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Rawls’ Theory of Justice and ‘Market Socialism’

Rawls’ Theory of Justice and
‘Market Socialism’

Carl G. Hedman

1 Market Socialism and Individualism
One of the intuitions behind recent attempts to combine a socialist perspective with a limited reliance
on market mechanisms is that a genuinely democratic
socialism is incompatible with the bureaucratic tendencies of a command economy. David Schweickart has
put this as follows:

‘The enormous complexity of top-down planning of
an entire industrial economy necessarily involves
the creation of a technocracy and bureaucracy
which can hardly be responsive to the needs and
preferences of the populace, nor can it fail to
generate economic inefficiencies. “Democratization” of such a bureaucracy offers little promise
as a solution, for the problem is not in essence
that the bureaucratic administrators do not want
to serve the people, but that the structure itself
precludes their doing so.’ [1]
The revisionist liberal John Rawls [2] reveals
similar qualms about command economies when, in his
discussion of market socialism in A Theory of Justice
(Cambridge, 1971), he says:

‘Both private-property and socialist systems
normally allow for the free choice of occupation
and one’s place of work. It is only under
command systems of either kind that this freedom
is overtly interfered with.’ [3]
But – and thus arises the issue I want to focus on
in this paper, this first intuition is counterpoised
by the intuition that market mechanisms necessarily
promote a privatistic individualism that subverts the
socialist ideals of community and solidarity.

Schweickart summarizes this second intuition as
follows:

‘ … it has often been observed, by Marx in
particular, that this mechanism itself breeds
anti-social tendencies. So long as one’s
material well-being is tied to the production of
commodities, one is inhibited from experiencing
one’s own activity as part of the collective, cooperative labor of society. One is tempted
instead to exploit others, those perceived as
competitors or consumers. This antagonism of
interests generated by the market serves to
promote an ‘efficient’ allocation of goods, but
it does so by promoting as well suspicion,
deception and selfishness.’ (p18)

The question I want to consider in this paper is
whether there is a way to do justice to both of these
intuit ions while still remaining true to the socialist ideal of a society where, in Schweickart’s words,
‘people control their own lives and fulfill their
potential, a society without poverty or inequality,
without racism or sexism, without stupid, senseless,
needless suffering’ (pI). I will argue that while
Marxists are right to point out the danger in a
simple ‘yes’ answer to this question, they are wrong
to suggest that there are knock-down arguments
against any and all versions of market socialism.

I will argue that, while an adequate defence of
market socialism must go well beyond Rawls’ declaration of faith (‘Some socialists have objected to all
market institutions as inherently degrading … but
certainly given the requisite background institutions,
the worst aspects of so-called wage slavery are
removed’ – pp.280-8l), it would be premature for
socialists to reject out of hand the project
Schweickart summarizes as follows:

‘For us the issue at hand is not communism but
capitalism or socialism. What we must struggle
for is a socialism rooted in existing social,
psychological and technological conditions and
yet transcending them, a socialism that is
radical and revolutionary but not (in the bad
sense of the word) Utopian. If the argument of
this paper is correct, the goal should be a
worker-controlled socialism that integrates plan
and market in such a way as to give us that
conscious control over our lives that is so badly
lacking today.’ (p20)

11 Two Arguments against Market Socialism
To give a focus to my discussion, I want to consider
two arguments against the possibility of a just
market socialism due to Barry Clark and Herbert
Gintis [4]. Not only do Clark and Gintis spell out
some rather familiar charges against market socialism, but they do so within the context of a general
discussion of Rawls’ work. Thus, it is possible that
a discussion of their two arguments against market
socialism will shed some light on the possibility of
a Y’approchement between ‘revisionist liberalism’ and
the traditional left. In their first argument,
Clark and Gintis attempt to show that even the fully

