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Is Socialism Feasible?

Towards an Alternative Future Geoffrey M. Hodgson, Institute for International Management, Loughborough University London, UK
After being proclaimed dead, there is now a major revival of socialism 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. Further experiments in that direction must be subordinate to higher principles of liberal solidarity, involving a mixed market economy with a welfare state.
Extent: 288 pp
Hardback Price: $135.00 Web: $121.50
Publication Date: 2019
ISBN: 978 1 78990 161 0
Availability: In Stock
Paperback Price: $39.95 Web: $31.96
Publication Date: 2019
ISBN: 978 1 78990 163 4
Availability: In Stock
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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.
‘Socialism is being offered by the likes of Bernie Sanders, Jeremy Corbyn and Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez as a humane and democratic solution to pressing economic and environmental problems. Geoff Hodgson, the world’s foremost scholar on institutions of economic systems, has written a vital and urgent book explaining why this utopian dream is infeasible.’
– Jason Potts, RMIT University, Australia
Contents: Preface Introduction Part I: Socialism, markets and democracy 1. What does socialism mean? 2. Small socialism requires frugality or markets 3. Big socialism brings stagnation and despotism 4. Knowledge, complexity and the limits to planning Part II: Towards a feasible alternative: liberal solidarity 5. Social knowledge and freedom to choose 6. The limits and indispensability of states and markets 7. Varieties of capitalism: the realms of the possible 8. The making of liberal solidarity References Index