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TheProjectCalledSocialism

TheProjectCalledSocialism

byGyrgyMrkus


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Source: PRAXISInternational(PRAXISInternational),issue:2/1984,pages:208227,onwww.ceeol.com.

CRITICAL

REVIEW

THE PROJECT CALLED SOCIALISM1


Gyrgy Markus The motivational and legitimation deficit of modern Western societies which has been an important element of their radical critique in the last decades in the late seventies became not only a rather modish topic oi reflection for neoconservative thought, but also a direct item on the agenda of conservative political action. Revitalization of the original values of a selfconfident, 19th-century individualism with its ethics of disciplined labour and deserved acquisition has become the target of massive and well-orchestrated political and cultural efforts. Today it already can be stated that in respect of this directly ideological objective the conservative offensive has failed. It is, however, no less conspicuous that this attack which coincided with the wrorst economic recession in post-war history and with open attempts to dismantle at least some institutional elements of the welfare state, has equally failed to evoke a comparable mobilization of radical forces either politically or ideologically. In fact, the widely perceived crisis of a welfare state neocapitalism has paradoxically coincided, in the ideological field, with the crisis of its main traditional adversary, i.e. Marxism itself. In a sense, it is just this coincidence which makes the phenomenon of a theoretical crisis of Marxism (which had analogies in its earlier history) today so acute. The theoretical difficulties and inadequacies now widely acknowledged by radical intellectuals connected with this tradition are, per se> not so new: at least as objections they were articulated by critics as a rule much earlier. If today they are perceived as affecting the very core of the theory (and not merely as was usual in the past some of its "misinterpretations" against which it is necessary to return to a "true orthodoxy") this sudden change of the "hermeneutical perspective" cannot be explained by intellectual-theoretical reasons alone. It is partially motivated by the bewildering experience that at the time of a palpable social crisis which seems just to confirm the radical-critical orientation of the theory, this latter simultaneously is unable to offer even broad strategic indications of in what ways the historical possibilities abstractly present can be used. The internal intellectual crisis of Marxism is one of the facets of that divorce between socialist theory and practice that today seems to be complete. On the practical-political side of this divide, large segments of the Left have undergone a development toward what may be called "radical fundamentalism": an attempt to center their whole strategy on issues and values so elemental and basic that they need no further legitimation. As (though in a much more limited extent) it has already happened during the period of struggle with Fascism, radical groups and movements conceive their task primarily not in terms of "emancipation," but that of "deliverance": saving mankind from the
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unimaginable catastrophe. And certainly the danger of nuclear war is no less real and definitely not less horrifying than a victory of Fascism has been. Nevertheless there are significant differences between the two situations. Fascism as a social-political system represented a concrete enemy: the struggle against it had a well-defined political sense and was at the same time a struggle for definite values. The spiralling arms-race or ecological devastation are, as everyone realizes, consequences of very complex system causes. Their divorce from these latter certainly can create a basis for a broader consensus and in this sense help to overcome the isolation of the Left. It can be realized, however, only through the transformation of isolated events in these seemingly self-propelled processes into issues of symbolic significance. The negativism of such a political strategy which is inevitably directed at stopping something or other, the deep emotionalization of separate-segregated issues which gives new dimensions of bitterness to the fragmentation of the Left all this seems to demonstrate that logical priorities are not necessarily transformable into political ones. "Life" is certainly a precondition of "good and just life" at which ultimately the Left has always aimed. The difficulties and failures to articulate in a believable way what this latter can mean in the concrete circumstances of the present make a "fundamentalist" strategy attractive but this latter seems to be deeply problematic already in respect of a political effectivity on the longer run, leaving all other, perhaps weightier and more complex, problems aside. The present situation well illustrates that the legitimation crisis of neocapitalism does not act as a radicalizing factor in itself. The very same social and cultural processes which produce this crisis at the same time tend to delegitimize any counteralternative. In this sense the system has a "negative" legitimation because, even when it does not deliver the increased amount of promised "goods" (whose intrinsic value may also become questionable for many), what is counterposed to it seems to be either so vacuous as to be unrealizable, or not be desirable at all. Socialism means today either its "reality" in Eastern Europe which certainly very few want, or vague assurances that it signifies something radically different which is spelt out only in negative terms. What "good and just life (or a better and more just one) for all" can mean under conditions of dissolution of communal cultural traditions, radical value pluralism, significantly differing need interpretations and life expectations, i.e. under conditions of modernity in the divorce between theory and practice, just the answer to this question, the meaning of that radical social project which the name "socialism" denotes, has been eroded to a large extent. In this context the book of the distinguished Yugoslav economist, Branko Horvat, The Political Economy of Socialism, represents a most timely and important theoretical contribution. "Political economy" in its title expresses an attempt to fuse economics and politics into a single social theory. Accordingly the work attempts and offers more than its title may suggest: it proposes in a well-reasoned way the outline of the institutional structure of a social system about which it meaningfully can be said that it transcends the basic antagonisms of both modern capitalist and Soviet type (in the terminology of the author: etatist)2 societies. Horvat underlines and convincingly

