R48G: the issue of markets, planning and a socialist starting point

Source: Ernest Mandel: In Defence of Socialist Planning (September 1986)

We linked to this already today and it is invaluable to have a critique by someone like Mandel of the trend toward ‘market socialism’ that arose in the wake of the ‘calculation debate’ ignited by Von Mises and which was critiqued by a whole series of socialist counterarguments in what seems in retrospect something of a stalemate. A good example of the genre is:
The Economics of Feasible Socialism Alec Nove
http://digamo.free.fr/nove91.pdf
which Mandel discusses at length.
A useful summary is Marx to Mise by Steele, a book that seems to be overwhelmed by the question and not quite able to counter the Misean legacy.
https://www.amazon.com/Marx-Mises-Capitalist-Challenge-Calculation-ebook/dp/B00GW5KSEA/ref=sr_1_1?crid=16F17TWS0W6E3&keywords=from+marx+to+mises&qid=1560349352&s=books&sprefix=from+Marx+to+%2Cinstant-video%2C130&sr=1-1

It is interesting that Mandel attempts to argue with Nove, not Mises, et al.
But I have to wonder if anyone has arrived at answers here but overall the capitalists claim to have won the argument and we have lived in neoliberal land since the time of Hayek et al, who spring directly form the Misean attack, which was a timely (1921) counterattack in the context of the Russian revolution which coincided with this introduction of the whole, partly sophistical but also in part cogent, Misean argument about markets. Mandel’s excellent critique of the socialist responses to Mises, viz. market socialism. Given the nature of Mises’ prediction and the outcome of bolshevik economic madness/idiocy, it is not surprising that socialists have been on the defensive, and almost nettled by the play of sophistries. That neo-classical economic theory deserves an equal share of critique, if not ridicule, but clarity tends to be lost in the confusion of debate (mastery of the field with its mathematical confusions is almost impossible using the texts of the subject, cf. e.g. Krugman/Wells and their college textbook(s) ). That equilibrium theory was in part the invention of socialists is a further irony. It is fair to say that all parties are confused to some degree. But a defense of planning by Mandel is entirely apt in the seeming partial rout that produced so many leftist students of market socialism.
The scale of the problem is mind-numbing:
Consider:

How many small businesses are there?In 2010 there were 27.9 million small businesses, and 18,500 firms with 500 employees or more. Over three-quarters of small businesses were nonemploy-ers; this number has trended up over the past decade, while employers have been relatively flat (figure 1).
https://www.sba.gov/sites/default/files/FAQ_Sept_2012.pdf

To bring planning to this is an olympian task.
A pioneer in the computational economics sphere is Cockshott’s classic:
Toward a New Socialism

Our own view is a mixture of paired opposites: our ecological socialist ‘Democratic Market Neo-communism’. This perspective says that we must do four or more things at once:
resolve the political question, resolve the market/planning question and resolve the nature of expropriation, demanded from the revolutionary (or even electoral) left: the creation of a Commons, which is different from state capitalism.
Our model does not fully resolve the economic question but creates a mixture of both planning and market sectors that can construct a new form of communist system where markets coexist with planning, but with post-capitalist corporations that license resources from the Commons. Properly realized such a mixed system has a larger potential than one pole of the dilemma. We can see a broad field of planned economics, and a parallel field of modified market entities. And a possible third ‘anarchist sector’ below an indifference threshold allowing small scale entities free to do as they please. The mixed system as noted is like a reserve genome of social dna and moves into the future but still preserves its historical forms (in the third sector). This system is different from market socialism.
It is a seemingly contradictory/dialectical combination of opposites that must mediate themselves with checks and balances, and experimental trials of potential solutions. Noone has that solution yet.
The nature of an international remains as a further challenge where this DMNC model attempts first a ‘socialism’ in one country and doesn’t as such or at first attempt the immense problem of global system which would immediately become a reverse socialist imperialism (??).
It is hard to know exactly how this would play out but we must suspect that its strong control mixed with flexibility could stage the kinds of experiments that would evolve to a solution the problem that has bedeviled the left from the time of Marx. Failure to define some kind of workable system has put the socialist left into the limbo it finds itself in.
But the situation is rapidly changing: the claimed victory, in part sophistical, of the Misean wing and the neo-liberals is proving pyrrhic: we now face the reality even if we can’t solve the problem of socialist economics we will have to anyway: the capitalist system is producing devastation and will end by destroying a planet. And the further peculiar situation has arise of rightist/fascist/ irrationalism that simply denies the issue of climate calamity on its way: the ideological hold of capitalist ideology is proving to be a form of near psychosis. So we have to trot out the whole flea market of socialist ‘told you so’ but still clunky economic ‘solutions’ to postcapitalist inevitability.

The ecological DMNC is designed to be able to remorph a liberal system into a (neo-) communist (we can hardly use old terminology of Chinese, North Korean, etc, monstrosities monopolize the terms) one and then proceed with enough probable viability to start to allow thence experimental upgrades, a sort of permanent revolution. It is not simple matter to deal with such complexity even if we begin to suspect that the planning option has some resolution, viz. technological, computational, and soon AI angles of attack.

