anticipation of demand

Steve.Keen at unsw.EDU.AU Steve.Keen at unsw.EDU.AU
Fri Nov 4 23:28:20 MST 1994


On Wed 2nd, Tom posted the following:
|Steve,
|So the problem with planning vis.innovation is there's too much equality,
|and demand is universalized rather than the province of middle-class
|auto and motorbike fanatics? That really makes planning undesirable to me.
|
|The source of innovation in a democratic planned society is (a) the desire
|of workers to replace themselves with machines so they can fuck off or
|do their own thing (b) the desire of workers to do their own thing, which
|can increasingly be, among growing numbers of workers, to cooperatively
|innovate new and wilder and and much  more fun leisured items.
|
|Since socialism divorces us from the logic of work for us or starve, the
|innovative powers of human beings will be freed up more than ever before.
|Innovation will not be resisted, for there will be a sliding scale of wages
|and hours: the wages will slide up, the hours will slide down (this is why
|the Transitional Program is so important as a means of getting socialism
|across in the here and now), and innovation will cost no one the capacity
|to survive and prosper. Innovation will thrive, but it will not be at the
|cost of mass human suffering for the benefit of a few middle class hobbyists.

I never thought the day would come when I would regard myself as old and
cynical, but I find myself forced to echo recent comments by Justin: which
socialism are you referring to? The one we actually experienced (past tense,
as opposed to the future tense you used throughout your post) had people
using their powers of innovation to find more effective ways of queueing for
scarce commodities!

I've done a bit of analysis of the reasons why a system which promised
abundance delivered queues; it was an analysis of the failings of Fel'dman
industrialisation policies, and it will be published in a collection of
readings by Simon Schuster this coming February. It was just too easy to
trace part of the blame for the failure of actually existing socialism to
deliver the goods to policies of "heavy industry first" which erroneously
presumed that the initial labor surplus would last forever.

I, like Justin, would like to see how the "next socialism" would avoid
the problems the "last socialism" generated. Apart from Allin and Paul's
attempts to show how computers could take the place of markets (which
covers only allocation, not production), all I have seen so far on this
list are frankly embarrassingly idealistic notions of a socialist nirvana.

Cheers,
Steve Keen


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