Ironies of History: Markets, Planning and Competition

  • Paul Auerbach


After the Second World War, planning — in gradations from Keynesian macroeconomic policies to Soviet central planning — emerged as a functioning alternative and rival, in both the political and the intellectual sphere, to free-market regulation. Political and economic radicalism in the Western capitalist world became identified with those who, even when they were critical of real existing socialism, did so in a manner that did as little damage as possible to the inherent logic and efficacy of a centrally planned organisation of the economy. These radical critics included communists, but also others who were actively hostile to the political regimes in countries dominated by the Communist Party, such as Trotskyists. The intellectual ballast for these critics of capitalism came first from the perceived economic achievements of the centrally planned economies; this line gradually faded, most especially in the rich world, with postwar capitalism’s success in maintaining relatively full employment and growth. An indication, however, of the continuing importance of the demonstration effect of these substantive examples of central planning is the collapse of this radical critique incumbent on the events of 1989 to 1991.


Large Firm Socialist Optimism Multinational Firm European Economic Community Monopoly Power 
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Copyright information

© Paul Auerbach 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Paul Auerbach
    • 1
  1. 1.Kingston UniversityUK

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