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demonstrates the disastrous consequences of the traditional Marxist hostility toward all "utopias": an atrophy of social imagination and an ultimate disorientation in cases when the practial possibilities of an anti-capitalist mass action are present. True, Horvat himself conceives his own task also not as drawing some Utopia, but as an "exercise in system design." However, this terminology of social engineering which is rather at odds both with his commitment to a praxis philosophy and with his sharply anti-elitist, antisubstitutionist political orientation ultimately expresses only his determination to limit the discussion of future social possibilities to that which is essentially realizable at the given level of technical, economic, and social development. The topicality of this aim and of the basic content of the work strangely clashes, however, with some of its features making it a rather "untimely" one. This contradiction has to be mentioned at the very beginning because it would be a serious loss a loss for the reader if some of the conspicuous, later features overshadowed the first ones. Leaving aside some specific assumptions of the author, it is first of all his self-confident optimism concerning the overall progress of socialism which is perhaps most out of tune with that the majority of its addressees feels and thinks today. "There is little doubt that the world is moving towards a socialist, self-governing society at an accelerated pace" (p. 173) this statement expresses not only the firm belief of Horvat in a better future, but also his evaluation of the present social and political trends of change. This optimism certainly contains quite justified corrective elements against the now so strong sentiment of an impending doom and futility. Horvat takes a very long, historical view of the development of radical movements in respect of almost all the problems he treats and quite legitimately reminds us of their achievements: from the establishment of "bourgeois" political democracy (a demand and attainment of the organized labour movement, at least in Europe) to the introduction of elements of workers' participation in industrial management, e.g. in some Scandinavian countries, etc. When he regards this whole process as the contradictory and certainly open-ended, but nevertheless steady growth of "elements of socialism" within developed capitalist societies, his view again represents a needed antidote against that type of radical criticism which perceives in all this only the ruse of capital to integrate the whole society under its own dominance. He legitimately indicates that each of these achievements brings with itself new types of conflict and therefore a potential for further radicalization, and he is right in his conviction that no possible radical development can simply bypass these forms. If Horvat's cheerful optimism of a world on the move towards socialism remains, nevertheless, unconvincing, this is so because he tends to abstract this social process from that broader context within which it occurred. While at some places he seems to over-estimate the purely economic possibilities of a neo-Keynesian welfare state (see e.g. the silent presupposition of its ability to ensure full employment on pp. 171, 197, 432, etc.), he in general underestimates the weight of those problems which a neocapitalist development has brought with itself. In this respect it is characteristic that the questions which to a large extent dominated

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radical discourse in the last decade are not really dealt with in the book. Direction and rate of economic development, the ecological impact of present industrial growth, transformations in family structure and problems of sexual inequality, the changed relationship between the spheres of private and public, between everyday life and the autonomous cultural activities all these problems are either not mentioned at all, or are answered by rather unmotivated assurances that they become easily solvable in a society based on the principle of self-management. The Political Economy of Socialism is an intensely "East European" work certainly not in its explicit content or in respect of the (truly impressive) erudition of its author, but in the direction of his attention and theoretical sensitivity. Horvat is primarily concerned with the possibility of solving those social antagonisms, tensions, and difficulties the weight and importance of which had been practically proven in the historical experience of those Eastern European countries which undertook the experiment of a non-capitalist development. While this fact constitutes the limitation of the book, it also determines its theoretical significance. What proved to be the historical fiasco of socialism in Eastern Europe is regarded today by many Western radical intellectuals as merely an embarrassing dead-end from which one has simply to dissociate the idea of an emancipated society. In their view there is very little, however, to learn from the experiences of this failure, since it was essentially the result of an economic and cultural backwardness. This belief that the problems encountered in these countries simply disappear at a higher level of well-being and political-cultural maturity a belief which in all other circumstances would be denounced as the most mindless variant of a "bourgeois" conception of automatic progress is only a form of escapism from the painful task of re-examining what the idea of a socialist society may signify today. It had to a large extent contributed to that "erosion of meaning" that was mentioned earlier. Horvat's book not only demonstrates the necessity of such a selfcritical re-examination, since it effectively indicates the insufficiency or inadequacy of some cherished Marxist dogmas in the light of relevant social experiences, but also outlines ways a new type of social organization can cope with such problems without sacrificing those basic aims and values that animated the socialist tradition in its long history. The book has in this respect a richness and concreteness which follows from its success in transmitting and theoretically generalizing the experiences of that generation of socialist intellectuals in Eastern Europe who practically participated in the post-war buildup of the institutions of new society, who have an "insider's" knowledge of their working (and misfunctionings), and who have lost in this process neither their radical commitments, nor their critical ability. This represents the most fruitful and significant contribution of the book to present debates it should be both appreciated and criticized primarily from this viewpoint. The Diagnosis In the first sentence of his book Horvat describes it as "in a sense . . . a

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life's work." And certainly in the very breadth of its problematic it reflects a life-long concern with, and commitment to, the idea of socialism. T h e work opens with a concise characterization of the two competing contemporary socioeconomic systems: modern capitalism and etatism. To both the idea of a socialist society is counterposed as it can be derived from the very history of socialist thought and movements critically surveyed in a large chapter dealing in a balanced way with both Marxist and non-Marxist elements of this heritage. The fundamental organizational structure and the comparative macroeconomic efficiency of the three models is discussed next at a still relatively abstract level. This whole part, aiming at the clarification of the general principles involved in the project of a socialist alternative, ends by answering the question: how far can the basic value-choices embodied in such an alternative in Horvat's conception: the choice of the interconnected, but non-substitutable values of freedom, social equality, and human solidarity be both justified and more closely specified in respect to our present historical possibilities? Among these three fundamental values Horvat then selects that of equality as the most readily "operationalizable" and takes it as the standard and criterion for an effective concretization of the idea of socialism. In the central part of his work he attempts to outline in a relatively detailed and comprehensively argued way the institutional mechanisms of a society that is able to ensure the substantive, meaningful equality of all its members in the three fundamental societal roles which his conception attributes to each individual: their equality as producers, consumers, and citizens. Accordingly he discusses the possibility (and difficulties) of an organisation of workers' management in all branches of labour activities, the principles and mechanisms of a socialist distribution of goods and services, and the institutions of a participatory democracy capable of accomplishing an effective dconcentration and decentralization of political power and authority. He also indicates In what ways (especially from the aspect of their economic integration) the three specified institutional structures can be in principle united with each other. Finally, in the last large part of the work, the questions of an effective strategy of transition and possible paths to socialism are raised In respect of the three main social-political areas of the contemporary world: the countries of developed capitalism, of etatism, and the ''underdeveloped" societies of the Third World, from China to Africa. Within this very broad range of problems the analysis of etatist societies as already indicated has a weight and importance not reflected completely in the extent of the chapter explicitly dealing with them. The demonstration that these societies do not represent a realization of, or even a transition to, socialism (at least no more than modern capitalist democracies of the West do) certainly sets up the very task of the book: to redefine, against its alleged "reality," the project of socialism. Horvat is, however, not satisfied with a mere negative proof, he attempts to explicate how these societies work and what confers upon them a relative stability, and the results of this analysis largely orient him in how he approaches the solution of his positive task. One of the most conspicuous features of his book consists in the fact that in

