Real problems of socialism and some answers

Paul Cockshott's Blog

In the post Soviet Period the left lost confidence in socialism. This was partly a response to the immediate situation, but partly a realisation that socialist economies had real problems. Since socialists themselves had not come up with any real answers to these problems, and Western socialists never went beyond platitudes here, the arguments of Friedman and Hayek seemed to gain credibility. I will look at some of these real problems and what the potential solutions are.

 Coordination

The main criticism levelled at the socialist economies was that a planned economy was inherently less efficient than a market one, due to the sheer scale of the bureaucratic task involved with planning a major economy. If there are hundreds of thousands, or perhaps millions, of distinct products, no central planning authority could hope to keep track of them all. Instead they were forced to set gross targets for the outputs of…

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Karl Marx’s invisible hand

from here to there

I was recently invited to give a talk by the Communist Corresponding Society, in Oxford, on the labour theory of value. Much academic discussion of the labour theory of value is unfortunately cast entirely in terms of equilibrium models. Yet Marx’s theory of value concerned with identifying causal laws, and therefore is irreducibly dynamic. So I decided to talk about the dynamics of the labour theory of value, especially the relationship between out-of-equilibrium market adjustment and the allocation of the total labour of society. I also wanted to emphasise the intimate relation between Marx’s economic theories and the theoretical contributions of Adam Smith and David Ricardo, since this connection isn’t fully appreciated by all Marxists.

Here is the transcript of the talk.

Introduction: prices are, and are not, related to labour time

In 1868 Marx wrote a short letter to his friend Ludwig Kugelmann which contains some of the…

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Reply to a Libertarian Critic of Marx

I came across this article while browsing internet for articles written about Marxism, and decided to write a short response. Because the author spends the majority of the article explaining Marx's views on man, capitalism, and alienation in a decent manner, I won't critique that, rather move right into the author's alleged "refutation" of Marx. … Continue reading Reply to a Libertarian Critic of Marx