- Capitalism and Alternatives -

A couple of words on Mill.

Posted by: Gideon Hallett ( UK ) on October 25, 1999 at 17:31:12:

In Reply to: leaf on the breeze posted by Gee on October 25, 1999 at 16:54:12:

: : So Keynes, Hobson, Hobhouse, T.H. Green, T.H. Marshall, John Rawls what are these self-proclaimed liberals?

: Not the same as liberals JS Mill and Locke. Accept it Lark - the term 'neo-liberal' is essentially meaningless.

Mill's utilitarianism is not what the modern capitalist would recognize as such. Mill at least recognized that wage relations impinged on the sovereignty of the individual; rendering calculations of utility irrelevant. Which is why he said:

"(if)"...mankind is to continue to improve..." (the necessary form of social interchange is) "...not that which can exist between a capitalist as chief and workpeople without a voice in management, but the association of the labourers themselves on terms of equality, collectively owning the capital with which they carry on their operations, and working under managers elected and removable by themselves."

He also recognized that universal safeguards were needed to prevent a small elite imposing their view of maximum utility on the masses, which is why he stated quite clearly that freedom of speech was necessary to prevent this happening.

This is where "human rights" come from; they are an attempt to set a common framework on which to build utility. They only work if they are universal and equal to all. As such, any company or government that restricts information or tells less than the entire truth is neither liberal or utilitarian; companies like McDonald's that will try to conceal damaging truths are actively counter-utilitarian.

And of course, the only thing that could reasonably enact "universal" human rights is a single world government; say, the UN. Anything lesser is just one group trying to impose their definition of utility on others and thus explicitly counter to Mill's liberalism.


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