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Suggestions about economical planning

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Post 19 Apr 2014, 03:07
Greetings, comrades.

I'm in need of articles, books, statistics, etc. (anything) about economical planning (the country doesn't matter), except Ludo Marten's "Another View on Stalin" (already have it and it's not really what I need).

What could I read?

Post 19 Apr 2014, 16:39
Hello Rodrigo,

I am far from an expert on economic planning but I would suggest the following:

Farm to Factory: A Reinterpretation of the Soviet Industrial Revolution by Robert C. Allen. Allen's thesis is that the Soviet Union was one of the most successful developing economies of the 20th century. Allen argues against the common Western perception that the Soviet planning system was a total failure by demonstrating that the Soviet economy did indeed raise living standards, especially given the relatively backward nature of the Russian Empire which the Soviets inherited. Allen also discusses some of the problems that the Soviet planning system started to face in the 1970s, so it is a pretty fair book (Allen himself uses orthodox neoclassical methodology to make his point, so he is far from a communist ideologue). I think this book is a must read if you are interested in the Soviet planning system and planning generally.

Selected Essays on Economic Planning by Michal Kalecki. Kalecki is often lumped in with Post-Keynesian economics, but he was actually a Marxist and worked on the economic problems of planning in socialist Poland. This book gives some interesting insights into some of Kalecki's thoughts on planning. There are some very interesting ideas here, including a discussion of combining planning with worker's councils to allow workers to have more participation in the running of economic enterprises. A good little book. ... c-planning

Computer scientist Paul Cockshott has done some excellent work on economic calculation and the use of computers in planning.

Here is a link to his website with some articles:

Prof. Cockshott's article on calculation in-natura is probably his best. ... rticle.pdf

Paul Cockshott and Allin Cottrell also wrote a book on post-Soviet economic planning in 1993 entitled Towards a New Socialism. I have not read this book but many people I know say it is very good despite its age.

Oskar Lange's On the Economic Theory of Socialism is still considered a classic by the man who developed the Lange model of economic planning/market socialism.

Alfred Zauberman's Aspects of Planometrics is an older book and one that is hard to find. I found a copy at my local library and it was a pretty interesting discussion of planning in the post-World War II Soviet Union. The most interesting chapter was a comparison of Soviet and French planning techniques.

That is all I can think of at the moment. I hope you find this list helpful!
Post 22 Apr 2014, 02:45
Thanks Piccolo for those links, they look good and I'll enjoy reading them!
Post 22 Apr 2014, 14:27
somewhat wrote:
Thanks Piccolo for those links, they look good and I'll enjoy reading them!

You are welcome! I am glad I could help.
Post 22 Apr 2014, 16:49
Piccolo wrote:

You are welcome! I am glad I could help.

My real other question is are there other pieces that have more to do with classical Marxist economic planning such as a centralized planning system and less to do with prices and the like? I don't want to throw Kalecki out the window I just wanted to see if there's any viable alternatives.
Post 22 Apr 2014, 19:48
I should really write a list of all books in my collection, all of which are pretty good.

I have told a few members on this site to get a hold of anything by Alec Nove and also Eugene Zaleski's 2-volume set on economic planning in the USSR: "Planning for Economic Growth in the Soviet Union, 1918-32" and "Stalinist Planning for Economic Growth, 1933-1952". Silvana Malle's "The Economic Organization of War Communism 1918-1921" is great, as is Mark Harrison's "Soviet Planning in Peace and War, 1938-1945".

Though there are some excellent books on post-War WarPac states' economies, I shall write down a few titles when I get a chance. It's only really fair to get to grips with the economy when it was established and the Bolshevik Revolution was practically over. Nove actually is a good filler for this already.
Post 24 Jun 2014, 22:15
I can say that the 1st volume of the unpublished Alec Nove, posthumously in this case, book "Alec Nove on Economic Theory: v. 1: Previously Unpublished Writings" is especially good at highlighting the deficiencies of a fully planned economy for there being little room for manoeuvre if one part of the planned delivery of goods might not make its way to its target, and thusly a greater or lesser degree of the total potential output might be wasted in a factory, its workers on the floor, its offices, accountants etc. being ill-equipped with regards to being flexible.
Nove also stresses the great importance of a nationalised, socialist economy. As he sees it, and I have been of this view for a year or two, the essential idea of planning isn't wrong at all, just impossible without a well maintained national passenger and freight rail system, fully integrated with docks, road and air - assuming at least one of these is maintained to an enterprise or a town, there should be little problem justifying the "high costs" of maintaining that infrastructure, as it almost certainly is "making money" elsewhere and allows itself to cross-subsidise "loss making" branches. He applies this to the theory of the capitalist firm too, if full competition were allowed between branches of the same company, as is often implied, there would be no co-ordinating central office, regional or city-wide office (assuming the company is near-ubiquitous or has subsidiaries at this level) that would itself "lose" in terms of productivity if taken out of the whole - the mediation of economic tasks is highly important to Nove, and reading his earlier works on the Soviet economy, it's not hard to see why. Nove is five star reading, he's easy to understand, he makes me laugh with his anecdotes and jokes and he despises neo-liberalism. His gripe is with people simply ignoring "marginal costs" - which was bastardised by Austrian School types - which are the costs of the sum total of all social interactions, how they were funded. For example, you are 4-6 years old, you begin going to school until you are 25 (if you take a course in medicine and become a holder of a PhD), for that to have taken place there needed to have been railways to move coal to power stations to provide fuel for power stations, similarly food to have been reared and grown, similarly teachers before you, similarly ambulancemen to take any of these "marginals" to hospital if they ever, I hope not, suffered an injury or illness. It's the economics of sense.
Post 19 Feb 2015, 12:34
They were more or less casualties of the red witch hunt started by an alcoholic (McCarthy) and a closeted gay man who would later succumb to AIDS in 1986 (Roy Cohn, who interestingly enough was engaged to Barbara Walters for a short period of time).
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