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The politics of affluence

The politics of affluence

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The politics of affluence

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  1. The politics of affluence Europe in the 1960s & 1970s

  2. Presentations available at http://www.ucs.mun.ca/~swolin Follow link to courses & ES2000

  3. From stringency to affluence • Economic miracle in the 1950s results in sustained growth in western Europe • Annual growth rates of 5-6% in 1950s & 1960s • Full employment in Northern Europe • Importation of ‘guest workers’ from Mediterranean rim • Growing sense of wellbeing, welfare by early 1960s

  4. Social changes: • Urbanization: • Shift from countryside to towns • Towns to cities • Changes in work • Further industrialization, then shift to service sector • Growth in new service sector occupations • Growth in public sector jobs – needed to run expanding welfare states, systems of social protection

  5. Religion & social control • Decreasing religiosity • John XXIII & changes in the Roman Catholic Church • Less inclination to instruct from pulpit • Changes in Protestantism? • Diminished social control: • Less inclination to censure television or films • Possibility of divorce opened up • Gradual removal of prohibitions on homosexuality

  6. Class differences • Attempts to ensure more equal life chances – e.g. through comprehensive schools • Greater upward mobility – for some • In Northern Europe decreasing sense of deprivation: everyone is better off – • UK: differences in speech, social mores continue • France & Italy: sharper tensions, reflecting late industrialization & strong position of Communist trade unions & Communist parties

  7. Changing lifestyles? • Housing • Shopping • Clothing • Blue jeans as a leveler -- blurring of class distinctions • Transportation • Emergence of youth culture • Leisure • Music • Television • Vacations • Broader exposure • Americanization?

  8. Political consequences: Competing hypotheses: • An end to ideology: ‘the democratic class struggle’ could go on without apocalyptic ideologies, red flags, May Day parades’ • Post-materialism: those coming of age in affluence & relative security have the freedom to pursue post-material (quality of life) values: Erst das fressen, dan die morale’

  9. Changes in parties & party politics • Centre right takes credit for new prosperity: • British Conservatives, • W. German Christian Democrats, • Gaullists in France • Christian Democrats in Italy • So do Social Democrats

  10. Social Democratic parties: • Abandon Marxism, doctrine of inevitable class conflict… • Pragmatic leaders emphasize increasing the pie rather than dividing it • Emphasis on fairness, equality of life-chances • Managing capitalism rather than public ownership • Evident in • SPD: Bad Godesberg • British Labour… • Scandinavia • Netherlands & Belgium

  11. But not everyone agrees: • Emergence of left socialist parties in Norway, Denmark, Netherlands… • Reject of strong cold war, pro-NATO orientation of Social Democratic parties, • Insist on reality of class conflict • Yet reject state socialism, Soviet domination • Ongoing divisions in British Labour Party: • Further nationalization of industry • Foreign policy: • NATO membership v. unilateral disarmament • Europe

  12. Emergence of new conflicts & tensions • By late 1960s, not only the cold war, but also Viet Nam as a backdrop • Civil rights movement & anti-war protest in the US • Doubts about arms race, Soviet threat • Growing activism, questioning authorities, search for alternate lifestyles, e.g • Emergence of JUSOs (Young Socialists) in W. Germany • PROVO & dissident groups in the Netherlands • Events of May 1968 in France • Hot Autumn in Italy

  13. Events of May 1968 • Begin with demonstrations protesting limits on visiting hours in women’s residences • Spread throughout university system, public institutions, with occupation of buildings • Result in general strike, massive demonstrations, barricades in streets • At height, 10 million of a workforce of 17 m are out on strike or occupying buildings • Economy at a standstill • Counter-demonstrations launched

  14. Resolution • De Gaulle and his premier (George Pompidou) initially hesitate • Efforts of the Communist Party, (PCF) to channel or stop the demonstrations • CGT (Communist Union) turns political demands into economic demands • Massive wage increases granted • Protests dissipate when De Gaulle dissolves parliament, calls new elections, blames Communists (‘Party of Fear’)

  15. May 1968 in context • Protests, occupations reflect deep-seated grievances • Combine modes and techniques of 1960s (occupations) with modes from French Revolution – barricades in streets • Sufficient to make regime more attentive and more responsive – but not completely so • Continued protest potential, though rarely manifests on same scale • Cf. 1990s protests against education reform

  16. The Hot Autumn in Italy • Autumn 1969 • Wave of strikes and demonstrations, some spontaneous • Rapid spread • As in France, a heady political moment, • Long term: • Increased benefits for workers • Increased support for left, especially Communists • Communists nearly brought into government • Civil society begins to assert itself: • 1977 initiative results in a referendum legalizing divorce

  17. Was there an end of ideology? • Left and right moved toward each other • Agree on desirability on managed economy and the social protections of the welfare state • But, Social Democratic parties retain commitment to socialism, understood as a fairer distribution of wealth • Example of Swedish Social Democratic Party • Left socialist parties remain • Student groups, extra-parliamentary pick up & use fragments of Marxism • e.g. JUSOS in Germany • Red Brigades in Italy, Baader-Meinhof group in Germany