Tuesday, November 29, 2011

John Rawls, mais radical do que se diz?

Occupy Wall Street and the deradicalized Rawl, por Will Wilkinson:

Later on in the course of his argument, Rawls evaluates the relative merits of different economic systems and acknowledges that markets institutions have a number of advantages over the alternatives: they deliver the goods people want; they efficiently allocate labor; they decentralize economic power. Nevertheless Rawls concludes that “justice as fairness," which is what he calls his favored theory of justice, "includes no natural right of private property in the means of production.” And he is skeptical that his theory can accommodate even a conventional right to private property in the means of production. When it comes to determining what manner of political economy best realizes the ideal of justice as fairness, Rawls “leaves open the question whether its principles are best realized by some form of property-owning democracy or by a liberal socialist regime,” neither of which remotely resembles the actual American system.

If we focus primarily on Rawls' difference principle, as opposed to what he does and does not include in his list of basic rights, it's easy to come to the conclusion that Rawlsian justice demands relatively laissez-faire capitalism together with a very generous welfare state. Free markets make a country rich and robust social insurance ensures that even the worst-off enjoy the benefits of all that wealth. As it turns out, the worst-off are best off in countries, such as Denmark, that have settled on precisely this formula, which Rawls called "welfare-state capitalism." But Rawls rejected welfare-state capitalism, because he rejected capitalism generally. Before we even get to distributional questions, we've got to ensure that the full worth of Rawls' privileged political and civil liberties are equally guaranteed to all, and he thought no form of capitalism, which by its nature allows for large inequalities in ownership of the means of production, could do that. (Here's a good post by Daniel Little on what Rawls meant by "property-owning democracy," the type of regime he favored.)
A property-owning democracy, por Daniel Little:
In Justice as Fairness: A Restatement (2001) Rawls offered a more explicit discussion of this concept than was offered in A Theory of Justice: Original Edition (1971).  Here are several important descriptions:
Let us distinguish five kinds of regime viewed as social systems, complete with their political, economic, and social institutions: (a) laissez-faire capitalism; (b) welfare-state capitalism; (c) state socialism with a command economy; (d) property-owning democracy; and finally, (e) liberal (democratic) socialism. (...)

Rawls argues that the first three alternatives mentioned here (a-c) fail the test of justice, in that each violates conditions of the two principles of justice in one way or the other.  So only a property-owning democracy and liberal socialism are consistent with the two principles of justice (138).  Another way of putting this conclusion is that either regime can be just if it functions as designed, and the choice between them is dictated by pragmatic considerations rather than considerations of fundamental justice.

Here is how Rawls describes the fundamental goal of a property-owning democracy:
In property-owning democracy, ... the aim is to realize in the basic institutions the idea of society as a fair system of cooperation between citizens regarded as free and equal.  To do this, those institutions must, from the outset, put in the hands of citizens generally, and not only of a few, sufficient productive means for them to be fully cooperating members of society on a footing of equality (140).
Rawls isn't very explicit about the institutions that constitute a property-owning democracy, but here is a general description:
Both a property-owning democracy and a liberal socialist regime set up a constitutional framework for democratic politics, guarantee the basic liberties with the fair value of the political liberties and fair equality of opportunity, and regulate economic and social inequalities by a principle of mutuality, if not by the difference principle.  (138)
This last point is important:
For example, background institutions must work to keep property and wealth evenly enough shared over time to preserve the fair value of the political liberties and fair equality of opportunities over generations. They do this by laws regulating bequest and inheritance of property, and other devices such as taxes, to prevent excessive concentrations of private power. (51)
And concentration of wealth is one of the deficiencies of a near-cousin of the property-owning democracy, welfare-state capitalism:
One major difference is this: the background institutions of property-owning democracy work to disperse the ownership of wealth and capital, and thus to prevent a small part of society from controlling the economy, and indirectly, political life as well.  By contrast, welfare-state capitalism permits a small class to have a near monopoly of the means of production. (139) [also Collected Papers, p. 419]

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