imc indymedia

Los Angeles Indymedia : Activist News

white themeblack themered themetheme help
About Us Contact Us Calendar Publish RSS
latest news
best of news




A-Infos Radio

Indymedia On Air

Dope-X-Resistance-LA List


IMC Network:

Original Cities africa: ambazonia canarias estrecho / madiaq kenya nigeria south africa canada: hamilton london, ontario maritimes montreal ontario ottawa quebec thunder bay vancouver victoria windsor winnipeg east asia: burma jakarta japan korea manila qc europe: abruzzo alacant andorra antwerpen armenia athens austria barcelona belarus belgium belgrade bristol brussels bulgaria calabria croatia cyprus emilia-romagna estrecho / madiaq euskal herria galiza germany grenoble hungary ireland istanbul italy la plana liege liguria lille linksunten lombardia london madrid malta marseille nantes napoli netherlands nice northern england norway oost-vlaanderen paris/Île-de-france patras piemonte poland portugal roma romania russia saint-petersburg scotland sverige switzerland thessaloniki torun toscana toulouse ukraine united kingdom valencia latin america: argentina bolivia chiapas chile chile sur cmi brasil colombia ecuador mexico peru puerto rico qollasuyu rosario santiago tijuana uruguay valparaiso venezuela venezuela oceania: adelaide aotearoa brisbane burma darwin jakarta manila melbourne perth qc sydney south asia: india mumbai united states: arizona arkansas asheville atlanta austin baltimore big muddy binghamton boston buffalo charlottesville chicago cleveland colorado columbus dc hawaii houston hudson mohawk kansas city la madison maine miami michigan milwaukee minneapolis/st. paul new hampshire new jersey new mexico new orleans north carolina north texas nyc oklahoma philadelphia pittsburgh portland richmond rochester rogue valley saint louis san diego san francisco san francisco bay area santa barbara santa cruz, ca sarasota seattle tampa bay tennessee urbana-champaign vermont western mass worcester west asia: armenia beirut israel palestine process: fbi/legal updates mailing lists process & imc docs tech volunteer projects: print radio satellite tv video regions: oceania united states topics: biotech

Surviving Cities africa: canada: quebec east asia: japan europe: athens barcelona belgium bristol brussels cyprus germany grenoble ireland istanbul lille linksunten nantes netherlands norway portugal united kingdom latin america: argentina cmi brasil rosario oceania: aotearoa united states: austin big muddy binghamton boston chicago columbus la michigan nyc portland rochester saint louis san diego san francisco bay area santa cruz, ca tennessee urbana-champaign worcester west asia: palestine process: fbi/legal updates process & imc docs projects: radio satellite tv
printable version - js reader version - view hidden posts - tags and related articles

Reforming or Dismantling the Welfare State

by Christoph Butterwegge Wednesday, Nov. 29, 2006 at 1:50 PM

The neoliberal residual state is more a criminal than a welfare state..The welfare state that has constitutional rank in Germany is now without intrinsic value for neoliberals and subject to the location logic of economic and power interests.


Changes of the Justice Term on the Way to the Alms- and Soup-Kitchen-State

By Christoph Butterwegge

[This article published in: NachDenkenSeiten, 11/23/2006 is translated from the German on the World Wide Web, Professor Christoph Butterwegge is director of political science at the University of Koln.]

The current “reorganization” discussion involves the most extensive attack on the welfare state in its ten-year old form. A different state is on the political agenda, not merely a lesser state. What is occurring is by no means the liquidation of the welfare state but its reorganization according to a neoliberal concept with benefit reductions (e.g. “zero rounds” for pensioners), intensified claim prerequisites (e.g. raising the initial pension age), reducing applicability times (e.g. unemployment benefits) and re-individualization of social risks.


The welfare state is essentially changed in several regards by measures euphemistically called “reforms.”

From the welfare state comes a “national competition state” (Joachim Hirsch) intent on promoting the competitiveness of its “own” economic location on the world market, growth and employment by its policy. The welfare state that actually has constitutional rank is now without intrinsic value for neoliberals and subject to the location-logic of economic and power interests. This is manifest in debates on loosening termination protection and weakening collective bargaining agreements. Competition also enters the welfare state since almost all social areas are restructured in the course of economization, privatization and liberalization according to the model of the market (e.g. competition between free-non-profit and private-commercial actors in outpatient nursing services).

From the welfare state comes a minimal state. The “sleek state” as designed in neoliberalism is rather emaciated as to social policy though by no means free from bureaucratic excesses. Quite the contrary! Benefit cuts and intensified claim prerequisites go along with structural changes necessitating more state administration and not only more market.

