Stalin, planning and the libertarian critique

arun gswyeiu at
Sat Sep 30 20:14:20 MDT 1995

My response:

>From the way you write, it seems that you do not distinguish among three
different things and assume that they all occur whenever privatization takes
place: prices as signals of value, exchanges taking place primarily without
planning, and private ownership of goods and services. Actually, none of
them necessarily go together. Thus while I agree with prices are a highly
efficient means to guide exchanges, do take note that a far greater
proportion of goods and services are exchanged on non-price bases in
capitalist economies today (within corporations) than are exchnaged in the

>	My own vision of markets -- and the vision of Austrians as well
>-- does not depend upon the "selfish instincts" of human beings to drive
>the productive process.  But it does depend upon a voluntarist ethos --
>one in which human beings can cooperate in a voluntary manner in
>producing and creating.  I do not believe that politics is a nuisance,
>and I agree that the history of "capitalism" is replete with state
>influences, and that the market as most capitalists have known it up
>until now, would be markedly different if it were possible to minimize
>the role of the state.
>	Oh, and by the way, Austrians do not believe that such notions as
>"perfect competition" and "perfect knowledge" are valid.  No markets or
>states can guarantee either; what Austrians advocate is freedom of market
>entry.  Knowledge as such is never perfect or holistic; it is fragmented,
>dispersed, and "imperfect" by its nature, and because of this
>fragmentation and dispersal, markets are best at communicating bits of
>knowledge and information to market participants who relate this
>information best to their own specific contexts.

>	Yes, and I am aware that externalities are not strictly
>institutionally generated.  But currently, there is NO movement toward
>redefining property rights arrangements to compel owners to take into
>account those costs.

Actually there is plenty of movement to compel the weaker sections of the
society to internalize the costs which the state was bearing through
welfare. There is no movement to compel the wealthier segments of the
population to take into account costs of their actions -- as, for example,
in the case of ranchers in the West, or automobile meanufacturers and owners
who pay far too little for the amount of carbon they produce.

> And if the externalities that are being
>internalized prove to be too costly -- then maybe we'd be better off
>without the development of some resources, until or unless the technology
>is available to make their usage more cost-effective and efficient.

You speak about stopping developing new resources -- the statement comes too
smoothly -- there are plenty of resources that are already being used,
without which life would be impossible--that cannot be privatized. Just think.

>	Information problems may exist for privatizers, but the knowledge
>problem doesn't go away for social planners -- in fact, it is multiplied

See the comment I made about planned exchanges within corporations --
corporations whose size is larger than the economies of many nation-states.

					- Chris
>Dr. Chris M. Sciabarra, Visiting Scholar, NYU Department of Politics
>     --- from list marxism at ---

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