Camping Cohen's Commitment
By David Henderson
I posted on May 3 about G. A. Cohen’s use of a camping analogy to make the case for socialism.
Here’s another quote from Cohen’s Why Not Socialism?
A nonmarket cooperator relishes cooperation itself: what I want, as a non-marketeer, is that we serve each other; and when I serve, instead of trying to get whatever I can get, I do not regard my action as, all things considered, a sacrifice. To be sure, I serve you in the expectation that (if you are able to) you will also serve me. My commitment to socialist community does not require me to be a sucker who serves you regardless of whether (if you are able to do so) you are going to serve me, but I nevertheless find value in both parts of the conjunction–I serve you and you serve me–and in that conjunction itself: I do not regard the first part–I serve you–as simply a means to my real end, which is that you serve me. The relationship between us under communal reciprocity is not the market-instrumental one in which I give because I get, but the noninstrumental one in which I give because you need, or want, and in which I expect a comparable generosity from you. (Pp. 42-43, italics in original.)
This raises so many questions:
#1. Is this clearly distinct from a market relationship?
#2. Is it possible that people in market relationships enjoy serving others?
#3. Cohen says that he would be a sucker if he served without getting anything back. His only apparent exception is if the person is unable to give back. Does Cohen realize how close he’s coming to an insistence on a market-type relationship?