the establishment of neoliberalism in the 80’s and the fact that 1% of the world population appropriates 84% of what is produced, has repercussions in the increasingly worse living conditions of the working class, reducing the possibility of consumption by the vast majority, affecting the levels of economic growth and therefore the accumulation of capital, in addition to the social discontent already mentioned. This is what really worries the bourgeoisie.

The Welfare State in history. These fears are not new, in fact, the Welfare State emerged in Germany during the nineteenth century in the time of Otto von Bismarck in the face of the danger posed by the emergence of working class militancy with revolutionary ideas promoted by Karl Marx. It originated with the protection of workers in the form of social insurance to appease them and contain socialism. In the 1930s, after the Great Depression, Roosevelt established the New Deal in the United States, whose objectives were social protection for workers and to calm/quiet the working class.

Schwab states: “During the Cold War, the governments of the capitalist countries were so worried about a communist rebellion that they put in place a state-directed model to prevent it”. It was after the dissolution of the USSR at the end of the 1980s that the fear of the eventual advance and consolidation of socialism disappeared and with it the Welfare State gave way to neoliberalism, which took hold worldwide.

At the beginning of the 21st century, panic began to spread again. A ghost was haunting our America. In Venezuela, the Bolivarian Revolution declared itself anti-imperialist and socialist, a bad example for the Region, to which followers began to join in a world context characterized by the escalation of poverty and misery.

Today, the frightened billionaires are willing to cede, by way of taxes, some of their profits (a pinch of the 84% they appropriate of world production) so that the States intervene in the economy with a specific objective: to guarantee subsistence (health, education, housing) to the workers so that they can continue producing and reproducing themselves, can consume, but above all to keep them calm and distracted and are not thinking of revolutions and devising changes in the exploitative capitalist mode of production.

Venezuela: Welfare State or Socialism?

Fortunately, the Venezuelan people are very clear and know that, one thing is the Welfare State, which as a historical strategy, within the framework of capitalism, has tried to placate and contain revolutions with gifts, and quite another is Socialism.

That the State should intervene in the economy is a debate more than surpassed by Venezuelans, which was concretized in the 1999 Constitution and in the last years of revolutionary experience. Since 22 years ago, the universality and gratuity of social security in our country was constitutionally recognized in its broad concept (health, pensions, housing, unemployment, education, food, recreation, among others).

For the Venezuelan people, the project is of greater scope, it goes far beyond simple reforms that seek to disguise the intervention of a State that claims to offer welfare in an environment of exploitation. The project is Bolivarian and can be summarized in one phrase: “Independence and Socialist Homeland”. There are those in Davos and those of the ECLAC trying to confuse in order to save and reset capitalism with a false face of welfare.

Source: Ultimas Noticias, translation Resumen Latinoamericano – English