Tag Archives | Ownership

Putting Socialism Back on the Agenda

Andrew Levine writes at Counterpunch:

Not long ago, in what now seems a different universe, it was still possible to talk about “hope” and “change” without irony.  And only a couple of decades before that, those words meant more than just holding reaction at bay.

Back when there was a flourishing left, “hope” and “change” were about moving the world forward – making the actual approach a rationally defensible ideal.  For more than an entire century, Marxists were preeminent among the forces of forward-looking hope and change.

They disagreed about many things, sometimes bitterly.  But all Marxists believed that socialism was capitalism’s future.  Along with others, they agreed that private ownership of society’s principal means of production would somehow someday give way to social or collective ownership.

Along with Marxism itself, this conviction has fallen on hard times.  The reasons why range from the empirical to the ridiculous to the tragic.

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The Free Market: Means or End?

Picture: Elembis (PD)

Jason Bernard Claxton writes at Counterpunch:

Free market advocates sometimes champion the free market as a means to an end, sometimes as an end in itself.  Sometimes the free market is better at achieving certain goals than any alternative, sometimes there is no alternative.  Sometimes the free market is the best way of achieving prosperity, security, and a good life for a people, sometimes the free market is “the only moral system.”  If it were clear at any given moment which justification were being offered, a lot of confusion might be avoided.  But free market advocates often take both positions within the same argument – a strategy that is rhetorically effective, but logically dubious.

When an owner’s right to dispose of property exactly as that owner desires is considered morally ultimate, then the free market becomes an end in itself.  And if individual property rights are so sacred that no state of affairs that market intervention could possibly bring about would justify the rights violations that market intervention implies, then it simply wouldn’t matter whether more market regulated economies are more productive than free market economies.

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