Re: [OPE-L] Che's Economics

From: Paul Cockshott (clyder@GN.APC.ORG)
Date: Sun May 06 2007 - 18:12:46 EDT

Alejandro Agafonow wrote:
> The drama of Che-Gevara and his followers was that they didn’t count 
> with the appropriate technology to abrogate the “law of value” in a 
> socialist economy; the technology to manage the huge apparatus of 
> labour time accounting. If Che were living today I think he would join 
> C&C alternative.
If Martinez is correct in his account of Guevara's economic thought, for 
instance in this passage:

"Guevara rejette ès le début le concept de la libre entreprise dans le 
secteur socialiste, qui est incarné par la capacité de l'individu 
économique soumis pour agir comme un producteur plus ou moins 
indépendant, depuis que

    '…dans les pays socialistes, l'entreprise possède un crédit de
    banque, acquiert de l'argent, produit avec l'argent qu'il reçoit,
    vend sa production et accorde ensuite à l’État une partie du
    bénéfice et une partie de ce bénéfice est préservée pour des besoins
    internes. La différence est que notre société ne vend pas, mais
    livre les produits et les ouvriers sont récompensés par l'État '
    (Che Guevara, la Conférence ' l'Économie et le Plan ' de
    l'Université Populaire, 1961. Traduit d'Espagnol.)

Dans le système de Guevara l'entreprise ne vend pas, car la 
marchandise-argent prend effet et dans la forme et dans le contenu 
seulement quand le produit est aliéné par un producteur indépendant ou 
le consommateur individuel. Guevara comprend la rétribution de l'ouvrier 
dans l'entreprise socialiste comme une opération, dans laquelle dans 
l'essence le travailleur socialiste établit un rapport d'employé 
employeur avec l'état socialiste, contournant l'entreprise. Nous croyons 
qu'il considère ce rapport du point de vue essentiel du rapport de 
travail, comme en réalité ce rapport doit inévitablement prendre la 
forme d'emploi via l'entreprise individuelle."

Then this does seem to be the same form of property relations that Allin 
and I were to advocate much later:

"In our model projects have labour budgets set by Planning; these 
control the
amount of resources that they can use. Although a project will not be 
resources in excess of its budget, this type of allocation is 
functionally different
from a monetary budget. It is not used to purchase resources. This can be
illustrated by considering labour inputs.

Consider a project to run a local leisure centre. It is allocated an annual
budget of 20 person-years, along with the use of a suitable building. 
The centre’s
budget acts as a control on its use of resources. The project registers 
with the
planning authorities that half of this will go on staff and the rest on 
equipment and maintenance. The leisure centre itself does not pay the people
who work on the project. The work these people do is deducted from the 
budget, but unlike money it is not transferred into any other account, 
it is just
cancelled out. Similarly any use of material resources like sports 
equipment will
result in deductions from the budget, but nobody is ‘paid’ for the 
since the resources and the project are all equally community property. 
Staff in
the centre are credited by the planning authority, not the leisure 
centre itself, for
the work they have done. Since the project is in no sense an economic 
(i.e. a subject of property right), the issue of bankruptcy cannot 
arise. Planning
must, however, be at liberty to terminate particular projects if they 
are deemed
not to be cost-effective, just as a local education authority can close 
down a
school if the school rolls no longer justify keeping it open.

Decisions to close projects, if they are to be better than arbitrary, 
the existence of a rational system of economic calculation. We have shown in
previous chapters that there are no fundamental problems in carrying out 
calculation without recourse to the market. At the same time such closures
must not cause unemployment. At the gross level unemployment is prevented
by balancing the national budget in terms of labour. As explained in 
chapter 7,
any shortfall in aggregate demand is compensated for by the marketing 
marking down all consumer goods prices. This means that there is no 
of a fall in demand sparking off a recessionary spiral, which is a major 
of unemployment in capitalist economies. But if generalised demand-deficient
unemployment is ruled out, this still leaves the problem of 
redeployment. If your
project is cancelled, the activity you were involved in has become 
That does not mean that you have become redundant; you have the right to
expect society to protect your income and provide you with other work—but
how exactly should this right be secured?

We envisage a system in which people are directly employed by the community
rather than by companies or independent ‘enterprises’. It is always in the
interest of society that workers should be redeployed as quickly and 
as possible when their previous work is no longer useful; by making 
‘society’ the
actual employer this interest is borne home."

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