Can a "radical free-market" economy help to end poverty and militarism while avoiding the quagmire of central planning? Don Lavoie makes a strong case that it can in National Economic Planning: What Is Left?
Avoiding the conventional pitfalls of the Right and the Left, Lavoie argues with a strong social consciousness that liberal and radical arguments for national economic planning fail to solve the basic problem of coordinating knowledge in society. He shows how decentralized markets solve this problem, while no means exist for a central planner to elicit the information needed to coordinate a complex, interrelated economy.
National Economic Planning: What Is Left? begins by showing why there is a need for a scientific-radical perspective and why central planning is not the answer. The author systematically and thoroughly critiques Far Left and Marxist positions, as well as the more popular views of macroeconomic planning, economic democracy, and industrial policy.
Lavoie's premise is that economic planning is not a rationally organized, objective system but rather a dynamic process with only very subjective means for determining which product is "best" or preferred by the consumer. The arbiter for "what is best?" must be free-market competition and not a centralized planner. Planning can do nothing but disrupt social and economic coordination and worsen the serious problems of modern economies.
Constantly sensitive to the social concerns that have inspired "radicals" from Thomas Jefferson to Karl Marx, Lavoie demonstrates where and why the traditional policies of the Left have failed, why today's liberal and neoconservative variations on economic planning cannot accomplish their goals, and what alternative policies can produce progressive social change in a prosperous and growing economy.
Economic planning, Lavoie contends, is an unworkable and ultimately reactionary policy that must be rejected by the Left if radicals seek to offer real solutions to pressing social problems. This book challenges radicals-and their critics-to begin reformulating their whole conception of progressive economic change without reliance on central planning.
National Economic Planning: What Is Left? is as comprehensive as it is controversial. Written for lay readers as well as economists and social analysts, its arguments rely as heavily on common sense as they do on scientific method and will challenge thinkers and policymakers of every political persuasion. Praise for the Book
"Don Lavoie's book will serve a very important function. After more than fifty years of discussion in which the socialists at first just would not listen, their position has now collapsed. Yet this long discussion was not without benefits. We have learnt much from this resistance to seeing the truth, and we shall also learn much from studying this systematic exposition of the present state of our knowledge of the problems." -F. A. Hayek, Nobel laureate
"Lavoie's superb study develops an immensely powerful case for the irrationality of national economic planning. It is distinctive in showing that conventional ideas of economic planning depend upon conceptions of human knowledge that are philosophically untenable. It will be of great interest to economists, political scientists, philosophers, and all those concerned with current trends in public policy." -John Gray, Oxford University