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Happy Campers

Ellen Meiksins Wood: G.A. Cohen, 28 January 2010

Why Not Socialism? 
by G.A. Cohen.
Princeton, 83 pp., £10.95, September 2009, 978 0 691 14361 3
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... attempt ‘to overcome and advance beyond the predatory phase of human development’, and for G.A. Cohen ‘every market … is a system of predation.’ That is the essence of his short but trenchant and elegantly written last book – Cohen died last August. His object is to make what he calls a ...

Views of Marx

G.A. Cohen, 15 May 1980

Marxism and Class Theory: A Bourgeois Critique 
by Frank Parkin.
Tavistock, 217 pp., £6.95, October 1979, 0 422 76790 5
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Karl Marx 
edited by Tom Bottomore.
Blackwell, 194 pp., £9.95, September 1979, 0 631 10961 7
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... Parkin is. Much bourgeois sociology denies the existence of distinct classes: it sees only gentle gradations of income, status and power. Parkin’s classes are as real as those of any Marxist. He thinks there is an exploiting bourgeoisie and an exploited proletariat. He also thinks that classes are agents. They act, collectively. They make ...

My body is my own

David Miller, 31 October 1996

Self-Ownership, Freedom and Equality 
by G.A. Cohen.
Cambridge, 277 pp., £40, October 1995, 0 521 47174 5
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... single day; similarly, in Marx’s vision of communism, people moved freely between hunting, fishing and raising cattle, and served one another according to the principle, ‘to each according to his needs’; in William Morris’s land of Nowhere, Dick the boatman is puzzled when the narrator attempts to pay for his ride and explains that ‘this ferryin...

Mind the gap

G.A. Cohen, 14 May 1992

Equality and Partiality 
by Thomas Nagel.
Oxford, 186 pp., £13.95, November 1991, 0 19 506967 6
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... could be stated; and, if they were not adjacent but near one another, then something resembling an ideal could be aimed at. In fact, however, there is between the two thresholds of reasonableness a substantial ‘gap, within which fall all those levels of sacrifice which the poor would have sufficient reason to impose if they could and which the rich have ...

British Marxism

Richard Norman, 21 February 1980

Karl Marx’s Theory of History: A Defence 
by G.A. Cohen.
Oxford, 369 pp., £10.50, December 1978, 0 19 827196 4
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Marxism After Marx: An Introduction 
by David McLellan.
Macmillan, 355 pp., £8.95, December 1980, 0 333 72208 6
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... anyone else have been able to do much more than fill the gap with importations. In this situation, Cohen’s defence of historical materialism represents a significant new departure. Unlike most Marxists, and in particular most Marxist philosophers, Cohen sees great value in the techniques and achievements of British ...

On and off the page

Thomas Nagel, 25 July 1991

Isaiah Berlin: A Celebration 
by Edna Margalit and Avishai Margalit.
Hogarth, 224 pp., £25, June 1991, 0 7012 0925 9
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... pure and free-standing. I was put in mind of this recently while reading Ray Monk’s painful biography of Wittgenstein, who succeeded in creating a body of philosophical work so much finer and nobler than himself that for someone who has developed a strong attachment to the work, the ...

The kind of dog he likes

W.G. Runciman: Realistic Utopias, 18 December 2014

Justice for Earthlings: Essays in Political Philosophy 
by David Miller.
Cambridge, 254 pp., £18.99, January 2013, 978 1 107 61375 1
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... Why ‘earthlings’​ ? David Miller isn’t drawing a contrast with justice for creatures from outer space. Nor is he taking issue directly with Ronald Dworkin’s ‘justice for hedgehogs’ in Dworkin’s book of 2011 with that title, although Miller does say in a footnote that he disagrees with him. He has in his sights the ‘neo-Augustinians’, as he calls them, like the late ...

