Friday, July 23, 2004

Economic Calculation Arguments...

Due to technical difficulties, this post has been seriously delayed.

Anyway, Ken Macleod, a wee while back, waxed problematical about the ever vexacious monetary calculation problem.

The problem, in a nut-shell, says that you cannot engage in complex producive processes without money to compare articles' relative utility. That is, independent economic agents need money as a means of co-ordinating their activity across different branches of industry. Specifically, it cannot prioritise between competing uses of products. See Ken for full details.

As an impossiblist, I of course don't concurr with the fundamental nature of this problem. I attack it on various levels. The first is that it doesn't necessarilly demonstrate absolute impossibility, only that that a moneyless systemight well be relatively inefficient - it would be for us to decide whether we wanted inefficiency of that sort. indeed, another way to attack it is to attack its major premises - this is the strongest attack and also the weakest, because it means basically avoiding the specific detaled arguments byknocking out the whole worldview on which it is based, making egagemet with the arguments proponents impossible. Nonetheless, it is possible to argue that the ECA ignores the end consequences.

That is, as socialists we are only concerned with the outcomes, if we achieve those outcomes, we don't care so much if we choose a relatively inefficient way to acheive them, so long as we get the job done. The ECA in assuming a general drive towards maximum efficiency in fact replicates the bourgeoise drive for infinite profits, irrespective of the specific nature of the industry engaged in. Of course, we don't want to be grossly inefficient, but we could still muggle through, so long as we met our goals of feeding clothing and housing every man woman and child on earth.

The best argument, though, IMNSHO, is that ECA arguments are based on anachronistic technology Money was a great means of conveying infrmation, embodied in the coins themselves, about the general state of markes and market/productive relations, when there was not electronic communications system. Now, we can communicate at the speed of light, we can *know* down to the last unit, how many items of any good are being held in store, how many are being produced and projected to be produced. We can know the bulk demand (we could even know the individual item demad down to the last sales outlet) - all because of fibre optics and computers. We can know supply/demand ratios, and make our judgements based on them, not on money, a medium which can be manipulated and distorted to create illusory demand.

We can do this, we can supercede oney, but to do that we need to tear down the wals of commercial confidence. Socialism doesn't need omnipotent planners and omnipresent direcors, it merely needs to remove the barriers to co-operation, these barriers are private property, and money.

I have easier access to my blog for the next two weeks, so I shall be posting a lot more, later today, pacifist argumets, should you ever be before the conshie board.