cohen - as. V CARL COHEN _ from Four Systems Carl Cohen is...

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Unformatted text preview: as. V CARL COHEN _ from Four Systems Carl Cohen is Professor of Philosophy at the University 7 of Michigan. (Source: Reprinted from Four Systems by Carl Cohen. Copyright © 1982 by Random House, inc.) QUESTIONS FOR REFLECTION 1. How does Cohen define socialism? What does it mean in practice? 2. What are Cohen's criticisms of free enterprise? Do you agree? - 3. Why, according to Cohen, is private ownership unfair? What conception of justice does Cohen use? 4. How does Cohen try to reconcile socialism with individual liberty? Does he succeed? Democracy Fulfilled We socialists agree that democracy is necessary and absolutely right. But it is not enough. Democracy is completed, fulfilled, by socialism—which is simply the democratic control of all resources in the Com— munity by society as a whole. Socialism makes democratic ideals concrete. In it the collective will of the people is put to the service of the people in their daily li’ves. Through socialism the common interests of all the citizens are pro- tected, their common needs met. The name “socialism” haswat least to many Ameri- can ears—a negative, even a threatening, connotation. Yet most ordinary people warmly supportw—under a different name—many activities that are truly so- cialist in nature. We all know that some things must be done for the community as a whole. And some things can be undertaken for the community only by the community, acting as a community. Construc- tive collective action in this spirit is socialism. How, for example, do we “provide for the corn- mon defense"? Why, through social action, of course. Armies and warships cannot be maintained by pri- 436 vate groups or individuals. National defense, under- taken jointly with democratic consent, is only one of many socialiSt enterprises that no one seriously questions. How do we make and enforce the criminal law? Collectively, of course. Citizens can neither estab— lish criminal codes and courts as individuals, nor punish as individuals. That would be the war of each against all, in which the lives of people would indeed prove nasty, poor, brutish, and short. The adoption of laws, and their enforcement, is an. essentially social aetivity. Nothing else would be feasible or sane. Everyone grants that; to this extent we are all socialists. Is not the same true of national foreign policy? We may differ as individuals, but do we not agree upon the need for one community position? And of health regulations? Do we allow the meat packers or the drug manufacturers to decide for themselves what is fit to eat or prescribe? And everyone now agrees on the need for community policies, collect rive undertakings to protect the environment, our forests and fish, animals and birds. Shall we not , have public parks or seashores? Shall we not join to _ rterprise? .vnership ‘s Cohen ism with :, under- inly one .eriously nal law? :r estab- 7 rals, nor : war of re would art. The t, is an ould be is extent policy? 0t agree ?And of ckers or mselVBS rne HOW , collec- Cllt, Our we not t join [0 protect our historical treasures and the beauties of our land? Absurd even to ask. To do these things we must, of course, act as a society, because as individu- als we are relatively helpless and ineffective. We will succeed, if we succeed at all, cooperatively, because there is absolutely no other way to have successful armies, just courts, or beautiful parks. All demo— cratic experience teaches the need-for collective action. Real democracy is social democracy, demo- cratic socialism. . - ' While we all practice socialism in many spheres, its applicability to other spheres in which it is equally necessary is widely denied. Sometimes manipulated by the rich and powerful, sometimes blinded by our own slogans, sometimes dreading unreal philosophical ghosts, we fear to take social action where we ought. We fail to complete our democracy. How can we complete it? Where would collective action have greatest impact on daily life? In the economy, of course. Action as a society is needed tnost of all in producing and distributing the neces- sities and comforts of ordinary human life. Social~ ism is democracy extended to the world of work and money. Socialism and Popular -W_ill All the wealth of the world~—the houses and food, the land and lumber and luxuries—is somehow divided and distributed. How is that done? And how should it be done? We socialists try to rethink such fundamental questions: Who gets what? And why? Satisfactory answers to these questions must, of course, prove acceptable to the masses. Being demo- crats above all, we trust the judgment of the people. Their choices, when fully informed, will be rational and fair. We lay it down as a restriction upon our- selves, therefore, that the great changes socialism requires must come only as the honest expression of the will of the citizens, through action by their freely elected representatives. An organic transformation of society can succeed only when genuinely willed by its members. True socialists—unlike some who falsely parade under that banner—never have and never will force their solutions on an unwilling -. Community. Democracies around the world, from COHEN "FOUR SYSTEMS 437 India to Sweden, have enthusiastically applied socialist theory to their problems, devising socialist solutions specially suitable to their circumstances. The same basic theory can be applied successfully, with American ingenuity, to American circum- stances. Confident that We can prove this to the satisfaction of the citizens concerned, we-comrnit ourselves without reservations to abide by thejudg- ment of the people after the case has been put fairly . before them. We compel no one; our socialism‘is democratic, through and through. Rich and Poor How the wealth of most is now divided is very plain to see. A few people get a great deal, and most people get just barely enough, or a little less than enough, to live decently. Rich and poor are the great classes of society, and everyone knows it well. Early de- mocracies accepted these stark inequities as natural and inevitable. We do not. Some democrats still accept them. Material success (they say) is open to everyone in a system of private enterprise, and rewards properly go to the industrious and the able, those ambitious enough to pull themselves out of poverty by effort and wit. some succeed, some do not, and most (they conclude) receive their just deserts. It isn’t so. That picture of “free enterprise" is a myth and always has been. in fact, by putting control of industry and finance into private hands, free enterprise'results in the ownership of more and more by fewer and fewer, making econornicjustice unattainable for most. For centuries, wherever capitalism has prevailed, the great body of wealth has rested in the pockets of a tiny fraction of the citi- zens, while the masses are divided between those who just get by on their wages, and those who are unemployed and poor, inadequately housed, and often hungry. That great division, betxveen those who have and those who have not, is the leading feature of a private enterprise economy; even when democratic. Those who have get more, because money and property are instruments for the ac-. cumulation of more money and more property. Economic freedom in such a system, for the vast majority, is only the freedom to work for another. 438, Working men and women are free to sweat for pay- checks, free to look for another job, and maybe—if their needs are desperate—free to go on welfare. These are false freedoms, not deserving the name. Why does it work out that way? Will the poor always be'withus? Ought each person to look out only for himself or herself and devil take the hind- most? We deny that this is the spirit ofa decent soci; ety. We do not accept the inevitability of poverty; we do not think a democracy need be a cutthroat enter- prise, and we know that cooperative action by the members of a society in theirjoint interests can pro- tect both the essential freedoms of each individual and the economic well-being of all. That rational cooperation is called socialism. Parks and Industries Consider this vivid contrast. No one questions the appropriateness of public parks—places for play and the enjOyment of nature, owned by the people, and operated by their elected representatives (and those they hire) in everyone‘s interest. Our parks (national, state, and municipal) are among our proudest possessions. Yes, possessions; we own them, each ofrus, and though some abuse them thoughtlessly, most of us love them and take satis~ faction in their beauty. We do not begrudge the need to tax ourselves to maintain them. We could sell the forests and the land, reduce our tax burden thereby, and leave all citizens to take care of their own recreational needs as well as they can. If unable to pay for access to private parks or clubs, or to afford a private lake or a canyon—well, that would be their lookout. Simply to formulate this attitude is to ex— hibit its absurdity. Natural beauty and opportunity for relaxation and play for ourselves and our chil- dren are deep human needs; we fully understand how vital it is that the limited resources of nature, the lakes and forests, streams and wildlife, be pre— served, in part at least, for our common and per- petual enjoyment. ' Compare with this the condition of the steel industry. Virtually all of the steel in the United States is produced by three companies: US. Steel, Republic Steel, Inland Steel. The private owners of these three companies—«a tiny fraction of our citi- r0“ JUSTICE ' WELFARE AND WORLD HUNGER Zens—literally possess, own as their private'prop- erty, the foundries, mills, and other facilities that constitute the literal foundation of almost all other industry. Virtually, nothing works without steel. Steel mills are not as pretty as parks, true, but are they any less necessary to the well-being of a peo- ple? Can any of us do without steel? Not for a day. Cars, trucks, ships, and trains are made of it. Hous- ing and communication depend utterly upon it. Kitchens and radios, elevators and pens—practically all tools and all conveniences require it. Hardly any activity, public or private, goes on without some use of iron or steel. Then why not exhibit the same com- munity concern [or steel that we exhibit for our parks? Why let a few capitalists charge us as they please (since we cannot control them) for what we must have? Why suppose that a fair price for steel includes an enormous profit—over and above all the costs of making and shipping the steel—for the pri- _Vate owners of the mills? 