Liberal socialism | Wikipedia audio article

Liberal socialism is a socialist political
philosophy that incorporates liberal principles. Liberal socialism does not have the goal of
completely abolishing capitalism and replacing it with socialism, but it instead supports
a mixed economy that includes both private property and social ownership in capital goods.
Although liberal socialism unequivocally favors a mixed market economy, it identifies legalistic
and artificial monopolies to be the fault of capitalism and opposes an entirely unregulated
economy. It considers both liberty and equality to be compatible and mutually dependent on
each other.Principles that can be described as liberal socialist are based on the works
of philosophers such as John Stuart Mill, Eduard Bernstein, John Dewey, Carlo Rosselli,
Norberto Bobbio, Chantal Mouffe and Karl Polanyi. Other important liberal socialist figures
include Guido Calogero, Piero Gobetti, Leonard Hobhouse, John Maynard Keynes and R. H. Tawney.
To Polanyi, liberal socialism’s goal was overcoming exploitative aspects of capitalism by expropriation
of landlords and opening to all the opportunity to own land. Liberal socialism has been particularly
prominent in British and Italian politics.Liberal socialism’s seminal ideas can be traced
to John Stuart Mill, who theorised that capitalist societies should experience a gradual process
of socialisation through worker-controlled enterprises, coexisting with private enterprises.
Mill rejected centralised models of socialism that could discourage competition and creativity,
but he argued that representation is essential in a free government and democracy could not
subsist if economic opportunities were not well distributed, therefore conceiving democracy
not just as form of representative government, but as an entire social organisation.==Variants and their history=====Britain=======John Stuart Mill====The main liberal English thinker John Stuart
Mill’s early economic philosophy was one of free markets. However, he accepted interventions
in the economy, such as a tax on alcohol, if there were sufficient utilitarian grounds.
He also accepted the principle of legislative intervention for the purpose of animal welfare.
Mill originally believed that “equality of taxation” meant “equality of sacrifice” and
that progressive taxation penalised those who worked harder and saved more and was therefore
“a mild form of robbery”.Given an equal tax rate regardless of income, Mill agreed that
inheritance should be taxed. A utilitarian society would agree that everyone should be
equal one way or another. Therefore, receiving inheritance would put one ahead of society
unless taxed on the inheritance. Those who donate should consider and choose carefully
where their money goes—some charities are more deserving than others. Considering public
charities boards such as a government will disburse the money equally. However, a private
charity board like a church would disburse the monies fairly to those who are in more
need than others.Mill later altered his views toward a more socialist bent, adding chapters
to his Principles of Political Economy in defence of a socialist outlook and defending
some socialist causes. Within this revised work, he also made the radical proposal that
the whole wage system be abolished in favour of a co-operative wage system. Nonetheless,
some of his views on the idea of flat taxation remained, albeit altered in the third edition
of the Principles of Political Economy to reflect a concern for differentiating restrictions
on “unearned” incomes, which he favoured; and those on “earned” incomes, which he did
not favour.Mill’s Principles of Political Economy, first published in 1848, was one
of the most widely read of all books on economics in the period. As Adam Smith’s Wealth of Nations
had during an earlier period, Mill’s Principles of Economy dominated economics teaching. In
the case of Oxford University, it was the standard text until 1919 when it was replaced
by Alfred Marshall’s Principles of Economics. At some point, Mill also promoted substituting
capitalist businesses with worker cooperatives, saying: The form of association, however,
which if mankind continue to improve, must be expected in the end to predominate, is
not that which can exist between a capitalist as chief, and work-people without a voice
in the management, but the association of the labourers themselves on terms of equality,
collectively owning the capital with which they carry on their operations, and working
under managers elected and removable by themselves.====Ethical socialism====Liberal socialism has exercised influence
in British politics, especially in the variant known as ethical socialism. A key component
of ethical socialism is in its emphasis on moral and ethical critiques of capitalism
and building a case for socialism on moral or spiritual grounds as opposed to rationalist
and materialist grounds. Ethical socialists advocated a mixed economy that involves an
acceptance of a role of both public enterprise as well as socially-responsible private enterprise.
Ethical socialism was founded by Christian socialist R. H. Tawney and its ideals were
also connected to Fabian and guild-socialist values.It emphasizes the need for a morally-conscious
economy based upon the principles of service, cooperation and social justice while opposing
possessive individualism. Ethical socialism is distinct in its focus on criticism of the
ethics of capitalism and not merely criticism of material issues of capitalism. Tawney denounced
the self-seeking amoral and immoral behaviour that he claimed is supported by capitalism.
