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New Left Review I/159, September-October 1986

Ernest Mandel

In Defence of Socialist Planning

In his book The Economics of Feasible Socialism Alec Nove criticizes the methods of Marxist economics, as misleading or irrelevant for the task of building socialism, and rejects the goal of Marxist politics—socialism without commodity production—as impossible of realization. Any effective answer to his objections must follow the same procedure that Marx employed in his study of the emergence of capitalism. In other words, it should not start from an ultimate ideal or normative goal to be achieved, but rather from the elements of the new society which are already growing within the womb of the old—from the laws of motion and inner contradictions of the capitalist mode of production and of existent bourgeois society. What has been the basic historical trend of capitalist development, from the Industrial Revolution onwards? A growing objective socialization of labour. All the interconnected laws of motion of the capitalist mode of production—the constant search for increased intensity and productivity of labour in the work-place; the relentless pursuit of new markets; the pressure to labour-saving technological change (rise in the organic composition of capital); the growing concentration and centralization of capital; the tendency of the rate of profit to decline; the outbreak of periodic crises of over-production and over-accumulation; the remorseless trend towards the internationalization of capital—all these together issue into this one end-result.

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Ernest Mandel, ‘In Defence of Socialist Planning’, NLR I/159: £3

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