Market socialism--a question for Proyect et al

Robert Peter Burns rburns at scf.usc.edu
Thu Nov 9 19:00:38 MST 1995


Marcus Strom <or is it "Storm"?> resorts to shouting
and swearing, and curiously for a Marxist, blind
faith <and I thought I was the only one who was supposed
to be guilty of that on this list :)>.
He fails to say how a totally planned economy
is feasible or efficient.  He fails to take account
of arguments like those of Schweickart which show
that under generalized workers' control the need for
and non-rational sales persuasion would largely disappear.
He fails to say anything that seriously engages
with the objections to a totally planned economy contained
in my post.  Well, now it's my turn to shout:

THE WORKERS IN THOSE COUNTRIES THAT MOST SEVERELY RESTRICTED
THE MARKET IN THE NAME OF COMMUNISM AND MARXISM GOT TOTALLY
PISSED OFF.  THAT'S ULTIMATELY *WHY* THEY ARE NOW SUFFERING THE NIGHTMARE
OF CAPITALIST RESTORATION!  SO *YOU* GET OVER IT, BUDDY!
THE ACTUAL GAINS FOR WORKING PEOPLE HAVE BEEN BEST IN THOSE
COUNTRIES THAT SUBJECTED THE MARKET TO DEMOCRATIC <ALBEIT
VERY IMPERFECTLY DEMOCRATIC> PLANNING, BUT WITHOUT TOTALLY
ABOLISHING THE MARKET.  THOSE SAME COUNTRIES STAND THE BEST
CHANCE OF MOUNTING RESISTANCE TO GLOBAL FREE MARKET CAPITALISM.
WE HAVE TO BUILD SOCIALISM ON THAT FOUNDATION, WHICH WORKERS
HAVE SHOWN THEY STILL HAVE A DEEP LOYALTY TO <E.G.
IN THEIR RECENT MASSIVE STRIKE ACTIONS IN FRANCE AND ITALY
TO PRESERVE THE WELFARE STATE AND OTHER SOCIAL GAINS, ETC>.
THAT FOUNDATION, THOUGH VERY INCOMPLETE, SHOWED WHAT COULD BE
ACHIEVED.  WORKERS ARE NOT GOING TO STRIKE TO ABOLISH THE
MARKET AND INSTITUTE A TOTALLY PLANNED ECONOMY.  THEY *ARE*
GOING TO STRIKE TO DEFEND SOCIAL OWNERSHIP,
WORKERS RIGHTS, THE WELFARE STATE, AND DEMOCRATIC FORMS OF
PLANNING TO PRESERVE JOBS AND PUBLIC SERVICES.  SO GET REAL.

Strom does talk of China and Vietnam.  Now for various reasons
these are considerably different from the market socialist
systems proposed by Schweickart and others.  <How about
actually reading Schweickart?> But note: China
and Vietnam did not collapse like the USSR, etc.  For a balanced
assessment of China, and the prospects of preserving a socialist
character to its economy, I recommend.

P. Bowles and X. Dong, "Current Successes and Future Challenges
in China's Economic Reforms" NEW LEFT REVIEW Nov/Dec 1994

Peter Burns SJ
rburns at scf.usc.edu




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