Welfare Wounded. State, Rights and the Struggle for the Common Good

Image of Welfare Wounded. State, Rights and the Struggle for the Common Good
Image of Welfare Wounded. State, Rights and the Struggle for the Common Good

This course explores the role of the Welfare State in a desirable constituent process.  The successive crises occurring in capitalism have led to an interruption in this government model, which is being reformulated into a State of Debt not governed by the rule of law. Welfare wounded fuels the debate on how to shift from State institutions to institutions of the commons, understanding the latter as the institutional mortar with which to build a new political logic. 

The Welfare State and its democracies are an expression of the struggle between different social forces. The capacity for mobilisation and struggle has resulted in the reshaping of this kind of state according to each set of circumstances, and moving in one direction or another in search for alternatives in the distribution of political power and wealth. The crisis, beginning in 2008, was the penultimate episode. In the most recent phase, the true role of the State in the global economy has been revealed. Sequestered by the financial powers and having abandoned their supposed role in redistributing society's wealth, democratic systems, in general, have been unmasked.

We have thus arrived at a significant crossroads. How does one work towards the common good and respond to today's great vindications, concerning the distribution of wealth and political power? What kind of self-government and collective self-management models are imaginable? Is it possible to think that - at least in part - the responses involve delving more deeply into the Welfare State? The issue is not as simple as deciding whether to support a Welfare State, or to work towards a society of alternative institutions based on “institutions of the commons”.

It is important to consider the idea that the Welfare State could serve as a bridge that leads somewhere else, taking into account that its institutional apparatus, especially in the area of basic rights, is a determining element in attempts to reverse the predatory process of cutbacks, privatisations and the concentration of collective wealth in the hands of few. But, on the other hand, none of this can be considered without contextualising it within the framework of social cooperation, of the possibilities of organizing society on the margins of the corporatism of the State, of its administrative castes and its conservationist role as a constituted power.

For these reasons, this course looks closely at the role of the Welfare State in a desirable constituent process. It intends to reflect on how to shift from institutions of the State to institutions of the commons, understanding the latter to be the institutional mortar we must use to put in place political, social and institutional logics that can be conceived beyond the public sector (state) and the private sector (market).


Session 1. Thinking about the State. Thinking about welfare. Political Power, Democracy and Social Antagonism

Introduction by: Montserrat Galcerán, Fundación de los Comunes

Date: 12 of March, 7:30 p.m.

Place: Traficantes de Sueños. Calle Embajadores 35, Local 6

The State has been the object of a great deal of political reflection over the last three centuries. Many revolutionary philosophies were founded on the idea of shaping its role in society in one direction or another. It is, therefore, a key institutional figure that occupies the centre of social and political conflict. This session addresses these questions as a preamble to the remainder of the course.

Session 2. The Spanish Welfare State and its Critics. Political System and Redistribution in the European Framework

Introduction by: Ane Varela, Fundación de los Comunes

Date: 19 of March, 7:30 p.m.

Place: Traficantes de Sueños. Calle Embajadores 35, Local 6

Many debates have arisen around the different models of the Welfare State. The Nordic model, the central European model, and the Anglo-Saxon model are just some of the taxonomies that have been created to classify the State’s distinctive forms and its public policies. This session attempts to explain the foundations of the Spanish model, its formation and its evolution as such, from the transition to democracy that took place after Franco's death to the present.

Session 3. The Democracy of Bricks. The Economic Cycle, Property Bubbles and the Destruction of the Environment in Spain (1977-2012)

Introduction by: José Manuel Naredo

Date: 2 of April, 7:30 p.m.

Place: Traficantes de Sueños. Calle Embajadores 35, Local 6

After the economic crisis, there is no longer any doubt regarding the link between the construction boom and democracy's economic system. Similarly, nobody doubts that this cycle is of key importance in understanding part of the environmental destruction occurring in Spain . This session looks at the long wave of the Spanish construction system and analyses the impact it has had on environmental degradation and destruction.

Session 4. Let the Rich Pay for It. Division of Wealth, Taxes and Economic Redistribution

Introduction by: Javier Martínez (Spanish Observatory of Fiscal Justice Worldwide -ATTAC )

Date: 9 of April, 7:30 p.m.

Place: Traficantes de Sueños. Calle Embajadores 35, Local 6

One of the founding elements of the Welfare State is the distribution of taxes. This fiscal distribution indicates which parts of society are contributing to society and which are not, which types of taxes are prioritised and which are reduced. What about taxes on financial transactions? The fiscal question must be addressed because it is the eye of the hurricane regarding debates on austerity and fiscal consolidation. Without a fair taxation system, it is impossible to construct public policies that are deserving of the name.

Session 5. Employment Market, Education System and Social Gaps. The Classist Construction of Democracy

Introduction by: José Luis Carretero

Date: 16 of April, 7:30 p.m.

Place: Traficantes de Sueños. Calle Embajadores 35, Local 6

It is impossible to talk about democracy without looking closely at its specific structures. The case of the Spanish job market is an example of labour scarcity and insecurity known throughout the world. A review of the working conditions imposed by the labour reforms provides many of the keys to understanding the spectacular growth of unemployment today. The management of workers is the topic of debate of this session, which will attempt to disentangle how the deepest social gaps are created. To do so, we will look at the relationships existing within the job market and put forward some ideas as to how this market has been linked to the structuring and de-structuring of public education.

Session 6. The Healthcare System, Health and Care-giving. Interdependence, Privatisation and the Well-being of the Commons

Introduction by: Santiago Izco ( YOSIsanidaduniversal ) and Amaia Pérez Orozco

Date: 30 of April, 7:30 p.m.

Place: Traficantes de Sueños. Calle Embajadores 35, Local 6

The fragility of life and its medical coverage are linked to a myriad of institutional and social planes. From this perspective, medical and public healthcare systems are closely connected to one another. Nonetheless, both are undergoing moments of crisis and at the same time, are especially necessary, now that life itself is under attack by the despotism of the markets (the attack on social relationships, privatisation, and exclusions from the healthcare system). Without a doubt, now is the time to diversify healthcare networks and to distil the free and universal healthcare systems. But how are we to think of all these interrelated planes and what role does the Welfare State play here within the context of the healthcare system?

Session 7. The Welfare State and the Defence of the Commons. Beyond the Public-Private Binomial

Introduction by:  Observatorio Metropolitano

Date: 7 of May, 7:30 p.m.

Place : Traficantes de Sueños. Calle Embajadores 35, Local 6

The dilemma lies in the alternatives. Can we conceive of forms of collective self-management that span all the problems addressed in the course? Is it possible to forge paths that break away from the dichotomies of State vs. Market or Public vs. Private? Some of these questions can be answered if we find inspiration in the idea of the commons, such as those elements whose ownership is linked to the use made by a given community. This final session will be a workshop aimed at drawing conclusions.





Dates: March 12,19, April 2, 9, 16, 30 and May 7, 2013
Place: Traficantes de Sueños Calle Embajadores, 35, Local 6
Admission: Pre-registration is required. Maximum 50 participants. Price: €30 and €40. For more information: Nociones Comunes

Organised by: Fundación de los Comunes, with the collaboration of Museo Reina  Sofía

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