Charles Brown CharlesB at
Thu Aug 26 09:37:57 PDT 1999

Marxists don't disagree with Bobbie Burns that the best laid plans of mice and men often go astray. But a dialectical approach teaches that in any problem parts must be understood in relation to the whole, thus the concept of the whole or the total is a critical aspect any problem solving including human social economy. The critique of perfect knowledge does not refute this, because this dimension is already cognized in the Marxist dialectic of relative and absolute truth with respect to nature and society. The "spontaneous links"approach is a species of error regarding the relationship between the part and the whole.

We need holistic planning in material economy, but then the plan is implemented with expectation of an adjustment based on trial and error, and a subsequent modification of the whole plan.

Charles Brown

>>> Doug Henwood <dhenwood at> 08/26/99 11:30AM >>>
This whole planning debate has gone on without much attention to what kind of planning we're talking about. Total, Soviet-style planning, with Gosplan and state-owned enterprises? Indicative planning with worker-run enterprises with some kind of spontaneous (meaning not planned from the center) links between enterprises and enterprises and enterprises and customers? Participatory planning a la Albert & Hahnel?

I think that the Freudian/Hayekian critique of perfect knowledge does make it difficult to imagine a reprise of Gosplan, even a cyber-Gosplan. But if we're talking about some kind of postcapitalist future, we have to talk about popular control of investment and resource allocation using criteria other than private profit maximization. So what are we talking about?


More information about the lbo-talk mailing list