Future For Socialism

Overview

This book attempts to sum up the historical experience of the twentieth century, what that experience implies about the future, if any, in relation to socialism.
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Overview

This book attempts to sum up the historical experience of the twentieth century, what that experience implies about the future, if any, in relation to socialism.
Read More Show Less

Editorial Reviews

New Statesman & Society

[Roemer] has important, innovative, powerfully argued ideas for sweeping political and economic reform.
— Stephen Howe

Contemporary Sociology

The Left is in vital need of bold and creative new thinking on the question of the institutional conditions for radical egalitarian alternatives to capitalism...John Roemer, an eminent, left-wing mathematical economist, has produced an extremely interesting and innovative example of this kind of thinking in his book A Future for Socialism. In it Roemer elaborates a model for how institutions could be designed so as to make market socialism a sustainable—and desirable—way of organizing an economy...At the core of the analysis is a deeply sociological idea: Property relations shape the distribution of resources and power in ways that bear systematically on the normative consequences of actors' strategies. Roemer is one of the most original thinkers working on these kinds of questions. Sociologists interested in broad questions of social justice, equality, and large-scale social change will be well served to study this work carefully.
— Erik Olin Wright

Boston Globe
Roemer is perhaps the most interesting reexpositor of Karl Marx around.
Globe and Mail [Toronto]

Roemer says it's always been assumed that markets only worked with private ownership. His book, A Future for Socialism, challenged that. Writing after the collapse of socialism in Eastern Europe, he wanted to see whether he could formulate an alternative to unbridled capitalism—so he combined a free market and centralized control. 'Firms would be neither private nor public,' he says. Instead the nature of ownership would alter so that every citizen was, in some way, a shareholder...This may seem unusual, he says, but it's not unknown: 'Alaska has it for the oil fields that are owned by the state. Every citizen of Alaska gets a royalty cheque each year...It's your right while you are a citizen of Alaska.' In his socialist state, companies would compete with each other, and workers would be able to move from job to job. There could even be incentives for managers (larger salaries, bonuses, other perks), Prof. Roemer believes, 'assuming that's what the labour market would pay them.'
— Ian Coutts

American Political Science Review

Roemer offers an innovative and controversial definition of socialism...As an intervention in the public debate about what economic system we should collectively aspire toward, A Future for Socialism succeeds brilliantly. A focus on the main issues, theoretical imagination, distillation of complex ideas to an accessible core, plus clarity and parsimony of expression are its key strengths. Reading this book will surely bolster the confidence of socialists and might even spur foes of socialism to seek the most humane possibilities available under the capitalist economic system.
— Tom Mayer

Journal of Economic Literature

[A] timely and important effort to rekindle the fundamental debate over the possibility and desirability of socialist economic organization that has been so fruitful a source of economic theories and insights in the 20th century. Roemer writes with a sophisticated understanding of subtle economic points and an enviably lucid and concise style. This book would be an excellent supplement to undergraduate economic theory courses, reviewing a wide range of basic political economic concepts such as efficiency in allocation, principal-agent conflicts, theories of income distribution and technological innovation, and models of the political process, in the context of a concrete and compelling discussion of an important political-economic issue. Roemer puts forward a market-oriented model of socialism in which a private-enterprise sector of small privately held firms co-exists with a market-socialist sector of large publicly held and financed firms...One does not need to agree with Roemer's estimate of the relative merits of capitalism and socialism to find food for thought and discussion in his critical analysis of the fundamental economic issues involved.
— Duncan K. Foley

New Statesman & Society - Stephen Howe
[Roemer] has important, innovative, powerfully argued ideas for sweeping political and economic reform.
Contemporary Sociology - Erik Olin Wright
The Left is in vital need of bold and creative new thinking on the question of the institutional conditions for radical egalitarian alternatives to capitalism...John Roemer, an eminent, left-wing mathematical economist, has produced an extremely interesting and innovative example of this kind of thinking in his book A Future for Socialism. In it Roemer elaborates a model for how institutions could be designed so as to make market socialism a sustainable--and desirable--way of organizing an economy...At the core of the analysis is a deeply sociological idea: Property relations shape the distribution of resources and power in ways that bear systematically on the normative consequences of actors' strategies. Roemer is one of the most original thinkers working on these kinds of questions. Sociologists interested in broad questions of social justice, equality, and large-scale social change will be well served to study this work carefully.
Globe and Mail [Toronto] - Ian Coutts
Roemer says it's always been assumed that markets only worked with private ownership. His book, A Future for Socialism, challenged that. Writing after the collapse of socialism in Eastern Europe, he wanted to see whether he could formulate an alternative to unbridled capitalism--so he combined a free market and centralized control. 'Firms would be neither private nor public,' he says. Instead the nature of ownership would alter so that every citizen was, in some way, a shareholder...This may seem unusual, he says, but it's not unknown: 'Alaska has it for the oil fields that are owned by the state. Every citizen of Alaska gets a royalty cheque each year...It's your right while you are a citizen of Alaska.' In his socialist state, companies would compete with each other, and workers would be able to move from job to job. There could even be incentives for managers (larger salaries, bonuses, other perks), Prof. Roemer believes, 'assuming that's what the labour market would pay them.'
American Political Science Review - Tom Mayer
Roemer offers an innovative and controversial definition of socialism...As an intervention in the public debate about what economic system we should collectively aspire toward, A Future for Socialism succeeds brilliantly. A focus on the main issues, theoretical imagination, distillation of complex ideas to an accessible core, plus clarity and parsimony of expression are its key strengths. Reading this book will surely bolster the confidence of socialists and might even spur foes of socialism to seek the most humane possibilities available under the capitalist economic system.
Journal of Economic Literature - Duncan K. Foley
[A] timely and important effort to rekindle the fundamental debate over the possibility and desirability of socialist economic organization that has been so fruitful a source of economic theories and insights in the 20th century. Roemer writes with a sophisticated understanding of subtle economic points and an enviably lucid and concise style. This book would be an excellent supplement to undergraduate economic theory courses, reviewing a wide range of basic political economic concepts such as efficiency in allocation, principal-agent conflicts, theories of income distribution and technological innovation, and models of the political process, in the context of a concrete and compelling discussion of an important political-economic issue. Roemer puts forward a market-oriented model of socialism in which a private-enterprise sector of small privately held firms co-exists with a market-socialist sector of large publicly held and financed firms...One does not need to agree with Roemer's estimate of the relative merits of capitalism and socialism to find food for thought and discussion in his critical analysis of the fundamental economic issues involved.
Booknews
A tentative offering to be considered part of a growing inquiry, rather like starting to design a new house while the embers of the old one are still glowing. Discusses some of the principles of socialism that have been obscured by the Marxist experiment and its failure, analyzes some of the faults underlying that failure, and suggests other approaches to manifesting socialism, particularly market socialism. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780674339460
  • Publisher: Harvard University Press
  • Publication date: 1/1/1994
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 192
  • Sales rank: 1,061,433
  • Product dimensions: 5.50 (w) x 8.50 (h) x 0.44 (d)

Meet the Author

John Roemer is Elizabeth S. and A. Varick Stout Professor of Political Science and Economics, Yale University.
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Table of Contents

Preface
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
8 A model of a market-socialist economy 60
9 The efficiency of firms under market socialism 75
10 The Yugoslav experiment 85
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
Appendix: The value of the coupon dividend in the United States 133
Notes 145
References 161
Index 169
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