Now The Synthesis: Capitalism, Socialism and The New Social Contract
The contributors seek to synthesize the best of two traditions that formerly pitted East against West, society against individual. Three Nobel-winning economists propose reforms to meet the challenges of the 21st century.
The collapse of Marxism as an alternative guide to action in the world marks the end of an era, but also the beginning of another, argues Richard Noyes, the editor of this volume of essays which aims to address major social and economic issues from a new perspective. <br><br> Using the Hegelian approach of the dialectic to analyse the contest between great philosophies, he argues that the 17th and 18th centuries witnessed the emergence of the thesis through the work of men like John Locke and Adam Smith. They sought to restrain the power of the state over the life and property of the individual. It was the age of the rights of man, the “”Age of Reason””. Reacting against the gross maldistribution of wealth arising with the industrial revolution, Marx set out the antithesis, the “”Age of Revolution””, which in practice led to the awesome power of the state over the life and property of the individual and failed to alleviate to any great extent the poverty of the proletariat. Now, Noyes argues, the synthesis is emerging. It is most fully expressed in the work of the American social reformer Henry George, whose seminal work, “”<em>Progress and Poverty</em>””, recognised the importance of unshackling the individual to look after his own well-being, but equally saw that the individual had social responsibilities. <br><br> The balance between the rights of the individual and the needs of society could be brought into balance by reforming the tax system. This philosophy, though expounded in the 19th century, neatly resolves the dilemma between economic growth and environmental protection. Leo Tolstoy advocated it as the solution to Russia’s feudal condition, Sun Yat-Sen campaigned for it as the cornerstone of the modernisation of China and Winston Churchill and Lloyd-George urged it as a major reform just before World War I – but the tide of Marxism had not yet run its course. <br><br> So that the reader may gain some understanding of what the synthesis means in practice, the remaining nine essays address a number of current issues from the Georgist point of view, providing a Georgist rather than Marxist or Capitalist analysis of major issues such as: the limits of property rights; planning gain; tax reform; economic development of Latin America; economic colonialism; Green issues; agricultural subsidies; international trade and GATT. The holistic character of the emerging philosophy is examined in relation to problems ranging from environmental degradation to global conflicts over trade. Its contemporary relevance is illuminated by the application of the basic principles to demands for the creation of a market economy in the Soviet Union and the abolition of poverty in the Third World.