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Soc Student…Last


> I can’t help but wonder whether any system can survive if it is too complex for the general public to understand.


Is this serous? Parecon has a few key institutions and concepts, which a junior high school student could easily understand. To understand even its most intricate logic – high school students would have no problem. Capitalism, in contrast, is simply incomprehensible even to those who devote themselves to virtually nothing else…

> Capitalism evolved out of the traditional barter system. If I spend all of my resources making corn (maximum efficiency), I will have extra to sell or exchange for clothes, tools, etc. Like soccer, capitalism is a very simple give and take exchange. The concepts are easy to understand with little experience or effort.

What is described bears no more relation to capitalism than to parecon…

> Not to say that capitalism is not complex, especially on a macro level, but the entire system is built on a very intuitive theoretical base. Participatory economics is a mess of rules and institutional mechanisms that are meant to prop up a wholly constructed economy. Is it too convoluted to survive?

If this person were to think in terms of say a hundred people stranded on an island he would see that his characterization – though I certainly don’t think it is a crucial issue – is essentially the reverse of reality.

Try it – try explaining first how they would apportion tasks and divvy up output and make decisions in a pareconish way. Then try and explain how they would do it in a truly capitalistic way – with private ownership, profits, wages, a corporate division of labor, markets for allocations – etc.

? I can’t overlook the significance of Chapter 4 in which Albert declares a moratorium on the ownership of the means of production.

More accurately, eliminates it…

> “In short, we simply remove ownership of the means of production as an economic consideration. Property in the form of means of production becomes a non-thing. It has no bearing in a participatory economy” (90). Albert restates this goal a dozen or more ways, casting off the concept as if it is an understood evil which requires little or no explanation, much like abolishing murder or organized crime for the construction of a civil society.

Actually, that’s about right…though of course in the book far more reason is given, such as gigantic disparity in income and power….which violate all proposed values.

? Why is the concept “the ownership of the means of production” the axis of all or most socialist reform?

It is an odd thing to ask about parecon – where it is, as he notes, the shortest chapter and least central part of the exposition…and least determinative of the features of the economy, as well…

> And most importantly, is it correct to assume that if we eliminate private ownership of the means of production that egalitarian dreams will miraculously be fulfilled? Could it not be possible that the private ownership of the means of production is a necessary evil, without which no economic growth is possible? Historically, if no one ever owned and subsequently benefited from the ownership of the means of production, where would our society be?

Doesn’t the book make the case that removing private ownership is not a panacea far more compellingly than this? And so on…

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