[OPE-L:1335] Re: Political economy of socialism

From: Gerald Levy (glevy@pratt.edu)
Date: Thu Sep 23 1999 - 11:14:08 EDT

Re Allin's [OPE-L:1334]:
I had written previously:

> And let us not forget that it will be the citizens in a
> post-revolutionary society who will ultimately have to
> concretize the goals concerning the operation of a socialist
> economy.

Allin responded:
> Naturally, but the point is that there ain't going to be any
> revolution unless people have some idea in advance of what they
> hope to achieve thereby, and how it's going to be better than
> what currently exists.

I don't disagree. The disagreement, if any, concerns what is meant by
"some idea."
> Socialist theorists today certainly can't _legislate_ what
> socialism will look like, even if they wanted to. The point is
> not to bind the future, but to enable it.

Again, I don't disagree.
> The notion that the revolution will come of itself, and we can
> leave thinking about the nature of socialism till afterwards, is
> completely untenable.

Of course, the revolution won't come of itself.

As for you point about the "nature of socialism", what do _you_ mean by
that expression? It seems to me that that question should be addressed
_before_ we discuss the details of different forms of planning.

> For all but a tiny minority of
> intellectuals today, "socialism" simply means something that was
> tried, and failed horribly, in the middle two quarters of the
> twentieth century. Why would anyone want to make a revolution
> to re-establish that?

Certainly I wouldn't want to re-establish what existed in the "socialist"
world in the middle two quarters (1925-1975). And I agree with you that the
masses of the world don't want to fight to re-establish Stalinism.

Yet, the issue that most question -- *indeed all but a tiny minority of
intellectuals* -- is not how planning can be efficiently organized but is
rather how you can have socialism _and_ democracy. And that question can't
be settled with mathematical and/or accounting methods and models.

In solidarity, Jerry

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