Central planning shouldn't contradict free and dynamic enterprise. We simply have to plan this freedom into the system. Give entrepreneurs some predetermined space to experiment. We should also have local measures for social productivity, independent of the large-scale plan. Communities are able to decide what's valuable to them on a smaller scale, and this aspect should be built into the larger planning mechanism.
I imagine that the central planning board could divest different parts of the social product to different lower planning boards, all of which use different methodologies to ensure social productivity. Maybe we can call them social venture mechanisms or something.
Every enterprise in the economy must be verified by one or more of these social venture mechanisms. They need to receive the mark of social productivity from somewhere. These social venture mechanisms are then checked by the worker democracy whether they meet the needs of local communities and of the central plan.
Some ideas for different mechanisms:
- A Patreon-like platform where firms receive direct democratic support from the population. Citizens all get a bit of voting power to distribute among enterprises they'd like to see, and these enterprises are then maintained by the plan.
- A mechanism that uses entrepreneur's previous track record to base investment decisions, allowing them a lot of freedom to get new projects off the ground. If they prove incapable they will have to rebuild their reputation through work in other mechanisms.
- A digital platform that records the workflow of enterprises in real time, compares them with each other, and expects certain strict standards of them.
- A digital platform that records the workflow of enterprises in real time, and puts this under scrutiny by an expert peer-to-peer community that in decides whether an enterprise is making enough progress.
- A hands-on bureaucracy that takes over struggling cooperatives to help keep their business in order.
- A board representing the local community keeping track of new enterprises.
- A peer-to-peer online platform that uses objective measures to see whether its participants are being socially productive. (In the case of programmers, imagine if you were paid for the work you do on GitHub.)
You could have loads of variations, all giving aspiring entrepreneurs new opportunities to make their dreams a reality.
There would have to be at least three statuses for enterprises:
- Socially productive: This is an enterprise that is receiving verification through some venture mechanism. Co-operands get labor tokens for the time they spend laboring, and the enterprise is able to interact with the wider economy. Goods and services go in and out of the enterprise.
- Socially legitimate: This enterprise is not currently receiving verification, but it is likely to do so in the future. Co-operands do not get labor tokens for their time laboring, but may be given some through a social fund. The enterprise is not able to interact with the wider economy in a normal way.
- Socially illegitimate: This enterprise is no longer recognized by the community in any way. Workers have no right to it.
The intermediate "socially legitimate" status allows enterprises some time to turn themselves around, and also gives them the option to boycott the plan if they deeply disagree with it, a freedom which is of constitutive importance to worker democracy.
Does anyone have thoughts on this? They're ideas I've been chewing on for a while, and I'd love feedback.