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Democratic Equality

Democratic Equality: What Went Wrong?

Edited by Edward Broadbent
Copyright Date: 2001
Pages: 224
  • Book Info
    Democratic Equality
    Book Description:

    Are the world?s oldest democracies failing? In this extraordinary collection, top scholars in political science, sociology, philosophy and economics, discuss a radical shift towards inequality in an age of mass capital globalization.

    eISBN: 978-1-4426-7382-3
    Subjects: Political Science

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. ix-x)
  4. Contributors
    (pp. xi-xiv)
  5. Introduction
    (pp. xv-xxvi)

    Equality has always been seen as the core democratic value, and for a brief period in the twentieth century it actually became the guiding principle for many governments. Following the Second World War, virtually all of the North Atlantic democracies consciously adopted policies that were radically different from those of the pre-war years.¹ They did what many liberal theorists from James Madison to Friedrich Hayek had always feared: they politicized the distributional struggle of the market place. In the post-war decades, politicians from a variety of ideological backgrounds were no longer willing to accept the inequality and instability inherent to...

  6. Part One: An Overview

    • 1 Ten Propositions about Equality and Democracy
      (pp. 3-14)

      Democracy has been with us since the time of Pericles. However, the form of democracy most citizens of the world are familiar with at the close of the century, representative government within a nation state, is a mere two hundred years old. The modern welfare state, found principally in the North Atlantic region, is the youngest version yet of democracy. What distinguishes all forms of democracy, whether ancient or modern, from other kinds of society is the importance of equality. I offer ten propositions about democracy, equality, and the welfare state.

      Proposition One: Equality has been the value most persistently...

  7. Part Two: The Perspectives of Philosophy, Economics, and Sociology

    • 2 Understanding the Universal Welfare State: An Institutional Approach
      (pp. 17-30)

      In the comparative welfare state research, two major findings are of interest when thinking about the possible future of the welfare state. The first and most well-known of these findings is the differences which exist in the quality and scope of welfare state programs among the industrialized Western democracies (Esping-Andersen 1990). Quantitatively, in the mid-1990s, the Scandinavian countries spent almost twice as much as a percentage of gross domestic product (GDP) on social insurance and social assistance than did the United States (30 per cent compared to 14 per cent). Most other European countries fell somewhere in between. The less...

    • 3 The Partyʹs Over: What Now?
      (pp. 31-57)

      Canadian social democrats began the 1990s with unprecedented electoral success. Following elections in Ontario (in 1990) and in British Columbia and Saskatchewan (in 1991), New Democrats governed the majority of Canadians, at least at the provincial level. At the end of the decade, the Ontario New Democratic Party (NDP) had not only been defeated; its Queenʹs Park caucus was below the threshold required to maintain official party status. In British Columbia, the NDP tenuously clings to power at time of writing (November 2000) but, based on contemporary opinion polling, the party would suffer a humiliating defeat were an election held...

    • 4 Why Not Socialism?
      (pp. 58-78)
      G.A. COHEN

      The question that forms the title of this paper is not intended rhetorically. I begin by presenting what I believe to be a compelling preliminary case for socialism, and I then ask why that case might be thought to be merely preliminary, why, that is, it might, in the end, be defeated.

      To summarize more specifically: In Part I, I describe a context, which I call ʹthe camping trip,ʹ a context in which most people would, I think, strongly favour a socialist mode of organization over feasible alternatives. I proceed, in Part II, to specify two principles, one of equality...

    • 5 Welfare States and Democratic Citizenship
      (pp. 79-95)

      Democratic citizenship – autonomous and active membership in the political community – is inherently a matter of equality, of equality in the political realm.¹ How are different approximations to political equality related to inequality in other spheres of life? Are these interrelations enhanced or undercut by collective systems of social provision? These are the main questions addressed in this essay.

      Democratic welfare states revise the liberal conception of the good society: the triad of free markets, limited states, and universalist law. They enlarge the responsibility of the state and limit, but do not eliminate the role of the market. The...

    • 6 Equality, Community, and Sustainability
      (pp. 96-108)

      In the period from the end of the Second World War until its dismantling in recent years, the welfare state achieved a degree of equality and social justice that was unprecedented in North Atlantic capitalist societies. By balancing the endemic inequalities caused by a capitalist economy with redistributive and social security programs enacted through the nation-state, the welfare state managed to bring the working class into the mainstream of capitalist society. The idea of social rights – rights to employment, good working conditions, unemployment insurance, education, health care, pensions, etc. – that underlay the practice of the welfare state gained...

