[OPE-L] Participatory and democratic production.

From: Alejandro Agafonow (alejandro_agafonow@YAHOO.ES)
Date: Fri May 18 2007 - 06:20:47 EDT

Dear Jerry:

Jerry on 05/17/2007: There is another alternative.  The process does not either have to be elitist and directed by "the Planner" or rely on firm advertsing.  The key, I believe, is to have a participatory, democratic, and less centralized form of planning: "Planning by the People, Not the Planners". This would allow citizens to have an input into the (ex ante) decisions about what to produce rather than relying on "the Planner" […] Sixty million votes were cast last week to determine the two finalists for "American Idol":  if people can vote on that, then they can indicate their ex ante preferences for what goods to produce in what quantities.
But your Democratic Planning is not very different from the every day peoples’ buying decisions in a Market Socialism. Does represent a planned economy any advantage concerning giving people what the want? Compared with Market Socialism I don’t think so and even we cast doubts about the capacity of a planned economy to give answers to subtle preferences as does market economy. All depends of the quantum of rivalry you accept within your model.
Other scholars have made a comparison between democracy and production for the people. A conservative biased interpretation correspond to Ludwig von Mises:
“Thus free competition compels the obedience of the producer to the consumer's will and also, in case of need, the transfer of the means of production from the hands of those unwilling or unable to achieve what the consumer demands into the hands of those better able to direct production. The lord of production is the consumer. From this point of view the capitalist society is a democracy in which every penny represents a ballot paper. It is a democracy with an imperative and immediately revocable mandate to its deputies.” (pp. 443) L. Von Mises. Socialism. An Economic and Sociological Analysis, 1951, New Haven, Yale University Press, 1962.
And the Marxist Maurice Dobb made a simple but powerful reply to the former statement unfortunately directed to H. Dickinson, a Market Socialist far from being suspect of conservatism:
“But in the economic sphere there is not even an approach to universal suffrage: on the contrary, a widely graded system of plural voting is the rule. Some men poll each a thousand votes to another’s one.” (pp. 591) Maurice Dobb. “Economic Theory and the Problems of a Socialist Economy”, Economic Journal 43, 172, 1933, pp. 588-598.
The issue is that in a market economy without private property and guarantying an equitable rent distribution with extra-market devises (Socialist Welfare State), your “participatory, democratic, and less centralized form of production”, Jerry, can be reached.

Best regards,
Alejandro Agafonow

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