Friday, August 04, 2006

Cookbooks For Workshops Of The Future

I previously mentioned some programs for post-capitalist societies that I think worth exploring. I think I should add John Roemer's A Future for Socialism to my to-read-someday list (Cosma Shalizi gives it a review).

(I draw heavily on Roemer's Analytical Foundations of Marxian Economic Theory in my 2005 Manchester School paper. But that book has little to say about what comes after capitalism. Bertram Schefold reviews Roemer's Analytical Foundations in the September 1983 issue of the Journal of Economic Literature. Duncan Foley reviews Roemer's Future in the June 1996 issue of the JEL.)

The most convincing argument against socialist central planning, in principle, comes from Enrico Barone's "The Ministry of Production in the Collectivist State" (Il Giornale degli Economisti, 1908). Barone argues that all the categories of capitalism must reappear under socialism:
"From what we have seen and demonstrated hitherto, it is obvious how fantastic those doctrines are which imagine that production in the collectivist regime would be ordered in a manner substantially different from those of 'anarchist' production."

"If the Ministry of Production proposes to obtain the collective maximum - which it obviously must, whatever law of distribution may be adopted - all the economic categories of the old regime must reappear, though maybe with other names: prices, salaries, interest, rent, profit, saving, etc. Not only that; but always provided that it wishes to obtain that maximum with the services of which the individuals and the community dispose, the same two fundamental conditions which characterize free competition reappear, and the maximum is more nearly obtained the more perfectly they are realized. We refer, of course, to the conditions of minimum cost of production and the equalization of price to cost of production." -- E. Barone

Ludwig Von Mises' best contribution to economics was to popularize and promote Barone's argument. Barone, however, does not have a propagandizing organization to promote him. So one cannot find a current willing first hand account of being initiated into an intellectual school with Barone as a member.

No comments: