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Why Not Socialism?

Narrated by: John Lescault
Length: 1 hr and 8 mins
Categories: Non-fiction, Economics
4 out of 5 stars (20 ratings)

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Summary

Is socialism desirable? Is it even possible? In this concise book, one of the world's leading political philosophers presents with clarity and wit a compelling moral case for socialism and argues that the obstacles in its way are exaggerated.

There are times, G. A. Cohen notes, when we all behave like socialists. On a camping trip, for example, campers wouldn't dream of charging each other to use a soccer ball or for fish that they happened to catch. Campers do not give merely to get, but relate to each other in a spirit of equality and community. Would such socialist norms be desirable across society as a whole? Why not? Whole societies may differ from camping trips, but it is still attractive when people treat each other with the equal regard that such trips exhibit.

But however desirable it may be, many claim that socialism is impossible. Cohen writes that the biggest obstacle to socialism isn't, as often argued, intractable human selfishness - it's rather the lack of obvious means to harness the human generosity that is there. Lacking those means, we rely on the market. But there are many ways of confining the sway of the market: there are desirable changes that can move us toward a socialist society in which, to quote Albert Einstein, humanity has "overcome and advanced beyond the predatory stage of human development." The book is published by Princeton University Press.

©2009 Princeton University Press (P)2010 Redwood Audiobooks

Critic reviews

"[B]rilliantly captures the essence of the socialist ethical complaint against market society. Why Not Socialism? is a very timely book." (Hillel Steiner, University of Manchester)
"The positive argument of his book is impressive, and there is a rather disarming combination of simplicity of presentation and example with a deep intellectual engagement with the issues. It is very clear that there is an analytically powerful mind at work here." (Jonathan Wolff, author of Why Read Marx Today?)

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    3 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

Not Cohen's Best

Is there anything you would change about this book?

It should have been longer or more in depth. It doesn't show Cohen at his best

Any additional comments?

This really is a short introduction and scratches the surface of Cohen's philosophy. The topic is too big and the book too short to really be meaningful. Cohen's best work is when he really analyses a small point very finely, and that does not show up in this book.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

A tale for our times

This is the most lucid account as to why we should edge towards socialism. It goes beyond the mistakes and genocidal 'socialism' of the Soviets, particularly Stalin. Read it and wonder Why not Socialism

2 of 3 people found this review helpful

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  • Angel D.
  • 17-01-12

Not compelling, but OK

I was a little disappointed at how narrow the scope of the argumentation were. Although I think he made many good points, I felt it was also filled with holes that I never found to be fully addressed. The biggest of these was equating small group interactions with grand scale economies.

3 of 5 people found this review helpful

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  • C. Mcculloch
  • 07-05-19

Good concise book

The book is well written and concise in its argument in favor of socialism. Having said that though, I abhor socialism. I read this to further my ability to refute socialism and it's totalitarian cousin: communism. I gave the book high ratings because of its clarity and simplicity and not because it endorses socialism.

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  • Carlos
  • 27-02-19

Short and Simple but Superb

This is a great and fantastic introductory argument for socialism. While it isn't convincing in its case for socialism it does a good job of critiquing capitalism.

1 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • Dakota S. Rench
  • 07-12-18

Bloody Brilliant

Quick, short, and to the point. Cohen is a wonderful scholar to consult when introducing yourself to socialist ideals

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 05-10-18

huh?

i think i would need to go back to college to undersrand what he was talking about. dry too.

1 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • Nick
  • 18-05-16

alright

narration wasnt the best but the information and arguments are good. worth the price atleast.

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
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  • Cody Keyes
  • 23-09-15

Smart-sounding category errors

Lots of dense highbrow language tightly knit together in an attempt to apply a perfect system to a flawed world, and make apples-to-oranges comparisons.

Socialism is no camping trip; although it has produced camps.

1 of 4 people found this review helpful

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  • Matt Connell
  • 05-08-15

Bad ideals... even worse delivery.

Narration was good.
Proved large scale failure of socialism.
Provided no new ideals of worth.
Left open all the known holes of socialism and didn't come close to answering the title of the book. Just the ramblings of the author on his opinions of why socialism is the most "moral" choice for society. Acknowledging that it is infeasible while still promoting the effort and teaching the flawed ideals to our college students.
Only buy this book if you want to reaffirm your ideas on the fallacies of socialism.

1 of 7 people found this review helpful