Our solution with three sectors (and a double political system with both democracy and strong presidential authority, the latter however a revolutionary party to guard the Commons,but few other powers) (cf our various manifestos) allows both centralization and distributed powers of economic control and let go, and while it remorphs a liberal system is also open to many of the goals of classic left discourse, e.g. worker cooperatives, etc… But in a Commons worker cooperatives can control but not own the resources they use, etc…
This kind of system can start immediately, today/tomorrow and then inch its way forward.
It has strong control and an anarchic side, planning and a new kind of market, ecological imperatives and associated ecological courts and law and many possible versions of ’emergency mode’ alternates. It must satisfy the demand for a robust economic populism with economic rights to employment, health care, housing, etc…
Noone has found a solution to the economic question but this DMNC can with confidence stage a beginning evolution that is functional day one toward a more sophistical outcome.
Noone has won the arguments here and we can’t expect to be able to fully resolve but we do have a plan/procedure and revolutionary (or evolutionary) project to set in motion, one that can reconcile many opposites in a pressure cooker of social equalization moving from the relative starting point of mixed opposites…

 DMNC as ecological socialism: should ‘nature’ be given rights?

Our DMNC model moves as its first step to become ecological socialism and in its complex of checks and balances one might include ‘nature’ as a person without mysticism in a robust legal sense.
Corporate powers—who have perverted law, logic and nature to have their lifeless profiteering entities declared “persons”—are aghast that Mother Nature not only has rights but those rights can be

Source: How to Arm Nature Against Corporate Profiteers | Common Dreams Views

Trump’s ironic seeding of revolutionary action??

https://newrepublic.com/article/153768/inside-democratic-socialists-america-struggle-political-mainstream

The reckoning of the DSA is tricky for an outsider and we should opt for a studied ambivalence along the fault line of our evolutionary/revolutionary duality. To propose a revolutionary option is to make that the dominant theme with a nod to the remote possibility of evolving to postcapitalism. But one suspects that the overall system, if we examine the now bizarre state of the dysfunctional US, is moving toward breakdown and the kind of chaos that will make an evolutionary trajectory into a revolutionary one.

In a strange irony, a figure like Trump with a fascist Halloween mask, is brilliantly dismantling the american system in stages, to what final end is not clear. The left, DSA included, must be ready to fight a takeover by real fascists in a crystallization of actual tyranny.

Given the facts of the case with respect to climate change turning into climate calamity and the Trump refusal to even acknowledge the problem the american system has produced both the right and soon the duty of revolutionary action, DSA’ers please note.

Here we offer our simple model, like a lego kit, of ecological socialism as ‘democratic market neo-communism’. This modeling system requires the solution of at least four difficult issues in tandem, all at once: the question of politics as democracy versus authority, the question of economy as markets versus planning, with a novelty in the question of ‘socialist markets’, and the key question for DSA, thinking of a Commons, that is the outcome of ‘expropriation’ as a path bypassing state capitalism and creating a genuinely shared set of resources once the reign of ‘Capital’. Overall the issue of authority and democracy requires careful thinking.

If British labor once nationalized key industries there is no inherent impossibility to an electoral version of our proposed emanation from our toolkit. In any case our revolutionary assumptions must also speak to the evolutionaries. They just might inherit the ‘revolution’ wrought by the immense blunder in motion of the increasingly fascist transmogrification of the US: at some point, as with 1917 Russia, the revolution emerges in anarchic spontaneity. So we need not sermonize the DSA, or for that matter Jacobin (whose chosen name reflects violent revolution in a non-paradox): sit tight and revolution will be the last option, perhaps coming sooner than we think, just be sure to have a contingency plan, and a good one: our model of DMNC as ecological socialism (neo-communism) reminds us that the leninists stumbled into the greatest opportunity possible for a postcapitalist experiment and dropped the chance because they had no real plan of action. Amazingly marxism under Marx’s view produced no real blueprint for the future, and was in a state of confusion over the issues of how to create a new economy.

So we can absolve the DSA for the nonce of evolutionary fictions, but warn of the need to be ready in reserve for a revolutionary opportunity…

DMNC: ‘what is to be done’…and ecological socialism in practice

https://redfortyeight.com/?s=democratic+market+neo-communism

We have changed our logo again and will keep it up for a short review of the question of ‘realizable socialism’.

https://redfortyeight.com/2019/03/15/selections-from-democratic-market-neo-communism-5/

The idea emerged in the vacuum of marxist/leftist views of what an evolutionary/revolutionary socialism should actually look like. The refusal to plan ahead for the need to construct a socialist system led to disastrous results…

This is a selection from the Kindle/public domain PDF of Democratic Market Neo-communism transferred back from PDF format to microsoft Word with possibly quirky results.The point here is to abandon classic communism as the nightmare it is for a version as here that will produce a robust economy, satisfy ecological constraints, and still appeal to a new public, the universal class and its core sector the working class.  The way to do that is to create a communism with the look of liberalism, and a liberalism with the look of communism. A difficult task, at first, but with a new set of mental habits the job almost does itself.

