Re: [OPE] market - and other kinds of - socialism

From: Alejandro Agafonow <>
Date: Mon May 02 2011 - 22:29:51 EDT

What market socialism is, Webber, is very different whether it is defined by communists and bureaucrats actually in charge of socialist regimes (dictatorships all unfortunately), or by market socialists themselves. No market socialist would support the thesis that China is such a thing, simply because market socialists (with the exception of Oskar Lange) have consistently seen this alternative as inseparable from democracy. No market socialist has defined it as a transitional form as Engelskirchen (not a market socialist by the way) suggests. Oskar Lange (again, an exception) toyed with this idea (maybe because he had to comply with the pressures imposed by being a bureaucrat in Poland), but he was too convinced by the superiority of market mechanisms compared to purely administrative directives. Although most of the discussion on OPE-L goes along the lines that Wright just pointed out, from time to time we engage in more precise and realistic debates. For example, I think that the following statement has just the right ideological load (it’s inevitable) and makes room for relevant empirical considerations. It summarizes my statements in OPE-L and other academic works: The central plan (with the exception of the alternative devised by Cottrell and Cockshott) can not be reasonably expected to marginally allocate goods to those persons most in need or who value them the most. The unified control of factors of production normally rockets *diminishing returns to management* and weakens the effectiveness of the mixture of moral and material levers that Marxists usually aim to; socialists directors normally lack entrepreneurship because, in the absence of a market, they are blind to their functions of running socialists enterprises and, in addition, the system of moral compulsion fosters a powerful discouragement for them. Unfortunately, people like Bullock normally rush to blame the above as anti-soviet propaganda. It doesn’t matter if you as a Marxist like it or not. The point is that, it singles out institutional realities that have rarely being addressed by socialists, with the exception of market socialists. A. Agafonow ________________________________ De: Michael Webber <> Para: Outline on Political Economy mailing list <> Enviado: lun,2 mayo, 2011 18:17 Asunto: Re: [OPE] market - and other kinds of - socialism jerry and alejandro: to clarify the terms of this discussion, i quote wikipedia: Market socialism refers to various economic systems where the means of production are publicly owned, managed and operated for a profit in a market economy. The profit generated in a market socialist system would be used to directly remunerate employees or go toward public finance.Theoretically, the fundamental difference between a traditional socialist economy and a market socialist economy is the existence of a market for the means of production and capital goods under market socialism. Market socialism generally refers to three related but distinct economic systems. Early forms of market socialism consisted of proposals for cooperative enterprises operating in a free-market economy, so that exploitation would be eliminated and individuals would receive the full product of their labor. Early market socialism was expressed by Ricardian socialists, mutualists, individualist anarchists and syndicalists. The maturing of neoclassical economic theory led to various new proposals of market socialism in the early twentieth century. The traditional neoclassical market socialist proposals consisted of state-owned industries and a central planning board (CPB) that sets prices to equal marginal cost, thereby achieving pareto efficiency. Market socialism has also been used to refer to an economic system that utilizes a free price system for the allocation and distribution of all resources, with public ownership being reserved to "strategic" sectors of the economy. Within this model, the state would utilize market mechanisms to direct economic activity in the same manner governments affect economic decisions in capitalist economies, including the use of (external) regulation over the otherwise autonomously-operating enterprises. This allows for the public enterprises to function in a decentralized fashion. now back to me: i take it that the discussion is really centering on the third of these ideas. however, i just do not understand the use of the noun, socialism, here. there is nothing socialist about china: the state is operating as a capitalist. like any capitalist, it has various uses for the surplus that its capitalist production generates: some is expended, some is accumulated. and like any capitalist, it seeks to use (other arms of) the state to advance its own interests: eg, infrastructure-building stimulus packages. i know that the term 'market socialism' is still used by the leadership, but that's placating the masses (especially those older folk who thought that on balance mao was pretty good for ordinary people). michael On 2 May 2011 17:52, GERALD LEVY <> wrote: >> I any case, I would like to >> deal with less purely ideological statements when I discuss with you. > > > >Alejandro: > >That's why I originally in this thread raised the subject in terms of >economic history (including the experience of market socialism in >the former Yugoslavia, China under Deng Xiaoping, Hungary >under the NEM beginning in 1968, etc.). My point was simply that you >should discuss apples for apples: i.e. if you wanted to reference >the experience of centrally planned economies then you should also >reference the experience of market socialism AND/OR if you wanted to talk >about a different conception of market socialism than that historically >experienced that you could compare that to OTHER conceptions of socialism >which have not been tried (such as the C-C model). > >In solidarity, Jerry >_______________________________________________ >ope mailing list > > > -- Michael Webber Professorial Fellow Department of Resource Management and Geography The University of Melbourne Mail address: 221 Bouverie Street, Carlton, VIC 3010 Phone: 0402 421 283 Email:

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