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democratized market socialism they construct on the
basis of their strong reading of Rawls’ two principles
of justice would flounder on the fact that market
relations would ‘still impede the development in
individuals of that “sense of social totality'”
(p3l7) required for a just society. In their second
argument, Clark and Gintis try to show that any
attempt to utilize market mechanisms would presuppose
a problematic ‘Kantianism’. Relating this to Rawls,
they argue that his case for a just market socialism
is inextricably connected with a problematic claim
for the ‘lexical priority of social justice over
other moral and personal concerns’ (p3l8). In what
follows I will challenge both of these arguments. I
will contend that their first argument – that market
socialism will necessarily fail to generate the
‘sense of social totality’ required for a just
society – is plausible only if we follow Clark and
Gintis in characterizing market socialism in such a
way that the means of production are owned by the
workers. I will suggest that this claim is much less
plausible when, following Schweickart and Rawls, we
characterize market socialism in such a way that
individual or group ownership is replaced with social
ownership of the means of production. Furthermore,
I will contend that Clark and Gintis’s second argument – where they attempt to show that a Rawlsian
defence of market socialism presupposes a problematic
‘Kantianism’ – begs the question of the possibility
of a theory of justice that ignores neither the need
to ground social progress in a historically conditioned class struggle nor the need for a theory of
justice that has a universal and rational appeal.

III Privatistic Consciousness under Market Socialism
Clark and Gintis set the stage for their two arguments
by using Rawls’ two principles of justice to generate
an extremely plausible critique of capitalism [5].

Rawls’ principles, as fully stated in A Theory of
Justice, are as follows:

‘First Principle: Each person is to have an equal
right to the most extensive total system of equal
basic liberties compatible with a similar system
of liberty for all. Second Principle (the Difference Principle): Social and economic inequalities
are to be arranged so that they are both: (a) to
the greatest benefit of the least advantaged, consistent with the just savings principle, and (b)
attached to offices and positions open to all
under conditions of fair equality of opportunity.’

(p302 )
Rawls further argues that the first principle is
prior to the second, or difference principle in the
sense that ‘a departure from the institutions of
equal liberty cannot be justified by, or compensated
for, by greater social and economic advantages’ (p6l);
and that the system of justice defined by the principles is prior to the principle of efficiency in the
sense that under certain circumstances ‘These principles will authorize changes that may lower the
expectations of some of those better of’ (p79).

Clark and Gintis summarize the first stage of
their Rawlsian critique as follows:

‘We have argued that the objectives of Rawls’

principle of equal liberties require that “basic
liberties” be extended to include rights in control over production. Capitalism, we have
argued, is incompatible with this extended
principle.’ (p313)
They then go on to note that even if Rawls were to
reject such an extension of his first principle
(claiming that the control of the means of production
is not a basic liberty but a form of wealth and thus
subject to the Difference Principle [6], it could
still be shown that a capitalist economy would fail
to meet Rawls’ criteria for a just society since

24

‘the Difference Principle can be shown to be incompatible with the functioning of a capitalist
society’ (p3l4). Clark and Gintis summarize their
case for this last claim as follows:

fIn order to maintain forms of consciousness
appropriate to capitalist social relations, production techniques which threaten prevailing
assessments of interpersonal and interclass relations may be rejected, even though they are
technically more efficient. Thus the democratic
control of production would render members of
the least advantaged group better off both relatively (in that certain inequalities would no
longer be required to legitimize capitalist
social relations) and absolutely (since total output could probably expand with the utilization of
more efficient production techniques.’ (p3l4)

Noting that the above crItIque would apply ‘in
suitably amended form, to state socialism’ (p3ll),
Clark and Gintis turn next to a consideration of
market socialism which they characterize as ‘conforming in all respects to Rawls’ mixed-economy conception of capitalism, except that private ownership of
capital and wage labour are replaced by worker ownership and democratic control of the production process’ (pp314-l5). They argue that although such a
system ‘would seem to do better than capitalism on
nearly all counts, … the retention of market and
exchange relations in market socialism continues to
present a problem’. Even here ‘Such relations still
impede the development in individuals of that “sense
of social totality'” (p317) required for a just
society. In short, while the ‘strains of commitment
would be greatly reduced under market socialism, it
is by no means clear that motivational priority for
concerns of social justice could be attained’ (p318).

