After being proclaimed dead, there is now a major revival of socialist ideology in the West. But what does socialism mean? This book shows that it is irretrievably associated with common ownership. The twentieth-century experience of comprehensive national planning with state ownership has been disastrous, and in no case has democracy endured within large-scale socialism. This volume explains why. The alternative socialist option of worker-owned cooperatives must accept a major role for markets that many socialists reject.
Featuring theoretical arguments and practical investigations, Geoffrey M. Hodgson interrogates the failures of socialist states, scrutinizing the impact and outcomes of a centralized politico-economic system. This timely and convincing book offers insight into the twentieth-century experience of comprehensive national planning, deploying less-well-known criticisms from Albert Schäffle and Michael Polanyi. Hodgson’s nuanced approach brings together small-scale socialist praxis and principles of liberal solidarity, exploring an experimental approach to political and economic reform.
Provocative, insightful and accessible, this book is of considerable interest to any reader with an appetite for the history of socialist theory, as well as those keen to explore new insights to heterodox economics. Students and academics of the social sciences and humanities will benefit from this book’s rigorous empirical approach to historic and contemporary socialist states and its in-depth discussion of Austrian school theory.