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Resourcd File


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Resourcd File

  1. 1. G.A Cohen (2009) ‘Why not Socialism?’ The Communist Campers! At the start of this short book, Cohen outlines a camping trip run along socialist lines, where “people cooperate within a common concern that, so far as is possible, everybody has a roughly similar opportunity to flourish”. Cooking and washing up are distributed to each according to his abilities, and applesauce, apple pie, and apple strudel are distributed to each according to his needs. Cohen contrasts this trip to one run along market capitalist lines; in the capitalist alternative, meal preparation involves renting a potato peeler from a fellow camper and buying potatoes from another before selling the peeled potatoes to a third. Only those who could afford the tastiest foods would eat them.
  2. 2.  Cohen is contrasting:  Capitalist social relations, i.e.  Private property and competition  The use value of things measured in monetary terms (‘monetised’)  Production of goods for profit, not need, with…  …The social relations of the Socialist campsite:  Co-operation  Collective ownership of socialised goods  The value of goods measured against what human needs (the needs of the campsite) they satisfy, rather than what private profits they may produce.  So… Class Forum
  3. 3.  “[I]sn’t this, the socialist way, with collective property and planned mutual giving, rather obviously the best way to run a camping trip, whether or not you actually like camping?”  The difference between these two camping trips is that the first, unlike the second, embodies what for Cohen are the two core principles of socialism: radical equality of opportunity and community. G.A Cohen (2009)
  4. 4.  Offer two arguments in favour of the possibility of Cohen’s analogy being a useful promise of how wider human society might be organised. Alternatively, describe two arguments against why this analogy might be seen as being unsatisfactory in regards to solving the problems of modern societies. G.A Cohen (2009) Group Discussion
  5. 5.  How did you do?  Did you find yourselves conceding the desirability of Socialism, but not its feasibility?  What were your reservations?  What do they say of our assumptions about human nature?  Is there such a thing as a ‘fixed’ human nature? Where do our beliefs and values come from? How are they maintained and reproduced over generations, and in whose interests? G.A Cohen (2009)