Marx vs. Hayek, conscious action vs. utopianism

Justin Schwartz jschwart at
Tue Nov 1 17:49:01 MST 1994

If I understand Juan Inigo's lengthy message, he has two points to make
against the Mises-Hayek critique, or Chris' version of it:

1. That all non-consciously regulated (nonplanned,
non-SUCCESSFULLY-planned) forms of economic organization now or recently
existence are THEREBY capitalist, because capitalism means, by definition,
non-consciously regulated production. So it doesn't require capitalists or
wage labor, just an absence of successful conscious popular control. The
USSR turns out to be capitalist.

2. That we have another 1.5 billion years to get conscious regulation of
our society right, so the MHC has too short a time horizon.

As to (1), I cannot agree. It seems to me that capitalism requires private
productive property, wage labor, and generalized commodity production. The
last means no overall conscious regulation of the economy and so would be
shared by market socialism. But to identify capitalism not with a specific
set of relations of production and a mode of production but with a feature
or result of that mode seems perverse.

As to (2), I guess I would regard a demonstration that socialism cannot be
attained in the foreseeable future--within a few hundred years, say--as a
refutation of it for practical purposes. I make no bets on the shape of
human society in a thousand or a million years. I'd like a better life for
myself and my kids, or at least for their kids' kids. I think that bad as
our odds are, socialism is the best bet we have for that within the
foreseeable future.

But, and this is key, it has to be a kind of socialism that would work in
the foreseeable future. One that awaits the next thousand years' advances
in information processesing technology is no good for that purpose. As far
as I can see the feasible socialism for the foreseeable future is market
socialism. After that, it's up to the people in the future.

--Justin Schwartz


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