The planned economy: a concept we can get behind?

Directionless Bones discusses the difference between treating people like statistics and treating people like human beings, and why the concept of a planned economy might not be so bad after all, as long as we’re clear on what “planned” means.

What ‘planning’ suggests to me is that different people’s wills confront each other, generally speaking, in un-reified form. For example, let’s suppose my colleagues and I go to the local assembly and I want to know how many cars we should build. Here, instead of dealing with numbers about ‘demand’, ‘costs’, ‘taxes’, etc., we get the people who want to drive explaining why and how much they want to drive, the people who make steel explaining how much steel they can make for us without getting over-worked, and the people whose homes will sink into the sea if global warming advances explaining how harmful that will be to them. We also talk about how much we enjoy or don’t enjoy working in the factory, how much time we want to keep for other pursuits, etc. From the interplay of these factors understood humanistically, a decision is eventually arrived at.

I would call this ‘planning’ because we can point to a ‘will’ behind it: X number of cars are being produced because that was what was decided – decided, specifically, by the local assembly, or by ‘the people’ acting through whatever democratic mechanism is used. In a market economy, X numbers of cars get produced because that was what the market made profitable. No human agent, even an imperfectly-formed ‘collective agent’, has decided this, but rather the mindless ‘market’, a sort of zombie-creation of humans.

One thought on “The planned economy: a concept we can get behind?

  1. SE May 19, 2009 at 23:29

    Get thee behind me, planned economy!

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