'What explains so blind an infatuation with “pri- vate enterprise”? Under its spell we allow ourselves to be manipulated by the private owners of the steel foundries, gouged (even in our own homes!) by the private owners of the telephone wires. Oil wells and forests, precious resources from our common earth, are exploited by giant corporations whose ultimate object is profit alone. We must wake to see that pro- ductive industry, vital to the life of a society, is prop- erly the possession of that society as a whole, not of private individuals or companies. The principles we apply unhesitaringly to parks apply with equal force to factories. Production as well as recreation can be a source of public pride and satisfactionr—when socialized. Socialism is nothing more than the general application of collective intelligence. Ever democracy, socialist or not, will seek to protect citizens‘ political rightseubut only socialist democracies protect citizens‘ economic rights. Free- dom of speech and assembly are priceless; are not freedom from unemployment and hunger equally so? We think so. The same collective action needed to defend the citizens against aggression from with— out is needed to organize production rationally and to distribute wealth justly, within our own borders. in the economic sphere as much as any other, co- operation and foresight are central. The public own- ership of industry is the only way to achieve them. .mrust—vfikuhlwm 438 Working men and women are free to sweat for pay- checks, free to look for another job, and maybe~if their needs are desperate—free to go on welfare. These are false freedoms, not deserving the name. Why does it work out that way? Will the poor always be with us? Ought each person to look out only for himself or herself and devil take the hind- most? We deny that this is the spirit of a decent soci- ety. We do not accept the inevitability of poverty; we do not think a democracy need be a cutthroat enter- prise, and we know that cooperative action by the members of a society in their joint interests can pro- tect both the essential freedoms of each individual and the economic well-being of all. That rational cooperation is called socialism. Parks and Industries Consider this vivid contrast. No one questions the appropriateness of public parks—places for play and the enjoyment of nature, owned by the people, and operated by their elected representatives (and those they hire) in everyone’s interest. Our parks (national, state, and municipal) are among our proudest possessions. Yes, possessions; we 'own them, each of us, and though some abuse them thoughtlessly, most of us love them and take satis- faction in their beauty. We do not begrudge the need to tax ourselves to maintain them. We could sell the forests and the land, reduce our tax burden thereby, and leave all citizens to take care of their own recreational needs as well as they can. If unable to pay for access to private parks or clubs, or to afford a private lake 01' a canyon—well, that would be their lookout. Simply to formulate this attitude is to ex- hibit its absurdity. Natural beauty and opportunity for relaxation and play for ourselves and our chil- dren are deep human needs; we fully understand how vital it is that the limited resources of nature, the lakes and forests, streams and wildlife, be pre- served, in part at least, for our common and per- petual enjoyment. Compare with this the condition of the steel industry. Virtually all of the steel in the United States is produced by three companies: US. Steel, Republic Steel, Inland Steel. The private owners of these three companiesH—a tiny fraction of our citi- JUSTICE I \VELFARE AND \VORLD HUNGER zens—literally possess, own as their private prop- ' erty, the foundries, mills, and other'facilities that constitute the literal foundation of almost all other industry. Virtually nothing works without steel. Steel mills are not as pretty as parks, true, but are they any less necessary to the well-being of a peo- ple? Can any of us do without steel? Not for aday. Cars, trucks, ships, and trains are made of it. Hous- ing and communication depend utterly upon it. Kitchens and radios, elevators and pens—practically all tools and all conveniences require it. Hardly any activity, public or private, goes on without some use ofiron or steel. Then why not exhibit the same com- munity concern for steel that we exhibit for our parks? Why let a few capitalists charge us as they please (since we cannot control them) for what we must have? Why suppose that a fair price for steel includes an enormous profit—over and above all the costs of making and shipping the steel—for the pri- vate owners of the mills? , What explains so blind an infatuation with "pri- vate enterprise"? Under its spell we allow ourselves to be manipulated by the private owners of the steel foundries, gouged (even in our own homes!) by the private owners of the telephone wires. Oil wells and forests, precious resources from our common earth, are exploited by‘giant corporations whose