I've just finished reading `Towards a New Socialism' and I was hoping someone would offer a alternative to socialist trading policy, all other concerns of mine were addressed or I could find my own alternative solution (direct democracy being the primary issue here), although not all to a satisfactory degree (externalities, & seasonal production among these). The solution offered in the book on socialist trade was a international planning commission. I find this worrying primarily because `experimentation is the lifeblood of innovation' and it doesn't seem like experiments of adequately scale could be conducted with a centralised international planning commission. My understanding of the authors reasoning for this was that it would encourage the charity of more developed regions to that of lesser developed regions. This is a laudable goal, but it seems there are other mechanisms to make this function similarly without reducing innovation. One means might be to devalue the labour hour of developing socialist nation when trading with a more developed socialist nation in accordance with the average differential in productivity between the two nations, but this doesn't solve the problem of motivation to implement this policy. (the authors don't have a problem with changing price relative to value, and this would allow for a unification of the socialist and capitalist means of interaction without much sacrifice other than the motivation)
I'm also interested in reading suggestions, I know of those mentioned in the book which might be of interest (namely Stafford Bear & Oskar Lange), and also those listed on: ricardo.ecn.wfu.edu
This website is shit, it always happens. Not your fault
Thanks user, I'll keep that in mind for next time.
I've been waiting for a leftcom-adjacent takedown of Cockbott for a while now. Guess I'll keep waiting.
I remember some leftcoms used to like him, until it was revealed he was a unorthodox ML
Who also holds some of the positions held by more orthodox MLs.
I'd actually be very interested to hear a critique.
Did they not read his book? He's pretty clearly against democratic centralism and even apposed to the soviets. Not to mention the almost all of the economic organisation of the CCCP which is what his book on the whole attempts to address.
In the book he seemed to speak positively of Mao's China, but whenever he would greet the accomplishments of the CCCP it would be followed by quick critique. That being said I'm not familiar with his other works and don't watch videos. (I plan on reading some of his essays this evening)
:s/the almost all/almost all/
Pahool Cookshow is a fantastic mathematician, computer scientist, and macro-economist but his opinions on social policy, how to organize people efficiently according to those maths is kind of naive in the way it treats real people as numbers on a chart.
By objective numbers Stalin improved the USSR in many measures but is that all that is important and there is nothing to be improved?
Allin Cottrell his cowriter is also an economist. Maybe he should get a philosopher and a social scientist to co-write his next book.
i haven't read tans but from what i've heard it's just your standard stalinism but claims it'll be different now because we have computers, and maybe it would be more efficient but i don't see how you won't just get the usual quasi-feudal bureaucratic elite that emerges in planned economies
And this, my friends, is why Mao said people who have no clue what they are talking about have no right to speak
You completely misunderstand me, I have no doubt that R&D can happen under a international planning system, and as you mentioned the scientific, industrial, & agricultural developments of the CCCP are testament to that. What I meant was that the planning process its self couldn't innovate safely, meaning new planning methods couldn't easily be tried at scale before being applied to the international mechanism. This would make experiments at scale scarce and likely result in a continuation of the system as first established rather than trying new innovative methods of planning, and a dearth in progress in the art & science of planning. (this just as much as the CCCP's ability to innovate is evident in history)
Could you give a example of this? If anything I got the opposite vibe, that he was a bit naive in supporting things like direct democracy, the (voluntary) liberation of women through industrialised midwifery in communes, and the support of developing socialists nations by direct irrational investment, even the concept of a `hours pay for a hours work' is a bit out there for me (I likely agree though). The only critique I formulated in this vain was about the lack of a way to calculate externality's effect on the pricing of products, but to some extent this might not even be possible to do. (it's certainly not possible with current technology to do for everything, nor would it be necessarily desirable) At the same time I wouldn't call him `fantastic' his work is the application of modern standard practice to problems long neglected, to the extent to which his ideas are interesting is the extent to which planning has been ignored.
