Illiberal Socialism

SOCIAL THEORY AND PRACTICE 40.3 (2014): 433-460

Abstract: Is “liberal socialism” an oxymoron? Not quite, but I will demonstrate here that it is a much more unstable and uncommon hybrid than scholars had previously thought and that almost all liberals should reject socialism, even in its most attractive form. More specifically, I will show that three leading varieties of liberalism—neutralist, plural-perfectionist, and deliberative-democratic—are incompatible with even a moderate form of socialism, viz., associational market socialism. My paper will also cast grave doubt on Rawls’s belief that justice as fairness is consistent with liberal socialism.