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Wrong TurningsHow the Left Got Lost$
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Geoffrey M. Hodgson

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9780226505749

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: May 2018

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226505916.001.0001

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Two Open Letters to Friends

Two Open Letters to Friends

Chapter:
(p.181) Chapter 10 Two Open Letters to Friends
Source:
Wrong Turnings
Author(s):

Geoffrey M. Hodgson

Publisher:
University of Chicago Press
DOI:10.7208/chicago/9780226505916.003.0011

This chapter contains two letters to imaginary friends. This epistolary device is intended to help clarify my own position to the reader, in relation to two prominent currents of opinion. The first letter is to a free-market libertarian. I recognise the strengths in her position but argue that the basic libertarian stance needs to be updated in light of massive developments in the financial and corporate world, of ongoing threats of financial instability, of growing inequalities in the distribution of wealth in developed economies, of the growing economic importance of information and knowledge, and of the need for state intervention in some spheres, including to deal with the problem of climate change. The second letter is to an enduring socialist, who still wishes to maximize public ownership and minimize markets. I argue that this position has received fatal blows in the twentieth century, from theoretical critiques and from practical catastrophes. Socialism – at least in the classic sense – is dead. The welfare state, perhaps also with a significant public sector, is not. Dealing with inequality within capitalism is also vital. The real debate concerns what direction we would wish to take capitalism.

Keywords:   libertarianism, market fundamentalism, socialism, welfare state, inequality, capitalism

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