Socialist Utopia (fwd)

Justin Schwartz jschwart at
Fri Jun 30 20:49:30 MDT 1995

Jerry, I was probably more elliptical than I should have been. What I
meant by using utopian, idealized models to study rael history, in
particular for example that of the formerly existing "socialist" natiuons,
weas this. There is an objection--the Mises-Hayek calculation problem--to
any general planned, nonmarket economy. N number of peoplle have suggested
that calculations problems were central to the failure and downfall of the
historical command economies. One relevant test of this propositioin is to
see how models of planned economies, e.g., Mandel's or Albert & Hanhnels,
or models closer to the historical ones, survive in the face of calcuation
problems. Marx used such a techniques in arguing taht idealized capitalist
economies faced accumulkation and crisis tendencies, which he fillked out
with historical studies as well. Of course I think we should aldo do the
empirical work!

--Justin Schwartz

On Fri, 30 Jun 1995 glevy at wrote:

> In the description given below by Justin, a new meaning of utopianism is
> suggested.  Justin seems to be suggesting that the study of alternative
> socialist utopias has *practical* advantages to Marxists today.
> Does one attempt, though, to analyze the realities of "socialist"
> experiences using the "ideal" of utopia(s)?  While Justin asks important
> questions, shouldn't we attempt to answer those questions from a
> materialist ("scientific socialist") perspective rather than a
> utopian/idealistic perspective?
> Certainly, different models of socialism have been developed by
> socialists in post-capitalist societies.  Those models, however, are
> better understood with reference to the actual historical conditions and
> circumstances that they were developed for rather than referring to ideal
> models of socialism.  Future revolutionaries will, it is true, also have
> to develop practical models for socialism but that task is an inherently
> practical rather than a utopian task.
> However, I don't want to be accused of trying to halt discussion of this
> topic.  So, my suggestion is the following:  let anyone on the list give
> a brief outline of a socialist utopia and we can then examine that model
> using the "reasonable purposes" that Justin suggests.  Unless we discuss
> *specific* utopian visions, we can not really take this discussion much
> further.
>  On Thu, 29 Jun 1995, Justin Schwartz wrote:
> > Reasonable purposes for socialist utopianism isnclude: exploring whether
> > certain models of socialist society (planned, market, etc.) might work,
> > and what it would take for them to work. That is, to make a case for
> > feasinility, or to identify problems with amind to specifying solutions,
> > etc. Practically, an important purpose of utopianism of thius sort id to
> > have answers when people ask you questions like, What's Your ALternative?
> > It Didn't Work In Russia. They will not be impressed by saying, Oh, well,
> > the workers will fix it all anyway when they come to it--I can;t be more
> > specific than that, That' isn't real persuasive, as we all know,
> > practically speaking. Third, although this point is somewhat more
> > removed, in facta  good deal more removed right now, the modelling work
> > will after all have to be done by a socialist government deciding on
> > policy. We might as well start now. Fourth, such work enables us to
> > address questions from the practical experience of the worker';s
> > movements, e.g., the effectiveness and limits of coops,w hat happened in
> > Yugoslavia or the FSU, etc. There are a lot of other reasons as well.
> >
> >
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