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Why Not Socialism?

by

Why Not Socialism? Cover

 

Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

Is socialism desirable? Is it even possible? In this concise book, one of the world's leading political philosophers presents with clarity and wit a compelling moral case for socialism and argues that the obstacles in its way are exaggerated.

There are times, G. A. Cohen notes, when we all behave like socialists. On a camping trip, for example, campers wouldn't dream of charging each other to use a soccer ball or for fish that they happened to catch. Campers do not give merely to get, but relate to each other in a spirit of equality and community. Would such socialist norms be desirable across society as a whole? Why not? Whole societies may differ from camping trips, but it is still attractive when people treat each other with the equal regard that such trips exhibit.

But, however desirable it may be, many claim that socialism is impossible. Cohen writes that the biggest obstacle to socialism isn't, as often argued, intractable human selfishness--it's rather the lack of obvious means to harness the human generosity that is there. Lacking those means, we rely on the market. But there are many ways of confining the sway of the market: there are desirable changes that can move us toward a socialist society in which, to quote Albert Einstein, humanity has "overcome and advanced beyond the predatory stage of human development."

Review:

"Cohen certainly makes some interesting points, and in a remarkably short space covers many of the pertinent points in this ongoing argument." ---Ben Parker, Bookgeeks.co.UK

Book News Annotation:

The question is not rhetorical, explains Cohen (emeritus, U. of Oxford). He presents what he finds to be a compelling preliminary case for socialism, and investigates whether or not it might survive further reflection. His analogy is a camping trip where socialist forms are clearly preferable to alternatives. He teases out the principles of equality and community that make the mode of organization attractive, then asks whether those principles make socialism desirable in society as a whole, and identifies difficulties in establishing socialism in larger society that are not present in the small camping trip. The essay originally appeared in Democratic Equality: What Went Wrong, edited by Edward Broadbent and published by the University of Toronto Press in 2001. Annotation ©2009 Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)

Synopsis:

"Why Not Socialism? very elegantly advances philosophical arguments that Cohen has famously developed over the past twenty years, and it does so in a manner that is completely accessible to nonphilosophers. The book brilliantly captures the essence of the socialist ethical complaint against market society. Why Not Socialism? is a very timely book."--Hillel Steiner, University of Manchester

"Cohen makes out the case for the moral attractiveness of socialism based on the rather homely example of a camping trip. 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."--Jonathan Wolff, author of Why Read Marx Today?

Synopsis:

Is socialism desirable? Is it even possible? In this concise book, one of the world's leading political philosophers presents with clarity and wit a compelling moral case for socialism and argues that the obstacles in its way are exaggerated.

There are times, G. A. Cohen notes, when we all behave like socialists. On a camping trip, for example, campers wouldn't dream of charging each other to use a soccer ball or for fish that they happened to catch. Campers do not give merely to get, but relate to each other in a spirit of equality and community. Would such socialist norms be desirable across society as a whole? Why not? Whole societies may differ from camping trips, but it is still attractive when people treat each other with the equal regard that such trips exhibit.

But, however desirable it may be, many claim that socialism is impossible. Cohen writes that the biggest obstacle to socialism isn't, as often argued, intractable human selfishness--it's rather the lack of obvious means to harness the human generosity that is there. Lacking those means, we rely on the market. But there are many ways of confining the sway of the market: there are desirable changes that can move us toward a socialist society in which, to quote Albert Einstein, humanity has "overcome and advanced beyond the predatory stage of human development."

About the Author

G. A. Cohen (1941-2009) was emeritus fellow of All Souls College, University of Oxford. His books include "Karl Marx's Theory of History: A Defence" (Princeton), "If You're an Egalitarian, How Come You're So Rich?", and "Rescuing Justice and Equality".

Table of Contents

CHAPTER I: The Camping Trip

CHAPTER II: The Principles Realized on the Camping Trip

CHAPTER III: Is the Ideal Desirable?

CHAPTER IV: Is the Ideal Feasible? Are the Obstacles to It Human Selfishness, or Poor Social Technology?

CHAPTER V: Coda

Acknowledgment

Product Details

ISBN:
9780691143613
Author:
Cohen, Ga
Publisher:
Princeton University Press
Author:
Cohen, G. A.
Location:
Princeton
Subject:
Socialism
Subject:
Political Ideologies - Communism & Socialism
Subject:
Political
Subject:
Ethics & Moral Philosophy
Subject:
Philosophy
Subject:
Political philosophy
Subject:
Sociology
Subject:
Economics
Subject:
Politics-Leftist Studies
Copyright:
Publication Date:
August 2009
Binding:
HARDCOVER
Grade Level:
College/higher education:
Language:
English
Pages:
96
Dimensions:
6 x 4 in 4 oz

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Related Subjects

History and Social Science » Law » General
History and Social Science » Politics » Leftist Studies
History and Social Science » Politics » Socialism
Humanities » Philosophy » Ethics
Humanities » Philosophy » General

Why Not Socialism? New Hardcover
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$16.95 In Stock
Product details 96 pages Princeton University Press - English 9780691143613 Reviews:
"Review" by , "Cohen certainly makes some interesting points, and in a remarkably short space covers many of the pertinent points in this ongoing argument." ---
"Synopsis" by , "Why Not Socialism? very elegantly advances philosophical arguments that Cohen has famously developed over the past twenty years, and it does so in a manner that is completely accessible to nonphilosophers. The book brilliantly captures the essence of the socialist ethical complaint against market society. Why Not Socialism? is a very timely book."--Hillel Steiner, University of Manchester

"Cohen makes out the case for the moral attractiveness of socialism based on the rather homely example of a camping trip. 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."--Jonathan Wolff, author of Why Read Marx Today?

"Synopsis" by , Is socialism desirable? Is it even possible? In this concise book, one of the world's leading political philosophers presents with clarity and wit a compelling moral case for socialism and argues that the obstacles in its way are exaggerated.

There are times, G. A. Cohen notes, when we all behave like socialists. On a camping trip, for example, campers wouldn't dream of charging each other to use a soccer ball or for fish that they happened to catch. Campers do not give merely to get, but relate to each other in a spirit of equality and community. Would such socialist norms be desirable across society as a whole? Why not? Whole societies may differ from camping trips, but it is still attractive when people treat each other with the equal regard that such trips exhibit.

But, however desirable it may be, many claim that socialism is impossible. Cohen writes that the biggest obstacle to socialism isn't, as often argued, intractable human selfishness--it's rather the lack of obvious means to harness the human generosity that is there. Lacking those means, we rely on the market. But there are many ways of confining the sway of the market: there are desirable changes that can move us toward a socialist society in which, to quote Albert Einstein, humanity has "overcome and advanced beyond the predatory stage of human development."

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