2010 – The Justice Edition

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Tax Justice Focus, Volume 5, Number 2 – The JUSTICE edition.

From Paul Sagar, guest editor

January 14th, 2010

The Justice Edition – click here.

Welcome to a special edition on the theme of tax justice and political philosophy. In a world ruled by ideas, the apparently disconnected enquiries of philosophers eventually shape world-views, orientate debates, influence elections and direct policies. But there is more value to philosophy than its long-run impact on practical politics. For it is through philosophy that we explore our beliefs and discover where our values lie. This, after all, is particularly important for the Tax Justice Network and everyone who demands tax fairness – two terms loaded with centuries of philosophical baggage.

Fittingly, this edition introduces a spectrum of very different philosophical approaches, from the left to the far right.

Martin O’Neill draws on the work of Thomas Nagel and Liam Murphy to show how modern liberal egalitarian insights can make a compelling case for tax justice.  From this perspective, tax avoidance is anti-democratic and oversteps the legitimate freedoms offered in a democratic society.

John Pugh MP offers insights from a faith perspective, arguing that those who seek to live within this tradition should follow a sincere and continuous self-evaluation of their mortal journeys – and a greedy free-rider is not a figure Christian ethics support.

In the spirit of debate we also publish a contribution from the libertarian right.  Daniel Mitchelland Hiwa Alaghebandian of the Cato Institute present what they call the moral and philosophical case for tax havens.

Drawing on the Marxian tradition, Martin McIvor shows that Marx’s legacy takes the form of a powerful analytic tool for the critical assessment of the tensions of capitalist societies.  On this basis, he argues, abusive tax practices are a symptom of an unjust, unaccountable and fundamentally unbalanced economy.

Richard Murphy looks back at the Noughties and, suppressing his anger about the prevailing spirit of unjustness, concludes that this was a decade of progress, not least because of the success of the Tax Justice Network.

All this, plus book reviews from Sheila Killian and Thomas Rixen, should provide ample food for thought at the start of 2010.

About The Author

Nicholas Shaxson is a journalist and writer on the staff of Tax Justice Network. He is author of the book Poisoned Wells about the oil industry in Africa, published in 2007, and the more recent Treasure Islands: Tax havens and the Men who Stole the World, published by Random House in January 2011. He lives in Berlin
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