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

From: Paul Cockshott <>
Date: Tue May 03 2011 - 04:16:17 EDT

This has certainly been my concern about any form of market socialism, that it sets in train dynamics towards a more capitalistic form of economy.
I have worried about that since reading the old Sweezy Bettleheim exchanges on Jugoslavia.
On the other hand in the transition to a planned economy there has to be a stage at which there is not yet an adequate planning mechanism in place, and hence some form of market relations persist.
The sort of transition model I now think should be aimed at is:
1. Constitutional entrenchment of the collective right to the full value added by labour - enforceable by unions through labour courts with juries drawn from the working population.
2. Simultaneous or prior shift of the currency to one based explicitly on labour time to unmask exploitation.
3. A process of formation of industrial syndicates led by the trades unions to provide the basis for sectoral planning
4. The formation of a continental planning system out of the above
5. Abolition of all debts and making labour credits not transferable.

From: [] On Behalf Of Michael Webber []
Sent: Tuesday, May 03, 2011 2:20 AM
To: Outline on Political Economy mailing list
Subject: Re: [OPE] market - and other kinds of - socialism

this has become an entertaining and illuminating discussion: thank you all.

i have a lot of sympathy for ian's argument: what is it exactly that we are aiming at? but i also have some understanding of what has happened in practice in some places, especially china. the difficulty is that 'transitional' forms produce 'transitional' class structures that in turn drive new dynamics of social change. to take an example, once markets -- even markets that are populated by cooperative or collective enterprises -- are formed, then new dynamics appear, different from those that produced the collective-market system.

in some parts of china, for example, collective rural enterprises were created to produce for the newly emerging markets. they were competitive enterprises. they were subject to substantial worker influence -- though not control -- with flat wage structures and preferential hiring of local workers. they were making surpluses, usually.

as such, these enterprises resolved one problem of the old command economy: they were oriented towards markets, and so resolved the problem of what and how much to produce. they reproduced or nearly reproduced old features of the command economy: strong worker influence and collective ownership. so they reflected historical class structures.

but they did create a new problem. in this system, the roles of state administrators and enterprise managers became formalised. a new class system evolved, in short order (10-15 years), that gradually led to increasing managerial control at the expense of worker power within enterprises and in the local societies at large. this new system is evident in increasing rates of surplus value. and that new class of managers / administrators then managed to effect a transformation in the property relations within the enterprises, effectively privatising them.

in other words, even if the original economic forms were intended merely to resolve a problem of planning, they set in motion a completely unforeseen train of social changes, that in turn impelled further changes. this seems to me to imply that whatever we aim at, we have to understand what the structure of interests in the interim will be and how that structure of interests will itself influence the evolution of social and political change. this is likely to be difficult: impossible even?


On 3 May 2011 09:18, Paul Bullock <<>> wrote:



On 02/05/2011 22:21, GERALD LEVY wrote:
> Well, Paul B, if you want a more concrete discussion of an actual, unfolding
> historical process, there's Cuba. For instance, there is this interview
> with Ricardo Alarcon titled "Trying to Re-Invent Socialism":
> In solidarity, Jerry
> _______________________________________________
> ope mailing list

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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
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Received on Tue May 3 04:17:15 2011

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