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New Left Review I/153, September-October 1985


Wlodzimierz Brus

Socialism—Feasible and Viable?

Alec Nove’s Economics of Feasible Socialism is an important landmark in contemporary writing on socialism. [*] The Economics of Feasible Socialism, Allen & Unwin, London 1983. Not only does it consistently, and on the whole successfully, combat a series of long-established myths; it also attempts to present, or at least to sketch, the essential features of ‘feasible socialism’. It is unlikely that everyone will be happy with the scale of this latter section, just one chapter out of five, particularly as the previous four are supposed to have a mainly preparatory function. Yet the constructive element is there to provide a focus for concrete debate. Nor are the contours of ‘feasible socialism’ the only component of the book which should encourage fruitful discussion of contemporary problems of socialism. Nove covers a very wide range of issues, and as he never fails to make his own position clear, the book will probably swell the numbers of both his admirers and his opponents, while hardly leaving many readers indifferent. I myself am in agreement with the main thrust of the book, and this review article has been engendered not by polemical zest, but by the desire to articulate some thoughts on socialism in response to Nove’s welcome stimulus. Needless to say, the issues I shall try to examine here are closer to my own concerns, and hence cannot be expected to reflect fairly and evenly problems discussed in the book, let alone to provide a summary of them.

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