How the hell did I miss this brilliant piece? I dunno, but glad I found it. It's from 2012.
It's got to be the best pummelling of the so-called "anti-Stalinist left" I've ever read. I mean a serious can 'o whup ass.
There are two lines of inquiry which need to be elucidated in order to come to terms with the demise of the welfare state and the massive decline of living standards. One line of analysis examines the profound change in the international environment: We have moved from a competitive bi-polar system, based on a rivalry between the collectivist – welfare states of the Eastern bloc and the capitalist states of Europe and North America to an international system monopolized by competing capitalist states.
A second line of inquiry directs us to examine the changes in the internal social relations of the capitalist states: namely the shift from intense class struggles to long-term class collaboration, as the organizing principle in the relation between labor and capital.
Petras: "The main proposition informing this essay is that the emergence of the welfare state was a historical outcome of a period when there were high levels of competition between collectivist welfarism and capitalism and when class-struggle oriented trade unions and social movements had ascendancy over class-collaborationist organizations."
OK, the main ideas aside - and they are important ideas, to be looked at carefully - this piece is just a brilliant bit of polemic. I mean a shit-kicking.
Western Left and Liberal intellectuals played a vital role in obfuscating the important positive role which Soviet welfarism had in pressuring the capitalist regimes of the West to follow their lead. Instead, during the decades following the death of Stalin and as Soviet society evolved toward a hybrid system of authoritarian welfarism, these intellectuals continued to refer to these regimes as ‘Stalinist’, obscuring the principle source of legitimacy among their citizens – their advanced welfare system. The same intellectuals would claim that the ‘Stalinist system’ was an obstacle to socialism and turned the workers against its positive aspects as a welfare state, by their exclusive focus on the past ‘Gulag’. They argued that the ‘demise of Stalinism’ would provide a great opening for ‘democratic revolutionary socialism’. In reality, the fall of collectivist-welfarism led to the catastrophic destruction of the welfare state in both the East and West and the ascendancy of the most virulent forms of primitive neo-liberal capitalism
There's much more and it's all good.