Subscription Login to verify subscription
Journal Content


From Cracks in the Liberal Edifice to the Rediscovery of the Common Good

Paul H. Dembinski


The collapse of communism caught the world unaware, though the causes underlying this implosion had been at work for several decades. The system fell like a house of cards because of a congenital error in the utopia it proclaimed, an error that was anthropological in nature: the idea that human beings are communal. Proponents of liberal utopia, however, leave it up to the real actorsin the exercise of their freedomto define the space that the market will occupy within their society. While this doctrine states that the market is the most effective means of ensuring the happiness of societys members, the markets natural tendency is to expand to occupy a larger space. Consequently, the private sphere is progressively emptied of its content in favor of the public space, especially the market. The general dissatisfaction with utopias leads to the emergence of initiatives seeking to harness the procedures to the quest for meaning and substance. At both the personal and regulatory levels, initiatives aiming to limit the spread of the economic can emerge when the discussion moves on to political terrain. Whether the initiatives concern ethical investment or corporate social responsibility, these are approaches that attempt to use procedures from the liberal economy to address fundamental questionsquestions of substance. These initiatives may well pave the way for the rediscovery of a new meaning of the old notion of the common good.

Paul H. Dembinski, "From Cracks in the Liberal Edifice to the Rediscovery of the Common Good," Journal of Markets & Morality 7, no. 2 (Fall 2004): 423-439

Full Text:



  • There are currently no refbacks.