Hamilton Forum speakers debate the compatibility of social justice and capitalism – The Middlebury Campus
Guest speakers Pablo Gilabert and John Tomasi spoke at a webinar titled “Are Social Justice and Capitalism Compatible?” »On March 10. Political science professors Gary Winslett and Keegan Callanan moderated the event, which was sponsored by the Alexander Hamilton Forum and Department of Political Science.
Tomasi, professor of political science and philosophy at Brown University, argued that social justice and capitalism are compatible in a world where society is structured on what he called a model of “market democracy”.
Tomasi described a philosophical binary between an anti-capitalist and pro-justice left – made up of Rawls, Marx and Chomsky – and a capitalist right – defined by the works of Freedman, Locke and Hayek.
Tomasi, who described himself as “enthusiastic about capitalism … and perhaps more deeply enthusiastic about social justice” argued that economic freedom and social justice are not mutually exclusive but rather work together in one scenario. ideal.
“There is an ‘undiscovered frontier’: conceptions of social justice that are also enthusiastic about private economic freedoms,” said Tomasi. He also argued in favor of “prioritization,” which states that the ultimate goal of government should be to achieve the best results for the poorest in society, as opposed to a vision of social justice focused on pure equality. people.
Gilabert, professor of Philosophy at Concordia University in Montreal, disagreed with Tomasi and argued that it is not possible for social justice and capitalism to functionally coexist. He underlined the traits of capitalism that inhibit social justice: lack of equality of opportunity, exploitation, domination and conflict with democracy.
“Capitalism allows significant inequalities of wealth and power, affecting the way our children grow up”, Gilabert noted. He explained how capitalism fundamentally promotes inequality between workers and capitalists. “Bargaining power is dramatically asymmetric except in the rare case of a skilled worker in a tight labor market… capitalists can and unduly pull workers,” Gilabert said.
Gilabert also analyzed alternatives to capitalism, noting that socialists often depend on the same principles that capitalists endorse: freedom, democracy and community. Even though Gilabert questioned the effectiveness of socialism, it did not change his main argument that capitalism inhibits social justice.
The two speakers then answered participants’ questions and responded to each other’s arguments.
“Socialist regimes have been terribly successful in protecting political freedom, ”said Tomasi, referring to a slide showing leaders of states including the Soviet Union and Cuba. “Do you think they had political freedoms? Tomasi asked Gilabert, referring to regimes such as the Soviet Union and Cuba.
“In these regimes, the means of production were not under democratic control… If they are socialists, it is not socialism that I cherish. Gilabert responded.
A student asked the lecturers who should bear the responsibility of building these companies.
“What gives me the most hope for progress is the commitment to a quality of mind, a stubborn open-mindedness, ”Tomasi said in response. “People should be impatient with the ideologies of their elders. “