The Welfare State of America

A manifesto on building social democracy in the age of austerity.

Peter Frase and Bhaskar Sunkara

What an unabashed U.S. welfare state looked like, in the first half of the 20th century.

Mitt Rom­ney was ridiculed by the lib­er­al media when he com­plained to wealthy donors, There are 47 per­cent of the peo­ple who will vote for the pres­i­dent no mat­ter what.” To Rom­ney, these vot­ers are unit­ed by a depen­den­cy on gov­ern­ment and a belief that they are enti­tled to health­care, to food, to hous­ing, to you-name-it.”

We can’t go back to the post-war golden age of the American welfare state, but we can build a system in the 21st century that embodies what people remember most from that era—an overriding sense of freedom.

Seething with con­tempt for half of Amer­i­ca, Rom­ney is a car­i­ca­ture of an out-of-touch elite.

He’s also, in a twist­ed way, right.

A move­ment to expand the wel­fare state has the poten­tial to fos­ter a new majori­tar­i­an Left coali­tion. Repub­li­cans know this — that’s why they manip­u­late the way wel­fare is per­ceived at every turn.

The real­i­ty is that 96 per­cent of Amer­i­cans have ben­e­fit­ed from gov­ern­ment pro­grams, but the Right works hard to hide that fact. It’s part of a delib­er­ate strat­e­gy to divide the coun­try into two camps by con­vinc­ing the major­i­ty of vot­ers that their labor is ben­e­fit­ing par­a­sites depen­dent on the social safe­ty net.

Democ­rats have too often bol­stered this effort by echo­ing calls for wel­fare reform” and fis­cal respon­si­bil­i­ty,” and by sup­port­ing poli­cies that chan­nel ben­e­fits through the tax code (such as the home-mort­gage deduc­tion) and pri­vate orga­ni­za­tions (such as employ­er-pro­vid­ed health insur­ance). The result is a sys­tem that pro­vides few ben­e­fits, makes them large­ly invis­i­ble and dis­pro­por­tion­ate­ly ben­e­fits the more affluent.

In the face of this neolib­er­al con­sen­sus, the Left’s counter-mis­sion must be to show that social democ­ra­cy ben­e­fits every­one. Though this has been the errand of gen­er­a­tions of lib­er­als, their efforts have rarely gone beyond rebrand­ing and mes­sag­ing. Few have pushed for the struc­tur­al changes nec­es­sary to build a strong wel­fare state.

One nation, underfunded

You get what you pay for, and we haven’t paid for much.

Com­pared to oth­er rich coun­tries, the Unit­ed States does lit­tle to ensure its cit­i­zens have access to vital ser­vices or to pre­vent them from falling into depri­va­tion due to unem­ploy­ment or low-wage labor. At 19.4 per­cent of GDP, Amer­i­can social spend­ing is far below the 25 to 30 per­cent bud­get­ed in most of West­ern Europe. Mean­while, 16 per­cent of Amer­i­cans lack health insur­ance, almost a quar­ter of our chil­dren live in pover­ty, and mil­lions are unemployed.

Yet not only does an expan­sion of the safe­ty net seem polit­i­cal­ly impos­si­ble, even exist­ing pro­tec­tions are under attack everywhere.

This might seem like a poor moment to call for expand­ing the wel­fare state. But the tim­ing has nev­er been bet­ter. Aus­ter­i­ty has only wors­ened unem­ploy­ment and stag­nat­ed wages, and only a con­cert­ed effort to employ idle work­ers and boost pur­chas­ing pow­er can revive growth and restore employ­ment. Despite fear-mon­ger­ing about the effects of bud­get deficits, the gov­ern­ment is still able to bor­row mon­ey vir­tu­al­ly inter­est-free. And con­trary to right-wing claims of out-of-con­trol spend­ing, tax­es as a per­cent­age of GDP are at their low­est lev­el since 1950. We can, and should, ensure that every­one has access to health­care, edu­ca­tion, a secure retire­ment and a liv­able income, regard­less of labor mar­ket uncertainties.

Most on the Left would agree with these goals — the ques­tion has always been how to achieve them.

