Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Collection of Posts on Socialism

I've seen several posts and sources - both new and old - on socialism recently which I thought were worth sharing collectively. What I like about these pieces is that they move beyond the Marxist-Leninist-Soviet socialism that a lot of Americans instinctively think of when they hear the word.

First is Bryan Caplan at Econlog on the Baader-Meinhoff gang, a decidedly Marxist-Leninist group operating in West Germany in the last quarter of the 20th century.

I also enjoyed Matthew Yglesias's discussion of George Orwell's socialism - an anti-totalitarian, anti-Leninist brand of socialism associated with the New Left in the post-war period. Yglesias's most salient point is the deep misunderstanding of Orwell's socialism by American conservatives.

And of course, no consideration of Orwell is complete without Christopher Hitchens, who discusses 1984 here and here. Listen to the very end - at the end he has an interesting discussion about which dystopian future is more likely: that of 1984 or Brave New World.

One of my favorite discussions of socialism is that provided in Keynes's The End of Laissez-Faire, available in it's entirety here. I like to think of this short book as a genealogy of liberalism. It does a very good job outlining how classical liberalism split into an individualistic and a communitarian branch. He goes into great detail on pre-Marxian socialism, and the sense in which modern (at the time of the writing, in 1926) laissez-faire and modern Marxist socialism in many ways bastardized the liberal tradition from which they both emerged.

Brad DeLong has a quick, interesting discussion of what about Marx is still important for modern, neoclassical economists to acknoweldge and respect.
Finally, I recommend this discussion between Bryan Magee and Herbert Marcuse, about The Frankfurt School and Marcuse's socialism (Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, and Part 5). Marcuse is one of the foremost socialist critics of Marxism. If "anti-Marxist socialism" sounds like an oxymoron to you, I suggest you listen to this series.
For probably obvious reasons, I have a great deal more respect for the New Left and the anti-Marxist socialists than I do for Marxists, but I still have to offer this to you as well.

No comments:

Post a Comment

All anonymous comments will be deleted. Consistent pseudonyms are fine.