social planning (was 'revolution and proletariat')

Chris Burford cburford at
Mon Aug 2 23:46:55 PDT 1999

Concerning Doug's observations I doubt if he is some sort of wimpy reformist more a hard critic of what reforms mean and who they actually serve. But Doug also accepts the relevance of reforms.

I agree that it's not very productive to talk about planning in the Hayekian style; that kind of comprehensive planning - which is the only kind Hayek wants to talk about in The Road to Serfdom, for him it's maximal planning or almost none at all - just isn't relevant for an OECD economy today.


But Chris, what are these technical reforms? Are they reforms that leave ownership, the organization of labor, the generosity of public benefits, the structure of politics all untouched? Those would be techical. But if they screw around with ownership and the rest, then they're not technical at all, and not possible without intense struggle. So what do you have in mind? Two, three, many Tobin taxes? <<<

Max has given some. I have given others at different times. But now in no particular order -

Tobin tax at the right level would slow the speed of international currency transations and reduce the subervience of local planning to the whims of global finance capital. Chaos theory suggests that at the right level, such a tax would produce a qualitative change.

Democratisation of the IMF to give living labour priority over dead labour. Eg voting strength not proportional to the contribution of dead labour but to size of current economy.

Demonetisation of gold globally.

Replacement of dollars as international world reserve currency with special drawing rights. Currency committee (not board!) regulating issuance of drawing rights according to requirements of current economies not past capital (living labour over dead labour again). After all, this is what was been agreed as essential to prevent Asian 'contagion' spreading to the west in 1998.

Deficit spending on a global level with additional money going to less developed regions of the world and for environmental projects.

Abolition of all national debts (thereby cutting the income of rentier financiers and the speculative market in forward interest rates on finance capital).

Socialisation of the freehold of land by progressive alteration of the law on ownership. Enhanced social control over land planning with auctioning of leasehold rights to land so that the state gets the revenue from rising demand for land in areas of rising economic activity. This source of state income to be used to promote a more even distribution of the development of the means of production.

Workers consultation councils in all companies.

Restrictions on salaries of CEO's and board members to prevent them being an international social stratum separate from the basic managerial stratum. Their expertise in managing financial risk replaced by national monitoring of financial initiatives of major companies in terms of professional good practice.

Environmental audit to be obligatory at AGM's of all public companies, as well as financial audit.

Citizens wage (positive tax credit) adjusted to end social exclusion for sellers of marginally efficient labour power, and for those who wish to work less intensively for less income. Thereby reducing the pressure of wage slavery on those who have only their labour power to sell, the working class.

Compulsory forum in each country or region of all major finance companies - whether dealing in insurance, pensions, etc. - to co-ordinate advice on national policy and render these agencies of finance capital socially accountable.

In summary,

a raft of measures cutting into ownership of finance capital and landed capital. Compromise with ownership of industrial capital so long as it comes under increasing social accountability and operates more like cooperatives with managerial staff part of the skilled workforce.

Chris Burford



At 10:00 02/08/99 -0500, Bill Lear wrote:

>>A market economy is a self-organising system, right? ...
>So saith Paul Krugman, following a long line of thinkers who believed
>in "economic harmony", "the invisible hand", and "spontaneous order",
>going back to the early 18th century. The fact is, the term is
>vacuous and highly misleading. A market economy exists only in the
>fantasies of those like Krugman. Markets are extremely unstable and
>have long been abandoned.

We seem to be referring to a different set of concepts. A "self-organising system" is by no means necessarily harmonious. It can have periods of turbulence and chaos, and it flip into different phases.

I do agree that there has always been social intervention in markets, but I am talking about the vast exchange of commodities and money, described by Marx and currently observed by us today. This is both inherently chaotic *and* self organising. Indeed the crises are one of the ways it organises itself.

Organization into firms is one very visible
>sign of this, as is the other elephant in the living room, massive
>state intervention in the economy.
>The idiot "Nobel" prize economist James Buchanan (sp?) claimed that
>British society was "de-politicized" when the market came along (this
>in an essay in *Palgrave*). He apparently forgot about the enclosure
>laws and the actions of the imperial state which helped Britain to
>colonize a good bulk of the globe.
>I don't favor all things being done by centralized planning,
>de-centralized planning has been shown to work to a certain extent to
>organize production in capitalist societies. I happen to think this
>planning ought to be organized slightly differently, perhaps along the
>lines that Robin Hahnel has advocated.

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