He proposes a direct democracy with bureaus managed by a group of individuals selected by lot, so that's the first defence against a `quasi-feudal bureaucratic elite'. (I disagree with this but it's not relevant) Secondly he gets rid of capital entirely using computers to implement a `labour voucher system', where every individual is rewarded a hour voucher for a hours work, these vouchers are destroyed on use preventing accumulation. Thirdly by allocating goods efficiently and at proper costs cues and shortages can be elimination using a interpretation of the standard market mechanism of supply and demand, this means that there can be no favouritism when it comes to the allocation of goods in the form of `cue skipping'. Fourth he calls for a system of rent (although with little in the way of details) to give proper evaluation to immobile commodities removing any favouritism that might be granted here. The last thing I remember is that allocation of commodities isn't done by the request of producers but rather by contrasting the previously mentioned supply and demand with the cost of production in hours for a commodity, this removes hordeing and `empire building'. There is more but that's what I remember at the moment, I'd strongly encourage you to read it for yourself though, there is only so much you can gain through the information civ of others minds.
not an argument
feudalism is when status is based on your position within a system of political patronage, not your net worth. calling it "state capitalism" or "bureaucratic collectivism" is just pointlessly confusing and distracts from the reality of how these systems actually work
it really comes down to how this is calculated, and what keeps the technocrats who run this system from juking it to reward themselves
So the proposal is to the effect of managers (or whatever the system of management, as it's unspecified) would keep track of their production and labour in a spreadsheet. This data along with the difference between `market clearing price' (as found by trial & error) determines the allocation of intermediate products and the development of new industry. If the price to value ratio is above 1 production is increased, if it's bellow 1 production is decreased. There isn't really a way to lie to your benefit. Also their is no way for the planners to benefit from the changing of price of products anyway. If by this you instead mean how labour vouchers are rewarded to workers it's `calculated' by giving individuals one voucher per hour worked, and it's kept in check through some sort of system of public accountability like democracy. This is likely a poor explanation, sorry about that.
my biggest pet peeve
I think the idea was that `managers' would be doing this anyway. After individual `firms' do this the data is aggregated along with the data on consumption and processed using the algorithms described in the book.
The authors argued that a pricing mechanism based on trial & error is necessary, because it's impossible for production to perfectly match consumer desire at every moment. To prevent shortages and waste consumption has to be manipulated in the short term until production can be increased or decreased as neccessary.
The book suggests direct democracy with groups over seeing the technocrat selected by lot if that makes you feel any better. I'm honestly not sure this matters though which is what I was trying to emphasise you really just need `some sort of system of public accountability'.
Anyway you seem interested so I'd really encourage you to read the book. You should be able to make a more refined critique at minimum by addressing the text directly.
I ended up reading `Transition To 21st Century Socialism In The European Union' & `Economic Planning Computers and Labor Value' the former I didn't find very interesting nor practical, the latter didn't offer very much in the way of new theory but did respond to critiques and justify the old theory in some new ways which was nice. I'm considering reading `Classic Econophysics' although it claims it's intended for `higher level doctoral students' which I certainly am not (I have some formal political science education and program regularly with a few semi-large programs ~700 SLOC, so I'm not completely green either).
I'm not sure if this is a problem or not, but what this does is allow for more developed socialist nations to exploit the labor of less developed socialist nations in proportion to the difference in their development. I think the motivation is there in its self, and it's mutually benefitial (especially in the longterm) but perhaps it's not a ideologically clean solution.
I'm not sure I'll actually get to this anytime soon regardless if any suggestions are given. I'd like to learn OCaml over the next few months before I go back to university in addition to some other projects I need to work on.
Anyway Good Night anons.
but what stops them from lying
soviet autocracy was only supposed to be a short term measure and it went on for decades
again this could be easily manipulated
Yes, they were in opposition to each other during the August Faction incident and the Cultural Revolution. As well as in some conflicts such as Somalia vs. Ethiopia. But Mao wrote that in the 1930s when Korean and Chinese revolutionary guerrillas fought against the Japanese imperialists. And either way it doesn't alter the validity of that statement.
