By David Selbourne

ISBN-10: 0333370953

ISBN-13: 9780333370957

ISBN-10: 1349176176

ISBN-13: 9781349176175

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64 No, says the left, firing in the wrong direction and forced into falsehood: 'the free market can provide neither material nor moral civilization ... ' 65 If so, argues Friedman in turn, it must be a 'cooperation among individuals' which rests upon 'no external force, no coercion, no violation of freedom'; 66 for it is in and through 'structures produced by voluntary exchange' that 'language or scientific discoveries or musical styles or economic systems' 67 develop. Socialists of every kind might well feel deep intellectual unease at this.

Moreover, the form of certain internal polemics and upheavals in the world of 'real' socialism has merely confounded Western socialist confusion. Thus, in their advocacy of wider political The Politics ofIllusion 27 democracy, or a multi-party system, or independent trade unions, or the reintroduction of market incentives, some have shakingly seemed to come round - after a long historical detour - to the espousal of what recognizably approaches the mixed economy and its liberal democratic institutions, yet (most often) still in the name of socialism and workers' power.

But even if this could be shown to be so, the general moral (and therefore political) appeal of the need to 'frame the plan of our life to suit our own character', as Mill puts it, is unlikely to diminish in our culture. This activity he considers to belong to the 'region of human liberty'. 38 And socialists who have abandoned this ground to the discourse of others, or who have only long-failed countervailing argument to offer, can now make no headway against it. :Moreover, and much more dangerous for the socialist alternative, it seems to be something like this formulation - rather than the banal but also potent 'market freedom', or 'freedom to choose', of a Milton Friedman- which comes closest to expressing what the right intends by individual freedom.

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Against Socialist Illusion: A Radical Argument by David Selbourne


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