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New Left Review I/72, March-April 1972

Bill Warren

Capitalist Planning and the State

Formalized medium or long-term economic planning has by now been attempted by nearly all the principal industrialized capitalist countries, including the United States—which with the sweeping wage and price controls introduced by Nixon in late 1971 has belatedly joined the ranks of the other capitalist powers in this respect. In view of the undoubted, albeit not uniformly successful, accomplishments of other types of economic management by capitalist states it is necessary to treat this development seriously, i.e. not simply as a propaganda device, to analyse its origins, effects and political implications. [1] Thanks are due to Tom Drinkwater and John Toye for helpful comments at an earlier stage of this paper, which was originally presented to an Economic Conference of the British Communist Party. The origins of capitalist economic planning contrast somewhat with the origins of capitalist employment policy in that while the latter was in the main directly brought about by political considerations, the former was primarily inspired by directly economic considerations. High employment policy (with its reverse, complementary side of deflationary policy) was a product of the fear of the political repercussions of a repetition of the mass unemployment of the 1930s. Capitalist planning was, on the contrary, designed to deal with the economic, as much as political, consequences of high employment policies after the Second World War.

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