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The Inconsistency of Liberal Compromises

  • Radnitzky Gerard

    (University of Trier, Germany)

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    Les principaux aspects de l’Etat Providence sont identifiés. Parce que les mêmes individus et les mêmes couches de la population bénéficient de la redistribution en même temps qu’ils sont frappés d’impôts, la “société malaxée” est une expression qui convient mieux aux démocraties modernes que ne l’est “l’Etat Providence”. Le développement historique du phénomène est retracé. (Le “Royaume social” prussien est pris comme archétype et comme point de départ). Le bismarckisme marque le tournant de l’idée originelle avec son image optimiste de l’homme sous sa forme moderne de la “société malaxée”. L’assistance sociale est un phénomène induit par la démocratie. Le Léviathan se révèle être une vache à lait ; il s’étend de plus en plus et devient incroyablement gourmand. L’explication de l’émergence de la “société malaxée” met l’accent sur des facteurs intellectuels, en particulier sur la théorie politique du libéralisme. Le déclin du libéralisme peut être en partie expliqué par le caractère “dissolu” du libéralisme classique et de ses successeurs. L’article recherche la manière de renforcer le libéralisme. L’ébauche du libéralisme “strict” par Jasay est esquissée et analysée. Elle fournit le fondement d’un système de règles morales déontologiques. Un tel système est-il indispensable pour un ordre social compatible avec l’idée d’une société libre ? Ou est-ce que la démocratie peut résoudre le problème ? Cette question mène à une analyse de la dynamique de la méthode démocratique du choix collectif. Les remèdes susceptibles de favoriser l’émergence d’une société moins coercitive sont examinés.Central features of the welfare state are described. Since most redistribution now benefits the same persons and strata as it taxes, “Churning Society” is a more telling label for modern democracies than is the “welfare state”. The historical development of the phenomenon is sketched. (The Prussian “Social Kingdom” is taken as the archetype and origin. Bismarckism marks the turning of the original idea with its optimistic image of man into the modern form of the churning society. It infected other countries.) Churning society is a democracy-induced phenomenon. Leviathan turns into a Milch Cow; it grows and grows and becomes incredibly voracious. The explanation of the rise of the churning society focuses on the intellectual factors, in particular on the political theory of liberalism. The decline of liberalism can be in part explained by the “looseness” of classical liberalism and its successors. The article inquires: how can liberalism be strengthened? Jasay’s design of “strict” liberalism is outlined and analyzed. It provides the basis of a system of deontological moral rules. Is such a system indispensable for a social order that is compatible with the idea of a free society? Or can democracy solve the problem? This question leads to an analysis of the dynamics of the democratic method of collective choice. Remedies are discussed that might help the emergence of a less unfree society.

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    Article provided by De Gruyter in its journal Journal des Economistes et des Etudes Humaines.

    Volume (Year): 7 (1996)
    Issue (Month): 4 (December)
    Pages: 1-51

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    Handle: RePEc:bpj:jeehcn:v:7:y:1996:i:4:n:4
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