Capitalism Justified?

Philippe Van Parijs

in Real Freedom for All

Published in print November 1997 | ISBN: 9780198293576
Published online November 2003 | e-ISBN: 9780191600074 | DOI:

Series: Oxford Political Theory

 Capitalism Justified?

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Is there any reason to expect some form of socialism to do better than any form of capitalism in terms of securing a high sustainable level of basic income? None of the familiar arguments against capitalism—from market failures to cyclical crises and the reserve army of the unemployed— can justify the presumption that it will do worse than socialism in terms of efficiency. On the contrary, the fundamental fact that, unlike what happens under socialism, capitalist firms have to submit to the ruthless rule ‘Innovate or perish’ justify the presumption of capitalism's superior dynamic efficiency. But in a globalized capitalist economy, the sovereignty democratically exercised over this larger wealth keeps eroding, to the point that capitalist societies become unable to sustainably turn part of it into a higher basic income than would be possible under the best version of feasible socialism?

Keywords: basic income; capitalism; cyclical crises; dynamic efficiency; efficiency; globalized capitalist economy; Innovate or perish; market failures; reserve army of the unemployed; socialism; sovereignty; sustainable

Chapter.  21949 words. 

Subjects: Political Theory

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