G. A. Cohen. The question that forms the title of this short book is not intended of promoting socialism’s principles not in the mere small, within the confined. Is socialism desirable? Is it even G. A. Cohen Socialists therefore face two distinct questions, which are often not treated as distinctly as they should be. Defending socialism is a tall order these days, so it is a bit surprising to see an unabashed attempt. The late G. A. Cohen was a distinguished political.

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Consider just one that applies to the conclusions he draws from all four cases. He thinks there are two possible reasons given for why it might not be feasible – the limitations on human nature and the lack of social technology. It is refreshing that Cohen he confesses his “agnosticism” about the feasibility of overcoming “the system socialidm predation” as Einstein and Cohen call capitalism. But how comes once we leave the camping trip those socialist values of equality and community are seen as nasty, ideological, and not worth consideration?

But too much discrepancy in benefit will be inconsistent with the Principle of Community since it will create certain kinds of divisions.

Mises Review

It’s a neat project, but in the end it falls short of what I think Cohen must have imagined he was creating. In summary he takes a camping trip ran on the principles of capitalism and contrasts it with a cohem trip ran on the principles of socialism.

They would already know if they agree with socialism or not. The first elaborates the social-ethical principles realized on camping trips, the second asks whether the camping ideal provides a desirable guide for the organization of the economy of society at large, and the third explores whether achieving spcialism ideal is feasible. Should we view society as a giant camping trip, in which material goods rank far below the benefits of friendly and equal relations between everyone?


The bigger problem he thinks is that we don’t have the social technology, the know-how to harness more altruistic motivations on a sufficiently large scale to make socialism work. In the fourth chapter he briefly introduces some forms of socialism and touches on reasons why they fail to fully realize the Clearly a short synoptic on whether or not socialism is desirable or feasible, in which Mr.

Cohen then argues that large-scale societies would be morally better if they were socialist. Where did we get the pots and pans, canoes, soccer balls, and so forth? Such coercion is a strong argument against Socialism that isn’t fully addressed by the book; however, the author concedes that the instrumental view of markets proposed by Market Socialist authors and that finds its origins in Smith and Mandeville offers a way of “recruit[ing] low-grade motives to Although this sounds rather optimistic, Cohen is in fact far from certain that this ‘design problem’ can be solved.

I do no think the right conclusion is to give up. If socialism was actually enacted, how is money still functioning? Sylvia demands payment when she finds a good fishing spot. Oct 16, Jon athan Nakapalau rated it it was amazing Shelves: Can we engineer appropriate mechanisms to run the economy on generosity?

Review of Why Not Socialism? Of course, he doesn’t have time to seriously argue practical concerns in a book so short, and Cohen’s real project isn’t to say that socialism is possible, but that it’s desirable.

Gerald A. Cohen, Why not Socialism?

If he does, then the libertarian has no quarrel with him. Once people received their market incomes, people would agree to redistribute them, following egalitarian requirements. For instance, all forms of socialism that he considers retain money as the universal equivalent of exchange. First, as mentioned before, he wrongly thinks that the free market depends on base motives.

Bourgeois equality that opposes “socially constructed status restrictions, both formal and This really is a fantastic book in how much it does in such little space. I don’t agree Harry should get JUST perch, but maybe he could get a little more because of his fishing skill. But enough has been written about that issue. Which one would be a better trip?


If people did not behave in the way Cohen urges on us, would they not be within their rights? The heart of the essay divides neatly into three sections. Certain contemporary overenthusiastic market socialists tend, contrariwise, to forget that the market is intrinsically repugnant, because they are blinded by their belated discovery of the market’s instrumental value.

This essay noy sincere and honest. There are no theoretical market calculations or obtuse social soxialism here, but a simple analogy and an interesting explanation.

Thanks for telling us about the problem. Further, sofialism a market society, the freedom to amass wealth restricts the choices available to others.

By no means did he abandon socialism, but his arguments for it became purely ethical: The campers care about one another, and care that they care about one another.

Why Not Socialism?

Another problem with using the camping-trip analogy does not escape Cohen’s attention. The way he probes issues carefully AND care-free, in a way that exuberantly honest, all expressed with an almost child-like naivete, is quite inspiring.

Cohen has elsewhere explained in detail his rejection of Lockean property rights, at least in the variant defended by Robert Nozick; but unless one agrees with him in this rejection, his case for socialism does not succeed. This is z very short book – about the length of a journal article. On a hill in the distance, we see the perfect picnic spot.