Essay on Marxist Critique Of Social Welfare

Essay on Marxist Critique Of Social Welfare

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Marxists see society in terms of a conflict between economic classes; a dominant class, the ‘bourgeoisie’, owns and controls the means of production whereas an industrial working class, the ‘proletariat’, is exploited by them (Spicker 2008). In the context of social policy, from a Marxist perspective, rights to welfare are given not to secure a fairer system, out of benevolence or in recognition of the importance of advancing some form of equality, but to protect and conceal the selfish interests of the dominant class (Taylor 2007). I will begin this essay by giving a brief introduction to the Marxist analysis of social welfare delivered by the state. I will subsequently develop an analysis to evaluate whether Marxist theory continues to be relevant in informing our understanding of contemporary welfare states. I will argue that whilst Marxism provides an interesting critique of welfare policies espoused by the political centre, ultimately Marxism’s reliance on revolutionary methods has rendered Marxists political outcasts, failing to prove politically effective and thus, relevant when it comes to contemporary welfare states. I will argue that this is reflected in the success of Social Democracy in shaping welfare states in the last century which like Marxism is committed to egalitarian principles, yet favouring gradual change as opposed to revolution. I will conclude that the Marxist analysis of social welfare ultimately fails to have little more than theoretical relevance in understanding contemporary welfare states.
While the ideologies of the political centre allow for the state to be used to minimise the damage created by the instabilities of capitalism, Marxists argue that the interests of the dominant class contaminate the ...

... middle of paper ... to our understanding of contemporary welfares states. I conclude that whilst, as demonstrated by Ginsburg’s (1979) critique of the benefits system, the Marxist analysis of social welfare provides an interesting critique of the welfare policies espoused by the political centre, Marxists, favouring revolution as a solution have had little influence on Western policy ultimately rendering them outcasts (Taylor 2007). I argued that this best demonstrated by the success of Social Democracy in the last century, proving successful in showing that the welfare state can be used to serve the common good without the need for revolution; this success illustrated with the survival of the National Health Service since 1948. As such the Marxist analysis of social welfare ultimately fails to have little more than theoretical relevance in understanding contemporary welfare states.

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