Beyond Liberal Egalitarianism

Marx and Normative Social Theory in the Twenty-First Century

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Progressive theorists and activists insist that contemporary capitalism is deeply flawed from a normative point of view. However, most accept the liberal egalitarian thesis that the serious shortcomings of market societies (financial excess, inequality, and so on) could be overcome with proper political regulation. Building on Marx's legacy, Tony Smith argues in Beyond Liberal Egalitarianism that advocates of this thesis (Rawls, Habermas, Stiglitz, et al.) lack an adequate concept of capital and the state. These theorists also fail to comprehend new developments in world history ensuring that the 'destructive' aspects of capitalism increasingly outweigh whatever 'creative' elements it might continue to possess. Smith concludes that a normative social theory adequate to the twenty-first century must explicitly and unequivocally embrace socialism.
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Biographical Note

Tony Smith, Ph.D. State University of New York at Stony Brook (1980), is Professor of Philosophy at Iowa State University. Professor Smith’s books include The Logic of Marx’s Capital (SUNY, 1990), Technology and Capital (SUNY, 2000) and Globalisation (Brill, 2005).

Table of contents

Preface
List of Figures

1 Liberal Egalitarianism
Introduction
Well-being
Autonomous Agency
Access to Resources
The Development of Essential Capabilities
Democratic Will-Formation

2 Towards a Liberal Egalitarian Normative Theory of Institutions
The Household
Market Production and Distribution
The State
Civil Society: The Public Sphere and Voluntary Associations
The Regime of Global Governance

3 Misunderstandings, False Starts, Further Questions
Some Marxian Objections to Liberal Egalitarianism
Liberal Egalitarian Criticisms of Marx
Conclusion

4 The Beginning Level of Marxian Theory
The Beginning Level of Theoretical Abstraction (1): The Commodity, Value, Abstract Labour
The Beginning Level of Theoretical Abstraction (2): Money
Normative Considerations
Conclusion

5 Marx’s Concept of Capital
Marx’s Concept of Capital (1): Capital as a ‘Dominant Subject’
Ontological and Normative Implications of the General Formula of Capital
Normative Implications
Marx’s Concept of Capital (2): Capital as a ‘Pseudo-Subject’

6 Human Flourishing and the Structural Tendencies of Capitalism
The Capital/Wage Labour Relationship
Overaccumulation Crises
Financial Crises
Environmental Crises
Severe Global Inequality and Poverty
Conclusion

7 A Liberal Egalitarian Response to the Marxian Challenge
The Critique of Economism
A Reform Agenda

8 Towards A Marxian Theory of ‘The Political’
Five Theses on the Capitalist State
A Critical Examination of Liberal Egalitarian Proposals
Conclusion

9 Competing Perspectives on Neoliberalism
A Liberal Egalitarian Narrative
Beyond Liberal Egalitarianism: A Marxian Critique of Neoliberalism
Conclusion

10 Two Modified Versions of Liberal Egalitarianism
‘Neo-Schumpeterian’ Liberal Egalitarianism
The Normative Promise of ‘Commons-Based Peer Production’

11 Modified Liberal Egalitarianism and the Present Moment in World History
Prospects for a New ‘Golden Age’
The Prospects of Commons-Based Peer Production
Conclusion

12 Property-Owning Democracy: A Liberal Egalitarianism Beyond Capitalism?
Property-Owning Democracy (1)
Property-Owning Democracy (2)
Property-Owning Democracy (3)

13 Beyond Liberal Egalitarianism
The Argument Thus Far
Beyond Liberal Egalitarianism

Bibliography
Index

Readership

Academic libraries; advanced undergraduates; graduate students; faculty in philosophy and the social sciences interested in normative social theory, Marxian thought, the crisis of neoliberalism, and critiques of political economy.

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