On “Market Socialism” and the Soviet Experience
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This chapter discusses, in sequence, (a) the debate over “market socialism” and (b) the Soviet planning process. Bertell Ollman’s 1999 collection, Market Socialism: The Debate Among Socialists, confronts critics with defenders of that hybrid concept. From analysis of the respective positions, it appears that reviving or preserving market practices tends to bring back capitalist relations. The way to avoid the rigidities of central planning is not to restore the pressures of the market, but rather to spread participatory mechanisms into every dimension of economic decision-making. Michael Lebowitz’s 2012 book on Soviet planning, The Contradictions of Real Socialism, addresses both the achievements and the shortfalls of the Soviet system, stressing finally the importance of democratizing production relations.