A Future for Socialism

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Harvard University Press, 1994 - Business & Economics - 178 pages
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Many people point to recent events‚e"the collapse of the Soviet Union, the electoral defeat of the Sandinistas‚e"as proof that capitalism has triumphed over socialism once and for all. In A Future for Socialism, a noted economist argues that socialism is not dead but merely in need of modernizing. John Roemer believes that the hallmark of socialism is egalitarianism‚e"equality of opportunity for self-realization and welfare, for political influence, and for social status‚e"and he reminds us that capitalist societies face increasingly difficult problems of poverty and social inequality. Reenergizing a debate that began with Oskar Lange and Friedrich Hayek in the late 1930s, he brings to important questions of political economy a new level of sophistication in line with contemporary theories of justice and equality.

Roemer sees the solution of the principal-agent problem as the key to developing a decentralized market-socialist economy. This would be capable of maintaining efficiency and technological innovation while supporting a substantively more equal distribution of income than is achieved in capitalist economies. Roemer defends his views against skeptics on the right, who believe that efficiency and innovation are incompatible with egalitarianism, and skeptics on the left, who believe that socialism is incompatible with markets.

Because of its interdisciplinary approach, A Future for Socialism will appeal to a general social science audience, including economists, political scientists, sociologists, and political philosophers. It is also accessible to the interested reader.

 

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Contents

Introduction
1
1 What socialists want
11
2 Public ownership
18
3 The long term and the short term
25
4 A brief history of the idea of market socialism
28
5 Why the centrally planned economies failed
37
6 Contemporary models of market socialism
46
7 Public bads and the distribution of profits
55
11 State intervention in the economy
90
12 A digression on investment planning
95
13 Socialism and democracy
109
14 Criticisms of market socialism from the left
117
15 Prospects for the future
124
The value of the coupon dividend
133
Notes
145
References
161

8 A model of a marketsocialist economy
60
9 The efficiency of firms under market socialism
75
10 The Yugoslav experiment
85

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About the author (1994)

John E. Roemer is Elizabeth S. and A. Varick Stout Professor of Political Science and Economics at Yale University.

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