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redefining socialism as a social project it concentrates the attention almost exclusively on the formal institutional organization of such a society. This approach, however, is to a large extent motivated by the basic conclusion drawn from the experience of etatist societies: it is politics, in the broad sense of the institutional organization of power relations, which constitutes the problem of socialist society (cf. p. 232). Etatism, in Horvat's understanding, represents a socioeconomic system which, on the one hand, does not transcend the limits of capitalism, remains "within the horizon of the bourgeois world," but at the same time constitutes a separate social formation basically different from capitalism (cf. pp. 43 and 46-47). This seemingly contradictory characterization finds its explanation in the fact that the structure and functioning of present etatist societies cannot be divorced from their historical origin: they are the results of anti-capitalist (in their intention) socialist movements and revolutions which in their very success failed, and at least partly for intrinsic reasons. From this real contradiction of their origin follows the "incongruous combination" of definite socialist tenets and values, from which their ruling elite cannot free itself, with a centralized, authoritarian state both oppressive and exploitative. This strange blend of characteristics is ultimately traced back by Horvat to some of the features of those anti-capitalist movements from which these societies arose. Especially in the relatively early phases of their development, these movements tend to identify socialism with the straightforward and simple negation of bourgeois institutions and values (abolition of private property with its nationalization, of capitalist market relations with the centralized, administrative allocation of all resources, that of representative democracy restricted to an electoral choice between competing parties with the rule of one party, of egotistical individualism with an enforced collectivism, etc.). Just there, however, these movements remain essentially captive to a bourgeois structure of consciousness: conceiving property relations in inherited legal categories; identifying the market as a general economic institution with its specifically capitalist form: unable to envisage a political system without parties, etc. Even Marxian theory was not completely free (especially in economic respects) from such simplifications, which become much more pronounced in Leninism. When social movements guided by such ideas gain power in a violent revolution whose very dynamics foster authoritarianism and centralization of power, and especially when they take place in a backward environment which has not passed through the rationalizing experience of bourgeois development, they tend to give rise to a society which is not the overcoming, but the negative mirror image of capitalism. It was, however, only Stalinism which has effected, through the bloodiest terror extirpating all elements of a revolutionary mass spontaneity, the complete appropriation and monopolization of all social power by party and state bureaucracy and thereby rendered etatism stable as a new sociopolitical system. The legitimation of such a political monopoly is ultimately provided through a "consensus based on faith" (p. 40), by the essentially religious structure of social consciousness which is partly inherited from the past, partly constantly recreated through the destruction of civil society, through its decomposition into a mere con-

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glomerate of individuals. At least for the time being this provides for political stability accompanied by a high rate of economic development. In contrast to capitalism, the control over the work and life of others and extraction of surplus labour is realized in etatist societies not by predominantly economic means (tied to the institution of private property), but by predominantly political ones (the economic expression of which is the institution of state property). Submission of the individual to the system of social domination is secured under capitalism first of all by the combined means of a manipulative persuasion and economic coercion, while under etatism through a system of ideologically supported symbolic status-rewards and political coercion. Social position of the individual in the first case is largely determined by wealth, in the second by his/her standing in a monolithically organized bureaucratic hierarchy. With all these differences, however, etatism represents a class society whose "general pattern of class stratification is similar to that found in capitalism" (pp. 71-72). The basic social division between politocracy (variously characterized as the ruling elite or class), the broader class of subordinated bureaucrats, and the working masses essentially reproduces the fundamental division into a ruling, middle, and working class under capitalism. In this sense etatism is again "capitalism in reverse": its social structure represents a "meritocratic modification of the old class division between manual and non-manual work" (p. 74). It is characterized, in comparison with capitalism, by a larger degree of social mobility (though opportunity to occupy positions in the bureaucratic hierarchy is to a significant extent inherited), but at the same time also by a greater rigidity due to its monolithic organization which enforces a strict conformity of conduct. The integrity of this internally deeply stratified society is secured by the ruling party, a social device keeping the structure together and at the same time performing a screening and controlling function over all positions of power. In economic respects the domination of a ruling politocracy and (subordinated to it) bureaucracy is realized through administrative (central) planning, meaning the imperative (i.e. based on orders) coordination of all economic activities. This necessarily destroys the autonomy of primary units of production and makes impossible the proper use of market and price mechanisms which leads to a substantial loss and distortion of socially available economic information and to endemic discrepancies between the structure of supply and demand. In comparing the working of such an economy with the model of capitalism, Horvat finds it (somewhat simplifying his analysis) in microeconomic respects (at the level of the firm) less, but in macroeconomic respect more, effective. At the level of national economy, imperative planning allows the effective mobilization of all resources and of the whole population in the pursuit of selected targets important for a strategy of development. (Though he also indicates that with the growing complexity of national economy this relative advantage diminishes and may disappear.) From this follows a rate of growth in output which especially in lessdeveloped etatist countries is substantially higher than in a comparable capitalist environment. This fulfils an important subsidiary legitimating func-

