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Mutualist Blog: Free Market Anti-Capitalism

To dissolve, submerge, and cause to disappear the political or governmental system in the economic system by reducing, simplifying, decentralizing and suppressing, one after another, all the wheels of this great machine, which is called the Government or the State. --Proudhon, General Idea of the Revolution

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Thursday, August 10, 2006

Parecon vs. Market Socialism

At Ecodema, Tom Vouloumanos has compiled links to an extensive debate between proponents of Michael Albert's Participatory Economics (Parecon) and David Schweikart's Economic Democracy. Parecon, as I recall from reading Albert's and Hahnel's work, is a nightmare of committee meetings to decide (say) this week's output of toothpicks will be greater than last week's. Economic Democracy, on the other hand, is a form of market socialism with worker-controlled enterprises; it has a large statist element, unfortunately, with investment largely controlled by state banks.

But Schweikart is very much on the mark in his criticism of Parecon (appropriately entitled "Nonsense on Stilts: Michael Albert's Parecon") for abandoning market allocation. I can imagine, without too much effort, something like Schweikart's system with the statist elements removed and capital mobilized by voluntary means. I can't imagine anything like Parecon existing without looking like something out of Brazil.

3 Comments:

Blogger Larry Gambone said...

I have the same qualms about Parecon as you do. But I have a troubling feeling that Parecon is a totalistic solution - ie there is no room for other forms of economy but theirs. I would not mind if Parecon was one more economic experiment to throw into the post-capitalist pot, but is that the case? There is something strongly ideological about it and this shows up in Parecon advocate's debates with the anarchist movement. They claim, that like Marxists, anarchists ignore the possibility of another controlling group arising within the economy - a sort of nascent ruling class. This is of course, total rubbish. One of the reasons I gravitated to anarchism almost 40 years ago was precisely that anarchism WAS concerned about it and sought to overcome it thru decentralization and direct democracy at all levels. So Parecon advocates seem to be going out of their way to find reasons to distinguish themselves from the mass of libertarian socialists, something I consider sectarian. I truly wish they weren't this way as my attitude to anarchist economics is "the more ideas the better."

August 10, 2006 7:50 PM  
Anonymous Wild Pegasus said...

Parecon would make Pol Pot look like a piker.

- Josh

August 11, 2006 10:48 AM  
Blogger Tess Wilson said...

In response to Larry's post

"They claim, that like Marxists, anarchists ignore the possibility of another controlling group arising within the economy"

I've never heard of any supporter of Parecon claiming such a thing. The notion of self-management and participatory planning in decision making pretty much states the opposite of that. While that idea of course is one commonly brought up among the left, I wouldn't say that Parecon advocates simply dismiss anarchists, or Marxists for that matter as ignorant in anyway, especially with matters pertaining the rise of a ruling class, whether or not it degenerates from laudable beginnings.

"One of the reasons I gravitated to anarchism almost 40 years ago was precisely that anarchism WAS concerned about it and sought to overcome it thru decentralization and direct democracy at all levels."

I think that's a fantastic thing about anarchism. But you're basing your separation between the motives of anarchism and the motives of Parecon on false information. Parecon, too, seeks to overcome the same potential outcome, but through it's re-structured institutions, keeping in mind the four main qualities or pillars that it promotes.

So Parecon advocates seem to be going out of their way to find reasons to distinguish themselves from the mass of libertarian socialists, something I consider sectarian.

Why would we? Both Michael Albert and Robin Hahnel are sympathetic towards libertarian socialism. Myself, like you, think the more ideas the better. Parecon IS an idea, especially at such early stages. There's no imaginary dichotomy between anarchism and Parecon regarding social politics, only regarding theory/logistics.

October 29, 2013 8:24 PM  

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