On "entrepreneur" (and MS)

Robert Peter Burns rburns at chaph.usc.edu
Thu Feb 1 09:24:39 MST 1996

Unlike the capitalist class I don't make of the profit motive 
a god. This is consistent with accepting that it is not likely
that any time soon a society will be able to organize its economy
in a satisfactory manner while dispensing with significant
material incentives for the producing classes.  Transferring 
the profits that are currently consumed by the capitalist class 
and distributing them among the workers is a) a way of recognizing 
that the working class needs some material incentives to support 
socialism, and b) a way of keeping those incentives from taking 
on the proportions of a god (since the pie has to be divided up
into many more, and more equal, shares than at present).  MS offers 
no individual the prospect of vast accumulation of wealth, but 
rather modest and more equitably shared prosperity.  Whether the
profit motive and material incentives are viewed as "natural"
or "artificial" is not the question we face (assuming even that
the distinction can be made sharp and clear).  Whatever we say
about that, they are nonetheless aspects of society that are
*real*, and have to be dealt with accordingly.  Decreeing their
abolition is not an adequate way of dealing with them, and, as
experience has amply demonstrated, is little more than a futile

rburns at scf.usc.edu

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