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tion, all the more because due to the impossibility of renouncing socialist ideals outright though social inequalities in the distribution of incomes are preserved, their, scope is significantly reduced. On the whole the basic welfare of the common person in an etatist society is higher, i.e. "the broad masses of the population live longer, receive more education, and enjoy much better medical care than would otherwise occur generally under alternative social arrangements at the same level of economic development" (p. 49). Horvat's most general characterization of the "historical place" of etatism and many of his more specific points of analysis coincide with conclusions reached by myself in a book written together with F. Feher and A. Heller and now published. There are, at the same time, significant areas of disagreement (e.g. concerning stratification and mobility) which cannot all be elaborated here. I shall concentrate only on some questions which seem to be important from the viewpoint of the further, positive argumentation of the book. Horvat's description of the religious structure of collective consciousness belongs to the most vivid portions of his book. But the very evocative picture drawn refers essentially to a phenomenon of the past. Suppression of the individual self, unconditional faith in a charismatic leader, the sacrosanct character of a "monastical" organization (party) and its dogmas these features in fact seem to be hardly reconcilable with the elsewhere equally emphatically indicated phenomena of almost universally present bribery and corruption, the complete divorce between "official" and private conduct and spheres of existence, etc. The idea that the stability and legitimacy of the etatist social systems is based on a "consensus of faith" may be important to understand their origin; it is, however, essentially inapplicable to their present-day functioning. In the Soviet Union where the system, in opposition to the dependent countries of Central Eastern Europe, has a rather wide consensual acceptance or support, its legitimacy seems to be based insofar as it relies at all on an interiorized ideology not on a quasi-mystical belief in a "theological socialism," but rather on a massive and aggressive nationalism connected primarily with its role as a superpower in the world arena. In general it seems to me that Horvat misconceives the role of official ideology in contemporary etatist societies. He regards them as important faith-generating social-cultural devices (which therefore also impose serious restrictions upon the conduct of, and the options available to, the ruling elite). Even in Soviet circumstances this does not seem to be true any more. The official ideology of "socialism" in these countries has to a large extent been transformed into an empty verbal ritual which invokes in the population at large the feeling of a tired boredom. Its role consists not in creating rational or irrational grounds for voluntary compliance, but in the monopolization of all forms of public discourse, in an appropriation of the cultural means of public communication which, through the very meaninglessness of this imposed official language, is rendered incapable of articulating real problems and alternatives. The function of this official ideology today is not the integration of society into a community of faith, but the disintegration of a common language of meaningful social understanding. In a sense it is a device to recreate under conditions of modernity that situation of obedience from "dumb custom" (in view of the

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unimaginability of alternative social arrangements) which Weber found characteristic of traditional societies. And one should add that this device works reasonably successfully in the Soviet Union, while it essentially fails in other etatist societies. As a result Horvat seems to overestimate not only the determiningrestrictive, but also the potential critical-emancipatory, role the ^'socialist" elements verbally contained in official ideology can play. His belief that the etatist plutocracy is "extremely vulnerable55 (p. 463) to both internal and external criticism invoking against it the principles of socialism is not borne out either by the development and fate of internal opposition in these countries, or by the impact and evolution of Eurocommunism. The idea that technical and cultural-educational progress by itself produces a "growing grass root pressure for political reforms" so that it is "only a matter of time until substantial changes can be expected5' (p. 467) is , unfortunately, an aulrisch illusion tellingly refuted by the whole post-war Soviet development. 1 have serious doubts also about the validity of those considerations which Horvat invokes as the second factor explaining the relative stability of etatist systems. He points to the legitimating effect of a higher basic welfare in these societies, for which he provides the evidence of an ingenious, quantitative investigation comparing the ranking of countries according to per capita gross national product with their ranking according to three selected social indicators (life expectancy, higher education, and health services). I am certainly incompetent to evaluate the methodological intricacies of such a statistical comparison, though it has to be indicated that there are a number of (even if less aggregated and therefore non-conclusive) data which do not seem to support Horvat's conclusion (the rather well documented case of a falling life-expectancy in the Soviet Union from the mid-sixties; the directly opposed result of studies about the comparative weight and growth of communal and welfare-related infrastructural investments in Hungary and in some European capitalist countries of a roughly similar level of economic development, etc.). More importantly, however, it seems to me misleading to evaluate what Horvat at some points describes as "welfare of masses5' on the basis of indicators which exclude both the (certainly elusive) average real wages of manual workers and per capita housing. In both respects a similar comparison would give results, I am certain, which would be to the disfavour of etatism. Soviet-type societies certainly provide, in comparison with capitalist economies, enhanced job security and generally ensure the safety and "orderly" character of a set everyday existence under conditions of strict political compliance. This pervasive state paternalism (which cannot be sufficiently explained by reference to ideological constraints) belongs to the principles of their functioning. Etatism also made possible, in the post-Stalinist phase of its developoment, a very slow, but steady, rise of the average living standards and general welfare until this trend was broken by the steep drop in the rate of growth that occurred in the last few years in almost all these countries simultaneously (and to which Horvat refers rather as to a future possibility). One definitely should not underestimate the stabilizing (or in case of the recent

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developments: destabilizing) effect of these factors. But etatism did not provide for a higher basic welfare, in any meaningful sense, than the one present in comparable capitalist environments, especially in welfare states. It is, however, an inclination toward the simplifying, and in definite respects distortive, reduction of the opposition between capitalism and etatism to that between safeguarding political-culture freedoms or ensuring basic mass welfare which to a large extent underlies Horvat's conviction about the absolute primacy of questions of political organization for the solution of the problem of contemporary socialism. The same point can be argued from another angle, too. In his analysis of etatism Horvat essentially describes its fundamental social organizations and mechanisms (party, bureaucratic administration, central planning, etc.) in terms of those formal principles, and internal to these organizations norms, according to which they should function (cf. pp. 37-39, 71, etc.). He naturally knows well and clearly indicates that they do not operate in this way in practice: the party is not a monastic order, directives do not run simply from a unified top in an uninterrupted chain of command to the bottom of the bureaucratic apparatus strictly under control in their execution, etc. He treats, however, these pervasive divergences between the "principles" and "practice" as anomalies and disfunctionalities causing specific inefficiencies. To explain the nevertheless considerable integrative power of such a system (which certainly is in evidence at least in its "center"), he postulates an irrational, quasi-religious collective mentality which is "untroubled" by, and insensitive towards, contradictions (pp. 41-42) and is reinforced by the considerable economic and welfare achievements. Against this view, the problematic character of which I tried to indicate, I would hold a point argued in detail in the book earlier referred to that the integration and stability of this system of domination is achieved, to formulate the matter in a somewhat overly-simplified way, not despite, but through its seeming "anomalies," many of which prove to be from the viewpoint of its reproduction not "disfunctional" at all. An analysis of the ways the rigidly hierarchic-monolithic organizations of power and control really function in these societies reveals, behind their formal principles, the working of informal structures and mechanisms through which the changing claims of various functional units and broader social groups are both expressed and screened, channelized, to be ultimately reconciled with each other through their submission to the dominant interest of a ruling bureaucratic apparatus. "Etatism" seems to represent just a case which especially underlines the insufficiency of attempts to treat any society past, present, or future merely from the viewpoint, and in terms, of its formal organizational principles. The Design The critical analysis of etatism and the social experiences of modern capitalism counterposed to it demonstrate for Horvat that the main problem facing a socialist society consists in ensuring an effective decentralization and dconcentration of power: such an institutional structure of social organis-