ultimate object is profit alone. We must wake to see that pro- ductive industry, vital to the life of a society, is prop- erly the possession of that society as a whole, not of private individuals or companies. The principles we apply unhesitatingly to parks apply with equal force to factories. Production as well as recreation can be 'a source of public pride and satisfaction—when socialized. Socialism is nothing more than the general application of collective intelligence. Every democracy, socialist or not, will seek to protect citizens’ political rights—but only socialist democracies protect citizens‘ economic rights. Free- dom of speech and assembly are priceless; are not freedom from unemployment and hunger equally so? We think so. The same collective action needed to defend the citizens against aggression from with- out is needed to organize production rationally and - to distribute wealth justly, within our own borders. in the economic sphere as much as any other. 90‘ _ operation and foresight are central. The public own— ership’of industry is the only way to achieve them. rte prop- :ties that all other .msmd -, but are of a peo- :'or a day. it. Hous- upon it. ' ractically trdiy any some use me com- ; for our 9 as they what we for steel ve all the r the pri- vith “pri- murselves the steel .3) by the veils and on earthI ultimate that pro- . is prop— le, not of giples we ual force in can be n—when te general seek to ' socialist us. Free- ; are not ' equally -1 needed nn with- ially and borders. when (20' )lic OWH‘ ve them. The Unfairness of Private Ownership _ History confirms this. The private ownership of productive industry has always resulted in depriva- tion for most, luxury for a few. The owners of facto- ries and mines are forced, by competition, to exploit both workers and resources. Where private interests have been the foundation-of thesystem, they have always been advanced at the expense of public, interests. Why not build a power project in the heart of the Hudson River valley or on the seashores of Maine? It is not a concern for beauty but for book- keeping that pays off. Drill for oil wherever it can be found—in the last of the forests, on the beaches, on the lawn of the state capitol. Business is business. The great redwoods of California, each hundreds of years old and a monument to nature‘s grandeur, fall by the thousands; the forests are clear—cut, left as ugly, muddy hillsides. The drive for profit is the sharpest of all saws. The system of private ownership encourages, even demands, selfishness at every turn. Let buyers, employees, the general public beware! Cornering the market in computing equipment, controlling access to the telephone system, delaying the market- ing of steers in order to raise the price of beef, steadily increasing the price of gasoline when petro— leutn is in short supply—~all such maneuvers are within the rules of the capitalist game. Sharp play and toughness yield riches; generosity yields bank'- ruptcy; and no one may refuse to play. To limit the injustices done in the name of pri- vate enterprise, some have tried to adjust the rules of the game. it does not work. Fair business practice codes, antitrust legislation, minimum-wage laws, and the like, do restrain some of the excesses of the capitalists. But such changes are no more than cos- metics, mitigating but not eliminating the real evil. Injustice flows not merely from the exceSSes of capitalism but from the essence of the system of pri- vate ownership itself. Changing the rules cannot eliminate exploitation and gross inequality; only changing the entire game can. If everyone is to be free from economic need, Everyone must have the right to participate in plan- ning production and Controlling distribution. That - can be only when industrial production and distri- . b ution is entirely in public handsJust as those who c-onen - FOUR SYSTEMS 439 are not represented in parliament will suffer politi- cally, those not represented iii—economic decision making will surely suffer in the market. The very argument that justifies democracy in the political sphere justifies democracy in the economic sphere as well. Economic injustice in a private enterprise A system is not an accident but a necessary outcome. To eliminate that injustice we must end the dis- proportion in the powers of its elements, just as the disproportionate powers of political elements were finally ended by giving the vote to all citizens. The case for socialism is the case for economic democracy. The Inhumanity of the Market Socialism is simply economic good sense. The long- term fruits of capitalism have become too bitter: cycles of boom and bust, unemployment and wel~ fare, personal dissatisfaction and business failure. Inflation steals from everyone (except those who can raise prices and rents quickly); depression demoralizes everyone. Disorder and distress are widespread. Our land itself is abused, our water poi- soned, and our air fouled. When everything is left “up for grabs," the grabbing will be vicious and the outcome chaotic. There can be no intelligent plan- ning for future needs, no rational distribution of products or materials in shortsupply, no reasonable deployment of human energies, in an economy in which the