Central Planning

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Central Planning

Post by Red Aegis on Thu Apr 05, 2012 9:41 am

Could someone provide a case for central planning on a logical basis? Please don't start throwing out quotes by Stalin, I need a logical argument from an evidenced position. I personally can't see why it's a good idea to create a co-ordinator class that runs the nation. It seems inconsistent with Marxism from my perspective. If anyone wants to explain it to me, please do so.

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Re: Central Planning

Post by Balkan Beast on Thu Apr 05, 2012 10:34 am

From the examples in the Real world(not very good) a major problem with Central planning on the national scale has been mismanagement, and corruption on the part of the government officials.

From someone who is well versed with central planning, how could this be prevented or at least be counteracted so that it isn't widespread.

Also in terms of collectives(not sure if this relates or not), by this I mean collective farms and the like such as those that were in the Soviet Republics and Vietnam. Workers actively produced less because there was no real incentive to produce as much as they did when they owned their own land, so how could this be stopped as well? An example of collectives gone wrong would be those in Vietnam(prior to reforms), production fell drastically and this caused famines to occur.

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Re: Central Planning

Post by Celtiberian on Fri Apr 06, 2012 4:05 am

Red Aegis wrote:Could someone provide a case for central planning on a logical basis?

The merits of central planning which are frequently stressed by advocates of the model are: (1) wealth can no longer be accrued through mere ownership of productive or commercial resources, thereby significantly reducing income inequality in society; (2) production is directed toward use as opposed to exchange, which tends to eliminate overproduction and waste; (3) as a result of abandoning the market system, the economy is no longer susceptible to the so-called "boom-bust" cycles frequently experienced in market economies; (4) full employment can be reached; and (5) a variety of welfare services (e.g., housing, health care, education, transportation, pensions, and basic foodstuffs) can be maintained, whereas in capitalist societies it is a constant struggle to attain even a minimal social safety net.

I personally can't see why it's a good idea to create a co-ordinator class that runs the nation. It seems inconsistent with Marxism from my perspective.

Marx was intentionally vague about how he thought a socialist economy would function, and never prescriptive—as he felt such discussions violated the entire purpose of the scientific socialist approach which he and Friedrich Engels pioneered. The most he ever said on the topic (which can primarily be found in his Critique of the Gotha Programme) was that, contrary to the theories entertained by the likes of John Stuart Mill, worker cooperatives were unlikely to spread to an appreciable extent within capitalist economies for a variety of reasons (which history has vindicated); some method of planning would have to transcend the market in order for socialism to develop; and that the most appropriate way to remunerate labor was on the basis of the time expended in the performance of social labor. Marx didn't address the possibility of a coordinator class emerging under socialism, but that's most likely because, again, he didn't exert much effort toward theorizing how a socialist mode of production would function. (Incidentally, Marx's general aversion to model building represents one of the shortcomings of orthodox Marxism, in my opinion.)

I fully agree that the establishment of a coordinator class is problematic for several reasons, both ethical and technical. The Soviet and Chinese experiences, for example, prove beyond any doubt that a class of unaccountable apparatchiks will inevitably degenerate into a counter-revolutionary force in society. Economic planning by an elite agency (e.g., Gosplan) also maintains alienated labor—since workers possess no control over the management of their labor, nor over the conditions in which they will work or even what they will produce and consume—and possesses various structural defects which hinder an efficient allocation of resources in an economy.

Balkan Beast wrote:From someone who is well versed with central planning, how could this be prevented or at least be counteracted so that it isn't widespread.

If the model could be democratized, officials would no longer be capable of being any more corrupt than politicians in contemporary polycratic states (i.e., bourgeois "democracies") are. In fact, since the means of production would be state-owned, less corruption could be expected since the distribution of income would be far less concentrated. Nevertheless, corruption will exist in any conceivable form of government, it's really just a matter of the degree to which it will occur.

Also in terms of collectives(not sure if this relates or not), by this I mean collective farms and the like such as those that were in the Soviet Republics and Vietnam. Workers actively produced less because there was no real incentive to produce as much as they did when they owned their own land, so how could this be stopped as well?

Actually, it's a popular misconception to believe that the Soviet collectivized farms weren't productive. A considerable amount of human suffering obviously occurred in agricultural areas as a result of the Kulak problem, Lysenko's flawed theories, and Stalin's rapid industrialization policies, but those are unrelated issues. What really held back productivity for a while was how labor intensive Soviet agriculture was. Once industrialization was achieved and tractors and other advanced farming tools were being produced, productivity increased.