Here, then, we have Clark and Gintis’s first argument against the possibility of a just market socialism. It amounts to an empirical claim about the kind
of consciousness that would be generated under market
social ism. What are we to make of this claim? I
want to suggest that this claim is plausible only if,
following Clark and Gintis, one incorporates a
privatistic sense of ownership into one’s definition
of ‘market socialism’, and that it becomes much less
plausible when one follows Schweickart and Rawls and
incorporates a genuinely social ownership into one’s
definition.

Although on Schweickart’s model the workers are
responsible for the distribution of their firm’s
‘net revenue’ – ‘the difference between total sales
and total costs (including taxes and depreciation
but excluding wages)’ (p3) – they do not own the
means of production:

‘Though the workers control the workplace to a
decisive degree, they do not own the means of
production. Means of production are collectively
owned by society. This ownership expresses itself
in the government’s authority to insist that the
value of the capital stock be kept intact. Depreciation reserves, for example, must be maintained.

Workers are not permitted to allow the social
assets in their trust to deteriorate (in value)
or to sell off productive assets for personal gain

J

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I

If a productive enterprise gets into economic
difficulty – due to changing demand or whatever workers are free to reorganize, to produce things
other than what they had been producing, or, as
individuals, to leave and seek work elsewhere.

They are not free, however, to sell off productive assets without replacing them with others of
equal value.’ (pp3-4)
On Schweickart’s view such social ownership would
give rise to a consciousness that is quite different
from that generated by a privatistic ownership:

‘Our society thus provides for (and indeed
requires) a number of “socialist entrepreneurs”,
individuals or collectives willing to innovate,
to take risks, in hopes of producing new goods
or services, or old ones in new ways. Their
socio-economic status, and their resulting psychological dispositions are significantly different,
however, from their capitalist counterparts.’ (p6)
He argues for this last claim by suggesting that the
risks they take are different: ‘They risk, not their
personal savings, but a portion of the social surplus. If the project fails, they do not pay back
the government for their loss’ (p6). Nor have they
any interest in maintaining an ‘Industrial Reserve
Army’ of unemployed:

‘Unemployment does not generate downward pressure
on wages, for there are no wage-labourers. The
– material needs of unemployed workers must be provided for, out of workers’ taxes and so they have
no interest whatsoever in maintaining (unemployment) .’ (p9)
To be sure, much more empirical research would
have to be done before these claims of Schweickart’s
could be taken as a decisive refutation of Clark and
Gintis’s first argument against the possibility of a
just market socialism. But I would suggest that it
is much too early to dismiss market socialism by
contemplating what would be the case with Clark and
Gintis’s strawman conception of market socialism [7].

It is interesting to note, by the way, that even if
Rawls is mista~en about the possibility of a just
capitalist society, he always makes it clear that his
model of market socialism includes social ownership
of the means of production. Thus, for example, when
he argues in A Theory of Justice that ‘a liberal
socialist regime can also answer to the two pri~·
ciples of justice’, he adds the following:

‘We have only to suppose that the means of production are publicly owned and that firms are
managed by workers’ councils, say, or by agents
appointed by them. Collective decisions made
democratically under the constitution determine
the general features of the economy, such as the
rate of savings and the proportion of society’s
production devoted to essential public goods.

Given the resulting economic environment, firms
regulated by market forces conduct themselves as
before. Although the background institutions will
take a different form, especially in the case of
the distribution branch, there is no reason in
principle why just distributive shares cannot be
reached.’ (p280)

IV Ahistorical Individualism as a Moral Premise
Almost as though they are aware of the weakness of
their first, empirical argument, Clark and Gintis go
on in the final part of their paper to give a decidedly non-empirical argument against the possibility
of a just market socialism. Here they argue that any
distribution-redistribution economy – where ‘an
initial distribution of income is determined through
market forces, and redistribution to attain equity
is effected through state intervention’ (p3l7) presupposes a problematic moral theory. They summarize this second argument as follows:

‘ … we suggest that no distribution-redistribution
system could satisfy the Difference Principle,
however successful it might be in reducing the
strains of commitment. For it appears to us
(although we are not prepared to prove it) that
no acceptable theory of moral behaviour could
claim the lexical priority of social justice over
other moral obligations and personal concerns.

