Against Capitalism

In This Review

Against Capitalism

By David Schweickart
Westview, 1996
387 pp. $24.95
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Unlike many critics of capitalism, Schweickart has done his homework, taking seriously the arguments of contemporary neoclassical economics and its philosophical defenders and carefully critiquing them. He argues that the marginalism underlying Alfred Marshall's theory of value tends to overstate the social contribution made by owners of capital, whose sacrifice in terms of deferred consumption is not comparable to the sacrifice of those who contribute their labor. His proposed "economic democracy" alternative is a variant of Yugoslav worker management, with state ownership of productive assets and allocation of new investment resources by various quasi-public bodies. Despite his efforts to anticipate neoclassical arguments in advance, he does not ultimately have adequate answers to two central questions: first, how worker management-cum-public-sector finance will avoid serious allocational inefficiencies, and second, how adequate investment and entrepreneurship will emerge in the absence of clearly defined property rights. While he can point to relatively successful economies that depart from neoclassical norms, it is not clear that his will be one of them.