The neoliberal residual state is more a criminal- than a welfare state because the drastic reduction of welfare forces repression of those groups who as modernization- or globalization-losers become victims of a backward-oriented “reform policy.” The less generous are the social benefits of a rich society, the more powerful must be its security apparatus. What is saved in welfare goes for measures against drug abuse, criminality and violence.

An “activating” welfare state no longer subsidizing the needy without return favors replaces the active welfare state strongly influenced by communitarism, an American school of thought. The “welfare state” changes to the “workfare state” when work pressure becomes the center of employment- and social policy. Those directly affected by unemployment are made responsible themselves for their fate in a jobs crisis where millions of jobs are lacking - not persons willing to work. Despite the nice-sounding motto “Promote and Demand!” that makes the benefit law dependent on return favors of the beneficiaries, the chances of the socially disadvantaged are not improved as in retraining when the German agency for labor (earlier institute for labor) concentrates on the highly qualified and relatively easily adaptable. The main problem groups of the labor market (long-term unemployed, seniors and vocational returnees) are practically excluded from the training- and incentive measures.

Since its founding by Otto von Bismarck, the German social (insurance) state aimed at protecting male industrial workers with their families from standard risks like death of the breadwinner, invalidity and poverty in old age. This state is made a welfare-, alms- and soup kitchen state that only grants a base provision without maintaining the living standard of its clientele. With its abolition of unemployment assistance, Hartz IV was very inadequately characterized as “consolidation with income support,” an important interim step and an historical turning point in the development of labor- and social law. While “personal responsibility,” “self-support” and “private initiative” are extolled, public irresponsibility and additional burdens of employees and pensioners occur.

In the following point, the social-political post-modern has medieval characteristics of a partial re-feudalization. The German society falls behind the political achievements of the 19th and 20th centuries through the gradual re-individualization, re-privatization and shifting of social risks to families. CDU general secretary Ronald Pofalla anticipated this with his proposal that parents should help their (adult) children when they are jobless and (adult) children should aid their unemployed parents.

At the same time the community is split in a welfare market and a welfare state. On the welfare market, citizens who are financially solvent buy the measure of social security within their means. The post-modern welfare state provides minimum benefits described as “basic security” preserving people from starving and freezing. Otherwise they are handed over to private charity. Thus charitable engagement, voluntary activity in the social area, readiness to donate and establishment of non-profit foundations are in a boom season.


Justice represents the standard for the (in-) equality accepted in a society. With the neoliberal plans for reorganizing or dismantling the welfare state (in concepts like the so-called Hartz- or Rurup commissions and Gerhard Schroeder’s “Agenda 2010,” the ideas of justice in effect in society for a long time are being basically changed. Reforms of this kind had hardly any chance of gaining mass acceptance. The dominant justice term was modified in several regards. Its content shifted from need- to “performance-justice,” from distribution- to “participation-justice,” and from social- to “generational-justice.”

Instead of need-justice, performance-justice is made the criterion for welfare state action. The neoliberal hegemony in society turns previously binding ideas of equality and justice upside down. While social balance between social classes and strata was previously the goal of state policy, the victor types are entitled to everything today and less and less is given to the “unwilling” or “unable” according to the official version. For neoliberal economists, established parties and politicians, social justice is essentially a location-risk. They prefer freedom interpreted as capital owners’ possibility of investing how and where they will. The whole tax system should be adjusted to rewarding so-called “performers” and relieving them more than ever to strengthen “location Germany.” Such a tax system is hardly compatible with the welfare state principle of the German constitution.

Simultaneously sharing or participatory justice replaces distribution justice as a traditional goal of welfare state policy. People should have equal access to educational institutions and the labor market. While expanding the justice term toward “participatory justice” may be sensible, the latter can hardly serve as a substitute since participatory justice is undermined by social inequality. No extensive political participation can occur without social emancipation. No participatory justice is possible without a greater measure of distribution justice. In our time when money is more important than ever in nearly all areas of life and is distributed more unequally than ever, its importance for sharing in social life should diminish. People must receive money in unemployment, sickness or old age as social- or pay compensation from the welfare state so they can live in freedom (from distress), satisfy their needs and realize their plans.

While the fronts of social-political conflict have worn off, new constellations arise that emphasize analysis. Deficient generational justice is decried. People often act as though the “classical” antagonism between capital and labor has been superseded by a new basic contradiction between young and old and class struggle by a “war of the generations.” What is involved is a dramatization of the social distribution battle that – fought on the backs of pensioners – diverts from the real problems like the unjust distribution of income and assets. Child poverty is misused to play the rising generation against the pensioner generation and demand renunciation on higher incomes or benefit cuts from the latter.