If so, it follows that a just distributionredistribution economy would require that individuals act immorally.’ (p3l8)
Applying this to Rawls’ case for a just market socialism, they embark on a wide-ranging and often confusing
attempt to show that ‘Rawls’ commitment to the absolute priority of socially moral duty betrays the
attachment to Kantian ethics which suffuses his
work’ (p3l9). i.e. they imply that Rawls is pulled
towards an unacceptable moral theory because he
shares with Kant an ‘isolated and interior notion of
self which exercises reason in the search for moral
principles, the adherence to which will generate
freedom and hence the true expression of human
nature’ (p3l9). In short, Rawls like Kant makes the
mistake of maintaining that ‘people can reasonably
be expected to abstract from their socially contingent status in order to determine and act on principles
of just ice’ (p319).

To be sure, Clark and Gintis take note of Rawls’

attempt to temper Kant’s individualism by ‘leaning
Kant against Hegel’ in the design of his Original
Position:

‘With it, he has seemingly derived the Hegelian
conclusion that the interventionist state is the
only basis for a rational society while using
only the premises of classical liberalism (that
is: the individual choices of “free and equal
rational persons”). Conversely, the Original
Position frees Hegelianism of its anti-individualistic implications by providing explicit policy
guidelines for the state and lending to its
activities the moral weight of the unanimous
consensus of objective and rational individuals.’

(p321) [8]
But ultimately, Clark and Gintis suggest, Rawls fails
to avoid a problematic ‘Kantianism’ because he reduces
both Kant and Hegel to ‘idealized, ahistorical
abstractions’. They summarize this point as follows:

‘Rawls’ problem is not so much that he places
great emphasis on the human reflective capacity,
which certainly exists and, we suspect, is actually heightened by the process of capitalist
development, but that he makes it motivationally
dominant over all other human capacities and needs.

Similarly, in arguing that the commitment to
justice would be nurtured by the functioning of
just institutions, Rawls legitimately draws on the
stabilizing force of the socialization process.

Again, we believe certain aspects of capitalism
enhance this process, but to give socialization
such priority that it transcends particular interests is to overlook the divisive nature of class
interests in capitalism and the certainty of the
persistence of particularized interests in any
foreseeable socialist society.’ (p323)

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At this point in their discussion, Clark and Gintis
suggest that a ‘Marxian view of human nature offers
a richer and more useful basis for assessing the
justice of social alternatives’:

‘By viewing man in a dialectical relationship with
his social and natural environments, we may discover what the roles of both the human capacity to
reflect and the social setting play in shaping
eth ical ideal s.’ (p323)
Building on Marx’s claim that human nature ‘is no
abstraction inherent in each separate individual’,
they suggest that by basing his conception of justice
on a generalized notion of human nature, Rawls
ignores the equally important ‘condition of actual
persons engaged in concrete and historically specific
natural and social environments’ (p323).

But – and this is what makes Clark and Gintis’s
discussion of Rawls both interesting and internally
problematic – they do not simply adopt the position,
suggested by some of the things Marx said, that there
can be no universally valid moral theory [9].

Instead, they explicitly affirm ‘the premise of
modern liberalism that only a theory of justice which
has universal and rational appeal can be relevant to
a democratic society’ (p324). Specifically, as
democratic socialists, they grant that the class
struggle must incorporate a universally valid commitment to political equality. Thus, for example,
Gintis and his co-author Samuel Bowles say the
following in Schooling in Capitalist America (New
York, 1976):

‘ … the nature of socialism will depend on the
content of revolutionary struggle in this society.

