Market, State, and Community: Theoretical Foundations of Market Socialism

Market, State, and Community: Theoretical Foundations of Market Socialism

Market, State, and Community: Theoretical Foundations of Market Socialism

Market, State, and Community: Theoretical Foundations of Market Socialism

Synopsis

Can we conceive of a market economy that fulfills the ideals of socialism? Here, Miller provides a comprehensive examination, from the standpoint of political theory, of an economy in which market mechanisms retain a central role, but in which capitalist patterns of ownership have been superseded. He shows that liberal ideas of freedom, justice, and efficiency cannot be used to vindicate laissez-faire capitalism, and rebuts left-wing criticisms of a socialist market economy. Justifying his ideas as a workable option, he then presents a new model of the socialist state, whose central idea is that of democratic citizenship.

Excerpt

This book contains the fruits of a dozen years' reflection on the question whether it is possible to envisage a market economy that fulfils the core ideals of socialism. Its plan may become clearer if I explain how my thinking has evolved over that period. I began in the early 1970s with fairly ill-defined socialist beliefs that seemed naturally to entail an antipathy to markets as a means of economic co-ordination, a point of view which I suppose is still fairly common. I was shaken out of it by encountering, in the middle part of that decade, various libertarian writings that set out polemically, but still powerfully, the arguments in favour of markets. These encounters left me with two basic convictions. One was that the libertarian position itself--the belief in a minimal state and economic laissez-faire--was ill founded and untenable. the other was that the pro-market arguments found in libertarian writings were none the less strong in themselves, and deserved to convince socialists. To render these two convictions coherent required a two-pronged strategy. the first line of attack was to expose, as clearly as possible, the fallacies of the libertarian position in its various guises, without rejecting its basic insight into the virtue of markets. the second line was to work out a theory of socialism that included a full-blooded, unapologetic commitment to a market economy.

I pursued these two tasks more or less side by side for several years. the results can be found in the first and second parts of the book respectively. As these investigations neared their end, a third issue took on increasing significance. What kind of political system would be needed if a socialist market economy was to function in an ethically acceptable way? Answering this question required as radical a break with traditional socialist ideas as did the defence of market socialism as an economic system. the results are presented in the third part of the book, which proposes an account of the politics of democratic socialism.

Preliminary versions of some parts of this work have already appeared in print, as acknowledged below. Preparing the book itself has involved more or less extensive rewriting of this . . .

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