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Christmas and Easter nihilists

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Jack Graham

Jack Graham wrote about Doctor Who and Marxism, often at the same time. These days he co-hosts the I Don't Speak German podcast with Daniel Harper.Support Jack on Patreon.

8 Comments

  1. Kevin Carson
    January 26, 2018 @ 7:36 pm

    The calculation argument applies to the internal planned economies of the corporation as much as to Gosplan. The internal transfer pricing of company-specific intermediate goods are every bit as removed from direct spot-market pricing of factor inputs as the arbitrary prices assigned by state economic planners. The senior management of a corporation is just as much a self-perpetuating oligarchy as the Soviet apparat, and “plays at market” with other people’s money in exactly the same way Mises dismissed re the managers in Lange’s market socialism.

    Reply

  2. Ray Commons
    January 26, 2018 @ 8:36 pm

    Massimo De Angelis has a very good short Marxist critique of Hayek in his book “The Beginning of History: Value Struggles and Global Capital”.

    http://www.lamarre-mediaken.com/Site/COMS_630_files/Beginning%20of%20History.pdf

    I think you’re just scratching the surface on Hayek’s bullshit.

    For any in-depth analysis of his ideas I refer you to the work of Philip Mirowski, Bernard E. Harcourt, William Davies, Raymond Plant and Pierre Dardot/Christian Laval.

    Hayek’s basic argument consisted in the following:

    1) Humans are unreliable cognitive agents

    2) Markets are super information processors smarter than any and all of us put together (in classical liberalism’s story, market were static allocators).

    From 1) and 2) you conclude that markets are ultimate arbitrator of truth, so we must submit to the market and do what it tell us.

    As I said Hayek didn’t actually believe in laissez-faire, here’s a direct quote:

    “Probably nothing had done so much harm to the liberal cause as the wooden insistence of some liberals on certain rough rules of thumb, above all the principle of laissez faire” (The Road to Serfdom 1944, p.17).

    Hayek understood that a strong state was needed to impose strong markets norms.

    Hayek’s shtick about “knowledge” changed a lot throughout his lifetime. He changed his mind at least 3 times on this subject.

    He began with a story that uses 19th century connectionist psychology.

    At this stage, as one author wrote:

    “The central thrust of Hayek’s thought was to insist that in order for the economy to work properly, we must be
    faithful to our existing constitution and resist any urge to second-guess the cluster of routines and snap judgments that we use to get by in life.

    It requires a commitment to the invisible, a willful ignorance that resists the temptation to find out more about the sources of our discontent.The self could only be autonomous if it embraced its own lack of knowledge, committed itself to respecting the moment of not-knowing on which its practical reason was founded.”

    Then Hayek started borrowing metaphors from cybernetics that was getting popular at the times.

    By the end he ended on position of saying human cognition and human agency were irrelevant and you just do what the market says.

    2.

    The alternative to hierarchical coordination is certainly not a market coordination/ coordination through generalized commodity exchange.

    As James C. Scott says in the intro to his book “Seeing like a State”:

    “As we shall see, the conclusions that can be drawn from the failures of modern projects of social engineering are as applicable to market-driven standardization as they are to bureaucratic homogeneity”

    “A market necessarily reduces quality to quantity via the price mechanism and promotes standardization; in markets, money talks, not people. Today, global capitalism is perhaps the most powerful force for homogenization, whereas the state may in some instances be the defender of local difference and variety.”

    The market is a symptom of alienation and impersonal domination.

    We should all that capitalist economies (or any other economic) has never been solely centered on either the market or the state planning. There is also a whole lot of sharing and giving going on all over the place.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2bl0EjYZfOA

    P.S:

    As someone who knows some Marx, do you have any comment to make on the Neue Marx-Lektüre (German for “New Marx Reading″).

    People like Micheal Heinrich, Ingo Elbe and Werner Bonefeld. And Moishe Postone.

    libcom has a PDF of “Time, Labor, and Social Domination: A Reinterpretation of Marx’s Critical Theory”:

    https://libcom.org/library/time-labor-social-domination-reinterpretation-marxs-critical-theory-moishe-postone

    Reply

  3. Cory
    January 26, 2018 @ 9:00 pm

    Paresh Chattopadhyay has good critiques of “market socialism” throughout his work, especially his recent book “Marx’s Associated Mode of Production: A Critique of Marxism”:

    https://www.amazon.com/Marxs-Associated-Mode-Production-Critique/dp/1137579714/

    Have you read some Karl Polanyi?

    Hayek and Mises and most economists are also guilty of naturalizing the commodity relation.

    This is an old thing, check this:

    The competing theories: https://haubooks.org/viewbook/gifts-and-commodities/08_ch01

    Reply

  4. Jack Graham
    January 27, 2018 @ 12:13 am

    “I think you’re just scratching the surface on Hayek’s bullshit.”

    Totally.

    Reply

  5. Aylwin
    January 27, 2018 @ 10:05 am

    in 1920, it looked to most observers as if the infant Soviet Union was about to expire a mere three years or so after its birth

    Very tangential, but how come? The Whites were effectively finished by the end of 1919. The international embargo on trade with Soviet Russia was officially abandoned in January 1920, reflecting the shift at government level towards acknowledging that the Bolsheviks were there to stay and establishing peaceful relations (British policy, for one, had already started swinging that way as early as March 1919). So what was this perception based on? Were the peasant revolts of 1920 expected to bring down Bolshevik rule or something?

    Reply

    • Jack Graham
      January 27, 2018 @ 10:42 am

      The situation was still incredibly precarious for a long time.

      Reply

      • Aylwin
        January 27, 2018 @ 11:05 am

        Indeed; I just took the Trotsky reference to mean that you (they) were thinking of specifically military threats, which was perhaps mistaken. (I have a basic knowledge about events in Russia in this period, rather less about the policies of other states towards it, and very little about international public perceptions, so I’m groping a bit here. Anyway, doesn’t matter.)

        Reply

  6. Eve
    January 30, 2018 @ 7:58 pm

    So Mises thinks it’s impossible to do resource allocation without setting prices for capital goods.

    So how the hell did empires rise and flourish before the invention of currency?

    Reply

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