He opposed what he called the “acquisitive society” that causes private property to be
used to transfer surplus profit to “functionless owners”—capitalist rentiers. However, Tawney
did not denounce managers as a whole, believing that management and employees could join together
in a political alliance for reform. He supported the pooling of surplus profit through means
of progressive taxation to redistribute these funds to provide social welfare, including
public health care, public education and public housing.Tawney advocated nationalization of
strategic industries and services. He also advocated worker participation in the business
of management in the economy as well as consumer, employee, employer and state cooperation in
the economy. Though he supported a substantial role for public enterprise in the economy,
Tawney stated that where private enterprise provided a service that was commensurate with
its rewards that was functioning private property, then a business could be usefully and legitimately
be left in private hands. Ethical socialist Thomas Hill Green supported the right of equal
opportunity for all individuals to be able freely appropriate property, but he claimed
that acquisition of wealth did not imply that an individual could do whatever they wanted
to once that wealth was in their possession. Green opposed “property rights of the few”
that were preventing the ownership of property by the many.Ethical socialism is an important
ideology of the British Labour Party. Labour Prime Minister Clement Attlee supported the
ideology, which played a large role in his party’s policies during the postwar 1940s.
Half a century after Attlee’s tenure, Tony Blair, another Labour Prime Minister, also
described himself as an adherent of ethical socialism, which for him embodies the values
of “social justice, the equal worth of each citizen, equality of opportunity, community”.
Influenced by Attlee and John Macmurray (who himself was influenced by Green), Blair has
defined the ideology in similar terms as earlier adherents—with an emphasis on the common
good, rights and responsibilities as well as support of an organic society in which
individuals flourish through cooperation. Blair argued that Labour ran into problems
in the 1960s and 1970s when it abandoned ethical socialism and that its recovery required a
return to the values promoted by the Attlee government. However, Blair’s critics (both
inside and outside Labour) have accused him of completely abandoning socialism in favour
of capitalism.===Germany===An early version of liberal socialism was
developed in Germany by Franz Oppenheimer. Though he was committed to socialism, Oppenheimer’s
theories inspired the development of the social liberalism that was pursued by German Chancellor
Ludwig Erhard, who said the following: “As long as I live, I will not forget Franz Oppenheimer!
I will be as happy if the social market economy—as perfect or imperfect as it might be—continues
to bear witness to the work, to the intellectual stance of the ideas and teachings of Franz
Oppenheimer”.In the 1930s, the Social Democratic Party of Germany (SPD), a reformist socialist
political party that was up to then based upon revisionist Marxism, began a transition
away from Marxism towards liberal socialism. After it was banned by the Nazi regime in
1933, the SPD acted in exile through the Sopade. In 1934, the Sopade began to publish material
that indicated that the SPD was turning towards liberal socialism. Curt Geyer, a prominent
proponent of liberal socialism within the Sopade, declared that Sopade represented the
tradition of Weimar Republic social democracy—liberal democratic socialism and declared that Sopade’s
held true to its mandate of traditional liberal principles combined with the political realism
of socialism. After the restoration of democracy in West Germany, the SPD’s Godesberg Program
in 1959 eliminated the party’s remaining Marxist policies. The SPD then became officially based
upon freiheitlicher Sozialismus (liberal socialism). West German Chancellor Willy Brandt has been
identified as a liberal socialist.===Italy===Italian socialist Carlo Rosselli was inspired
by the definition of socialism by the founder of social democracy, Eduard Bernstein, who
defined socialism as “organized liberalism”. Rosselli expanded on Bernstein’s arguments
by developing his notion of liberal socialism (Italian: socialismo liberale). In 1925, Rosselli
defined the ideology in his work of the same name in which he supported the type of socialist
economy defined by socialist economist Werner Sombart in Der modern Kapitalismus (1908)
that envisaged a new modern mixed economy that included both public and private property,
limited economic competition and increased economic cooperation. While appreciating principles
of liberalism as an ideology that emphasized liberation, Rosselli was deeply disappointed
with liberalism as a system that he described as having been used by the bourgeoisie to
support their privileges while neglecting the liberation components of liberalism as
an ideology and thus viewed conventional liberalism as a system that had merely become an ideology
of “bourgeois capitalism”. At the same time, Rosselli appreciated socialism as an ideology,
but he was also deeply disappointed with conventional socialism as a system. In response to his
disappointment with conventional socialism in practice, Roselli declared: “The recent
experiences, all the experiences of the past thirty years, have hopelessly condemned the
primitive programs of the socialists. State socialism especially—collectivist, centralizing
socialism—has been defeated”. Rosselli’s liberal socialism was partly based upon his
