Tuesday, 8 September 2009

A socialist’s guide to camping?

While we're in holiday mode, and harking back to my camping post in June, a quick mention of the New Statesman this week which has a quirky, though quite reasonable, piece by G A Cohen likening communal behaviour during a camping trip to a form of socialism - he muses on why society cannot be like this:
You and I and a whole bunch of other people go on a camping trip. There is no hierarchy among us; our common aim is that each of us should have a good time, doing, so far as possible, the things that he or she likes best (some of those things we do together, others we do separately). We have facilities with which to carry out our enterprise: we have, for example, pots and pans, oil, coffee, fishing rods, canoes, a soccer ball, decks of cards, and so forth. And, as is usual on camping trips, we avail ourselves of those facilities collectively....

You could base a camping trip on the principles of market exchange and strictly private ownership of the required facilities.

Now, most people would hate that. Most people would be more drawn to the first kind of camping trip than to the second, primarily on grounds of fellowship, but also on grounds of efficiency. (I have in mind the inordinate transaction costs that would attend a market-style camping trip. Too much time would be spent bargaining, and looking over one's shoulder for more lucrative possibilities.) And this means that most people are drawn to the socialist ideal, at least in certain restricted settings.

Slightly off-beat analogy maybe, (though not when you think about co-operative living) but you know it makes sense...

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

its a stupid fucking analogy. youre a joke, ill stop reading now