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New Left Review I/220, November-December 1996


Andrew Gamble and Gavin Kelly

The New Politics of Ownership

The political economy of the Left has always aimed at combining social justice and economic efficiency. [1] We would like to thank Robert Pollin, Chris Pierson, Mike Kenny, Robin Blackburn, Mike Dietrich, Martin Smith and an anonymous referee for their comments on an earlier draft of this article. The goals have not changed, but the best way to achieve them has increasingly come under scrutiny. For most of the twentieth century, the favoured means has been a single measure, the common ownership of the means of production. Common ownership has meant many things. Within the Marxist tradition an important distinction was always drawn between socialization and nationalization. The former meant cooperative production while the latter signified state capitalism. Other socialist traditions also supported many different forms of common ownership. But increasingly common ownership came to be equated with state ownership, especially after democratic franchises had bestowed the mantle of popular legitimacy on state executives, and this became the accepted definition of what socialism meant in practice for both its friends and its enemies. [2] See the representative discussion by Joseph Schumpeter in Capitalism, Socialism and Democracy, London 1950.

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