The original document needs more work, some amplification and a closer focus on ecological socialism. Start thinking, how construct a neo-communism that will not provoke a fury of refusal in a general public? Our version has three sectors and allows markets run by socialist entrepreneurs/managers to license resources from the Commons to engage in a new form of socialist market. Issues of ‘clearing’ and the hastles of such as Ludwig Mises don’t even arise, in theory. But new forms of planning are visible on the horizon we have a system with immense potential light years from the stolid idiocy of marxist type pseudo-communism with its state capitalism, etc…

https://www.dropbox.com/home/Public?preview=Democratic_Market_Neo_Communism_ver_5.pdf

 The current left steeped in marxist confusion could never carry out a revolution…

In its current form the socialist/communist left is stuck in versions of marxism that can’t activate properly as transitional or revolutionary options.
The bolshevik era shows clearly that put into action the principles of Marx will derail…
The left simply dawdles in its past and the revolutionary moment if it came would derail all over again. The public will not stand for a repeat using marxist cliches: the whole framework must be rethought, and divorced from marxist cadres (which are mostly jargon chatter clubs without the slightest intention of anything radical) Continue reading ” The current left steeped in marxist confusion could never carry out a revolution…”

gandhian daydreamers wish to overthrow capitalism…say please//To Save Humanity and Planet, Says Climate Activist, ‘We Must Go Straight to the Heart of Capitalism and Overthrow It’

Revolutionary rhetoric that doesn’t even mention the term ‘revolution’ is a form of daydreaming at this point. And ecologists end up with one track minds where we need a balanced totality: the issue is not climate change but a set of four problems in one, or more… Perhaps this is strategic reticence. How is capitalism to be overthrown? If these daydreamers could slash the tires of one SUV apiece one might take them seriously beyond hand wringers…I don’t recommend that, the idea is what counts here, to start. Was the end of slavery worth the union dead? What’s the body count estimates for postcapitalism and will the new cadre take the gandhians out to be shot?

To overthrow capitalism requires violent action on a massive scale, and it is not clear what these constant invocations of revolution in polite language really mean. Monbiot’s essay is important in any case. This is a transformation of the original thrust of working class revolution. The two must combine and/or restate their basics.

Revolt is illegal, you in? A whole movement could be wiped out in a week by the powers that be to prevent any change (which is not an argument against revolutionary action).

We should note the way the french and russian revolutions slipped into being unexpectedly…

The same will prove true in the coming crisis. But the revolutionaries must be ready and not blow it with leninist instant replays.

The revolution needs to be done right and stated clearly in advance.

We have suggested it many times here and at least adopted a comprehensive approach we call ES/DMNC or eco-socialist ‘democratic market socialism’ which is at least a theoretical focus on a basic four components for a new society, that plus an ecological content. You think about four problems in one: politics, planning/markets, a postcapitalist Commons and this four term reflection then proceeds to construct an interior of ecological socialism. This model can be expanded but the basic point is that we can’t just focus on ecological issues. This approach is adapted to evolutionary/revolutionary versions but it is hard to see how this can be done along an evolutionary path. As noted however the situation could suddenly ripen. We should proceed with an evolutionary version to start but state clearly the need for revolutionary potentials and honestly being to ask how a civil war against capitalist might be brought about.

….

“We have to overthrow this system which is eating the planet with perpetual growth. I mean since when was GDP a sensible measure of human welfare?”

Source: To Save Humanity and Planet, Says Climate Activist, ‘We Must Go Straight to the Heart of Capitalism and Overthrow It’

 Our DMNC becomes ES/DMNC…eco-socialism as democratic market neo-communism and its socialist green (new) deal…//The climate revolution must be ecosocialist

Source: Life on the Left: No shortcuts: The climate revolution must be ecosocialist

This useful and very specific essay outlines a whole series of issues in the range of eco-socialism and the whole discussion fits into our model of DMNC like a glove: this involves seeing our ‘democratic market neoo-communism’ as a version of eco-socialism. On paper the two fit together janus-faced and our ‘new economy’ can be adapted to minimal growth or no growth, regulation of all CO2 issues in the context of our ‘green neo-communism’, and a social project to move past fossil fuels in a constrained schedule. Only something like our DMNC could achieve this and its component of ecological courts and presidential component guarding/constructing a Commons could plan and execute an eco-socialist program inside our DMNC: a rolls royce successor to the ‘green new deal’. Our method of speaking to both the electoral and revolutionary options demands a review of the limits of ‘new deals’ and our version would be a ‘neo-communist’ (green) new deal.
This article clearly illuminates the revolutionary dilemma behind any real proposals to stay on a carbon reduction budget although there is the possibility of a hybrid as a chaotic collapse allows a combined electoral/revolutionary outcome.
Our analysis is uniquely defined but does inherit a fair use of legacy marxist ideas taken critically but we consider on the hand the idea of ‘socialism’ in one country AND an international.
Our model has set of sliding scales, one being its remaining use of ‘markets’ based on a Commons: it can throttle back and forth between percentages of planned and market sectors.
In an extreme situation the ES/DMNC can go into survival mode as a rescue degrowth outcome and move to prevent an elite bunkers in the arctic syndrome condemning billions to calamity.