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New Left Review I/161, January-February 1987

Alec Nove

Markets and Socialism

I am grateful to Ernest Mandel for his thoughtful criticism of my ideas concerning ‘market socialism’ (‘In Defence of Socialist Planning’, nlr 159). By a coincidence, I received on the same day a copy of an attack on these ideas from the New Right: Crozier and Selden’s Socialism, the Grand Illusion. The authors are just as unhappy as is Mandel with any mixture of plan and market, but of course from an opposite standpoint. I mention this as a way of emphasizing that I am not a believer in laissez-faire, and am well aware of the market’s imperfections and limitations. A minimal role for the state, the untrammelled pursuit of private profit, does not ensure the welfare of society, and indeed it is necessary for these ideologists to distort the ideas of the real Adam Smith while invoking his name.

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