File spoon-archives/marxism-international.archive/marxism-international_1997/97-01-21.060, message 39

Date: Mon, 20 Jan 1997 15:18:07 -0500 (EST)
Subject: Re: M-I: Michael Leibowitz on Market Socialism

Louis says that in calling for the need for competition I ignore the
tendency of firms to try to reduce competitive pressures by getting
favorable legislation and other special breaks from the state. I guess his
point is that this problem will infect market socialism. I agree. I made
the same point in a public debate with Schweickart some years back. That
doesn't mean that competition has no use or that it will be utterly
suppressed by such rent-seeking and anticompetitive behavior. It means
that there is a place for antitrust law under market socialism.

> Oil, Metropolitan Life Insurance, etc. The whole nature of these firms is
> to reduce risk and maximize profit through collaboration with the state. 
> Your model of the market-place is naive and reminds me of the gee-whiz
> gushiness of people who don't know corporations from the inside.
> We are in the age of monopoly. Nearly every investment decision by big
> Wall Street firms is conditioned by the amount of influence they have
> within the capitalist state. Robert Rubin, my old boss, is Secretary of
> Treasury now. This helps Goldman-Sachs and the sector of finance capital
> it represents to stay close to the action and influence it.

Yes, and so?

> What you share with the people who vote for the Libertarian Party is a
> silly overestimation of the degree of competition that exists in the real
> world.

No, I don't. What I share with the Libertarians is the view that more
competition would be a good thing, although I would support nearly as much
as they do.

> In Eastern Europe, experiments in market socialism were muscled out of the
> way by monopoly capitalism as well.

Right, which is why market socialism has to be hemispheric.

 If there will be socialism in the
> future, it will be the result of a sustained struggle against monopoly
> capitalism. The economic forms that arise from a victorious workers state
> in places like the United States, England or Germany will be dictated by
> the relationship of class forces and not by the brilliant ideas of people
> like David Schweickart. 

Sure. I agree. So does Dave S. And so?

> > Here you focus on individual incentives and don't address the systemic ones.
> Louis: My experience is one of an entire generation that rejected
> competition. In my life, it expressed itself through involvement with
> Trotskyist politics.

Louis' "entire generation" didn't reject competition. Some members of it
did. He assumes that planning will work because everyone will be
mpotivated like one ex-member of a tiny socialist party. That's silly.

> pair of chinos. You, an ex-Maoist university professor 

ex-university professor

who has never known
> what it is like to work in a cubicle from 9 to 5 each day,

Well, that's not wuite right, although I have done less of that sort of
work than you. But so?

> competition to us. You remind me of the character in "The Graduate" who
> reveals to Dustin Hoffman that the magic word is "plastics". You are the
> person who needs to read Marcuse more than anybody.

I've read him. I hate alienation. Self-realization is the fundamental impulse
behind my own commitment to socialism. I think market socialism would do
better on this score than planning. That's one reason I support it.
> > 
> Louis: Justin, this is a revealing paragraph. When Marx said, "From each
> according to their need, from each according to their ability", he was
> using words that correspond to my beliefs. Your quarrel is not with me, it
> is with Karl Marx.

I thought we were talking about socialism, not communism. In any case I do
have a lot of quarrels with Marx. I am not convinced that communism in the
sense that realizes the needs principle is possible. I'd like to think it
was, but I suspect that for the reasons I have given it is not.


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