We think we have an answer. We pro­pose a new anti-aus­ter­i­ty coali­tion unit­ed by the imme­di­ate demand that cer­tain social spend­ing bur­dens, cur­rent­ly borne by states and munic­i­pal­i­ties, be fed­er­al­ized. Almost all states are legal­ly required to keep bal­anced bud­gets, mak­ing it unfea­si­ble for them to employ deficit spend­ing to address to a cycli­cal eco­nom­ic down­turn. Even if these laws were changed, states would still face far more dif­fi­cul­ties in this are­na than the fed­er­al gov­ern­ment. States could nev­er bor­row mon­ey on as favor­able terms as the Unit­ed States can, and they haven’t been print­ing their own cur­ren­cies since the Arti­cles of Confederation.

Sim­ply put, with­out cen­tral­iza­tion, true social democ­ra­cy in Amer­i­ca is impos­si­ble. Once achieved, pro­gres­sives could pur­sue poli­cies that not only imme­di­ate­ly improve work­ing-class lives, but also lay the ground­work for more rad­i­cal reforms in the future.

The Cloward-Piv­en strategy

Rad­i­cals of anoth­er era also sought such change. In a 1966 Nation essay, The Weight of the Poor: A Strat­e­gy to End Pover­ty,” Richard A. Cloward and Frances Fox Piv­en sug­gest­ed a way to rev­o­lu­tion­ize how wel­fare was admin­is­tered. Rec­og­niz­ing that few took ad- van­tage of what they were enti­tled to by law, they pro­posed a cam­paign to edu­cate the eli­gi­ble about their rights. The result­ing increase in claimants would cause a fis­cal cri­sis for state and local gov­ern­ments, forc­ing the fed­er­al gov­ern­ment to intervene.

Nation­al­iz­ing the wel­fare sys­tem was, in Cloward and Piven’s words, a way to wipe out pover­ty by estab­lish­ing a guar­an­teed annu­al income.” Today, 46 years lat­er, we find our­selves in a polit­i­cal envi­ron­ment far less favor­able to the Left, with an even more tat­tered safe­ty net. Yet the weight of the poor exerts less pres­sure on the Amer­i­can con­scious­ness. The insti­tu­tions of the Left are weak and frag­ment­ed, and the decline of the labor move­ment, long the linch­pin of pro­gres­sive orga­niz­ing, has left the pub­lic sec­tor as the last union strong­hold. Rather than fight­ing to expand the wel­fare state, activists around the coun­try are fight­ing to pre­serve the gains of the 20th century.

The Left needs an affir­ma­tive strat­e­gy that can go beyond the piece­meal defense of the sta­tus quo against aus­ter­i­ty. The ambi­tious plan out­lined by Cloward and Piv­en may seem like an arti­fact of anoth­er era, and it would have been all but for­got­ten if not for its res­ur­rec­tion by right-wing com­men­ta­tors like Glenn Beck. But Cloward and Piven’s ambi­tion should inspire us to envi­sion an equal­ly com­pre­hen­sive strat­e­gy that is adapt­ed to the cur­rent state of our pol­i­tics and econ­o­my, and that draws on exist­ing areas of pro­gres­sive strength.

For too long, lib­er­als have focused on tech­no­crat­ic pol­i­cy analy­sis, seek­ing gran­u­lar reme­dies to iso­lat­ed prob­lems. Such solu­tions lack the kind of sweep­ing polit­i­cal vision that wins and sus­tains pol­i­cy reforms. Con­verse­ly, rad­i­cals have for too long made rhetor­i­cal appeals with­out any ground­ing in polit­i­cal real­i­ties. The plan out­lined below is a cor­rec­tive to both trends, writ­ten with the under­stand­ing that pol­i­cy and pol­i­tics are inex­tri­ca­bly linked.

How it can happen

Though the strug­gle over bud­get cuts has sparked debate at the nation­al lev­el, the pol­i­tics of aus­ter­i­ty has been even more promi­nent in the low­er lev­els of gov­ern­ment. The Great Reces­sion severe­ly con­strained state and local rev­enues, and the result­ing job cut­backs have in turn been a pri­ma­ry cause of the weak recovery.

Indeed, so long as social wel­fare pro­grams are fund­ed at the state and local lev­el, the fis­cal lim­i­ta­tions of sub-nation­al gov­ern­ments make aus­ter­i­ty an unavoid­able option.

