6. Socialism - 12 Non-Marxian Socialism J E King Subject...

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12. Non-Marxian Socialism J. E. King Subject Economics » History of Thought Key-Topics Marxism , socialism DOI: 10.1111/b.9780631225737.2003.00013.x 12.1 Introduction A socialist can be defined as anyone who asserts that capitalism has very serious problems, and who also believes that a substantial degree of common ownership is necessary if those problems are to be solved. Thus socialism covers a very wide range of opinions, from revolutionary anarcho-syndicalists to moderate social democrats and even (at the margin) some conservatives ( Lichtheim, 1983 [1970] ). It does exclude, however, the essentially neoliberal advocates of a (post-1989) “Third Way.” Economics can also be defined very broadly, to include any discussion of production, consumption, distribution, or exchange, whether it is conducted by specialist economists, by political activists, or by social philosophers. Even “non-Marxist” is an elastic term, as the instances of Rudolf Hilferding, Oskar Lange, and John Roemer illustrate (see sections 12.3, 12.5, and 12.9). There is, inevitably, some overlap with Geert Reuten's chapter on Marxism and with Warren Samuels's chapter on utopian economics. 12.2 Socialism Before Marx, 1800–50 Arguments for some form of socialism date back to classical antiquity. The case for beginning this survey around 1800 is a simple one: all the writers considered here preached a socialism of affluence, denying the Malthusian claim that nature placed severe limits on material progress. For them, capitalism stood condemned for perpetuating poverty in the midst of potential plenty. The rise of modern industry, they asserted, demonstrated that human ingenuity was boundless; social, political, and (above all) economic institutions were to blame for the continuing misery of the mass of the population, not divine displeasure or the niggardliness of nature. Among the most important of the early British socialists were John Francis Bray, John Gray, Thomas Hodgkin, Robert Owen, and William Thompson ( Thompson, 1998 ). They all attacked Malthus and his followers, sometimes drawing on Ricardo and other classical economists to substantiate their critique, and for this reason are frequently referred to as the “Ricardian socialists.” The first and most serious defect of the existing order, they maintained, was an indefensible degree of inequality. At this point they often invoked the labor theory of value, interpreted (as it had been by John Locke) as a theory of natural right. Since each productive individual was entitled to the full fruits of his own labor, the working man was clearly receiving much less than his due. Most early socialists attributed the gross injustice of the contemporary income distribution to inequality in economic relations, in particular the
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prevalence of unequal exchange. Bray set out a very clear theory of exploitation, derived from a theory of surplus labor ( Bray, 1931 [1839] ; King, 1983 ). The capitalist system was also criticized on efficiency grounds, since periodic industrial crises
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6. Socialism - 12 Non-Marxian Socialism J E King Subject...

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