Trade-Union Hegemony: The Political Vision of the Rehn-Meidner Model

Virgilio Urbina Lazardi, New York University

This article looks back on the comparatively neglected macroeconomic edifice of the postwar Swedish political economy, which almost uniquely in the social-democratic world eschewed incomes policy in favor of trade union-sponsored peak-level corporatism in order to reconcile full employment and price stability. In contrast with technocratic readings of the model, the study focuses on the political motivations behind the choice of the model's instruments, which reveal a concerted effort on behalf of the blue-collar Swedish Trade Union Confederation (LO) to advance a counter-hegemonic class project. Even with a friendly government in power, LO maintained that the labor movement's independence in action and its ability to create an economic climate that could attract other subaltern groups should guide its continued support for a reformist socialism. Finally, the paper concludes by examining how the model was ultimately undone and what the prospects of its revival are in the postindustrial economies of the twenty-first century.

No extended abstract or paper available

 Presented in Session 215. Political Economy, Ecology, and the Crises of Democracy