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ation which would be able "to maximize power potentials for solving social problems while equalizing the distribution of power in the sense that no group of citizens can impose its will on the disagreeing majority" (p. 594). Socialist society as against its image of an ethical monolith must be a genuinely pluralist one. In it common interests should not take the form of an abstract "general will" superimposed upon the differentiated needs and demands of the individuals. They should be realized through social solidarity, i.e. cooperation between elementary social units, both local and functional, membership in which is freely chosen and the autonomy of which is respected under conditions safeguarding equal possibilities for the development of the personal capabilities of each citizen. The question of socialism is primarily that of replacing the organizational principle of hierarchy with that of participation, within the historically given possibilities of technical and cultural development. Socialism, in the sense of its traditional concept of a classless society, means first of all a self-governing society, both as a whole and in respect to its constitutive units communities. Horvat's book is primarily addressed to the question: ' How can the processes of social decision-making be organized to ensure the realization of a conceived ideal of self-government, and simultaneously provide for the effective utilization of resources, both material and human-cultural, under conditions where some form of stratification remains as a consequence of the division of labour, which cannot be simply abolished? This is pre-eminently a political problem in the broad sense of institutional organization of structures of power and control but its solution demands a consistent reorganization of power relations in all walks of life: from the work-place to "political" decision-making proper in matters concerning the society as a whole. "Designing" such a system of institutional organization is the main task of the book. This design consists of three fundamental elements. The first are the institutions of "industrial democracy" present not only in all productive enterprises, but at all places of work. Workers' management combines direct participation of each in the day-to-day organization of the work-process within the smallest functional units, on the one hand, with delegated decisionmaking (workers' councils and their commissions) in questions of the overall economic strategy of the enterprise, and, on the other hand, with the technically effective execution of specified tasks through a professional managerial and administrative staff. The top of the latter is to be directly appointed by the council and responsible to the whole collective. This societal design (simplifying somewhat Horvat's exposition) includes as a second element a macroeconomic organization that integrates the autonomous economic units (firms) through a complex interaction of market and non-market mechanisms. These latter embrace both: democratic social planning and the non-market disposition of definite (personality-building, collective) goods and services. I shall return to this topic in more detail below. Lastly, there is the political organization proper. In the most schematic way its main proposed features can be characterized by the following: (1) The political system has a three-tiered structure: local communes, ethnic states or regions, and their federation, the commonwealth. Each of these levels posses-

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ses legislative and executive autonomy in the sphere of its competence. Competences (and the disposition over the necessary resources) should be separated in such a way as to allow decisions to be taken always at the lowest possible level concerned and affected. (2) Higher legislative organs combine the principles of territorial and functional representation, the first aimed roughly speaking at the articulation of the interests of members of society as consumers according to regions, the second at the representation of their interests as producers according to the branches of production. Executive power is exercised by the elected Executive Council of the whole Assembly. (3) Public administration and administration of justice are carried out by professional and independent civil service and judiciary respectively. Their members ought to be selected in open competition on the basis of merit by elected Recruitment Boards established at various levels of self-government. (4) Election of delegates to the various representative organs of the political system ought to take place without the mediation of political parties. Horvat argues that parties as large-scale, oligarchic, and bureaucratic organizations of political power render the free and equal access to participatory democracy impossible. On the other hand, the roles traditionally associated with party organizations in modern democracies the various functions of interest articulation and aggregation, political socialisation and recruitment can be taken over by a multiplicity of more transient and more loosely organized associations (specific cause- or interest-oriented groups, broader political movements and societies). One of the basic preconditions for the working of such a political system, as Horvat indicates, is the ensuring of the positive right of each citizen to information about all matters affecting his/her interests a right which first of all demands an appropriate organization and control of the mass media. One of the chief merits of Horvat's book consists in the relatively detailed elaboration of the organizational design merely indicated here. It gains in concreteness also from the fact that, as a rule, Horvat systematically discusses the theoretical objections which usually are or can be raised against its various elements and simultaneously gives a very frank and informative picture of the difficulties which as available practical experiences indicate they may encounter. On the whole he succeeds in showing the overall consistency of such an institutional structure and plausibly argues that it can initiate further processes of desirable social change enhancing its coherence. A critical discussion within a review inevitably has to be limited to some particular and somewhat arbitrarily chosen aspects of this project. The question about the relationship between market and planning certainly deserves such special attention both in view of its practical significance and its place in past and present disputes concerning the meaning and possibility of a socialist society. The opposition between market and planning belongs to the firmest elements of a Marxist tradition of socialism. Marx's critique of capitalism was to a large extent a critique of the reified mediations of a market economy which can establish the necessary proportionality between the various constituents and branches of economic activity only ex post, at the cost of enormous

