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Distributional Conflicts in the US and Europe

Distributional Conflicts in the US and Europe

Michael McTernan

13 November 2012


The Emergence of a New Transatlantic Agenda for Progressive Politics

The political environment for progressive politics on both sides of the Atlantic is being shaped by three overarching and overlapping trends: firstly, flaws in the capitalist settlement have created widespread economic insecurity, which now also significantly affects the middle-class base of society; secondly, and as a knock-on-effect, solutions to this problem must now be advanced in an economically insecure climate of “sauve qui peut politics” – a politics in which people, worried about clinging on to what they have, become more resistant to measures that redistribute resources to others, both vertically to other groups within the income distribution, and horizontally to other generational cohorts; thirdly, changing demographics and a more competitive global era appear to necessitate the expansion of some government programmes, which in turn would require public money, but public money is already scarce.

This discussion paper makes the case that after a period of idleness the space and common ground for a serious transatlantic agenda on the future of progressive politics is emerging once again in the form of these economic and political dilemmas.

About the author:
Michael McTernan is editor and senior researcher at Policy Network. He coordinates Policy
Network’s research on The Future of Social Democracy and Populism and Electoral Politics. He is editor of the Policy Network Observatory and the thinktank’s monthly “State of the Left” report. (@Mmcternan)

Oxford Transatlantic Dialogue:
This paper is based on discussions and presentations at a two day transatlantic dialogue organised by Policy Network, the Next Left research programme of the Foundation for European Progressive Studies (FEPS), Nuffield College, University of Oxford and the Institute for Global Law and Policy (IGLP), Harvard. The conference brought together leading academics, senior politicians, policymakers and thinktank experts from across Europe and the US. The papers from the conference will be published in the Policy Network/FEPs’ Next Left volume, “Progressive Politics After the Crisis: European Social Democracy and American Progressive- Liberalism”, I.B Tauris, forthcoming 2013.

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