Re: [OPE] socialist planning in capitalist firms

From: howard engelskirchen <>
Date: Sat Jun 12 2010 - 09:07:06 EDT

Hi Alejandro,

I do think the social entity capital has identifiable features that distinctively characterize it. What is consistent with the way things are is always feasible, though, as I said, I think there is zero evidence that capitalism with a human face is feasible, and, for that reason, projects of transformation that do not challenge capital’s distinctive features are, for socialists, a lost cause. Marx makes a useful distinction between abstract and real possibility. Abstract possibility is constrained only by imagination; real possibility transforms what is according to the material contradictions at work within it. Supposing everything depends on socialism’s “new man” is fantasy; rejecting the idea that given social arrangements are forever is supported by real history.

  ----- Original Message -----
  From: Alejandro Agafonow
  To: Outline on Political Economy mailing list
  Sent: Saturday, June 12, 2010 8:08 AM
  Subject: Re: [OPE] socialist planning in capitalist firms

  Engelskirchen: *Nove’s vision of socialism is feasible because it doesn’t
  challenge the defining features of capital – he doesn’t challenge the
  separation of productive entities and he doesn’t challenge the separation of
  working producers from their conditions of production. To do either of
  these, he thinks, would be utopian and romantic, not to say irresponsible.
  So, as he acknowledges, his feasible socialism likely is not really any
  different from capitalism with a human face.*

  ‘Feasibility: Capable of being accomplished or brought about; possible.’ A feasible path to socialism doesn’t exclude n-possible-worlds from which to choose one. Philosophy is essential to make that choice but it has to be properly circumscribed by our knowledge of the laws of nature. Otherwise, philosophy becomes a trap which drives us to catastrophe (this is pretty much what happened with actually existing socialism).


  So, I’m interested in the very valuable contribution of applied philosophy to make the right choice. Unfortunately, I think you are beyond this and advocating a lost cause.


  By the way, capitalism is not an homogenous entity and I doubt we can label certain market economies capitalists, should we keep minimum rigorous criteria to understand what’s going on in the world economy.


  A. Agafonow


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Received on Sat Jun 12 09:10:39 2010

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