[OPE-L:2737] Re: socialism and planning

Paul Zarembka (ecopaulz@ubvms.cc.buffalo.edu)
Sun, 28 Jul 1996 20:00:22 -0700 (PDT)

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On Sun, 28 Jul 1996, Duncan K Foley wrote:

> I've often given this type of answer myself, but I don't really believe in
> it any more. I think the historical experience of the USSR was very much
> bound up with the lack of any coherent understanding of the problems of
> economic management with which the Bolsheviks started in 1917. (I think
> the political failings were probably more even more acute, but the
> economic and political systems very much intertwined.)

There is a rather famous quote of a Central Committee member who
congratulated Lenin about 1922 on being head of a workers' state without
workers. The reference of course is to all the workers killed during
World War I and the Civil War, and the predominance of the peasantry in
the social structure. The point for our discussion is that we need to be
very careful whether the class base really existed for socialism in the
Soviet Union without socialist revolutions taking place elsewhere. I
think a lot of Soviet people were really serious about finding the correct
economic management given the circumstances, but maybe it just couldn't
be found.

I'm not too comfortable, however, with an argument that the advent of
computers solves the potential problem for information in socialism.
If this argument is taken fairly strongly, then even working-class
revolutions all over, say, Europe in the aftermate of the 1917
revolution would have been doomed because the necessary technology had
not yet been invented. And it really calls into question Marx's own
political agenda.

Paul Zarembka