Mill's `socialism'

Politics, Philosophy and Economics 2 (2):213-238 (2003)
Abstract
Insofar as John Stuart Mill can be accurately described as a socialist, his is a socialism that a classical liberal ought to be able to live with, if not to love. Mill's view is that capitalist economies should at some point undergo a `spontaneous' and incremental process of socialization, involving the formation of worker-controlled `socialistic' enterprises through either the transformation of `capitalistic' enterprises or creation de novo. This process would entail few violations of core libertarian principles. It would proceed by way of a series of voluntary transactions. Capitalists' property rights would be respected throughout. The process would take place within a national system of laws that permits private ownership of productive property and competition, and would not result in that system's overthrow. And, if we accept some basic tenets of Mill's social philosophy, the outcome at which we should expect the process to arrive is a `patchwork' economy in which capitalistic and socialistic enterprises exist side by side. Key Words: Ludwig von Mises • John Stuart Mill • socialism • capitalism • worker control.
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