Jazz Bands, Camping Trips and Decommodification: G. A. Cohen on Community

Socialist Studies, Vol. 8, 2012

20 Pages Posted: 17 Nov 2011

See all articles by Nicholas Vrousalis

Nicholas Vrousalis

Erasmus University Rotterdam (EUR) - Erasmus Institute for Philosophy and Economics (EIPE); Leiden University - Institute of Political Science

Date Written: November 15, 2011

Abstract

This paper studies G. A. Cohen’s account of community, in the context of his forceful critique of (Rawlsian) liberalism. I begin by discussing the two general forms of Cohen’s conception of community, justificatory community and communal reciprocity, contrasting them with Marx’s. I argue, first, that Cohen offers a compelling critique of liberalism, which successfully brings to the fore a difficulty liberals have making sense of, indeed attaching value to, community. I then argue that Cohen’s novel account of community is in deep and problematic tension with his own theory of justice. Finally, I try to show, against liberals of most persuasions, that the second form of fraternity, which warrants the diminution or eradication of fear and greed from human relationships, is incompatible with commodification, i.e. with markets for human labor power. I thus try to vindicate Cohen’s view that ‘every market, even a socialist market, is a system of predation’.

Keywords: fraternity, community, difference principle, market socialism, equality, Rawls, Marxism

Suggested Citation

Vrousalis, Nicholas, Jazz Bands, Camping Trips and Decommodification: G. A. Cohen on Community (November 15, 2011). Socialist Studies, Vol. 8, 2012. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1960254

Nicholas Vrousalis (Contact Author)

Erasmus University Rotterdam (EUR) - Erasmus Institute for Philosophy and Economics (EIPE)

P.O. Box 1738
EIPE Office, Room H5-23
3000 Dr Rotterdam
Netherlands

Leiden University - Institute of Political Science ( email )

Faculty of Social and Behavioural Sciences
PO Box 9555
Leiden, 2300 RB
Netherlands

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