This book does not question Rawlsian principles, but it does reject the liberal institutions he advocates.Since the publication of John Rawls' "A Theory of Justice" (1971) - followed up by "Political Liberalism" (1993) and "Justice as Fairness: A Restatement" (2001) - discussions on social justice and redistributive liberalism have taken center stage in contemporary political theory. This book adds to an enormous body of literature. It does not question Rawlsian principles, but it does reject the liberal institutions he advocates. A debate is constructed in which his liberalism is contrasted with a libertarian socialism informed by the English theorist of guild socialism G.D.H. Cole (1889-1959).These two authors visualize alternative macro socio-economic schemes. Although they are set within modern liberal and libertarian socialist frameworks respectively, they share a commitment to reducing vast inequalities in wealth. Central to the Rawlsian scheme is the difference principle - that inequalities are only permitted if they benefit the least well off.
Rawls proposes that citizens deliberating without awareness of subjective talents - a collective lack of knowledge captured by the Rawlsian term the veil of ignorance - will be compelled to prioritize a society structured to accommodate this principle to other systems in which inequalities are allowed to concentrate with lesser degrees of regulation. This assertion will not be challenged. However, it is shown how the difference principle will be more easily realized in the left libertarian scheme, in which the author defends. The argument is that Rawlsian premises point to a more radical conclusion that Rawls acknowledges.
Chris Wyatt is lecturer in Social Theory and Sociology at the University of Brighton and teaches Modern Political Thought and Foundations in Political Theory at the University of Sussex. He holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Sociology, a Master of Arts degree in Social and Political Thought and a Ph.D. in Social and Political Thought.
Introduction; Social Justic; Rawlsian liberalism, Cole's guild socialism and New Economic Democracy; Structure and Rationale; Chapter One; Rawls' Theory of Justice; Rawls' Premises; Justice as Fairness; The Original Position and the Veil of Ignorance; Rawlsian Principles; Primary Goods; Rawls' Conclusion; Rawlsian Redistributive Liberalism; Justice as Fairness and Socialism; Restate; Chapter Two; Cole's Guild Socialism; The Democratic Domain; The Functional Principle; Political Pluralism; Cole's Rejection of the Consumer Representing State and his Amplification of the Functional and Pluralist Principles; Chapter Three; The Political Economy of New Economic Democracy; Cole's Third Way; The Plan - Market Controversy; Democratic and Participatory Planning; Democratic Investment Planning; Analysing Democratic Investment Planning; Summary and conclusion; Chapter Four; Body Politics; The State and Sovereignty in Rawlsian Liberalism; A Critique of the Liberal State; The problem in Rawlsian Liberalism; The Commune and Sovereignty in New Economic Democracy; Really Pluralist; The Democratic and Pluralist Economy; The Bottom-up Approach to System Building; The 'Reconstruction of the State' The Restriction of the Appeal Court; Bureaucracy and Functional Democracy; Legislation; The Indispensable Need for Consumer Councils; Summary; Chapter Five; Liberty and Liberal Individualism; The Neutral State; Liberal Individualism and New Economic Democracy; Upholding the 'Common Ground' in Rawlsian Liberalism; Upholding the 'Common Ground' in New Economic Democracy; Summary; Conclusion; A Reiteration; Securing the Two Principles of Justice; The Realisation of the Difference Principle; Sustaining Equality of Opportunity Rationale Reconfirmed; New Economic Democracy: The Good Society Finally; Bibliography.