Correction from author of the Cockshott/Cottrell "Towards a New Socialism"

Ben Seattle Left-Transparency at SPAMLeninism.org
Sun Aug 27 12:56:43 MDT 2000


Hi everyone,

In a post to this list on July 14, I briefly summarized the book
that Gunnar, our Swedish bus driver, discussed in his post of
June 1.  The book is "Towards a New Socialism" by Paul Cockshott
and A. Cottrell.  I sent a copy of my post to Paul Cockshott.
Paul replied a few days later to inform me that my memory of his
book was slightly inaccurate.

Following are (1) Paul's correction, (2) excerpts of my reply to
Paul and (3) my original comments of July 14.

Ben Seattle
----//-// 27.Aug.2000
www.Leninism.org
www.egroups.com/group/theorist/

----------------------------------------
(1) Pauls' correction
----------------------------------------

----Original Message-----
From: Paul Cockshott
To: Ben Seattle
Date: Wednesday, July 19, 2000 2:14 AM
Subject: Re: Fw: Breaking the taboo against serious thought

I found that a your reference to our book was slightly
inaccurate.

You describe us as proposing
> iterative processes (ie: "we produced too little
> in the last cycle--so let's make more now") to
> eliminate the need for either a market economy
> or a centralized apparatus that would decide
> how many left-handed screws would be needed
> for the entire economy.

This is not strictly true, we are much more in the Soviet
Centralising tradition than that. We propose the use of central
supercomputers linked to units of production to decide in advance
exactly how many of each type of screw or other product is to be
produced.

----------------------------------------
(2) excerpts of my reply to Paul
----------------------------------------

-----Original Message-----
From: Ben Seattle
To: Paul Cockshott
Date: Wednesday, July 19, 2000 7:15 AM
Subject: Re: Fw: Breaking the taboo against serious thought

Hi Paul,

Apologies for the inaccuracy.  The next time I post to Louis'
forum I will include your correction in a footnote.  [...]

My own view is that a centralized approach would be more
applicable in some industries than others.  Auto manufacturing,
for example, or many of the manufacturing industries.  I tend to
think that a more decentralized approach (ie: something similar
to PC's run by each production unit) would be more applicable in
many cases.

Part of the reason for this is that some industries are more
dynamic than others--subject to unexpected change or a sudden
shift in priority or direction.  Any central plan, however, could
only be as reliable as the least stable sector within it.  Hence
I would imagine that the planning units involved would be
distributed in some kind of fractal pattern with a few very large
chunks and a very large number of very small ones (and a lot in
between also in a continuous gradient).

I also believe that there would be competition and struggle at
all levels.  In order to increase the productivity of labor it
becomes necessary to have some means of measuring it.  And
fundamentally there will be no way to do this other than
competition (ie: comparing production unit A, with its various
inputs (including labor) and outputs (including various
intangibles: pollution, training that takes place, stress on
other industries, regional or global development that may be
stimulated) to production unit B and creating a consensus out of
a large number of fuzzy measurements and opinions).  Obviously my
description is itself a bit fuzzy. [...]

----------------------------------------
(3) my original comments of July 14
----------------------------------------

-----Original Message-----
From: Ben Seattle
To: Marxism (LP) List <marxism at lists.panix.com>
Date: Friday, July 14, 2000 12:58 AM
Subject: Breaking the taboo against serious thought (reply to
Macdonald)

The Cockshott-Cottrell book [2] that Gunnar mentions is, in my
view, somewhat slanted in a blueprinty direction.  I consider
this unfortunate.  I looked at it when it came out.  It contains
various ideas for how production could be organized with various
kinds of planning boards (if my memory is accurate) that would
use iterative processes (ie: "we produced too little in the last
cycle--so let's make more now") to eliminate the need for either
a market economy or a centralized apparatus that would decide how
many left-handed screws would be needed for the entire economy.
Many of the ideas may eventually prove quite useful although my
own view is that this will only be determined in practice.  My
own view is that the organization of the economy will involve a
fair amount of experimentation to see what works and what does
not.  And there will be a fair amount of competition to determine
what methods of organization best unleash the initiative of
workers and raise the productivity of labor.  But the
Cockshott-Cottrell book contains very little (at least that I
recall) about either competition between producing units (another
taboo subject) or about any kind of real struggle at all.  I
suspect this is due to the ideology of the authors and the
social-democratic millieu which surrounds them.  There is a very
different spirit in my efforts at scientific speculation
concerning the economic and political organization of a classless
society [3].

--------------------
Notes:
--------------------

---[2]---
"Towards a New Socialism", P.Cockshott and A.Cottrell, 1993
http://www.ecn.wfu.edu/~cottrell/socialism_book/

---[3]---
"The Self-Organizing Moneyless Economy", 1995
http://Leninism.org/some/















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