A socialist movement cannot subordinate means to
ends .and cannot manipulate and deceive to achieve
success precisely because socialism is not an
event. The consciousness developed in struggle
is the very same consciousness which, for better
or worse, will guide the process of socialist
development itself. Thus a socialist movement,
while striving to obtain power, must do so through
means which inexorably promote democracy, participation, and a sense of solidarity and equality.’

(p283)
The tension between this commitment to a universally
valid notion of political equality and their Marxist
suspicion of ‘idealized, ahistorical’ theories of
morality is clear from the final paragraph of their
paper:

‘The conflicts that exist in modern liberal
democracies will only be resolved within the
historical context of opposing class interests.

There are strong arguments for believing that the
historical movement of these interests includes
the possibility of increasing liberty and equality.

But the process is by no means unconscious.

Rather, there are critical choices to be made on
the way to socialism. For this reason, Rawls’

work contains great merit. In struggling with the
proper conception of a just society, we develop
those aspirations which are an integral component
of its real ization.’ (p325)

V The Principles of Justice in Revolutionary Struggle
I want to propose in this concluding section that,
given the above tension in Clark and Gintis’s reading
of Rawls, it would be well to step back for a moment
from their ‘Kantian’ reading of Rawls and focus
briefly on Rawls’ recent claim in ‘Basic Structure
as Subject’ to have ‘set the stage for a reply to
idealism’ (p165). Suppose we take seriously Rawls’

own formulation of the problem confronting contemporary social and political philosophy, viz.,
‘to develop a viable Kantian conception of justice
(which will require that) the force and content of
26

Kant’s doctrine … be detached from its background in transcendental idealism and given a
procedural interpretation by means of the
original position.’ (pI65)
The question we need to ask, then, is whether one
can build on certain aspects of Kant’s thought aspects which I shall suggest below are in some ways
more adequately treated by Rousseau – to establish a
‘theory of justice which has universal and rational
appeal’ while at the same time doing justice to the
Marxist intuition that ‘the conflicts that exist in
modern liberal democracies will only be resolved
within the historical context of opposing class
interests’. And this question is not answered, I am
now suggesting, simply by asserting, in the words of
Clark and Gintis, that ‘in a class society, locating
the basis for such an appeal is made difficult, if
not impossible, by exploitation and domination in
the relations of production’ (p324). I want to
suggest, rather, that Clark and Gintis’s reading of
Rawls begs the question of whether it is possible to
develop a theory of justice that short-changes
neither the role of reason nor the role of class
struggle in the creation of a genuinely democratic
socialism.

Here, as we noted above, we are touching on an
issue that is presently being debated within the
Marxist tradition itself. But rather than attempt
to relate Clark and Gintis’s critique of Rawls to
such issues as whether in fact Marx presupposed a
universally valid moral theory, I want to relate the
tension in Clark and Gintis’s reading of Rawls to a
similar tension in Andrew Levine’s thoughtful
critique of Rousseau’s ‘individualism’ [10].

Levine concludes his discussion of Rousseau’s
Social Contract as follows:

‘ … no matter how far Rousseau’s emphasis on
community, in both theory and practice, overcomes
the atomic individualism of so many of his predecessors, contemporaries, and successors (above
all, in the liberal tradition), a profoundly
individualist strain remains. This residual
individualism is implicit in the very goal of
political association: the full realization of
autonomy or self-determination.’ (pI9S)
To Levine, this means that ultimately Rousseau is
unable to grant the reality of social classes – ‘the
real constituents of any sound political ontology’ and thus his theory becomes ideOlogical:

‘The Social Contract stands, then, as a kind of
fictional account of the relationship between
these two illusory and mystifying notions: private
interest and general interest. This account is
and can only be ideological: in concealing the
reality of social classes, it serves, in the
final analysis, only to further particular class
interests.’ (pl06)
Rousseau’s ‘individualism’, in short, ultimately
results in an inadequate view of politics:

‘[We should realize] that it is Rousseau’s
residual individualism, his Calvinism, and,
ultimately, his class position that result in
this vision of the state as a community of morally autonomous persons; thereby making the
dissolution of political philosophy into moral
philosophy inevitable, and a proper theory of
the state impossible.’ (p20l)

