This post raised the issue of the economic calculation debate which is a stumbling block for socialists. It need not be. But the left has to be less dependent on Marx’s dated theories and enter the domain of neo-classical economics. That is an immense labyrinth of sophistical doctrines couched in mathematical junk science. But as ideology it has been successful in confusing everyone. There are number of simple ways to stand up to this massively complicated scheme of propaganda, but the solution is not to propose ad infinitum rehashed versions of Marx. Marx’s thinking belongs to the classical economic realm. We are constantly being told by marxists how Marx really got it right and that his theories completely delineate the problems, etc…Some fresh air is needed. The issue is fairly simple in fact: neo-classical economics fails as science and need not be taken as legitimation of capitalist axioms. The calculation debate is a little trickier, but the strategy there is to simply study the history of the calculation debate, acknowledge its force, but not be taken in by the negative claims. The fact is that planning is not the bugaboo it is claimed to be. Planning is entirely possible and the technical and theoretical means to achieve it have come into existence in the last century to the point where humanity could manage a rough approximation to a planned economy. In a terminal climate crisis, the last thing we want is a supercharged capitalist hothouse economy. So the obsession with markets suddenly gets a reality check.
The question has shifted ground, and now the capitalists are increasingly on the defensive: they have made a mess so total, and so close to impossible to deal with, that any more market propaganda is simply stupidity, except in the US where market morons rule and are, well, really moronic. We can see that whatever the limits of planning, a completely free market is a deadly menace to humanity, the planet, and to social justice. So the question ceases to be that capitalism is inevitable because planning doesn’t work. The argument shifts to a variety of stances, e.g. capitalism is so dangerous that planning is the only alternative, and we know that at a minimum it an feed and house populations, however minimally. We are rushing to oblivion because the idea of free markets is so strong that people victimized by its ideological deceptions can’t snap out of economic illusion.
Here we have not proposed full planning in any case. We have laid a rough groundwork for ‘market communism’, which is a constitutional foundation with multiple potentials: the expropriation of the bourgeoisie, the classic first fundamental. That says nothing about the economy to go with it. We could have a market inside communism, heavily regulated, publicly owned, partially planned, but with many of the features of markets in a transitional persistence on the way to a more comprehensive communism. It is simply sophistry to dismiss this in advance in the name of free markets. Free markets are killing us, so some system of social defense against its depradations is no longer utopian. To say that a partially planned economy is impossible was a gross distortion, and the example of Bolshevism is less and less relevant. It proves very little: it was an inefficient system corrupted from communist axioms, and made incompetent by the grossly inadequate leadership of morons. The second world war in the US generated a swiftly implemented, efficient and effective form of planned capitalism. That example shows the hot air generated by economic ideologists on the subject of markets.