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disfunctionalities and behind the back of the social actors themselves, whose real needs become in this process distorted by, and submitted to, the logic of a relentless drive for the maximization of profit. A market economy, first of all, completely neglects and suppresses the needs and interests of workers as producers since it transforms labour power itself into a saleable commodity which is taken into account only as one of the factors of production for profit. Socialism means, therefore, an economic system which directly ensures the social character of production through a central plan which, ex ante, explicitly and immediately links conscious social needs with the effective use of available resources. In his critique of this traditional conception Horvat emphasizes not so much the often-argued inefficiency (or unrealizability) of a non-market economy, but the fact that it actually contradicts some of the basic tenets and values of socialism. First of all, the replacement of the market by central planning cannot mean anything else but the administrative allocation of resources and the imperative direction and control of central organs over the activity of all enterprises. That is, it involves the denial of the autonomy of the units of production and any possibility of workers' self-management which was regarded both by Marx and Engels as an obvious aspect of the socialization of the means of production. Insofar as the activity of enterprises is determined by central orders and signals, there is nothing to "manage" within them beyond the technical decisions of how to fulfill in the most effective way the centrally-administratively specified tasks, and this really demands professional competence and not industrial democracy. A non-market economy paradoxically again reduces the producer to the situation of a wage labourer who is the mere executor of the will of somebody else. Secondly, a direct linkage of social needs and productive resources presupposes that the planners can know the needs. But in a situation of relative scarcity, it is not needs as such, but a hierarchy of needs with respect to the available resources and the (changing and alternative) costs, which must determine economic decisions. The abolition of the market, however, means that the planners no longer possess a reliable channel of information about the understood needs of the members of society: the system of money prices is just the device which allows the indicated comparison and aggregation of needs. Imperative central planning, therefore, can succeed only If it denies the sovereignty of consumers, i.e. the autonomy of citizens to choose their way and style of life. The more this control is relaxed, the more it leads to endemic discrepancies between production and consumption, thus to enormous waste. Lastly, the activity of enterprises and their labourers can be evaluated in conditions of a non-market economy only according to the criterion of how far they succeeded In complying with the central orders, which, as argued, do not coincide with real social demand. Thus such an economy inevitably involves deviations from the socialist principle of distribution according to the social utility of labour done. The argument that in a market setting a profiteering mentality (individualistic or collective) reigns and truly socialist, moral Incentives to labour cannot develop, creates a false antinomy. The very term "moral Incentive," as Horvat remarks. Involves a contradiction, since " 'moral'

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implies ^ a sort of conduct that is good in itself, not because it leads to something else, while the meaning of an incentive is exactly the opposite" (p. 502). The difference here is merely between pecuniary and non-pecuniary incentives, the latter having the character of various status and prestige rewards. If the first may stimulate private greed, the second may impose social conformity. In situations of scarcity, "reward" has to depend upon the results of the performed work. This is a requirement (though only one aspect) of social justice. Which incentives will be selected is primarily a matter of efficiency. "The real difference is not between the various types of incentives but between incentives and autonomous decisions" (p. 503) and only workers5 management ensures this latter possibility. The traditional conception of socialism as a marketless economy identifies commodity production in general with universal commodity production specifically characteristic of capitalism. The economic institution of the market has been present in all complex historical economic organisms. Its presence does not determine the global character of relations of production, just the opposite: the latter determine the type and character of the market. Social planning, i.e. economic coordination of autonomous productive units aimed at achieving socially desirable global proportions and a definite direction of growth, not only does not exclude, but presupposes, the functioning of market mechanisms as informational and allocational devices. This does not mean simply a "mixed economy"; the task is to identify those features of market relations under capitalism which are conducive to alienation of labour and to the production of social inequalities, and then to find institutional devices for eliminating them. A socialist market is, in this sense, a "regulated" one: it is transformed into an instrument of social planning. There are at least four aspects in regard to which capitalist market relations ought to be fundamentally transformed under socialism. First of all, commodity production under capitalism has a universal character. This means that labour power itself is marketed as a commodity. Workers5 management breaks down this relationship since it confers upon each producer the function of co-owner of social capital and co-entrepreneur in a collective enterprise. Secondly, the profit of an enterprise in a capitalist system depends not only upon the utility of labour performed (including entrepreneurship) but also on the magnitude of advanced capital, i.e. accumulated past labour privately owned. This problem is not solved by a mere change in the legal title of ownership, since different firms will further work under different economic conditions. Therefore the gross profit of enterprises can also include nonlabour income. It is the task of specific regulatory mechanisms especially price planning and taxation eliminating various forms of rent to establish equal business conditions throughout the economy and thereby reduce all income to labour income alone. These regulatory mechanisms must be defined clearly and ex ante leaving the autonomy of firms intact, but equalizing the conditions of their economic activity. In this way a socialist economy "comes closer to the textbook competitive model than a capitalist economy can ever do" (p. 269). Thirdly, the strategy of long-term economic development influencing the

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interests and the life of the whole population cannot be decided by the mere interplay of the autonomous investment-decisions undertaken by separate firms. These firms must be guided by a democratically discussed and accepted economic policy realized through appropriate fiscal means. Social planning represents both a forecasting instrument guiding the economic behaviour of firms through providing information about the predictable future conditions of their activity, and an instrument of global direction of economic development. The plan, however, has an obligatory force only for that governmental body which accepted it and for its organs. Lastly, market distribution of goods and services, even under the stated conditions, cannot be accepted as completely compatible with the principles of socialism. As a society aiming at providing equal opportunity of lifechances for each, it cannot accept systematic, even if "well deserved," inequalities with respect to those goods that substantially influence the development of individual capabilities. With respect to these and Horvat specifies six such areas, from education to environmental conservation exchange distribution should be replaced by distribution according to needs (provision of goods and services free of charge or at subsidized prices). In this sense socialism solves in its practice the well-known ethical dilemma between the two rival conceptions of justice: "legitimate entitlement" versus "equality of needs." It solves this conflict by providing an appropriate sphere of operation for each principle. Of course, in situations of scarcity the satisfaction of personality-building, "collective" needs is also restricted by the resources available to the whole society. The share of collective consumption in the whole social product and the distribution between its various elements has to be decided according to some priority schedule democratically decided upon in a political process. Here, however, the principle holds that there is no "juster" distribution than the one which the members of a community, after an informed discussion by all, accept as just. Horvat's discussion of the relationship between market and planning certainly relies upon both the Yugoslavian experiences and the various "reform" proposals elaborated by critically minded East European economists in the last decades. He puts them, however, into a broad theoretical framework and organically interconnects this whole problematic with the other pertinent social and institutional problems. His discussion of what makes the complementarity of market and planning both necessary and possible under socialism and what this complementarity practically can mean, belongs to the best balanced and convincing treatment of this perennial question. Within the framework of a very far-reaching agreement, one problem, however, has to be raised. The complementarity of planning and market under the specified conditions is expressed by Horvat in the following formula: social planning is a precondition for a truly efficient market, while a market in socialism represents an (informational and allocational) device of planning. This formula can perhaps be accepted as an ideal to be striven for, but when it is offered as the description of a state of affairs that can be secured by a definite institutional arrangement it gives rise, I think, to "harmonic illusions" which underesti-

