The End of Socialism
Is socialism morally superior to other systems of political economy, even if it faces practical difficulties? In The End of Socialism, James R. Otteson explores socialism as a system of political economy - that is, from the perspectives of both moral philosophy and economic theory. He examines the exact nature of the practical difficulties socialism faces, which turn out to be greater than one might initially suppose, and then asks whether the moral ideals it champions - equality, fairness, and community - are important enough to warrant attempts to overcome these difficulties nonetheless, especially in light of the alleged moral failings of capitalism. The result is an examination of the 'end of socialism', both in the sense of the moral goals it proposes and in the results of its unfolding logic.
- Electronic book text
- 05 Oct 2014
- CAMBRIDGE UNIVERSITY PRESS
- Cambridge University Press (Virtual Publishing)
- Cambridge, United Kingdom
Table of contents
1. What socialism and capitalism are; Part I. Socialism's Problems in Practice: 2. Knowledge and planning; 3. Knowledge: value, equality, and experts; 4. Knowledge and community; 5. The day-two problem; Part II. Socialism's Problems in Principle: 6. Economics and morality; 7. Respect and individuality; 8. Socialism's great mistake; 9. Prosperity; 10. Equality and freedom; 11. Fairness; Conclusion. Grapes sweet and sour.
'Distinguishing between what socialism has meant 'in principle' and what it has meant 'in practice', James Otteson deftly dissects the key claims that underlie the resurgent reliance on the state in society. In doing so, he harks back to a pre-Marxist conception of 'socialism', finessing a narrow focus on state-owned enterprise. This debate - the real debate - over socialism is as old as Plato, and as new as tomorrow's newspaper. A serious treatment of a serious subject.' Michael Munger, Duke University 'James Otteson is a very rare beast: he combines profound understanding with crystal-clear writing. This book is a devastating elucidation of the practical and theoretical difficulties that have caused the repeated failure of all systems of centralized planning, and socialism in particular.' Matt Ridley, author of The Rational Optimist 'James Otteson has written a comprehensive challenge to the socialist ideal that will be of interest to anyone concerned with the moral claims and implications of what are essentially the two competing economic systems of the world: socialism and capitalism ... The book is written for nonspecialists, but it nonetheless makes a powerful intellectual case that the moral values of socialism, which seem worthy in the abstract, lose their appeal when they are translated into public policy.' Bradley C. S. Watson, Journals of Market and Morality