Working Paper n°2019-03 – A theory of predatory welfare state and citizen welfare: the french case – Philippe Batifoulier, Nicolas Da Silva, and Mehrdad Vahabi

In this paper, we argue that the welfare state is an outcome of modern mass (total) warfare. The total war economy requires the participation of all citizens, erasing the difference between the military and citizens. Consequently, the war economy benefits from supporting the civilian population. The total war effect explains why a predatory state undertakes welfare programs. This is one of the contributions of the present paper.

While welfare state is closely related to total warfare, social welfare is not. Fraternal social welfare in the United States preceded the New Deal and the rise of welfare state. Similarly, the French welfare system was born as citizen welfare and not state welfare. In fact, welfare programs were initiated in 1871 during the Paris Commune by workers under the name of la sociale, and it was established as a self-managed citizen welfare in 1945 before being displaced by government welfare programs. A second contribution of this paper is to explore the reappropriating effect or the way self-managed citizen welfare was transformed into a welfare state through a three stage process of reforms in 1946, 1967, and 1996.

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