Thursday, February 22, 2007

The Sirius Cybernetics Corporation Theory of Socialism

Today, in International Economics class, we were discussing the work of Janos Kornai. Our teacher, who studied at the Moscow State University and knows such things, was telling us about the chronic shortages in old Soviet Union and its socialist satellites. At this point, an avowedly Marxist classmate of mine interjected to point out that the USSR had never been a Socialist Economy. They were, he said, a State Capitalist Economy. This, he explained, was because they paid wages to their workers*. If they had worked on a simple from-each-according-to-his-ability, to-each-according-to-his-needs principle, Red Square would still have kick-ass parades every first of May.

This reminded me of something Douglas Adams wrote about the secret of the Sirius Cybernetics Corporation's success, viz "their fundamental design flaws are completely hidden by their superficial design flaws". This, it seems to me, is also the secret of the success of Socialism. Whenever a Socialist policy fails, the blame falls on some minor (in the greater scheme of things) deviation from the Socialist Golden Path. For example, the National Rural Employment Scheme is a brilliant solution to rural poverty, it will only fail because the bureaucrats have weakened the Employment Guarantee Act. Forcing banks to give farmers in Vidharba low-interest loans in a good idea, the problem is that the interest is not low enough. Five-year-plans are a great idea, its just that our planners sucked. And so on.

This theory is, of course, at an early stage of development. So please, gentle readers, if you come across any other examples of the SCC theory of Socialism, let us know. And please remember to share and enjoy!

*I feel he does the old Soviet apparatchiks a great injustice here. The Soviet Union (as the old joke goes) pretended to pay their workers. In return, they pretended to work


Anonymous Anonymous said...

from-each-according-to-his-ability, to-each-according-to-his-needs
thats plain crazy! how the hell will it ever work?

10:01 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home