I don't doubt that productivity may have been somewhat less than it otherwise could have been had different managerial and remunerative techniques been employed (e.g., workers' self-management and effort ratings), but, for what it was, it performed decently. Analysts of state socialism typically employ an unfair criteria when evaluating the system. For example, it was quite common for people to compare the economic performance of the Soviet Union with that of the United States of America. Such a comparison was clearly ridiculous because the two nations possessed a different population size, had different natural resources available to them (both domestically and via trade), were situated in vastly different terrains with different climatic conditions, etc. In other words, environments (i.e., people, geography, and resources) must be completely identical for a truly objective comparison to be made regarding the efficiency of different economic systems.

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Re: Central Planning

Post by Pantheon Rising on Fri Apr 06, 2012 11:05 am



This fella here gives a pretty good summary of Central Planning, especially how it worked in the Soviet Union. I know you said you didn't want Stalinist arguments, but it is hard to deny the man's and nation's great achievements that were accomplished under central planning just after being ravaged by war.

I think a "coordinator class" (if that's what you want to call it) is necessary when dealing with nationwide projects and economics. If you are coordinating socialized enterprises that could hypothetically be hundreds of miles away you will need to go through the body that binds the nation together; the State. I couldn't imagine how else you would do it without a "coordinator class" unless you are a market socialist.

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Re: Central Planning

Post by Celtiberian on Fri Apr 06, 2012 11:10 pm

Pantheon Rising wrote:I think a "coordinator class" (if that's what you want to call it) is necessary when dealing with nationwide projects and economics.

Coordination is obviously necessary. A class of individuals bestowed with power and income which far exceeds that given to the rest of society, however, is not. State socialism is an ideology of the coordinator class because the economy is planned and administered by a relatively small amount of the population; the working class merely follows what they command. Market socialism likewise results in a managerial elite being remunerated far more than what is equitable.

The tradition of socialism which I (and many others) follow is that which provides the people with an equality of authority and equitable remuneration for social labor.

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Re: Central Planning

Post by Pantheon Rising on Fri Apr 06, 2012 11:40 pm

Celtiberian wrote:Coordination is obviously necessary. A class of individuals bestowed with power and income which far exceeds that given to the rest of society, however, is not. State socialism is an ideology of the coordinator class because the economy is planned and administered by a relatively small amount of the population; the working class merely follows what they command. Market socialism likewise results in a managerial elite being remunerated far more than what is equitable.

And the best way to do this, IMO, is a "coordinator class". There would be people with more power I suppose, however it need not imply more wealth. The party will need a degree of political power in order to make administrative decisions. Workers are still free to democratically organize their workshop in central planning, through collectivization, I do not see how they are contradictory.

The tradition of socialism which I (and many others) follow is that which provides the people with an equality of authority and equitable remuneration for social labor.

And how do you propose we do such wide scale planning on a national level where everyone has absolute equality of authority? Central planning is also not contradictory to equitable remuneration of social labor. Indeed, "From each according to their ability; to each according to their own need" implies inequitable remuneration to a certain degree as working class people and families have different needs.

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Re: Central Planning

Post by Celtiberian on Sat Apr 07, 2012 1:45 am

Pantheon Rising wrote:And the best way to do this, IMO, is a "coordinator class". There would be people with more power I suppose, however it need not imply more wealth.

It's perfectly fine if you happen to feel that maintaining a rigid division of labor is necessary for an economy to function (though I disagree with such a view), but I hope you're not suggesting that these coordinators be granted unaccountable authority.

Workers are still free to democratically organize their workshop in central planning, through collectivization, I do not see how they are contradictory.

Theoretically, workers could be provided with the ability to self-manage their workplaces, but central planning, by definition, precludes them from participating in the drafting of economic plans. As I stated earlier, such a system suffers from several ethical as well as technical shortcomings. For example, central planners aren't privy to the knowledge required to plan an economy in a manner which fully satisfies the consumption desires of the working class. Since people have a wide array of preferences for consumer goods, the only conceivable way to gather the requisite information to formulate a plan which could possibly fulfill those preferences would be for the people to submit annual consumption proposals (based on their individual budgets) to a consumer council. Thus, we'd be moving away from central planning and toward participatory planning (which I happen to advocate).