Local move­ments may spo­rad­i­cal­ly suc­ceed at flank­ing the wave of cuts, but they will be fight­ing a los­ing bat­tle as long as they are try­ing to win con­ces­sions from gov­ern­ments with lit­tle spend­ing flex­i­bil­i­ty. In the long run, build­ing a bet­ter and more robust social safe­ty net will mean uni­fy­ing and reor­ga­niz­ing our frag­ment­ed wel­fare state.

Some lib­er­als defend the cur­rent sys­tem by hold­ing up the states as lab­o­ra­to­ries of democ­ra­cy” that can pio­neer new pro­gres­sive ini­tia­tives that are impos­si­ble at a nation­al lev­el. His­tor­i­cal­ly, how­ev­er, the least pro­gres­sive aspects of Amer­i­can wel­fare have been those that are passed off to the states, while the most gen­er­ous and uni­ver­sal are nation­al programs.

As the polit­i­cal sci­en­tist Suzanne Met­tler observes in her book Divid­ing Cit­i­zens: Gen­der and Fed­er­al­ism in New Deal Pub­lic Pol­i­cy, the ele­ments of the New Deal that were left to the states were large­ly those that serve women and minori­ties, and these pro­grams tend to sub­ject recip­i­ents to sur­veil­lance and scruti­ny by bureau­crats and social work­ers. Nation­al pro­grams like Social Secu­ri­ty and Medicare, which have a large pro­por­tion of white men on their rolls, are by con­trast regard­ed as enti­tle­ments and their recip­i­ents treat­ed with respect.

This pat­tern is like­ly to be per­pet­u­at­ed as long as large chunks of the safe­ty net are admin­is­tered by states, includ­ing the right-lean­ing states that are both hos­tile to wel­fare pro­grams and con­tain a dis­pro­por­tion­ate share of the nation’s poor. It’s no coin­ci­dence that Mitt Rom­ney and Paul Ryan’s bud­get plan push­es even more social wel­fare admin­is­tra­tion onto the states, by con­vert­ing pro­grams like Med­ic­aid and food stamps into block grants.

Giv­en the cur­rent dis­ar­ray, a one-size-fits-all solu­tion for con­sol­i­dat­ing the wel­fare state does not exist. Under a new pro­gres­sive sys­tem, state and local spend­ing could be trans­ferred to fed­er­al pro­grams in var­i­ous ways.

Wel­fare and unem­ploy­ment: In these cas­es, where ben­e­fits are already a shared respon­si­bil­i­ty of fed­er­al and non-fed­er­al gov­ern­ments, Wash­ing­ton must sim­ply assume more of the responsibility.

Pen­sions: The cur­rent short­fall in pen­sion funds is large­ly a result of the stock-mar­ket col­lapse after the burst of the hous­ing bub­ble, and so this part of state and local bud­gets should improve as the econ­o­my improves.

Seri­ous prob­lems of under­fund­ing remain in many places, how­ev­er, and it is always tempt­ing for politi­cians to plug present-day bud­get holes by short­chang­ing future pen­sion oblig­a­tions. Some type of fed­er­al bailout of these plans may be required if work­ers are to receive the ben­e­fits they are con­trac­tu­al­ly enti­tled to, espe­cial­ly if there is anoth­er recession.

The fed­er­al gov­ern­ment already has an enti­ty, the Pen­sion Ben­e­fit Guar­an­ty Cor­po­ra­tion, respon­si­ble for ensur­ing that pri­vate-sec­tor employ­ees receive their pen­sions even when their plans fail or their employ­ers go bank­rupt. Some­thing anal­o­gous may need to be cre­at­ed for employ­ees of local and state gov­ern­ments. As a long-term solu­tion, how­ev­er, it makes lit­tle sense for state and local pub­lic-sec­tor pen­sions to be on local bud­gets and sub­ject to the fluc­tu­a­tions of the stock mar­ket. These work­ers should be ful­ly brought into the Social Secu­ri­ty sys­tem, like their pri­vate-sec­tor and fed­er­al counterparts.

Health­care: Alle­vi­at­ing the bur­den of health­care spend­ing on the states will require address­ing the irra­tional­i­ties of the Amer­i­can health­care sys­tem, which is far more expen­sive than sys­tems of com­pa­ra­ble qual­i­ty in oth­er coun­tries. The Afford­able Care Act made incre­men­tal progress in this direc­tion, but some­thing like a nation­al sin­gle-pay­er sys­tem is nec­es­sary to relieve cost pres­sures on both states and the fed­er­al gov­ern­ment. A first step along that road would be to make Med­ic­aid a ful­ly fed­er­al­ly run pro­gram, anal­o­gous to Medicare, as has been pro­posed by Greg Anrig of the New Amer­i­ca Foun­da­tion.

