Mises Review 15, No. Princeton University Press, , 83 pgs. Cohen — grew up as a Marxist, but he abandoned a key belief of that doctrine. Marx taught that the coming of socialism was inevitable. The key to history was the development of the forces of production, which tended continually to grow. As they did so, new relations of production, and political and social arrangements appropriate to those relations, became necessary.
|Published (Last):||20 January 2012|
|PDF File Size:||20.95 Mb|
|ePub File Size:||13.68 Mb|
|Price:||Free* [*Free Regsitration Required]|
Shelves: politics-and-political-theory Why Not Socialism? Cohen, is an essay discussing Socialism in a basic and conceptual form. Cohen begins by describing a camping trip, and juxtaposing two different scenarios: one in which a group of campers share food and supplies on the trip, and gather resources equitably ie. Which one would be a better trip?
This is a simplistic argument to Why Not Socialism? This is a simplistic argument to be sure Cohen admits it personally and is certainly not a comprehensive look at the benefits of a socialist society over a market-driven capitalist society. However, it does lead nicely into a more generalized look at socialism as a system. Cohen examines the differences between a bourgeois capitalist society which promotes inherited wealth although discounts the importance of class as a marker of progression, a liberal capitalist system which promotes wealth distribution while also upholding differences in equality as an externality of the market capitalist system, and a market socialist system, which works harder to reduce the role of capital in the system, while maintaining inequalities based on personal choice.
Cohen points out that market socialism is not true socialism, as it does still uphold a market-capital system in some form.
However, it reduces the importance of capital as a wealth generating function, instead prioritizing wealth redistribution through systems of progressive taxation, penalties for inheritance and so on. There is a Utopian side to this system as well; Cohen cites other authors who talk about eliminating capital in some sense by giving each citizen in a country a portfolio of shares from private firms that cannot be sold for cash, but instead can be traded and built on throughout ones life this system, while sounding very interesting, is not elaborated on in much depth in this book.
Cohen also examines the differences in the moral and ethical side of a market capitalist system versus a socialist system. Cohen argues the first is based off of greed gaining as much return from others while paying the smallest amount one can and fear the need to personally provide for oneself, and ones family in a hostile and competitive market environment.
The second system is based off of communal sharing, close connectivity between members of a community hence the camping trip analogy earlier. It is a system where people provide for each other not because they are seeking a return or profit, but just because it is the right thing to do in the circumstance.
These sorts of communities certainly exist at a local level in most places, but are often discounted on a macro-scale. This is because a more socialist system is probably not as efficient as a market-capitalist system, although Cohen argues, so what?
Why would a community sacrifice its very core values of helping those in need, looking after ones neighbours, and so on just to tweak the efficiency scale up a notch or two? All in all, this was a short and compelling read, though obviously a bit shallow.
This is a small treatise that posits the big picture of socialism as a system of governance. It does not get bogged down too much in detail, although it certainly examines some economic and social factors in some depth. This book seemed to me a tad wide-eyed my taste preferences only , but certainly provides an interesting narrative on Socialism. I could easily and especially recommend this book to newcomers on the topic, or those interested in a lighter read on political theory. It is also not a terrible book for those interested in the topic in more depth, as this book, although big picture in nature, is grounded in terms of its discourse.
There are no theoretical market calculations or obtuse social theories here, but a simple analogy and an interesting explanation. Certainly worth a read for those interested in the topic.
Shelves: politics-and-political-theory Why Not Socialism? Cohen, is an essay discussing Socialism in a basic and conceptual form. Cohen begins by describing a camping trip, and juxtaposing two different scenarios: one in which a group of campers share food and supplies on the trip, and gather resources equitably ie. Which one would be a better trip? This is a simplistic argument to Why Not Socialism? This is a simplistic argument to be sure Cohen admits it personally and is certainly not a comprehensive look at the benefits of a socialist society over a market-driven capitalist society. However, it does lead nicely into a more generalized look at socialism as a system.
G. A. Cohen
The book brilliantly captures the essence of the socialist ethical complaint against market society. Why Not Socialism? The positive argument of his book is impressive, and there is a rather disarming combination of simplicity of presentation and example with a deep intellectual engagement with the issues. It is very clear that there is an analytically powerful mind at work here.