>>Finally, there is this insistence on calling these kinds of blueprints
>>>>Because they seem invented largely out of thin air, in a "Wouldn't it
be nice?" mode, rather than saying how the present set of institutions and associated forms of consciousnessness can be engaged and transformed. <<<<
I have to respectfully disagree. If something is created willy-nilly, then certainly it doesn't have much to recommend it. But participatory planning has been carefully thought out. This doesn't mean its the only or best solution, or that people would go for it, but the exercise has value.
Furthermore, in some cases socialist goals simply can't be achieved through the transformation of current institutions. For example, private property is incompatible with equality. Control over resources must be manifested in some other manner. The institution of private property must be eliminated.
As for the transformation process itself, does anyone know how to morph current institutions into socialist institutions? Did Lenin map out the trajectory of the Russian Revolution before it occurred? No, but he knew what he wanted to ultimately achieve - the Soviet state in the hands of the Bolshevik party. So when the revolution did get going, he was able to steer events toward the desired outcome. Nobody knows what will precipitate an opportunity for social change. But it seems to me that without knowing, at least in a general sense, what would be a good outcome, the odds of getting such a desirable outcome are slim.
>>>With these participatory planning schemes, you're
telling people in a world of Wal-Marts that they'd have to go to meetings, which would excite their boredom reflex.<<<
Anyone who sells socialism as having "a lot of meetings" isn't a very good salesman. And if people find this conception too burdensome, then some other mechanism for making people's wishes will have to be devised (unless you want to give up on the democratic process).