[Paleopsych] TLS: (John Gray) Soviet economic planning

Premise Checker checker at panix.com
Mon Jun 20 00:32:19 UTC 2005

Soviet economic planning
The Times Literary Supplement, 98.5.22

    Sir, - John Gray has given us an intriguing appre-ciation (May 8) of
    Karl Marx's critique of capitalism and its destructive impact on the
    social fabric.

    He aptly spears the neo-liberals who close their eyes to the reality,
    evident even to Marx, of capitalist concentration. Yet Professor Gray
    offers little guidance towards the damage control that he rightly
    assigns to representative democracy. There is no institution but the
    State to maintain free markets in the face of corporate concentration,
    or failing that, to assure by other means that economic giants serve
    the public interest. Such tasks, of course, come perilously close to
    the central economic planning that Gray and others rule out because of
    its association with the "Marxist utopia" and Communist tyranny.

    This hobbling assumption about planning results from taking Soviet
    ideological claims at their face value. In reality, Soviet economic
    centralism was neither Marxist nor planned. Lenin's original model for
    planning was not Marx but the German Kriegssozialismus of the First
    World War. Serious planning, of the indirect, indicative type, was the
    work of Menshevik economists in the State Planning Commission
    (Gosplan) in the 1920s, when the State had retreated to the
    "commanding heights". But Stalin repudiated all this, purged Gosplan
    and substituted a regime of military commands and allocations. This,
    not the oft-cited "utopian experiment", was the system that finally
    came to grief amid Gorbachev's efforts to reform it.

    Soviet tyranny was not the consequence of planning; it was the worst
    enemy of planning. Rejection of the Stalinist-style economy does not
    preclude consideration of alternatives to the global corporatism that
    John Gray has so effectively criticized. Rather, it should clear the
    air for fresh ideas about our economic destiny.


    Department of History, University of Vermont, 442 Main Street,
    Burlington, Vermont 05405.

More information about the paleopsych mailing list