Mark Thoma at the Economist’s View blog wrote a fun post trying to learn more about comparative economic systems. Comparative economics seems to be a function of macro econ that was more in vogue when there was a non-free market equivalent across the sea to contend with, (the USSR).

I find conversations concerning economic model comparisons a fun pastime. When I initially went to look for information from better writers than I, I jumped over to the website Marxists.org. As a History major in college I tended to use this site a lot for referencing social movements and to an extent, understanding the radical left’s positions in economic discourse. Of course, I am not strictly speaking a “Marxist”, but I think that Christopher Hitchens posited it best when earlier in the decade he was asked if he would still describe himself as a socialist. He replied that he was not a socialist, but still a marxist (lowercase intentional).

To students of Leftist history this sentence made sense. To view the history of the world through the lens of class struggle frames conversations about race, employment and even art in the most ochem’s razor of ways. At the bottom of those conversations are discourses about how we talk when we talk about the most base of all human endeavors since at least the spread of capital-the urge to attain more capital.

One the most interesting developments in the critique of state capitalism as it was practiced in the USSR was from Anton Pannekoek. Pannekoek theorized that the revolution in Russia had failed to augment the class struggle in a substantive way because in the Soviet system workers were on the dole from the state which was dictating the goals of production and demand. Essentially, the breaking of the small workers councils or, soviet’s, doomed the revolution and its proletariat because it had created a party apparatus in the role of private ownership in relation to wealth sharing.

Pannekoek:

It is to be expected that, as a result of great economic tension and conflict, the class struggle of the future proletariat will flare up into mass action; whether this mass action be the came of wage conflicts wars or economic crises, whether the shape it takes be that of mass strikes, street riots or armed struggle; the proletariat will establish council organizations – organs of self-determination and uniform execution of action

 

I would advise anybody with even a modicum of interest in economics to study both the Austrian School (Hayek etc) and economists from the European left. It makes for some fun discovery, and might help you think about economics and monetary policies in ways you hadn’t before.

 

 

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