  8. Part Three: Inequality in Three Democracies

    • 7 Rethinking Equality and Equity: Canadian Children and the Social Union
      (pp. 111-129)

      Equality and inequality are political constructions; both their conditions and their definitions vary across space, time, and philosophical families. Concepts of equality and inequality as well as of fairness are thus historically rooted, taking shape and shifting as economic and social conditions restructure and as the balance of political forces alters. Inequalities and inequities are named as such when the structural conditions and the ideas we use to identify them create space for such meanings. Otherwise they remain veiled in the realm of the private or hidden by other visions.

      This said, it is useful to address the following question:...

    • 8 How Growing Income Inequality Affects Us All
      (pp. 130-147)

      The federal governmentʹs 1989 declaration to eliminate child poverty by the year 2000 passed its tenth anniversary with 50 per cent more of Canadaʹs children living in poverty. Around the same time, late in 1999, the federal finance minister announced with conviction that the next budget would finally deal with the discomforting issue of ʹchildʹ poverty, which is really the poverty of families, including adults.

      After ten years of intense lobbying of a parliament that had unanimously proclaimed child poverty a national disgrace, this is what we got: a promise that something would appear in the budget of 2000 to...

    • 9 American Style Welfare Reform: Inequality in the Clinton Era
      (pp. 148-161)

      Many people in the United States think welfare reform is a rather exotic issue pertaining solely to a mythical underclass of derelicts and lay-abouts. But itʹs not just their fate that is at stake with the recent drastic cuts in social services for the poor. What happened to welfare is important because itʹs whatʹs going to happen next to Social Security, Medicare, and the public schools. In fact, welfare reform is symptomatic of a much larger policy trend today: the transformation of our government from a source of help to people to what is primarily a mechanism for law enforcement...

    • 10 Equality and Welfare Reform in Blairʹs Britain
      (pp. 162-194)

      The New Labour Government inherited a country scarred by a level of inequality exceptional by both post-war and international standards. Its response reflects the ideological legacy of eighteen years of New Right Conservative government, which has helped to shape New Labourʹs approach to social and economic policy and its emergent philosophical underpinnings. According to Driver and Martell, New Labour can be understood as ʹan exercise inpost-Thatcheritepoliticsʹ (1998, 1, emphasis in original), shaped by Thatcherism, yet also representing a reaction against it.

      Having briefly detailed the scale of inequality and poverty in the United Kingdom, the article will explore...

  9. Part Four: The Media, Public Opinion, and Financial Inequality

    • 11 The News Media and Civic Equality: Watch Dogs, Mad Dogs, or Lap Dogs?
      (pp. 197-212)

      The long-term prospects for sustainable democracy arguably depend on reducing the social and economic inequalities, within and between nations, which are generated by a market economy and intensified by globalization. In turn, the prospects for a political project of equality are related to public perceptions and attitudes regarding the meanings, extent, desirability, and attainability of equality. Those perceptions derive, in no small measure, from the news and information media, which provide audiences with a mental map of the social and political world beyond their own immediate experience. In a world of second-hand experience, mass media help to ʹcreate the political...

    • 12 Growing Inequality: What the World Thinks
      (pp. 213-223)

      Disparity in wealth is increasing everywhere, both within and between countries. Americans (and a few others) see this as the natural order. But most do not and most approve of state intervention to reduce the gap between richest and poorest. Many observers interpret this widening chasm as a wake-up call, a signal that the beast of disparity is prepared to move in unpredictable and menacing ways. But in some quarters there is still a sense of dreamy contentment.

      Social policy and development experts warn that such contentment is, indeed, a dream. They point to the legions of disenfranchised and disaffected,...

    • 13 The Economic Consequences of Financial Inequality
      (pp. 224-244)

      One of the greatest sources of inequality in Canadian society has become the lopsided ownership of financial wealth. Financial markets are portrayed in advertising and popular culture as the economic equivalent of the neighbourhood playground – something that is there for any child to play in regardless of his or her socio-economic status. But this portrayal is actually quite inaccurate. The large bulk of financial wealth is not owned through the pension funds of ordinary people or other quasi-ʹcollectiveʹ forms of ownership. Most is owned the old-fashioned way: directly by individuals. And among those individual investors, the vast majority of...

  10. Index
    (pp. 245-263)