[OPE-L:2742] Re: socialism and planning

Paul Cockshott (wpc@cs.strath.ac.uk)
Mon, 29 Jul 1996 01:57:05 -0700 (PDT)

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>Everyone other than intellectuals who I have discussed socialism with over
>the years has raised *other* objections (mostly related to "democracy" and
>"freedom"). They don't know necessarily know what they want, but they
>know what they DON'T WANT. They DON'T want to live in a Soviet-style

One should bear in mind that the results of the recent Russian elections
indicate that, there at least, a substantial proportion of the population
do appear to want to again live in a Soviet style country. And this,
despite the outrageously biased nature of the media there, is arguably
a better informed electorate than that in most of the world. They
have had the opportunity to experience both the soviet and the capitalist

>To hell with that! The question of whether a market is a more
>efficient vehicle for optimizing social welfare vs. "centralized
>planning" (by the way, who came up that term? -- does anybody know?) is a
>bugbear of the intelligentsia.

Economic theory in general is such a bugbear, but it was none the less
worthwhile for 19th century socialists to engage in a critique of it.
The point being that if one does not do so, the fundamental presuppositions
of liberal economics provide the reference points for political debate.
In the USSR in the 80s there was effectively no serious alternative being
putforward to liberal economics. Under those circumstances debate centered
on how fast the transition to a market economy should go rather than on
how the transition to a communist economy might be undertaken.
Unless one can provide an alternative to the policies advocated by
the market's supporters, market economics will dominate political discussion.
Paul Cockshott