Marx vs. Hayek, conscious action vs. utopianism

tgs at cunyvms1.gc.cuny.edu tgs at cunyvms1.gc.cuny.edu
Thu Nov 10 21:24:07 MST 1994


JUSTIN,




TOM HERE.  GOT MY MOJO WORKIN (MY LINE ITEM VETO)  READY TO ROLL

YOU RESPONDED TO THIS MESSAGE FROM ANDREW:
>
> this will be very short.
>
> On Mon, 7 Nov 1994, Justin Schwartz wrote:
> > > earlier, Justin Schwartz also wrote this:
>
> > > > ... the planning crowd has not produced attempts
> > > >to answer the Mises-Hayek critique (MHC) of planning. They prefer to
> > > >attack markets instead.
> >
> > Well, look at how Andrew and Tom behave.
>
> Let me confess that I have never read any Hayek, had never heard of Mises
> before joining this list, and have no grasp of the intricacies of the
> MHC. I do think that I have a vague grasp of the MHC, however, from
> Justin's descriptions of it.

It's time to start. This problem is THE central problem for socialist
theory. I refer you again to a good short discussion in Scott Arnold, Karl
Marx's Radical Critique of Capitalist Society, Oxford 1990, 243-66.

>
> I feel however, that it is not really a critique of communist planning as
> much as it is a critique of economic planning given many assumptions,
> such as that the production of resources can be understood from a solely
> economic perspective. If the entire political and social structures were
> transformed would the MHC apply anymore?

No matter how the political and social structures are transformed we need
to be able to solve the following problem, as stated by Albert and Hahnel,
who are democratic planners:

Find out what goods and services people want

Find out what work people are willing to do

Find out the ancillary costs of matching work to satisfaction of demand,
and which costs people will bear

And devise some means of getting a match among these things.


A NEAT AND USEFUL SUMMARY


Markets do this by letting individuals register their consumption
preferences in purchases and their labor preferences in taking whatever
jobs are available that best match their production preferences. With a
capitalist labor market this last is a bit of a joke, but under MS, there
is no labor market or structural unemployment.

YOU HAVE A FAR MORE OPTIMISTIC VIEW OF THE MARKET THAN MCNALLY OR MYSELF,BUT
WE'VE BEEN OVER THAT AND THERE'S NO POINT IN DOING IT AGAIN.

 As to ancillary costs
externalities, markets don't do so good, which one economic reason you
need a government.

HERE'S WHERE I FIND YOUR POSITION PARTICULARLY ONE-SIDED.  IS THIS NOT A
DEUX EX MACHINA, THIS "GOVERNMENT"? HOW
WILL IT BE STRUCTURED? IF CENTRALIZED, HOW WILL IT STAY FREE OF BUREAUCRATIC
DEGENERATION?  IF DECENTRALLIZED, HOW WILL IT REMAIN FREE OF THE ANARCHY
OF THE MARKET IT ATTEMPTS TO REGULATE?

YOU ACCUSE THE DEMOCRATIC PLANNERS OF USING THE STATE IN PRECISELY THIS
WAY--AS A DEUX EX MACHINA.  AREN'T YOU?



Still, despite their deficiencies, markets solve the problem with some
level of adequacy. Planning as we have seen it did much worse.

AGAIN, WHICH PLANNING?  HOW WAS IT STRUCTURED? WAS IT TRULY DEMOCRATIC?
YOU SEEM TO BE ARGUING THE REALIST POSITION: THE WAY IT WAS IS THE ONLY
WAY IT EVER COULD BE.

IT'S GETTING HARD TO WHET MY ARGUMENTS HERE.  YOU'LL HAVE TO DO BETTER THAN
THIS.
 If you want
to argue that planning as it might be would do better, you have to explain
how, and not just wave democracy (itself very problematic) as a magic wand.

OK, BUT NEITHER SHOULD YOU.

Mises and Hayek anticipated the problems with planning. They argued that
you cannot know all the things a planner would have to know, whether that
planner was a state planning board or a whole democratic citizenry.
 Nor
could planners keep track of changes in preferences for work, consumption,
and willingness to bear costs. The upshot of that is planning, in their
view, could not solve the problem as stated, and certainly not as well as
markets. If the problem--I mean the economic problem, not the
MHC--remains, and why wouldn't it? planners have to have a solution to the
MHC.

THROUGHOUT THE AGES, FROM DAVID HUME, TO THE
POST-FRENCH REVOLUTION POSITIVISTS, ONWARD, CONSERVATIVES HAVE ASSURED
HUMANITY THAT REALITY WAS TOO MYSTERIOUS FOR THEIR COMPREHENSION, OR THEIR
CONSCIOUS PARTICIPATION IN CONTROLLING SOCIAL REALITY. BUT AS VICO SAID, IF
WE CREATE IT (SOCIETY, I MEAN, WE UNDERSTAND IT)

 If something in the transformation of social and political relations
will provide a solution, I want to know what it is. Precisely and
specifically what. Please tell me.

I DON'T HAVE THE BLUEPRINTS DRAWN UP JUST YET, BUT I DO HAVE SOME GENERALIZED
IDEAS--POWER SHARING AMONG DIFFERENT LEVELS OF DEMOCRATIC GOVERNMENT, CONSULTATO
ION OF THESE WITH THE FACTORY COUNCIL SYSTEM, UNIONS AND POPULAR ASSOCIATIONS,
ETC.  J. DAVID EDELSTEIN PUT A VERY ROUGH OUTLINE INTO ATC 34 OR 35. I'M
SORRY IF THAT'S NOT GOOD ENOUGH TO MEET YOUR EXTREMELY EXACTING SPECIFICATIONS.
I THINK IT IS INDEED IMPOSSIBLE TO COME UP WITH YOUR SPECIFICATIONS, BECAUSE
IT IS IMPOSSIBLE TO DEMONSTRATE UNTIL WE WIN THE REVOLUTION, GIVEN THE FACT
THAT THE BOURGEOISIE DON'T TAKE KINDLY TO DEMOCRATIC PLANNING EXPERIMENTS,
AND THE BOLSHEVIKS, WHO HAD THE CHANCE, DIDN'T TAKE TO DEMOCRACY.

I DON'T THINK THAT WHAY I AM PROPOSING IS SO VAGUE AS TO DESERVE THE LABEL
"MAGIC WAND".  AND I HAVE YET TO HEAR YOUR SPECIFICATIONS FOR YOUR MARKET
STATE.  SO WHO'S CALLING THE KETTLE?


--Justin Schwartz




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