Those of us on the left should want to see boundaries put around the extent of private sector provision of public services. Social democrats believe in a strong public realm, constituted by institutions that embody the shared values of public service and promoting the common good. Those institutions send out important signals about the kind of society we are and help to inculcate values of public spiritedness and reciprocity. Few of us want to live in a society where almost every relationship involves the extraction of profit.
What the new revisionism attacked was the view that socialism had as its goal the abolition of the private ownership of the fundamental means of production - in other words, of capitalism itself. This is less starling than it may first appear. The abolition of capitalism, after all, was hardly the only goal of socialism. It was considered a necessary and, for some, even a sufficient precondition for the achievement of other desirable objectives such as social equality, prosperity and happiness - all aims also pursued by many non-socialists. Unlike non-socialists, however, socialists maintained that these desirable goals could not be be reached while large-scale private ownership prevailed. Thus, the establishment of collective ownership in some form or another, such as nationalisation or, less frequently, workers’ control, did not require any further justification: the abolition of private ownership was the precondition for public happiness.