Edu­ca­tion: Because edu­ca­tion is the most local­ized cat­e­go­ry of social spend­ing, it will be the most dif­fi­cult to address — but because it makes up the largest com­po­nent of non-fed­er­al spend­ing, it is also the most impor­tant. In the near term, demand­ing infu­sions of fed­er­al sup­port for local edu­ca­tion could go a long way toward equal­iz­ing access to edu­ca­tion. In the long run, we should not lose sight of the inequal­i­ty that inevitably results from allow­ing schools to be fund­ed and admin­is­trat­ed local­ly, nor should we take that local­ism as a neces­si­ty. In the past, the Supreme Court has held that edu­ca­tion is not a fun­da­men­tal right, and that a sys­tem of unequal K‑12 school sys­tems fund­ed by local prop­er­ty tax­es is con­sti­tu­tion­al. But our frag­ment­ed and unequal edu­ca­tion­al sys­tem is a strange and infe­ri­or insti­tu­tion com­pared to what exists in oth­er rich countries.

Who will do it?

Much has changed since the 1960s. The Cloward-Piv­en strat­e­gy was artic­u­lat­ed in the con­text of the civ­il rights move­ment and the mil­i­tant wel­fare rights cam­paign that arose in its wake. The strat­e­gy was for­mu­lat­ed in a time of afflu­ence, when the Demo­c­ra­t­ic Par­ty was still deeply com­mit­ted to social spending.

And yet, though the Left has been in retreat for decades, there are signs of life from which new coali­tions can be cob­bled togeth­er: the emer­gence last fall of the Occu­py move­ment, and more recent labor insur­gen­cies. We pro­pose that protest-ori­ent­ed move­ments such as Occu­py, orga­nized labor and pro­gres­sive elect­ed offi­cials at the state and local lev­el form a mot­ley, but pow­er­ful, anti-aus­ter­i­ty coalition.

Occu­py Wall Street: Occu­py began as a large­ly youth-based move­ment, reflect­ing the frus­tra­tion of young peo­ple fac­ing ris­ing inequal­i­ty and dimin­ish­ing eco­nom­ic prospects. The reces­sion hit this demo­graph­ic espe­cial­ly hard, and its effects will con­tin­ue to fol­low them through­out their lives. Those who have entered the job mar­ket in recent years face low­er employ­ment rates, worse wages and high­er debts than those who pre­ced­ed them. Occu­py was a reac­tion to this, and it reflects a broad­er shift to the left among Amer­i­cans under 30.

The actu­al Occu­py move­ment has left the streets. It did, how­ev­er, unleash a wave of politi­ciza­tion that remains with us. The labor and com­mu­ni­ty strug­gles of the last year bear its mark. Thou­sands of peo­ple are still active in groups that found their gen­e­sis in Occu­py. The idea that elites use their wealth and pow­er to the detri­ment of the vast major­i­ty of peo­ple has intro­duced a lev­el of class analy­sis into the nation­al pub­lic debate that hasn’t been seen in 80 years.

The ear­ly suc­cess of Occu­py owed much to a cre­ative well­spring from the anar­chist move­ment. The nov­el idea of occu­py­ing space and cre­at­ing camps is tes­ti­mo­ny to that. But too many with­in the move­ment saw those encamp­ments as mod­els of a future post-cap­i­tal­ist utopia, rather than mere­ly tac­ti­cal deploy­ments. Not sur­pris­ing­ly, they failed to con­nect these tac­tics to a wider polit­i­cal strategy.

Occupy’s fail­ure in this respect and its inabil­i­ty to trans­late last fall’s ener­gy into more sus­tained orga­niz­ing around a broad anti-aus­ter­i­ty mes­sage reflects both his­tor­i­cal — and innate — weak­ness­es with­in the anar­chist move­ment and activists’ fears of being co-opt­ed into a neolib­er­al elec­toral framework.

By link­ing younger activists on the extra-par­lia­men­tary Left with labor unions and pol­i­cy­mak­ers under an umbrel­la pro­gram that’s both rad­i­cal and achiev­able, Occu­py activists could con­tribute to tan­gi­ble pro­gres­sive change with­out sac­ri­fic­ing their uncom­pro­mis­ing zeal. And the adven­tur­ous (and at times extra-legal) spir­it of Occu­py can fos­ter a rad­i­cal rank-and-file-led work­ers’ movement.