The social polarization, a consequence of a restructuring of almost all areas of life according to the model of the market, affects all age groups. Poverty goes along with growing prosperity and represents its backside, if you will. The dividing social wall does not separate young and old but runs more than ever between poor and rich – independent of generation!

Report this post as:

Local News

Change Links September 2018 posted S02 10:22PM

More Scandals Rock Southern California Nuke Plant San Onofre A30 11:09PM

Site Outage Friday A30 3:49PM

Change Links August 2018 A14 1:56AM

Setback for Developer of SC Farm Land A12 11:09PM

More problems at Shutdown San Onofre Nuke J29 10:40PM

Change Links 2018 July posted J09 8:27PM

More Pix: "Families Belong Together," Pasadena J02 7:16PM

"Families Belong Together" March, Pasadena J02 7:08PM

Short Report on the Families Belong Together Protest in Los Angeles J30 11:26PM

Summer 2018 National Immigrant Solidarity Network News Alert! J11 6:58AM

Watch the Debate: Excluded Candidates for Governor of California M31 5:20AM

Change Links June 2018 posted M28 7:41AM

The Montrose Peace Vigil at 12 Years M22 8:01PM

Unity Archive Project M21 9:42AM

Dianne Feinstein's Promotion of War, Secret Animal Abuse, Military Profiteering, Censorshi M17 10:22PM

CA Senate Bill 1303 would require an independent coroner rather than being part of police M10 9:08PM

Three years after OC snitch scandal, no charges filed against sheriffs deputies M10 8:57PM

California police agencies violate Brown Act (open meetings) M02 8:31PM

Insane Company Wants To Send Nuke Plant Waste To New Mexico A29 11:47PM

Change Links May 2018 A27 8:40AM

Worker-Owned Car Wash on Vermont Closed A27 5:37AM


lausd whistle blower A11 6:58AM

Website Upgrade A10 10:02AM

Help KCET and UCLA identify 60s-70s Chicano images A04 8:02PM

UCLA Luskin: Casting Youth Justice in a Different Light A02 6:58PM

Change Links April 2018 A01 6:27PM

More Local News...

Other/Breaking News

Antrhopocène, le grand effondrement S19 9:53AM

Creative Destruction Hack Diamonds Windows/iOS/Android - Creative Destruction Generator S19 12:51AM

Abolir l'économie S18 11:18AM

The Dictatorship of Corporations S17 5:26PM

18 Lethal Consequences Of Hunting S17 3:13PM

Paraphysique de l'outplacement déontologue S15 6:51AM

Creative Destruction Hack Mod Generator S15 3:49AM

Shopping du bashing S14 8:42AM

After Lehman Brothers, Experts Say Global Financial Crisis Can Happen Again S13 8:28PM

“Animaniacs in Concert!” Starring Voice Legend Rob Paulsen S12 9:30PM

Probabilités de fin d'humanité S12 6:49AM

Florida Area of Migrant Farmworkers Denied Right to Construct Health Clinic near NaplesCIW S11 2:57AM

Propagande de virus, virus de propagande S10 7:34AM

Steer clear of work morality! S09 12:10PM

Sweatshop Lodge Ceremony Continues in US Fed Prisons Led by Inmates S08 6:17PM

Paraphysique de l'origami S08 7:11AM

The Shortwave Report 09/07/18 Listen Globally! S06 11:23PM

August 2018 Honduras Coup update S06 12:28PM

Du réussissement putréfié S06 10:55AM

Brett Kavanaugh Filled The 5th Circuit With Execution Judges S06 6:14AM

Log S06 4:25AM

Augusta Georgia Woman Gets 5 Year Prison Sentence for Writing About Russians Crime Acts S05 8:29AM

Paraphysique de contextualité S05 8:29AM

Crisis Regulation in Global Capitalism S03 3:39PM

Ex-voto de réification S03 10:24AM

Please Oppose Warmonger, Execution and Torture Supporting Bush Operative Brett Kavanaugh A31 10:45PM

Paraphysique d'exploitation occultation A31 10:24PM

Ryan Zinke Is Charging Taxpayers For A Trophy Hunters' Council A31 2:10PM

More Breaking News...
© 2000-2018 Los Angeles Independent Media Center. Unless otherwise stated by the author, all content is free for non-commercial reuse, reprint, and rebroadcast, on the net and elsewhere. Opinions are those of the contributors and are not necessarily endorsed by the Los Angeles Independent Media Center. Running sf-active v0.9.4 Disclaimer | Privacy