La mort annoncée de l’État Providence

PARIS – Il est en général plus facile de repérer  la naissance de quelque  événement historique que d’en  deviner l’échéance . Et pourtant : né en 1945 dans la Grande-Bretagne d’après guerre, il semble bien que  l’État Providence ait rendu l’âme cette semaine lorsque le ministre des Finances britannique, George Osborne, a récusé le concept d’ « allocations universelles », ou l’idée selon laquelle tout le monde, et pas seulement les pauvres, devrait bénéficier d’une protection sociale.

L’État Providence fut décrit par son concepteur, Lord Beveridge, comme un système destiné à protéger tous les citoyens « du berceau à la tombe ». Ce système s’est étendu à tous les pays d’Europe occidentale, avec des variantes dans son application , épousant les coutumes et les politiques locales. Dans les années 1960, toute l’Europe occidentale était  devenue social-démocrate, une combinaison de marchés libres et de protection sociale généralisée.

Ce modèle européen réussit au-delà des rêves les plus fous, et fit pendant des décennies l’envie du monde entier, bien plus que le capitalisme sauvage américain ou le socialisme d’État soviétique ne le purent jamais. La social-démocratie semblait offrir le meilleur de deux mondes, l’efficacité économique et la justice sociale.

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