Ideologues

Peter Pulzer, 20 February 1986

The Redefinition of Conservatism: Politics and Doctrine 
by Charles Covell.
Macmillan, 267 pp., £27.50, January 1986, 0 333 38463 6
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Thinkers of the New Left 
by Roger Scruton.
Longman, 227 pp., £9.95, January 1986, 0 582 90273 8
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The Idea of Liberalism: Studies for a New Map of Politics 
by George Watson.
Macmillan, 172 pp., £22.50, November 1985, 0 333 38754 6
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Socialism and Freedom 
by Bryan Gould.
Macmillan, 109 pp., £25, November 1985, 0 333 40580 3
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... failure to embrace any one of these unambiguously, but one of them is the struggle between pragmatism and dogma that has invaded British political discourse. Are British politics still defined by the old Anglo-Saxon landmarks, or have we ‘joined Europe’? Three dates dominate the political consciousness of modern ...

On the Defensive

Ross McKibbin, 26 January 1995

Social Justice: Strategies for National Renewal. The Report of the Commission on Social Justice 
Vintage, 418 pp., £6.99, October 1994, 9780099511410Show More
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... implied model of the family (and thus of the workforce) was of a man in full-time work supporting a wife and children. And the largest single element in the working population was comprised of unskilled male manual workers. So long as there was something approaching full employment ...

Bendy Rulers

Glen Newey: Amartya Sen, 28 January 2010

TheIdea of Justice 
by Amartya Sen.
Allen Lane, 468 pp., £25, July 2009, 978 1 84614 147 8
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... aim is to give each person as good a life as possible, this end may not be well served by handing a person whatever income fills the gap between her actual earnings and, say, half the national average, or some other benchmark. As Amartya Sen has shown elsewhere, it’s not what you have that counts, so much as what you can do with it. So the currency of ...

Marxismo

Jon Elster, 18 March 1982

Marx’s Politics 
by Alan Gilbert.
Martin Robertson, 326 pp., £16.50, August 1981, 0 85520 441 9
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The History of Marxism. Vol. 1: Marxism in Marx’s Day 
edited by Eric Hobsbawm.
Harvester, 349 pp., £30, January 1982, 0 7108 0054 1
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Dialectic of Defeat: Contours of Western Marxism 
by Russell Jacoby.
Cambridge, 202 pp., £15.80, January 1982, 9780521239158
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Analytical Foundations of Marxian Economic Theory 
by John Roemer.
Cambridge, 230 pp., £19.50, August 1981, 0 521 23047 0
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Karl Marx: The Arguments of the Philosophers 
by Allen Wood.
Routledge, 304 pp., £13.50, January 1981, 0 7100 0672 1
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... with A. J. Ayer’s statement that there is no such thing. Within the social sciences, there has gradually developed a branch of Marxist economic theory that has shed the tendency to wishful thinking characteristic of much early work. Yet the work of, say, Morishima and Steedman has mainly tended to show that Marx’s most cherished theories, such as the ...

Heroes

Pat Rogers, 6 November 1986

Hume and the Heroic Portrait: Studies in 18th-Century Imagery 
by Edgar Wind, edited by Jaynie Anderson.
Oxford, 139 pp., £29.50, May 1986, 0 19 817371 7
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Augustan Studies: Essays in honour of Irvin Ehrenpreis 
edited by Douglas Lane Patey and Timothy Keegan.
University of Delaware Press, 270 pp., £24.50, May 1986, 9780874132724
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The 18th Century: The Intellectual and Cultural Context of English Literature 1700-1789 
by James Sambrook.
Longman, 290 pp., £15.95, April 1986, 0 582 49306 4
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... Wind with Reynolds, it should be pointed out that in the relevant entry in the New Cambridge Bibliography of English Literature, Wind supplies more items than any other secondary authority. Some of these items are fairly slight, but even a short note on Blake and Reynolds, dating from 1957, makes a sharp and persuasive impact. One brief study, entitled ...

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