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mate the "difficulty" of socialism. "No instrument is entirely neutral," remarks Horvat at one place (p. 503) in discussing the future role of market. He means by this the dangers involved in the preservation of market relations insofar as they may reinforce an acquisitive and competitive mentality. The problem, however, seems to be much broader and not purely psychological. In conditions of an economy where both production and, in its wake, consumptive preferences are dynamically changing, the market is an ineliminable institutional device since it is necessary to make the differentiated and individuated needs comparable, "measurable," and aggregatable, and without such information rational allocative decisions are impossible. But the market is, in this respect, a true channel of information: it processes and transmits signals about social wants insofar as it channelizes them according to its own structural characteristics. Definite types of needs first of all, needs in individually disposable and utilizable goods of consumption and short-term services can directly and relatively adequately be expressed in the form of demand in the market. Other types of needs, however primarily those of collective consumption, further wants in continuous or "global" services, and, even more importantly, the needs of producers for more satisfying and meaningful work activity can be articulated through market mechanisms only indirectly and in an ambiguous way, or not at all. Horvat himself very clearly indicates a number of related problems under the heading of the unpriceability of "public goods" and externalities and that of "incorrect" consumers' choice (pp. 329-331). He is inclined, however, to treat all these questions as those of distribution. They seem to be, however, much broader in their significance: they concern the very direction of the development of production at least if one does not assume that this is ultimately determined by some immutable and autonomous laws of "technical progress" as such. If socialism is a project to subordinate production of conditions of life to the totality of needs of associated individuals, planning in this respect ought not be "complementary" to, but counteracting and counterbalancing, the influences of the market. It has the function beyond those indicated in the book of articulating those social wants and requirements toward the allocation of available resources which cannot be adequately expressed through market mechanisms. The question is whether, and under what conditions, it can fulfil such functions. The relationship between human wants and their satisfaction is not an external one between some subjective emotive state and its "release." At least beyond an elemental level, satisfiability is a precondition for needs to be recognized as such: in a situation where there seems to be no rehabie way of their satisfaction, wants themselves tend to remain "mute," i.e. to be expressed only in forms of vague and unspecific frustration and discontent. Offering habitual and well envisionable (within our culture) ways to fulfil needs of a definite, but only definite, type, the market truly channelizes wants in a predefined direction. Whether its correlated "blocking" effect can be overcome is ultimately not a question of how planning and the market can institutionally be integrated with each other in an efficient economy. The

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solution of the problem in the last case depends on whether it is possible to create relatively reliable social channels through which the "blocked" (communal-consumptive and productive) wants can be habitually articulated and mobilized, transformed into realizable social demands. Only under such conditions can planning, however democratic, fulfil its "counterbalancing" role. The initiation of social processes through which organized pressures can be brought into play against the spontaneous impact of ineliminable market forces in both systematic and solidaristic ways this is one of the basic problems of a socialist strategy. This conclusion certainly does not invalidate the basic features of Horvat's "design." His ideas concerning workers5 management, on the one hand, and distribution according to needs in respect of "collective goods," on the other, can indeed be seen even if his argument follows different lines as the specification of those organizational forms and mechanisms that are able to ensure the articulation of both productive and communal consumptive wants. Both ideas seem to be. In a general way, valid also from the viewpoint specifically underlined here. But both present us with a number of further (and somewhat analogous) problems that have a direct bearing on the whole approach of the book. Here I shall raise only some of the problems relating to the organization of self-management as envisaged by Horvat. The discussion of the difficulties of a self-managerial organization of workactivities (pp. 250-262) belongs to the most illuminating parts of the book, reflecting both the practical experiences gained in Yugoslavia and the theoretical perceptiveness of the author. As Horvat indicates, the most difficult problem that arises in practice concerns the division of functions in, and responsibilities for, decision-making between the organs of self-management, on the one hand, and the professional-functional (managerial and administrative) staff, on the other, since "mistakes" in this respect can result not only in gross inefficiencies and in a system of organized irresponsibility, but also tend to make self-management itself formal and easily manipulated. Horvat's answer to this difficulty runs along the line well known from the socialist tradition, from Saint-Simon to Engels. It is necessary to separate two different spheres of activity: the interest sphere connected with value judgements and the professional sphere of their technical implementation (p. 241). Self-management ought to be concerned with policy decisions belonging to the first sphere, not impinging upon the second which requires professional competence and authority. Or, as he formulates it in another place, "hierarchy may imply coordination or control. In the latter case, it is power based and handles otherwise unresolvable conflicts. In the former case, it is power neutral with no conflict of interest. The coordinating hierarchy is a product of the division of labour and as such eternal. The conductor will always conduct the orchestra" (p. 189). It is advisable to leave aside here the general problem of division of labour, with the simile inherited from Marx of an orchestra even though this latter is not uninstructive. (I personally do hope that socialism will not bar the possibility of listening to chamber orchestras of virtuosi playing Baroque