fundamental rule is dog~eat-dog. Legisla- tion designed to blunt the fangs can do no more than reduce the depth of a serious wound. Capitalism relies upon the so—called "market economy." The prices asked or offered for raw mate- rials and finished products it leaves entirely to pri- vate parties, individuals or business firms, who enter a supposedly open market. This free market, it is argued, will be self-regulating; supply and de- mand will rationalize prices, fairness and produc» tivity will be ensured by competition, enterprise encouraged by the hope of profiit. None of this actually works in the way capitalist mythology depicts it. The system relies upon the wisdom and power of economic fairies that never did exist. Nothing in the market is dependable, since everything within it fluctuates in response to 440 If? JUSTICE ' WELFARE AND WORLD HUNGER unpredictable and uncontrollable factors: the tastes . of buyers, the moods of sellers, the special circum- stances of either, accidents causing short supply, or fashions transforming reasonable supply into glut. Rationality and fairness through competition? _ No claim could be more fraudulent. In a capitalist A - market prices depend largely upon the relative strengths (or weaknesses) of the-traders. If I own all the orchards, and am therefore the seller of all the cherries in the market, you, dear buyer, will pay my price or’eat no cherries. Steel, timber, farm machin- ery are for sale in the market. Go, dear friend, and bargain with the sellers. Anyone tempted to believe capitalist propaganda about the give and take in the market should put it to the test. Reflect upon your own recent experiences as a shopper: You were told the price of the item you looked at~—a TV set or a can of beansmand you paid that price or left without. That is how the market works for ordinary folks. Giant firms, manufacturers or chain retailers, may bargain with suppliers on occasionm—but even then the stronger get the better deals. Those who control resources and money control the market, manipu- lating it in their own interests. Those who enter the market (either as buyer or seller) with great needs but little power are squeezed and exploited. The weak get twisted, the strong do the twisting. That’s free enterprise. Fairness? Markets do not know the meaning of the word. All’s fair in war—and market competition is perpetual war, through guile and threat, on a thousand fronts. Rewards go to the aggressive; the keys to victory are accumulation, possession, con- trol. And rules for fair dealing? They will be evaded, broken surreptitiously, even ignored—just like the rules of war—when it profits the combatants. Private enterprise is worse than unfair. It is no- fair; it does not recognize justice as any concern for homo economicus. The only things that count, for it, are the things that can be counted. Such a sys- tem is by its nature, explicitly inhumane. To render it humane it is necessary to transform it into an instrument for humans. Socialism makes human concerns the fundamental concerns in the design, manufacture, and distribution of material goods. Only thus can an economic system achieve justice. What should appear in that holiest of capitalist places, "the bottom line"? A record of increased hu- man satisfactions? Or a record of profit? The Cruelty of Capitalism “Ah, but that callous system you attack," replies the capitalist, “is the most wonderfully productive in all the world. We do not, it is true, share everything and share alike~but by rewarding personal ambition and intellect, we encourage and tap the productivity of all. Capitalist societies may not be perfectly equitable, but they are rich—and that, in the end, is what we all want." The true colors of the beast begin to show. Riches, material acquisition, is for it~but not for us —the paramount objective. Socialists think of hu- man life in broader and deeper terms. For us money and goods are servants, not masters. General human well-being, we say, is the mark of a good society. Material wealth is only our tool. Even on their own ground, however—measuring everything by prosperity—the case for capitalism fails. That private ownership leads to greater pro- ductivity is also myth. Enormous growth there has been, of course, in all modern economies; but that growth came with invention and discovery, with technological advance, with mass production and automation. It comes in capitalist countries and socialist countries, when relatively primitive meth- ods of production are replaced by more efficient systems. Human intelligence, not capitalism, should get credit for that. There is no reason to believe that human intelligence must be less energetic, or less . inventive, when put to common service than when serving private ends. The ironic consequence of that private service is deprivation, the hidden lack of that very prosperity capitalism claims. In a system of private ownership the factories and mines must produce at a profit or not at all. Most steel foundriesfiunder capitalism— operate well below capacity most of the time. Pro- duce too much steel and the price will drop: What 7 profit, after all, is there in that? Houses and apart- . ments are needed by tens of millions ofAmericallsi we have the capacity to build that housing, but it goes largely unused. Carpenters and masons null.