THE AFFLUENT SOCIETY, by John Kenneth Galbraith. Boston, Houghton Mifflin. 1958.
J. K. Galbraith, the well-known Harvard professor, has worked out a plan for a socialist society. I don’t mean to frighten him or some of his faithful readers. (I don’t think he frightens easily.) But the simple fact is that this witty economist has set forth a series of proposals that spell out the sort of society that socialists have been talking about for years. And despite some drawbacks of detail, he has done so thoughtfully, with discernment of the complexities involved, and in a way that commands attention.
While Galbraith has approached his pleasant task in the most logical of fashions, beginning first with the theoretical framework of received economics (he uses the dry and somewhat acerb term “conventional wisdom” to describe traditionalist views) and then relentlessly pursuing their implications, we might do well to start with his conclusions. The outstanding fact in our society, he says, is that we possess the unquestioned ability to produce whatever it is that we care to produce. This being the case, we should be able to meet all our needs, both private as well as public.
For just $19.95 a year, get access to new issues and decades' worth of archives on our site.
Print + Online
For $35 a year, get new issues delivered to your door and access to our full online archives.