The Welfare State
The development of postwar welfare states in the United States and Western Europe depended upon much more than the economic and social regimes of wartime. That national historical legacies were at work is clear, the interesting question is how much these were modified by the openness of the new historical situation. The parties of the left were not the only ones to use that openness. The American welfare state did expand, if slowly, in this period—frequently, in states with influential trade unions and New Deal traditions. The relegation of much of the politics of class conflict to the state capitols was generally advantageous to American capital, which found it easy to influence state legislatures. Nationally, a privatized model of consumption was perfectly consonant with the reduced aims of much of the labor movement.
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