And how do you propose we do such wide scale planning on a national level where everyone has absolute equality of authority?

By having the consumer and producer's councils—which would collectively draft annual plans based upon information gathered from the population—administered by democratically elected and instantly recallable delegates. Every citizen would have the ability to participate in decisions in proportion to the degree they're affected by them, thereby providing everyone with an equal degree of authority.

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Re: Central Planning

Post by Rev Scare on Sat Apr 07, 2012 2:53 am

Pantheon Rising wrote:And the best way to do this, IMO, is a "coordinator class".

Why is that? Are workers' councils incapable of coordinating with one another absent the directive of a technocracy? I understand that you basically have no comprehension of the systems and ideologies that you so capriciously adopt, but surely some degree of analysis is applied on your end. Do you have any substantial justification for this claim apart from an apparent fetish for authority?

There would be people with more power I suppose, however it need not imply more wealth. The party will need a degree of political power in order to make administrative decisions.

Yes, of course not. Impeccable argument, sir. Your idealist roots could not be more evident. I am certain that your system, for whatever reason, would avoid the coordinator class exploitation that all other state socialist economies could not.

Workers are still free to democratically organize their workshop in central planning, through collectivization, I do not see how they are contradictory.

Apparently, you do not understand the concept of central planning. You see, it functions by way of a central planning committee (known as Gosplan in the Soviet Union, for example) that literally directs the economy, from setting output targets to allocating resources to meet the stipulated quotas. It is a privileged class, and it must be privileged, for the fate of the entire economy rests upon the successful execution of the central committee's plans.

And how do you propose we do such wide scale planning on a national level where everyone has absolute equality of authority?

Read through this thread. Participatory planning more or less corresponds to an advanced stage of syndicalism.

Central planning is also not contradictory to equitable remuneration of social labor.

While I am highly skeptical of this assertion, our opposition to central planning does not rest solely upon questions of remuneration (which would, under central planning, be settled by the central planners). Central planning establishes a managerial class system that is hostile to the interests of workers. Apart from questions pertaining to efficiency, it is incapable of attaining the wider aims of social justice that many of us find important.

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Re: Central Planning

Post by Pantheon Rising on Sat Apr 07, 2012 1:20 pm

Celtiberian wrote:Theoretically, workers could be provided with the ability to self-manage their workplaces, but central planning, by definition, precludes them from participating in the drafting of economic plans. As I stated earlier, such a system suffers from several ethical as well as technical shortcomings. For example, central planners aren't privy to the knowledge required to plan an economy in a manner which fully satisfies the consumption desires of the working class. Since people have a wide array of preferences for consumer goods, the only conceivable way to gather the requisite information to formulate a plan which could possibly fulfill those preferences would be for the people to submit annual consumption proposals (based on their individual budgets) to a consumer council. Thus, we'd be moving away from central planning and toward participatory planning (which I happen to advocate).

I don't see consumer councils in direct opposition to a "coordinator class". There needs to be a centralized authority in order to carry out planning efficiently. Through consumer councils and such the needs of the people could be taken into account.

By having the consumer and producer's councils—which would collectively draft annual plans based upon information gathered from the population—administered by democratically elected and instantly recallable delegates. Every citizen would have the ability to participate in decisions in proportion to the degree they're affected by them, thereby providing everyone with an equal degree of authority.

That is good and all, as the people need to be addressed according to their needs, but I still don't see how this conflicts with the idea that a strong, central, administrative group will be needed in order to coordinate the production and distribution.

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Re: Central Planning

Post by Celtiberian on Sat Apr 07, 2012 4:23 pm

Pantheon Rising wrote:That is good and all, as the people need to be addressed according to their needs, but I still don't see how this conflicts with the idea that a strong, central, administrative group will be needed in order to coordinate the production and distribution.

Because a "strong, central, administrative" body is unnecessary under this form of syndicalism. All that is required to establish economic plans are consumer councils, producer councils, and facilitation boards (again, administered by democratically elected delegates). To ensure plans are fulfilled efficiently, consumer councils would be able to evaluate the effort ratings which workers were assigned and measure if the quality and quantity of their output justified the rating. If not, the firm's workers could be remunerated less than the social average, or possibly denied the ability to proceed working at that particular firm.

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