There is very little for them to gain by lying as I mentioned. I guess they could gain opportunities for promotion without a pay increase by saying their production was higher than it is or their consumption of intermediate products was lower than it is, if the commodity is being priced higher than its value? but even this could quite easily be removed by the standard practice of redundant double entry book keeping (used for exactly this purpose in capitalist economies) on the part of consumers (through logging card purchases & payments) and producers (through the spreadsheet system). Producers actually stand for demotion or reorganisation if their production is low or they consume too much resources so they gain nothing by lying about this. (as mentioned earlier the ratio of price to value determines production planning) Regardless it's really not that hard.
It doesn't benefit anyone to manipulate prices of products, you can't accumulate capital so the only reason you would possibly want to do this as central planner is to get your buddy a promotion without pay increase. (once again this could be removed completely by redundant double entry book keeping as in capitalist economies) There isn't a way for the central planners which are observing the consumption and production rate (which determines prices) to manipulate this data to their advantage because there isn't capital or shortages or all the other things I've already mentioned. Regardless this isn't a matter of power structure, prices are intended to always exist as a short term correction because short term correction in the consumption of products will always be necessary to avoid shortages or waste (as in capitalism). The `wut bout da CCCP' argument doesn't apply here.
I guess? would you prefer parliamentary democracy? if so just imagine that. There are quite a few democracies with very low corruption and you can imagine quite a few more, that's the point. It really doesn't matter that much.
Honestly though just read the book if you want to know this much. I find your questions not particularly interesting and would rather spend my time elsewhere. I solved my own problem in my last post, so I'd ideally only post here again to report on `Classic Econophysics' in case others are on the fence about whether they should read it themselves, if there is a reply to my thinking in my last post, or a book suggestion in line with the original post is proposed.
I've just finished the first part (~150 pages) of `Classical Econophysics' What a wonderful experience, this is such a beautiful book! It's exceedingly self contained making no assumptions of your views or your background (which can be a bit tedious if you're a marxist, determinist, programmer, or have a background in information theory but beautiful none the less) and instead builds from the ground up. It does demand your attention, even for those with experience as often points are made when discussing things which might not seem relevant.
It's quite a difficult text to summarise or describe, and especially in any way which most people might consider useful. The best I can come up with is that it's a attempt to teach information theory through the history of technology, and to create a all encompassing economic theory based on classical economics (Smith through Marx) using information theory, but that really doesn't give credit to how beautifully done it is. I really can't encourage others to read it enough. Following are the notes I took on a couple ideas of interest to me (other than my notes here most of the text has been a beautiful review so far, but I imagine this will change in the second part.)
It's claimed humans are uniquely capable of making new programs of actions (actions which reduce entropy in a object, by creating order/consistency) and materialising these programs for distributions.
In its unqualified form this is irreconcilable with determinism and with it material monism. Humans aren't capable of making entire new programs, so much as extending our program because that's the nature of our program. This means we're only ever capable of making partial programs, not only in respect to our original program but also to any applied extentions to our original program.
At this point a interesting question might be what is the act of `creating new programs of action', what does it involve? Is it simply applying past experience (even unrelated experience) to new contexts or is there some sort of distortion of past experiences? Additionally is the creating or the following more interesting and unique to humans?
It's argued that the few problems which are uncomputable (Gödel's incompleteness theorems, and the Halting problem) can still be formalised given sufficient heuristics. Our primary constraint it is argued, is not computability but rather the performance of our hardware. The guideline of algorithms with NP complexity being generally uncomputable was given but this has been becoming far less the case. It was also mentioned that Gaussian elimination on whole economy scale is now possible on (2008) Google sized supercomputers in contrast to when `Towards a New Socialism' was written. This means that values could be calculated with complete accuracy, whether or not this is necessary is unclear.
Then the juicy bit happens. It's said that if what fundamentally gives humans value is our use as a `universal robot' and everything is computable (even the Gödel's incompleteness theorems with heuristics) then a universal robot can be created. This product of human effort could create value, and because this is what the authors say fundamentally distinguishes humanity these machines might be entitled to the same rights and privileges as humanity.
I think this is my last post before I return to my hermitage. I'm afraid I didn't get enough from this place to justify staying.