If Singapore is market socialism then hurrah for market socialism

Matt Bruenig is an American and also one of those rarities, a thinking man of the political left. That doesn't mean he's right, far from it, but perhaps that he does manage to ask interesting questions.

For example, he's been asking well, how capitalist is Singapore? There are a number of state owned firms, much of the land is owned by government and so on. Is this not therefore more a case of market socialism? 

We've said a number of times that we're really not all that worried about socialism as against capitalism. We've no preference at all between John Lewis and Debenham's for example. As long as everything is taking place inside a free market then we're just fine. Including that free market in the form and ownership of the participating organisations. We have preferences of course, but the existence of a workers' co-op produces no fear.

Scott Sumner provides part of the answer:

If I'm right that Singapore is functionally capitalist, then this sort of "market socialism" is not likely to lead to any of the other goals that socialists may have in mind. Thus, for instance, Singapore has a rather unequal distribution of income. Companies are run for the benefit of shareholders, not workers. Singapore may not be a libertarian ideal, but it even further from being a socialist ideal.

We'd really only argue with the use of "capitalist" there. We insist that free markets make places richer - and the people in them. Singapore has the world's third highest GDP per capita by PPP. If that's what people mean by market socialism then great, let's at least talk about having it. That talk being us shouting very loudly indeed that it's the market part of the system which is working.