- ncreased hu- It? replies the luctive in all :rything and a1 ambition productivity )e perfectly i tlte end, is n to show. it not for us wink of hu- .r us money eral human nod society. —measuring capitalism reater pro- t there has -5; but that avery, with tction and ntries and tive meth» e efficient -m, should elieve that ric, or less hart when service is )rosperity awnership 1 profit or )italism~ ime. I’FO' op; what nd apilfl' ncricans: Hg, but it .0115 Will! I ' ket. it yielded no profit. the demand for profit, floats like a chip on the nomic ocean. So it is with eve highest degreefibut the “ skills and products are bro Again and again capitalism carries itself, now with unbridled enthusiasm, now with unrelieved desper- ation, to the brink of dissolution. “Business cy— cles”—the euphemistic name for the manic booms ing to pure chance and priv ate avarice the control of our essential common business. The resulting hutnan misery has been incalculable. After a chain In that great depression the true face of capital- ism showed itself. Hunger was rampant in the midst of plenty. While humiliated citizens waited in soup . lines for a dole ,Slore's ofwheat; we killed and buried great nutnbers 0i pigs; we milked the cows and literally poured out the milk onto the ground—because, in the free mar- M ry industry. Production within the plant may be organized and efficient in the capital now held by the community pay for, at a fair price. But we would onfiscation by a few of the eople have a right to advance re through state action. They economic sphere as in every cl of their end the surreptitious c common wealth. The p their own general welfa have that right in the other. Individuals will not be deprive COHEN ' supply of industrialgoods to unpredict forces; or the control of essenti vate greed. The market canno sanity is a human quality and humanity whatever. . . . able market a1 foodstuffs to pri- . t be'san'e, because the market has no Public Ownership Reasonable human beings can end all this. Produc- tion and distribution can be designed for human service. Cooperation is the key. Society must be organized with mutual service as its fundamental theme. That to us; it lies at the core of our religious ideals. We must re practice. highest moral and alize these ideals in property must be publicly ion and distribution must be 11 good. Public ownership and platminghacting upon both we can readily achieve the substance of democratic socialistn. Public ownership is the b of what? Of the means by and work is carried on. P owned; and (2) product planned for the commo ase. Public ownership which goods are produced tivate persons are not enti- o confiscate anything. The private owners we would have 442 personal effects, their houses or cars, their books or boots. indeed, we seek the enlargement of such pri- vate' goods for individual satisfaction. Individual human beings, after all, are what government is created to serve. But productive property is our common good, our collective concern. We will .' move it-«justly—«from private to public hands. The Elimination of Private Profit The nationalization of all industry will have two consequences. First, profit for some from the work of others will be no more. If there is surplus produced by the operation of the utility companies, or the design of computers, or the distribution of any manufactured goods, let that surplus return to the treasury of the entire community. Let all productive systems be used, we say, not for private enrichment but for public benefit, and for continuing invest- ment in the components of public production themselves. Workers should know that they labor each for all, and that any value they produce beyond what they receive in wages will not be taken from them but returned to them in some form of general benefit. One of those benefits will be the reduction of prices; when profits do not need to be squeezed from an enterprise, the consumer need only be charged the actual cost of that product or service. Goods and services will at last be fairly priced. . . . Planning and Democracy [One] major objection to economic planning is the claim that it will cost us our freedom. This is as false as the claim that it does not work, and more pernicious. Here lies the nub of the conflict between demo- cratic socialists and our private enterprise critics. Freedom, says the critic, is the paramount social value. The freedom of each individual as an eco— nomic agent must be curtailed, they argue, by any large-scale economic plan. Once the goals are set, and the role of each economic element fixed, every private person must be sharply restricted in the use of his own resources. What can be bought and what can be sold or invested will be determined by the - plan. The individual will be forced to work where, {0“ jUSTlCE ' W'ELFARE AND \VORLD HUNGER and when, and as the socialist bureaucrats have decided. Economic planning, they conclude, is but a pretty name for economic slavery. The complaint is entirely unfounded. it is plausi- ble only because it supposes, falsely, that economic planning under socialism will be imposed from above, by arbitrary authorities over whom we will