Orga­nized Labor: Today, only 12 per­cent of the work­force belongs to labor unions. How­ev­er, 37 per­cent of pub­lic employ­ees are union­ized, com­pared to just 7 per­cent in the pri­vate sec­tor. This is both a strik­ing sign of the Amer­i­can Left’s decline and a rea­son why resis­tance to the cur­rent eco­nom­ic cri­sis has been hard to muster.

That the pub­lic sec­tor hous­es what remains of the labor move­ment is tak­en by many to be an indi­ca­tion of the movement’s ter­mi­nal decline. Fit­ting­ly, even this last union bas­tion is eroding.

Cash-strapped states and cities have launched an effec­tive bipar­ti­san attack on the salaries, ben­e­fits and col­lec­tive bar­gain­ing rights of pub­lic work­ers. Scott Walker’s vic­to­ry in Wis­con­sin was just the most flam­boy­ant exam­ple of a gen­er­al­ized phe­nom­e­non. In the con­text of local com­pe­ti­tion over resources and gen­er­al eco­nom­ic down­turn, pub­lic employ­ees are easy targets.

The strength of a mid­dle-class pol­i­tics built around resent­ment should not be under­es­ti­mat­ed: Walk­er had a real social base, and thou­sands were ener­gized around anti-union sen­ti­ment. His sup­port­ers saw union pen­sions, health ben­e­fits and work­er pro­tec­tions as spe­cial priv­i­leges stolen from more pro­duc­tive sec­tors in the pri­vate econ­o­my, rather than as the just rewards for hard labor that every­one deserves. Even some lib­er­als, sym­pa­thet­ic to unions in the pri­vate sec­tor, view the inter­ests of union­ized pub­lic employ­ees and the inter­ests of the pub­lic they serve as being irre­solv­ably conflicted.

Instead of ask­ing, Why not me?” this anti-work­ing class alliance demands, Why them?” For this pre­cise rea­son, shift­ing fis­cal bur­dens from under­wa­ter state and local bud­gets onto firmer, fed­er­al ter­rain is vital. But in the mean- time, we should accept that the labor move­ment is now con­cen­trat­ed in the pub­lic sec­tor. While this pos­es dif­fi­cult chal­lenges, it can also be turned into a source of strength.

Some see pub­lic-sec­tor unions as lit­tle more than car­tels that pro­tect the priv­i­leges and pay of their mem­bers. But these unions can be a pro­gres­sive voice demand­ing a gov­ern­ment that works not just for its employ­ees, but for soci­ety as a whole. And if the pub­lic sec­tor was more sta­ble, with its jobs linked to polit­i­cal­ly untouch­able and uni­ver­sal fed­er­al pro­grams, pub­lic-sec­tor unions could have clout sim­i­lar to that of their pow­er­ful Euro­pean coun­ter­parts, vis­i­ble and reli­able pro­tec­tors of the wel­fare state.

His­tor­i­cal­ly, pub­lic-sec­tor unions are more ori­ent­ed than their pri­vate-sec­tor coun­ter­parts toward a social-move­ment union­ism — con­nect­ing organ­i­cal­ly with their com­mu­ni­ties rather than lim­it­ing their strug­gles to shop-floor lev­el dis­putes. This broad­er ori­en­ta­tion was crit­i­cal to the mass local sup­port the Chica­go Teach­ers Union gar­nered in its recent strug­gle. By devot­ing sig­nif­i­cant resources toward com­mu­ni­ty out­reach and tying its demands to a vision of egal­i­tar­i­an pub­lic edu­ca­tion, the union made the strike about more than just wages and benefits.

The oth­er com­po­nent of a poten­tial labor con­tin­gent can be found in groups like Work­ing Amer­i­ca, an allied orga­ni­za­tion of the AFL-CIO that boasts 3 mil­lion mem­bers. Though the group’s poten­tial is large­ly untapped, by using Work­ing Amer­i­ca as its proxy, the AFL-CIO is able to cir­cum­vent restric­tive labor laws and build alliances with both non-union work­ers and the unem­ployed. Actions pitched at this com­mu­ni­ty lev­el can show the pub­lic that unions are more than self-inter­est­ed actors and make labor a cor­ner­stone of a broad­er pro­gres­sive movement.