But – in a move that I want to suggest parallels
that made by Clark and Gintis at the end of their
paper – Levine does not let things rest with this
relatively straightforward Marxist critique. He
goes on to grant that Rousseau’s emphasis on
community – an emphasis that he has shown is

inseparable from Rousseau’s commitment to individual
autonomy – ‘remains an invaluable and barely exploited source of insight for historical materialism’

(footnote, p20l). Here he has in mind the need to
develop the Marxist notion of the state as ‘an
apparatus for organizing class domination’ and his
point is that Rousseau’s emphasis on community can
provide a more adequate view of the revolutionary
role of the proletariat [11]. Given this admission
by Levine that Rousseau’s notion of community – a
notion inseparable from a universally valid commitment to individual autonomy – needs to be incorporated into the Marxist analysis of class struggle, we
have available an alternative explanation of what
Levinecan only see as a ‘certain (unconscious)
refusal by Rousseau to pursue his thoughts to the
limit, to the moral order investigated in Kantian
moral philosophy’ (pp20l-02). For if we read
Rousseau as giving us a vision of how to nurture a
revolution once the proletariat has gained ascendancy (rather than as giving us a recipe for creating
the deep historical forces needed for a revolution),
we can say that Rousseau refused (consciously) to
abandon politics in favour of philosophical anarchism
because he was aware that a universal theory of
justice is only one moment in any historical movement
towards a just society. I.e., we could say that,
rq,ther than representing an attempt to ‘finesse’ the
stubborn reality of social classes, Rousseau’s
‘individualism’ represents an attempt to provide a
universally valid framework for critically appraising
the various options opened up by a historically conditioned class struggle [12].

I’d like to suggest in conclusion that, just as it
is mistaken to see Rousseau’s ‘individualism’ as conflicting with the Marxian insight that progress
towards a just society will necessarily involve class

struggle, so it is mistaken to suggest that Rawls’

‘individualism’ necessarily serves to legitimize
problematic features of capitalist society. Just as
Rousseau’s notion of community – which is inseparable
from his concern for individual autonomy – promises
to enrich the Marxist notion of a ‘dictatorship of
the proletariat’, so Rawls’ two principles of justice
– derived from a ‘Kantian’ respect for individual
autonomy – promise to provide a universally valid
framework for a genuinely democratic socialism. It
should be noted, by the way, that if Rawls is read in
the way I’m proposing, it would behove socialists to
follow the lead of Clark and Gintis (see Section III
above) and generate a critique of capitalism that
builds on Rawls’ two principles of justice. I.e., if
the suggestions of this last section are correct,
socialists should focus on hard-nosed empirical
arguments against capitalism within a Rawlsian framework. To be sure, this might put them in conflict
with Rawls’ intuition that there can be a just capitalist society, but it will not – if the suggestion
of this last section is correct – require them to
adopt a theoretical position that downplays and/or
makes problematic the need for a view of revolutionary struggle that incorporates a universal and
rational theory of justice. It would, however,
require socialists to adopt a more empirical approach
to such questions as whether there can be a just
market socialism, whether one can hope to do justice
to both of the intuit ions noted at the beginning of
this paper. In particular, it would require
socialists to look more carefully at the empirical
differences between a reliance on market mechanism
that rejects the notion of private ownership
(Schweickart’s model) and one that doesn’t (Clark
and Gintis’s model).

Footnotes
David Schweickart, ‘Worker-Controlled Socialism: A
Blueprint and a Defense’, Radical Philosophers’

Newsjournal, No.VIII (April 1977), p.17. Schweickart
develops this point and others in ‘Should Rawls be a
Socialist? A Comparison of His Ideal Capitalism with
Worker-Controlled Socialism’, Social Theory and Practice,
Vol.5, No.l (Fall 1978), pp.1-27. See also his recent
book, Capitalism or Worker-Control? An Ethical and
Economic Appraisal (Praeger, New York, 1980).

