Reply To: Asking About Parecon/Parsoc

ZSplash Forums AskAlbert Asking About Parecon/Parsoc Reply To: Asking About Parecon/Parsoc

Michael Albert

I have my doubts, honestly, about whether you understand my views – you make no reference to even most my views that bear on parecon – for example, you don’t comment on self management, or on balanced job complexes, etc., not that you have to, of course – but I don’t have evidence of agreement on those matters, and many others. For example, remuneration for output is rejected – or power, of course. I haven’t even seen indication you know what the critique of markets is. But honestly, I don’t want to take this further – I just don’t have the time right now.

This forum is called ask albert, and the topic is asking about parecon and parsoc, you haven’t done that, right from the outset, I believe. Instead, you are bringing your views of markets being worthy and desirable, if regulated, to me, and you want me to address them – and I have to tell you, though your views seem solid and worthy to you, to me they are not. Not remotely. So there is only so much of my time I want to give to them.

I see no reason to think your views on this are going to change. Mine certainly aren’t in response to the things you are saying. So, why pursue it?

But each time you write, I feel I have to reply…it is a responsibility in a forum named askalbert…

Prohibiting trade means nothing – no one does that, even if they may have postured with words to that effect, in something you read. Trade is another name for exchange. You seem to rule out Capitalist trade, by ruling out private ownership of property. Okay, some others rule out trade that is mediated and defined by other institutions, too…but that is not ruling out trade, or exchange.

People who rule out money invariably mean they are ruling out money used in certain ways – to buy the time of wage slaves, to earn profits, etc. etc. Some posture as though they are saying we should not have some index to help have just exchanges, and some even really mean that – but I don’t support such views, either.

As far as proof about markets problems, that is why I recommended Quiet Revolution in Welfare Economics – for the proofs that it offers. You say you want proofs, okay, go read it. It offers proofs in the only sense that the discipline called economics utilizes the term. But there is an intrinsic limit to proving things social. How do you prove dictatorship is intrinsically horrible. Point to instances? Good. Describe the structure the label refers to and show that it has deleterious effects. Better – especially if the effects match the history. Now suppose someone says, sure, but that was dictatorship with the needed regulations. Now what? Point out that you put in all the regulations needed and you know longer have dictatorship? Point out that while there is dictatorship every regulation will be unstable? All good, but someone who won’t bend – well, won’t bend.

You agree markets have various really damning flaws – no one really denies that, actually. You claim, however, like others, that regulatory reforms, if they persist against opposition, can mitigate some of the negative effects. Also true, and also no one denies it.

Now, I ask why would you want a mode of allocation which in theory, and in every instance of practice to date, each consistent with the other, has quite horrible implications, purely on grounds we can mitigate some of those implications if we struggle constantly to maintain regulations – instead of hoping for and seeking an institution that accomplishes many positive gains markets don’t even remotely come near, as well as not having the debits?

Of course one answer would be to say I don’t think any other allocation system has such virtues. Well, I offer one, so, you might examine it and ask about flaws you think you find, because if it does accomplish what I say, then even without agreeing with my more damning dismissals of markets, it would make sense for you to support the alternative.

You want to use the word markets your way – against the entire profession of economics, all advocates of markets I know of, etc. It makes it hard to communicate – but, okay.

Markets, are, you say, a name for unorganized interactions undertaken by individuals with other individuals – without being overtly coerced – or I guess groups as in the case of a production units.

Well, now the only remaining attributes defining markets, at least in what you are talking about, is that it is unorganized action and no one is overtly forcing people to engage in exchanges, or not. Really? And that is supposed to be a virtue? You say you would need to discover that unorganized activity – and the idea that market exchange is that is a vast distortion, so how about, individually undertaken acts of buying and selling for prices that are determined by the clash and jangle of all the actors but which once established create a quite coercive context – has negative implications and see why having people actually use their brains in concert, rather than acting only as isolated individuals, and acting in light of collectively and carefully developed and disseminated knowledge of implications, both for individuals and for groups, both immediate and longer term, both on self and on others – corrects those problems and introduces new benefits. But that, of course, is precisely what the discussions and arguments advocating participatory planning and the rest of parecon, do.

Prohibition of alcohol was undertaken, I suppose, because of some implications of drinking – though it is more likely, I know nothing about it, that it had to do with motives of commerce and profits. It didn’t solve the problems of drinking and introduced new ones.

Switching from markets to participatory planning will be done because of the negative effects of virtually every implication of market exchange plus the contrary positive implications of participatory planning, and you have yet to suggest the former has even a single virtue, except I guess that people do what they want (which is simply false if our view extends more deeply than was there someone ordering them around), nor have you indicated any reason to think participatory planning would fail to remove the problems or would introduce new debits.

Saying that market exchange is free and unhindered so it has a kind of existential naturalness is poppycock – sorry I am getting tired of this, and it seems I have to be a bit more forceful. Markets are not neutral conveyors of human will, neutral abettors of freedom, so to speak, and nothing more. They, instead, establish roles – buyer and seller – and dynamics, that distort human preferences and will, do not abet freedom, and have many other debits, as well.

This is going nowhere, honestly. You want me to discuss with you, your views. Okay, I can understand wanting that, but using a forum called askalbert to pursue that, just isn’t reasonable. If you have questions for me, that is fine. But I have to read everything in here, because it is a forum for me to react to concerns that people have, questions they raise, etc., and honestly, I just don’t have time to not only address your views, but then do it over and over…

Again, I claim markets annihilate equity, crush solidarity, destroy freedom, reduce diversity – even – and obliterate self management. They demolish environmental sanity, as well, pervert human preferences, produce class division, and bias the outcomes of human interactions. I claim that while all these effects are worse with private ownership, they persist even if that ill is removed. I claim participatory planning eliminates all those faults, and indeed reverses the ledger, to instead literally generate equity, solidarity, freedom for each in accord with delivering freedom for all, diversity, self management, true expressions of human desire, environmental sanity, and classlessness. I acknowledge that I have not offered, here, in a few paragraphs, in a forum, a full case about any of this. That is why I suggest looking at longer presentations, if you are interested. Telling me you did, and are unconvinced – well, fine, okay, that’s the end of that. Unless you say, I am unconvinced because there is this flaw in your argument about snowballing divergence from true social costs and benefits prices, or your argument about effects on personality, or any of the rest. Here is the flaw – how do you reply?