Thursday, March 22, 2007

Hayek and Socialist Calculation

Gabrial Mihalache says that the Socialist Calculation debate is "a sort of Capital Controversies in reverse, on the Left-Right spectrum." I don't know what this is supposed to mean. Perhaps it is a sociological claim that the side presented as winning in the hegemonic discourse, for the next couple of decades, actually lost at the time, I'd like to say, by any rational standard. The caveat is there because Michael Greinecker is much less enthusiastic about Hayek's position on this particular topic. (I've noticed before that Michael and I have divergent views on Hayek, but I do not want to do the work to clarify my position with respect to his.)

One study of this debate I like is David Ramsay Steele's From Marx to Mises: Post-Capitalist Society and the Challenge of Economic Calculation (Open Court, 1992). Steele is clear, I think, that he is only addressing a very small part of Marx's output. And that Mises and Hayek were only attacking complete central planning. Work would need to be done to use their position to attack mixed economies, as in western Europe.


Gabriel M said...

I meant that people on the Right bring up the "calculation debate" much in the same way people on the Left bring up the "capital controversies", i.e. to claim that the theories of their opponents are completely unworkable or b.s..

You use the c.c. to reject, from the start, anything neoclassical (or at least anything involving a production function). In the same way, some people use the "calc. debate" to reject, from the start, any notion of planning or state control (some take it further than others).

Robert Vienneau said...

I did not take Gabrial’s comment to be all about me. My Manchester School paper is only one of thousands of journal publications in the Cambridge capital controversies. Figures A-1 and A-2 here illustrate a production function; I am not aware rejected that formulation anywhere. On this blog, I have provided tutorial introductions to a variety of arguments. Yes, I will continue to accept the conclusions of those arguments until given a good reason to think otherwise. The fact that others have an attitude is not a reason.