2 As Elizabeth Rapaport points out in ‘Classical Liberalism
and Rawlsian Revisionism’ (Canadian Journal of Philosophy,
Supplementary Vol.III (1977), pp.95-ll9), Rawls rejects
both classical liberalism’s doctrine of the neutrality of
political and economic institutions and its atomistic
individualism: ‘Rawls describes social relations not as
essentially instrumental but as communitarian. While
remaining a methodological individualist he repudiates the
doctrine that humans are rational egoists’ (pI07). For
Rawls’ most recent statement of his position, see his
‘Kantian Constructivism in Moral Theory-‘, Journal of
Philosophy, Vol.LXXVII, No.9 (September 1980), pp.5l5-72.

Here he sees his work as providing a framework for resolving ‘the conflict between two traditions of democratic
thought, one associated with Locke, the other with
Rousseau’ and suggests that ‘we must find a suitable
rendering of freedom and equality, and of their relative
priority, rooted in the more fundamental notions of our
political life and congenial to our conception of the
person’ (p520).

3 p.27l. Rawls’ qualms about bureaucracies in this regard
are also apparent when, having noted that socialist
regimes could use prices to perform certain allocational
functions, he goes on to say: ‘It seems improbable that the
control of economic activity by the bureaucracy that would
be bound to develop in a socially regulated system (whether
centrally directed or guided by the agreements reached by
industrial associations) would be more just on balance than
control exercised by means of prices (assuming as always
the necessary framework)’ (p28l).

4 Barry Clark and Herbert Gintis, ‘Rawlsian Justice and
Economic Systems’, Philosophy and Public Affairs, Vol.7,
No.4 (October 1978), pp.302-25.

5 As will be clear from what follows, I have no quarrel with
Clark and Gintis’s claim that Rawls’ principles are much
stronger than he seems to admit. Their paper is part of
the growing literature suggesting that Rawls’ principles

6

8

are not compatible with anything that could properly be
called a capitalist society. See, e.g., C.P. Macpherson’s
claim that ‘Rawls dows not see the exploitive relations
inherent in capitalism, so it does not occur to him that
there is any more difficulty arranging for justice in
capitalism, however much regulated, than socialism’

(‘Rawls’ Models of Man and Society’, Philosophy of the
Social Sciences, Vol.3, No.4 (December 1973), p.345).

Rawls argues that wealth is a primary good in ‘Fairness to
Goodness’ (Philosophical Review, Vol.84, No.4 (October
1975), pp.536-54). And he goes on to say that ‘whatever
form they take, natural resources and the means of production, and the rights to control them, as well as the right
to services, are wealth’ (p54l). In ‘Basic Structure as
Subject’ (American Philosophical Quarterly, Vol.14, No.2
(April 1977), pp.159-65), he seems to suggest that both
principles would be operative: ‘At the same time, these
principles specify an ideal form for the basic structure
in the light of which pure procedural processes are constrained and corrected. Among these constraints are the
limits on the accumulation of property (especially if
private property in productive assets exists) that derive
from the requirements of the fair value of political
liberty and fair equality of opportunity, and the limits
based on considerations of stability and excusable envy,
both of which are connected with the essential primary
good of self-respect’ (p.164).

Surely socialists must take seriously the Yugoslavian case,
although, as Schweickart notes, it allows ‘firms to control new investments, thus denying itself the benefits of
coordinated, democratically-reviewed planning, and making
itself more vulnerable to problems generated by competition
than our model’ (pI8). For a recent review of the very
real problems confronting contemporary Yugoslavia see
Sharon Zukin’s ‘Beyond Titoism’ (Telos, No.44 (Summer
1980), pp.5-24). To Zukin, ‘the discussion of Yugoslav
political economy has to be taken out of the rarified
atmosphere of the “tending toward capital ism – tending
toward socialism” debate … [and] the framework of labor
mobilization and capital accumulation in a socialist state
provides a starting point’ (p.24).

In ‘Deep Structure as Subject’, Rawls is explicit on this:

‘I have tried to show how the conception of justice as
fairness ‘” [and its] procedural interpretation of Kant’s
view not only satisfies the canons of a reasonable empiricism, but its use of the idea of the social contract

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meets Hegel’s criticisms. At the same time, since it proceeds from a suitably individualistic basis, it presents
the details of a moral conception that can take appropriate account of social values without falling into
organicism’ (p165). One wishes, by the way, that Clark
and Gintis had been able to react to this later article of
Rawls; for it is clear that one of Rawls’ principle concerns in this article – as indeed is also the case in
‘Fairness to Goodness’ – is to counter various left
criticisms of his theory of justice.

For a recent example of the debate surrounding this issue,
see Ziyad I. Husami’s ‘Marx on Distributive Justice’

(Philosophy and Public Affairs, Vol.8, No.l (January 1978),
pp.27-64) and Allen W. Wood’s ‘Marx on Right and Justice:

A Reply to Husami’ (Philosophy and Public Affairs, Vol.8,
No.3 (July 1979), pp.267-95).

Andrew Levine, The Politics of Autonomy: A Kantian Reading
of Rousseau’s Social Contract (Amherst, 1976).

In suggesting the directions in which Rousseau’s notion of
community should lead Marxists, Levine mentions the work
of Antonio Gramsci, the Italian Marxist who argued that the
point of socialist revolution is to replace bourgeois
‘hegemony’ with a proletarian ‘hegemony’. The difference
between this last notion and the tradi tional ~1arxist
notion of a ‘dictatorship of the proletariat’ is clear
when, as Harold Entwistle has noted, Gramsci calls for a
proletarian domination that does not depend on force or

coercion but on ‘rule by intellectual and moral hegemony
‘” [which] is the form of power which gives stability and
founds power on wide-ranging consent’ (Entwistle, Antonio

Gramsci: Conservative Schooling for Radical Politics
12

(London, 1979), p.12).

Such a reading of Rousseau, to be convincing, would require
a detailed response to Levine’s carefully worked out interpretation. In particular, it would require one to place a
greater emphasis on those sections, early on in the Social
Contract, where Rousseau sets out the material preconditions for a just society. I would contend, in fact, that
these sections allow for the existence of social classes
even though Rousseau says little about how historical
forces can at a particular time and place result in a
‘people fit for government’. It would also be necessary
to challenge Levine’s view of the role of Rousseau’s
recommendations concerning political economy and civil
religion. Specifically, it would have to be shown that
Rousseau does not mean these institutions as misguided
attempts to suppress class divisions but as means of
preserving the social bond which is a precondition of a
just society. But these are all tricky issues in Rousseau
scholarship and I would hope that these brief remarks and the claim that these issues are relevant to a proper
understanding of Rawls – will encourage people to give
Levine’s book the attention it deserves.

PRAXIS
A JOURNAL OF CULTURAL CRITICISM

Contents of #5: “Art and Ideology,” Pt. I (now available)
Materialist Literary Theory in France, 1965-1975 by Claude
Bouchi?

HMarks of Weakness”: Ideology, Science and Textual Criticism
by lames H. Kavanagh
Literature as an Ideological Form: Some Marxist Propositions
by Pierre Macherey and Etienne Balibar
Artistic Practice by ErJrique Gonzcllez Rojo
The School of Althusser and Aesthetic Thought (commentary)
by Stefan Morawski
Ideology, Production, Text: Pierre Macherey’s Materialist
Criticism by hancis Barker
SHORT REVIEWS
Althusser: Self-Criticism as Non-Criticism by Mark Poster
Constructing a Critical Ideology by lames H. Kal’anagiJ
Class Struggle in Literary Form and Deformation by Bill Langell
On Language Requirements by Tom Conley
Linguistics and Ideology by Robert D’Amico
A Sociology of Texts by Robert Sayre

Single copy: $4.50 Subscription (2 issues): U .S. $7.00
Distributed in the U.K., Europe and the Commonwealth by’Pluto Press
Praxis, p.a. Box 1280, Santa Monica, California 90406 USA

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