a few remarks

James Farmelant farmelantj at SPAMjuno.com
Tue Sep 7 12:12:12 MDT 1999

On Mon, 06 Sep 1999 14:46:57 -0400 Chris Matthew Sciabarra
<cms10 at is2.nyu.edu> writes:
>As I said in my previous note, I'm starting a major editing project,
>unable to answer at length.  Suffice it to say, Tahir Wood raises
>fundamentally important questions.
>As to why the dialogue is not possible under socialism:  it is
>perhaps, if we were talking about small-scale collectives where
>meets in town hall and chats.  The more diversified an economy
>becomes, the
>more global, the more difficult it becomes -- especially among
>capital goods -- to plan without a price mechanism.  That's why,
>invariably, the "dialogical" process of the market ends up being
>by a political monologue -- put forth by the commanders of the
>economy.  In
>the history of state planning, that planning has almost always served
>military, rather than the consumer markets.

What is Chris' response to the type of participatory planning that
is favored by Albert & Hahnel, which they contend provide a
viable alternative to both Soviet-style central planning as well
as to the various models for market socialism that have been
proposed over the years by Oskar Lange, Abba Lerner,
Schweikert, and John Roemer.  As I understand their proposals,
economic planning would be carried out in a decentralized manner
from the bottom up, in the form of an iterative process in which
plans from workers collectives and consumer cooperatives would
be aggregated into local, regional, and national plans, which in as much
they would require adjustments in the original plans at the local
work collective levels would in turn have to be approved.  Albert &
Hahanel have attempted to formulate their proposals in the language
of mathematical economics and they have attempted to show that
the iterative processes involved in their planning models would
produce solutions in which resources would be allocated in
much the same way as would occur under a competive
market system.  In this way they attempt to overcome the
Misean-Hayekian type objections to planning.  Shadow
prices instead of real prices would be used in this planning
process as a means for communicating information about
availability of resources. And extensive use would be made
of computer networks (including presumably both the Internet
and intranets for coordinating and trasmitting information between
the various economic units).  Such a system would in their
view achieve levels of efficiency comparable to that
achieved by market economies.

                Jim Farmelant

>Chris Matthew Sciabarra, Visiting Scholar
>NYU Department of Politics
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