Re: [OPE] the market and a classless society

From: Paul Cockshott <>
Date: Wed May 06 2009 - 11:34:16 EDT

>>> Had the Polish government wanted to they could have increased the
>>> supply of food even at prices below market value.
>> How ? By a sheer act of will?
> Hi Paul C:
> By re-allocating resources into food production.
>> Poland had private peasant agriculture. How was such small scale private
>> agriculture, still largely using horses in the 80s, to greatly increase
>> production?
> You can think of no policies which would have helped to increase efficiency
> in agriculture? There are no ways in which the government could have
> assisted - had they wanted to?
I can think of an obvious policy - the collectivisation of farms to
increase the scale of production and allow economies of scale. This
policy was followed in the CSSR and Bulgaria in the 50s, but because of
the greater social weight of the peasantry in Poland it was abandoned in
the mid 50s by Gomulka in the face of peasant resistance. The roots of
the problems faced by the whole Polish economy in the 70s and 80s lay
with concessions to petty commodity production in the 50s.

The two processes that have worked to increase food production in Europe
have both involved a concentration of agriculture. In the west it was
done by capitalist competition which led to the concentration of
production in a smaller number of larger private farms. In the east it
was done by the introduction of state farms.

But these changes in efficiency both require a change in property
holding in order to allow larger and more efficient farms to operate. I
remember flying over Poland in 1983 and looking down on a countryside of
small strip fields of the type we were taught about as being
characteristic of mediaeval agriculture. Poland had not even gone
through a classic bourgeois agricultural revolution.
>>> what had come out of east Asian commune reports. But this learning by
>> doing is not going to be an adequate answer to the problem of socialist
>> calculation at a national level, especially in a developed industrial
>> economy.>
>> You really need to engage more seriously with the debate that Neurath
>> started than just saying it is a matter of learning by doing.
> You really need to consider more fully the ways in which planning
> was done by elites in 'really existing socialism' and represented a
> technocratic answer to building socialism. Economists performed an
> important role in this undemocratic technocracy. My resistance to
> ready made answers concerning the technical methods and formulas used for
> calculations concerning efficiency in socialist society is rooted
> in my understanding of the historical experiences of those countries
> and a desire not to repeat the same mistakes and thereby reproduce
> the same oppressive and bureaucratic relations. We don't need another
> Kantorovich; we need workers controlling the decision-making process.
Sure you need democracy, all socialists are agreed on that, but if you
think you can abolish value and have neither a system of material
balances or monetary calculation, or labour value calculation it becomes
impossible to select the most efficient method of production.
This is not a minor issue, it directly impacts living standards and even
the sustainability of an economy.
> In solidarity, Jerry_______________________________________________
> ope mailing list

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Received on Wed May 6 11:58:20 2009

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