Marx’s conception of communism is interpreted as a theory of politics and historical transformation in which social actors are moved by a drive to freedom. In this view communism is a process of freedom expansion. By focusing on widely defined consumption choices, the extent of an individual’s freedom is identified in the opportunity set delimited by his budget and time constraints. Social goods, i.e., those provided without rivalry and without exclusion, are allocated on the basis of the criterion “to each according to his needs” and, if they are financed by nonregressive taxation, also on the basis of the criterion “from each according to his abilities.” Thus a process of growth of social goods supply turns out to be a process of construction of communism and, since social goods remove some budget constraints to choice options, a process of expansion of individual freedom. Social goods are mostly provided by the state to allow people to fully enjoy constitutional liberties and social rights, but their provision is strongly affected by the evolution of class struggle. In fact the privileged classes tend to oppose a process that raises their tax burden, whilst the unprivileged ones tend to favor a development that extends their freedom. Since the majority of citizens in all capitalist systems have an income which is lower than the mean, communism tends to grow with the strength of democratic movements.

Screpanti, E. (2004). Freedom and social goods: rethinking Marx’s Theory of Communism. RETHINKING MARXISM, 16(2), 185-206 [10.1080/08935690410001676230].

Freedom and social goods: rethinking Marx’s Theory of Communism

Screpanti E.
2004

Abstract

Marx’s conception of communism is interpreted as a theory of politics and historical transformation in which social actors are moved by a drive to freedom. In this view communism is a process of freedom expansion. By focusing on widely defined consumption choices, the extent of an individual’s freedom is identified in the opportunity set delimited by his budget and time constraints. Social goods, i.e., those provided without rivalry and without exclusion, are allocated on the basis of the criterion “to each according to his needs” and, if they are financed by nonregressive taxation, also on the basis of the criterion “from each according to his abilities.” Thus a process of growth of social goods supply turns out to be a process of construction of communism and, since social goods remove some budget constraints to choice options, a process of expansion of individual freedom. Social goods are mostly provided by the state to allow people to fully enjoy constitutional liberties and social rights, but their provision is strongly affected by the evolution of class struggle. In fact the privileged classes tend to oppose a process that raises their tax burden, whilst the unprivileged ones tend to favor a development that extends their freedom. Since the majority of citizens in all capitalist systems have an income which is lower than the mean, communism tends to grow with the strength of democratic movements.
Screpanti, E. (2004). Freedom and social goods: rethinking Marx’s Theory of Communism. RETHINKING MARXISM, 16(2), 185-206 [10.1080/08935690410001676230].
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