Centrally planned economy

Hans Ehrbar ehrbar at marx.econ.utah.edu
Sun Jun 2 12:02:31 MDT 1996

Cockshott's model is not inherently top-down, although I agree with
Nove that any apparatus which is broad enough to plan a whole economy
can be used for coercive purposes, and we must take this seriously and
safeguard against it.  The big difference I see in Cockshott's model
is that the computer system gets its targets of what to produce from
the current expenditures of the consumers.  This is really consumer
sovereignty.  In the Soviet Union they could not do this, it was
simply too complex computationally (and tragically they just lost
faith in central planning at the very moment when it became feasible).
Therefore in the Soviet Union some bueraucrats had to guess what the
consumer would want in the next 5 years, and since they did not know,
they emphasized heavy industry.

Initially, the workers are presumably not more under a top-down regime
than in a big capitalist firm, and with the absence of exploitation
and more education etc. a culture will develop in which they have a
much better say about how to organize their workplace and how to
produce high quality output.  I think there will be a lot of peer

BTW, to answer something Chris London wrote:  my view that people feel
the absence of socialism is based on two considerations:

(1) It becomes clearer and clearer how markets are manipulated.  If
firms have the technology to manipulate markets, then also
the technology exists to replace markets by something better.

(2) People are still thinking that government is making a bona fide
effort to solve the looming environmental crisis.  I can easily
imagine that the present government and the ruling class may lose
this public trust on a very short notice.  If we Communists position
ourselves with a technically feasible plan, which we develop and
advocate over the years, even if initially we may not have many
followers, then we may be able to step into a void here.  A
planned economy is not a guarantee but an indispensable necessary
condition that the earth's resources will be used wisely.

These are things I have been thinking privately, and I may be off the
mark or overlook something.  This is why I welcome your input.

Hans Ehrbar.

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