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music without a conductor.) The problem with this idea of separating "selfmanagement of people" from the mere "management of things" lies primarily in the fact that while it relies on an undoubtedly valid principle, the latter must remain counter-factual in situations of economic scarcity. It is certainly valid that in respect to value-choices in modern society each person has equal competence and should have an equal voice, irrespective of the fact that the implementation of such choices demands technical (among others managerial) competences not shared by everyone. But the two types of decision not only cannot be, as Horvat says, "neatly separated": there are in principle no immanent dividing lines between the two because they are interdependent. In situations of scarcity economically relevant questions almost never take the form of deciding whether to satisfy this or that need or interest as such. One has to decide whether to satisfy them at such and such a "cost" and since these costs are almost never unambiguously fixed, but represent a range of alternatives, their determination demands in all somewhat complex societal cases considerable professional competences. "Policy" decisions always depend upon "technical" ones (and vice versa). This does not mean that one has to give up the distinction between "policy" and "functional-technical" decisions, a distinction that is certainly decisive for the very possibility of "industrial democracy." It implies only that such a division of competences cannot be "found" according to some immanent characteristics of the activities concerned it has to be made, and made variously in the varying concrete circumstances under the impact of a great many factors not directly related to considerations about the character of involved activities. What are the limits set both by the material conditions of work and by the larger society to the range of alternatives that can be opted for? What weight such decisions can have for the practical life of those concerned? How far and at what cost is alternative professional advice available concerning the conditions and consequences of various decisions? All these and similar considerations certainly must, to a significant extent, influence what range of decisions and responsibilities it is possible and worthwhile for a work-collective to undertake. With respect to such conditions, however, work organizations in modern society show a very great degree of heterogeneity. Differences in skill structure, especially the degree of difference in competences necessary for "managing" and "simply working," the range for admissible experimentation and alternative organisations of work, the possible "reward" consequent upon their success or failure these determinants are widely differing, let us say, in an educational institution, in a middle-sized office, and in a large, semiautomated factory. In view of this fact, it seems to me neither possible, nor desirable, to find one general and allegedly "conflictless" organizational structure for workers' management. Socialist society, as it is envisagable today, is rather to be comprehended as comprising a number of diverse forms of participatory organizations of socialized enterprises chosen by the concerned collectives themselves from the model of self-management along the lines indicated by Horvat to the more conflict-oriented type of "workers' control." This organizational diversity must also reflect another fact. Given the

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present level and character of technical developments "work" cannot, and even should not, have the same interest and meaning for the life of everyone. Changing the actual power relations under which labour takes place in the present by itself alone does not yet transform the day to day performance of fragmented and monotonous operations into a personality-building and enriching activity. Horvat here again sees tendencies already operating which make this problem disappear: automation and computerization of production make fragmentation of labour irrational and gradually break down the division between manual and non-manual labour (pp. 407-408,428, etc.). This is, however, hardly a realistic evaluation: automation as it takes place under present socioeconomic circumstances either in the West or the East does not tend to eliminate the categories of semi-skilled, routinized, and monotonous labour, but to recreate them in new forms. Therefore any participatory organization of production which departs from the presently given possibilities must allow for differences in the degree and character of interestedness in work (and therefore also in the range of meaningfully undertaken responsibilities for decisions). It must also and this is one of its main tasks have a character permitting such social pressures and experiences be mobilized and disseminated which are able to give new impetus to technical development, influencing its very direction, ultimately giving a changed meaning to the very concept of "efficiency" (which always presupposes some definite, socially codified way of reckoning what are the economically relevant "costs" and "gains" of an activity). This demands attention not only to the organizationally efficient interlocking of the various vertical levels of self-government, but, among others, to the horizontal connections at its very base. Lastly, any "project" of socialism must today take into account that for very large strata of a population alternatives to the present organization of work and leisure (especially to the habitual division of adult life into "working life" and "retirement") have no less significance than the transformation of workrelations themselves and this naturally includes also the development of forms of socially useful activities not organized as continuously undertaken and renumerated by its results as "labour." Socialism represents the solidaristic organization of a pluralistic society which does not impose externally defined life-choices upon the individuals this is one of the central motives of Horvat's book and "design." However, the idea that some general and homogeneous organizational structure can provide equal opportunities for any way and style of life that some may desire or try to realize is chimerical. Forms of organization represent solutions to definite problems and for definite ends. The "design" presented by Horvat itself embodies as he certainly will acknowledge himself well-defined and conspicuous value-preferences: of work as meaningful activity central for life, of an autonomous high culture the products of which ought to be accessible for everyone, etc. These values are certainly desirable and socially relevant today in the sense that they embody the satisfaction of widespread and partially blocked needs of many. This does not mean, however, that these values are equally central for, or even uncontested by, everyone, and not because of individual idiosyncracies or a lack of enlightenment, but for

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reasons deeply involved in their practical life-situations which makes other problems, other (partly perhaps opposed) ideals and solutions, more relevant. Here the antinomy from which we departed seems to return: how can the idea of a "just and good" society be at all articulated when there is no consensually binding even a majority ideal of a "good life"? But this abstract formulation of the problem is itself misleading. Socialism is not the ultimate eschatological solution to some universal "riddle of history," but a practical, historically situated attempt to eliminate definite forms of human suffering demonstrably connected with the structures of power and domination in contemporary societies. The history of such practical attempts, as well as the critical analysis of the present, equally indicate that there is no one single source and cause of all social ills able to be eliminated by one single social actor. There is a non-reducible multiplicity of acute social problems, partly resulting in divergent attempts at their solution, among which there is no pre-established harmony. But this multiplicity is certainly not infinite, and the problem it poses is not identical with the abstract theoretical question about the freedom of individual choice among contesting values and valueinterpretations under conditions of modernity. There are a limited number of choices and life-ideals truly socially relevant and representing practicable solutions to widespread social needs. Existing social movements are their indicators. The idea of a society which provides a framework for exercising a number of divergent collective life-strategies in a solidaristic way, i.e. by maintaining social unity and identity not through a denial or reduction, but through respect of differences, and which at the same time attempts also to reduce the inevitable individual "costs" of experimenting with new and unusual forms of life this idea is not by itself "utopian." However, it can only be convincingly articulated if existing social movements of radical intention and potential engage in a meaningful dialogue with each other mediated by a critical-theoretical reflection upon their own presuppositions and aims. A "non-utopian design" of socialism perhaps demands today outlining some "old-fashioned" Utopias not one, but several.
NOTES

1 Branko Horvat, The Political Economy of Socialism. A Marxist Social Theory, Oxford: Robertson, 1982, 671 pp. 2 "Etatism" designates with Horvat the socioeconomic system dominant in the Soviet Union and the other East-European countries of the Soviet bloc, with the emphatic exclusion of Yugoslavia.