have no ' control. Not 50. Democratic soCialism brings democratic planning. in an economy that is publicly owned and managed, we are the planners. Long-range designs for the allocation of resources, decisions about what is to be produced and how it is to be distributed, will come not from a secret, all- powerful elite but from public bodies, publicly selected, acting publicly, and answerable to the general public. This genuine public accountability is absent, we agree, in some countries calling themselves “social- ist." We despise that economic czarism as bitterly as do our capitalist friends. That is a false socialism which betrays the democratic spirit to which we are committed. Free citizens, accustomed to governing their own affairs, jealous of their own ultimate au- thority, will not be fooled by deceitful talk. They— wel—will know when our most important business is truly under our own control, and we will not stand for any other state of affairs. We will give up none ofour freedom to do our own planning for our own needs. To the contrary, real freedom of action will be magnified in a truly democratic socialism by its increase of economic security for individuals and economic rationality in the whole society. The critics‘ picture of socialist planning is a caricature of the real thing. They picture each citi- zen as a mindless cog in a great machine that grinds on unfeelingly, insensitive to mistakes or changing conditions. But the truly insensitive economy is the tin-planned one, the economy that cannot respond to human needs because it responds to nothing human at all. In that disordered economy the indi— vidual is indeed helpless, a bobbing cork on uncon- trolled currents. Those currents are brought under control only by giving each citizen a voice in the control of economic as well as political affairs. Dcm‘ ocratic planning ensures that voice. The plans will be ours. We can adjust them as we make errors and learn from them; we can refine them as circum— stances change. We can scrap had plans and dEVlSC :rats have mic, is but t is plausi- economic )SECl from m we will socialism my that is planners. resources, ind how it secret, all- publicly ale to the absent, we es “social- bitterly as socialism ich we are governing iimate au- lk. They— t business c will not ill give up mg for our i of action cialism by iduals and Y. :ning is a each citi- . 'hat grinds. ' changing omy is the it respond 0 nothing the indi- on uncon- iglil under .ice in the airs. Dem— plans will errors and l5 circum- ind devise. new ones as we develop new needs or new capaci- .ties. A planned economy, honestly socialized, Will not be our master but our servant. Let our critiCs not forget that our first principle throughout is self- government, democracy. Planning and Liberty . For self-governed citizens liberty is, indeed, a para- mount concern. And what is liberty, after all? It con- sists of the ability and the right of individuals to make choices in determining their own conduct. The greater the range of their choices, the greater their freedom. No one supposes that liberty is abso- luteI that individuals can be free to do entirely as they please without restriction. Even the best of our laws limit each person‘s freedom to do some sorts of things in order that all of us may be genuinely free to do many other, more valuable sorts of things. The more complex a society, the more essential are some kinds of self-restriction for the extension of real freedom within it. We witness this rational trade-off everywhere. Primary education is made compulsory in order that all may enjoy the freedom possible only for COHEN ' FOUR'SYSTEMS 443 , those who can read and write. Social security taxa- tion ensures freedom from want in old age. We may resort to a military draft, reluctantly, to keep the country free. And so on. Having to send our children _ to school, being deprived of some of our income by taxationathese and Other sound policies clearly _ limit us. We accept such limitations in the interest of the greater liberties they promote. 1n the economic sphere such trade-offs ' are essential. Even advocates of "free enterprise" readily admit the necessity of legislation that hinders pri- vate monopolies, obliges honest business reports, forbids the sale of untested drugs or spoiled foods, and so on. Such restrictions are justified by their benefits in safeguarding other more essential eco- nomic goods. Limits on the absolute freedom of private eco- nomic agents will be entailed by socialized plan- ning; we make no bones about that. Some of these limits—on the freedom to own, buy, and sell pro— ductive resources like factories and farms—will be painful to some, just as universal taxation or com- pulsory schooling are burdensome now to many. The freedoms gained, from economic insecurity and injustice, will be vastly greater than those given up, and vastly more important. . . . ...
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This note was uploaded on 04/09/2012 for the course PHIL 330 taught by Professor Staff during the Spring '08 term at Texas A&M.

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cohen - as. V CARL COHEN _ from Four Systems Carl Cohen is...

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