The labor move­ment also has the abil­i­ty to con­nect the out­sider pow­er of protest with the insid­er busi­ness of writ­ing and lob­by­ing for leg­is­la­tion. Unions have both the resources and the expe­ri­ence to help cre­ate poli­cies and move law­mak­ers. This will be a neces­si­ty for any move­ment that seeks to reshape the struc­ture of the Amer­i­can wel­fare state, an impor­tant com­ple­ment to the vis­i­bil­i­ty and dis­rup­tive poten­tial of street protest.

Local and State Offi­cials: Our strat­e­gy would gen­er­ate polit­i­cal pres­sure first and most intense­ly at the state and local lev­els. The recent neolib­er­al and tech­no­crat­ic drift of local gov­ern­ments has much to do with their intense bud­get constraints.

Our era lacks the robust urban polit­i­cal coali­tions that char­ac­ter­ized the peri­od when the Cloward-Piv­en man­i­festo was writ­ten. At that time, the civ­il rights move­ment was able to forge alliances between urban peo­ple of col­or and afflu­ent, edu­cat­ed white lib­er­als — often against work­ing-class polit­i­cal machines that exclud­ed non-whites. Today, how­ev­er, elite lib­er­als are arrayed against what they regard as the mod­ern machine: a bloat­ed” pub­lic sec­tor — a sec­tor that has become one of the only sources of sta­ble, mid­dle-class jobs for peo­ple of col­or. Neolib­er­al may­ors such as New York’s Michael Bloomberg and Chicago’s Rahm Emanuel unapolo­get­i­cal­ly rep­re­sent the inter­ests of wealthy busi­ness own­ers against the work­ing class, push­ing aus­ter­i­ty and pri­va­ti­za­tion as the solu­tions to fis­cal cri­sis. Break­ing the pow­er of this polit­i­cal bloc will neces­si­tate offer­ing fis­cal­ly stressed gov­er­nors and may­ors an alter­na­tive path.

State and local offi­cials are gen­er­al­ly hap­py to have the bur­den of social spend­ing tak­en off their hands, what­ev­er their nom­i­nal ide­o­log­i­cal com­mit­ments. The Right may have denounced Obama’s stim­u­lus bill, but most Repub­li­can gov­er­nors and may­ors didn’t turn down the money.

If pro­gres­sives can artic­u­late a pos­i­tive polit­i­cal vision while simul­ta­ne­ous­ly push­ing for poli­cies to ease the fis­cal bur­den on states and cities, they will offer vot­ers and offi­cials an alter­na­tive that is appeal­ing and prac­ti­cal. While refus­ing to sac­ri­fice pub­lic ser­vices or jobs on the altar of bal­anced bud­gets, the Left could ally with state and local lead­ers to lob­by for nation­al solu­tions to fis­cal crisis.

The road to social democracy

The Left must not only defeat aus­ter­i­ty and pre­serve the social safe­ty net; it must do so in such a way that assem­bles the forces nec­es­sary for more fun­da­men­tal trans­for­ma­tions in the future.

This vision should be pre­med­i­tat­ed. We can’t go back to the post-war gold­en age of the Amer­i­can wel­fare state, but we can build a sys­tem in the 21st cen­tu­ry that embod­ies what peo­ple remem­ber most from that era — an over­rid­ing sense of free­dom. Free­dom to give their chil­dren an edu­ca­tion with­out rival. Free­dom from pover­ty, hunger and home­less­ness. Free­dom to grow into old age with pen­sions, Social Secu­ri­ty, and afford­able and acces­si­ble health­care. Free­dom to leave an exploita­tive work envi­ron­ment and find anoth­er job. Free­dom to orga­nize with fel­low work­ers for redress.

These mem­o­ries are some­what false ones: The wel­fare state has nev­er been so uni­ver­sal. But the appeal of such a soci­ety, com­bined with the polit­i­cal strat­e­gy need­ed to make it a real­i­ty, will pave the way for the insti­tu­tion of a new set of eco­nom­ic and social rights to com­ple­ment our bedrock polit­i­cal and civ­il rights.

Even greater demo­c­ra­t­ic hori­zons lie beyond that.

Peter Frase and Bhaskar Sunkara are edi­tors at Jacobin.
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