Reply to ISO: Why Are There No Studies of Socialist Enterprises by Socialists?
Thanks for your reply. I didn’t forget you. I went to Kansas the first week of July. My daughter’s going to the University of Kansas. Now I have a time for a reasoned reply. I am going to send it to your email and post it on my site. Hope you don’t mind.
I will give you a more point by point reply in another post. In this post I want to cover generalities that will bring us closer in thought.
Over the years I have found that committed socialists, as opposed to the typical Bernie supporter, know their socialism well, but they are like Muslims who study at a Madras where the only subject is the Koran. The student will know the Koran well and can out-quote the unbeliever, but it is not a substitute for knowledge in economics or politics.
This is the condition in which I find all socialists. They can quote Marx or Oscar Lange, but they can’t tell me the relative economic merits of libertarian syndicalism vs state-sponsored syndicalism. They can’t explain how a socialist enterprise would be run differently under conditions of democratic socialism vs centrally planned socialism.
They can’t point to any studies of the mechanics of socialism anywhere in the world. For instance, they can’t tell me if a socialist construction company should bid out its projects or build them at its own cost. Should socialist enterprises compete against each other in some form of socialist process? How is a socialist company organized and how does it calculate costs, arrive at product pricing and pay wages and benefits? There is no socialist in America today who can answer these questions. They all just assume that slogans and Marx will bring them the revolution. But like Lenin, who when faced with actual organizing and decision making, failed. Stalin also failed and eventually the entire USSR failed. No one in Russia had any understanding of how socialist enterprises worked and how different macro or micro decisions affected the country or the enterprise. These studies don’t exist.
I looked for these studies myself. I found some, but they are not favorable to socialism, at least as the committed sees socialism. Maybe socialism needs to be tempered by realistic incentives for the individual. Here is a paper written by Portuguese economists who were allowed into Cuba to do economic studies.
The study is about managerial practices of the socialist enterprise in Cuba. See my post: Analyzing How Socialist Enterprises Work: A Cuban Case Study. When you read the paper you will understand why economists in socialist countries don’t do write research papers about socialism.
On the other hand capitalist literature in its various forms, such as the Austrian School, Keynesian or other schools is rich in economic studies. These studies range from the theoretical level down to how factories are organized, how people should to be paid, and includes comparisons of different organizations and how they fared given the economic choices they made. Socialism has none of this richness. It has slogans. It has Marx. It has the belief that capitalism will fail, because Marx told them so. Where did Marx get this ability to predict the future?
The only good news with Marx is that, like Adam Smith, he tried to explain capitalism from a systemic viewpoint. Not socialism, but capitalism. He never analyzed socialism. Isn’t that ironic? He criticized and analyzed capitalism to death, but never offered any usable blueprint for how socialism would actually work. I say that he didn’t know himself and so avoided the question. Unfortunately, the socialist world in general and Marxists in particular have continued this practice of avoiding looking too closely at the actual mechanics of socialism. Is this because they are afraid of what they will find? Would some socialists please provide some positive, competent economic analysis of socialist enterprises in socialist countries, such as Cuba, Russia, China, or Vietnam?
Read the Portuguese study and get back to me. I mean READ IT. Don’t scan it or deny it. Read it and tell me, point by point, where they went wrong. What did they say that was wrong and what is the correct interpretation. I will publish your response on my website.