What are the Economic and Moral Criticism of Capitalism in General Posted June 9, 2002 Hi bro Sophist…. as I cant see anyone trying to answer your question, I thought perhaps I should take a gamble. Should you find this unconvincing please don’t blame me as I’m not Economist. Rather an Optimist. ``Market socialism'' is a current of ideas, starting, it seems, with the eminent Polish economist Oskar Lange, for how to make extensive use of markets without thereby creating gross economic and political inequality. Making rational economic decisions about really big, unavoidably political issues, like, say, education or public health is hard enough; there's no reason to add to the burden any more than it has to be, and markets are very good at letting us live our economic lives without thinking too hard about them. For a hundred and fifty years, struggles for radical egalitarian alternatives to capitalism have been waged under the banner of "socialism." While the precise meaning of this idea has always been the object of intense debate, radical egalitarians have usually believed that an economy based on private ownership of the principle means of production and the overriding search for profit maximization could be supplanted by one organized around the satisfaction of human needs through some kind of public or social ownership. Even among those social democratic reformers whose political efforts were directed mainly towards ameliorating conditions in the existing society rather than working for a rupture with capitalist institutions, socialism still served as a visionary backdrop which kept radical egalitarian values alive. Increasingly in the last decade, this vision has seemed to many people to be a fantasy. This is perhaps ironic. One might have anticipated that the demise of the command economies in the USSR and elsewhere would have emancipated the idea of socialism from the liabilities the Soviet authoritarianism. After all, for decades democratic socialists in the West had been denouncing the undemocratic practices in the Soviet Union and arguing that socialism should be understood as the extension of radical democracy to the economy rather than bureaucratic control of production. At long last, one might have thought, the ideal of democratic socialism could gain credibility. That is not what has happened. With the end of authoritarian state socialism, the idea of socialism itself has lost credibility. Capitalism increasingly seems to many people of the left as the only viable possibility. For all of its deep and tragic flaws, the empirical example of the Soviet Union at least demonstrated to people that some alternative to capitalism was possible; capitalism was not the only game in town. Democratic socialists could then plausibly argue that the flaws in the command economies could be remedied with serious democratic reconstruction. Without the practical example of even a flawed, but still radical, alternative to capitalism, capitalism assumes ever more strongly the character of a "natural" system, incapable of radical transformation. In this context, 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. Whether or not in the end such alternatives are properly described as "socialism" is not really the important question; the crucial issue is forging well-grounded ideals of how such egalitarian values can be translated into a politics of radical institutional innovation.