study and admiration of British political themes of the Fabian Society and John Stuart
Mill (he was able to read the English versions of Mill’s work On Liberty prior to its availability
in Italian that began in 1925). His admiration of British socialism increased after his visit
to the United Kingdom in 1923 where he met George Drumgoole Coleman, R. H. Tawney and
other members of the Fabian Society.An important component of Italian liberal socialism developed
by Rosselli was its anti-fascism. Rosselli opposed fascism and believed that fascism
would only be defeated by a revival of socialism. Rosselli founded the Giustizia e Libertà
(Justice and Liberty) movement as an resistance movement founded in the 1930s in opposition
to the Fascist regime in Italy. Ferruccio Parri—who later became Prime Minister of
Italy—and Sandro Pertini—who later became President of Italy—were among Giustizia
e Libertà’s leaders. Giustizia e Libertà was committed to militant action to fight
the Fascist regime and it saw Benito Mussolini as a ruthless murderer who himself deserved
to be killed as punishment. Various early schemes were designed by the movement in the
1930s to assassinate Mussolini, including one dramatic plan of using an aircraft to
drop a bomb on Piazza Venezia where Mussolini resided. After Rosselli’s death, liberal socialism
was developed in Italian political thought by Guido Calogero. Unlike Rosselli, Calogero
considered the ideology as a unique ideology of “liberalsocialism” that was separate from
existing liberal and socialist ideologies. Calogero created the “First Manifesto of Liberalsocialism”
in 1940 that stated the following: At the basis of liberalsocialism stands the concept
of the substantial unity and identity of ideal reason, which supports and justifies socialism
in its demand for justice as much as it does liberalism in its demand for liberty. This
ideal reason coincides with that same ethical principle to whose rule humanity and civilization,
both past and future, must always measure up. This is the principle by which we recognize
the personhood of others in contrast to our own person and assign to each of them a right
to own their own. After World War II, Ferruccio Parri of the
liberal socialist Action Party briefly served as Prime Minister of Italy in 1945. In 1978,
liberal socialist Sandro Pertini of the Italian Socialist Party was elected President of Italy
in 1978 and served as President until 1985.===Belgium===
Chantal Mouffe is a prominent Belgian advocate of liberal socialism. She describes liberal
socialism as the following: To deepen and enrich the pluralist conquests of liberal
democracy, the articulation between political liberalism and individualism must be broken,
to make possible a new approach to individuality that restores its social nature without reducing
it to a simple component of an organic whole. This is where the socialist tradition of thought
might still have something to contribute to the democratic project and herein lies the
promise of a liberal socialism.===Hungary===
In 1919, the Hungarian politician Oszkár Jászi declared his support for what he termed
“liberal socialism” while denouncing “communist socialism”. Opposed to classical social democracy’s
prevalent focus on support from the working class, Jászi saw the middle class and smallholder
peasants as essential to the development of socialism and spoke of the need of a “radical
middle-class”. His views were especially influenced by events in Hungary in 1919 involving the
Bolshevik revolution during which he specifically denounced the Marxist worldview shortly after
the collapse of the Hungarian Soviet Republic, calling his views “Anti-Marx”. His criticism
of Marxism was centered on its mechanical and value-free and amoral methodology: In
no small measure, the present terrible, bewildering world crisis is a consequence of Marxism’s
mechanical Communism and amoral nihilism. New formulas of spirit, freedom and solidarity
have to be found. Jászi promoted a form of co-operative socialism
that included liberal principles of freedom, voluntarism and decentralization. He counterpoised
this ideal version of socialism with the then-existing political system in the Soviet Union, which
he identified as based upon dictatorial and militarist perils, statism and a crippled
economic order where competition and quality are disregarded.Jászi’s views on socialism
and especially his works justifying the denouncement of Bolshevik Communism came back into Hungarian
public interest in the 1980s when copies of his manuscripts were discovered and were smuggled
into Hungary that was then under Communist rule.==See also==Christian socialism
Economic liberalism Libertarian socialism
Ethical socialism Liberalism
Liberal Socialist Party Market Socialism
Mixed economy Reformism
Social corporatism Social democracy
Social liberalism Social market economy
Third way==Notes====References==
Noel W. Thompson. Political economy and the Labour Party: the economics of democratic
socialism, 1884–2005. 2nd edition. Oxon, England, UK; New York City, USA: Routledge,
2006. Matt Carter. T.H. Green and the development
of ethical socialism. Exeter, England, UK; Charlottesville, Virginia, USA: Imprint Academic,
2003. Lewis Joachim Edinger. German exile politics:
the Social Democratic Exexctive Committee in the Nazi era. University of California
Press, 1956. Stanislao G. Pugliese. Carlo Rosselli: socialist
heretic and antifascist exile. Harvard University Press, 1999.
György Litván. A twentieth-century prophet: Oszkár Jászi, 1875–1957. English edition.
Budapest, Hungary: Central European Press, 2006.

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