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Socialism and the Market

Socialism and the Market Ramnath Narayanswamy THIS has reference to the review of the World Bank country report on China by N Krishnaji published in the EPW (July 5). The review is symptomatic of orthodox leftist critiques of economic policy in general that rarely go beyond a normative counter- positioning of reality as it actually obtains to reality as it ought to be. Indeed, what is worse is that the normative element of the critique does not disturb the spiritual certainty of the Marxist; there is a whole elaborate readymade scheme of ironclad 'historical laws1 in the tradition which makes him believe that his norm is not in fact a norm but a historically inevitable prospect, further deluding him to believe that it is precisely in his recourse to a supposedly scientific norm where the power and impact of his critique lies. The fact that there is a deep fallacy here (not only because the norm itself is either unattainable or Utopian or impractical but also because there is even less reason to subscribe to the allegedly scientific character of the Marxian notion of historical inevitability), that a critique if it has to be productive must take into account existing realities and actual possibilities and not just restrict itself to a judgment of prevailing realities on the basis of ideological a priori is something that the Marxist remains sadly unaware of, for reasons arguably consistent with the doctrine itself.1 A typical but not uncommon case is Krishnaji's review. Quite apart from the fact that I disagree with the author's review of the report (the study is in fact an extremely well written and competently presented com- mentary on developments in contemporary China), it is the ambiguities contained in Krishnaji approach that I would like to highlight, a task made all the more difficult because the ambiguities are always implied but never clearly spelt out. In a nutshell, the approach runs along these lines: insofar as the Maoist strategy of economic development accorded a secondary importance to market forces, it was genuinely 'socialist', while Deng's China is taken to task for introducing market forces, implying in some unspecified manner that such an introduction is a subversion of 'the basic aims of socialism'. One dogma

ALBANIA- Restructuring Centralised Authority

ALBANIA Restructuring Centralised Authority Ramnath Narayanswamy WELL known for its strict ideological insulation from the outside world, the Albanian experience of economic reform has not received the attention it assuredly deserves when compared to the other centrally planned economies of Eastern Europe. Very little is known about the country, a state of affairs for which academic indifference is in some measure responsible. But intellectual neglect apart, the Albanian experiment with centralised planning possesses several unique features and national specificities that merit attention not only from the point of view of the economic and institutional problems afflicting the socialist economies of Eastern Europe, but equally from the lessons thrown up the experience. Albania was the last country in Europe to adopt the Soviet-type model which occurred only a year before its political break from the Soviet Union. Also, its long association with the Chinese version of putting 'politics in command' has tent a certain interesting dimension to its efforts at improving economic performance. The most important factor however is geographical: "More than in any other East European state", writes Michael Kaiser, that able specialist on East European affairs, "the compactness of the territory facilitates direct contact between central officials and local managers in the flow and counterflow of information and mutual appreciation of intents and objectives. What are local problems elsewhere are national on the Albanian scale: it has the same population as Budapest, there are six Romanian counties with more than its arable area, and its total forest cover is less than in a combination of almost any two Polish voivodships

Hungary Invoking Bukharin s Ghost

December 7, 1985 ting of martial low before holding the elec- tions Was rejected by the government and it was followed by a postponement of the elections; This had to happen because in this case the demand of the opposition was totally unrealistic and unimplementable. Martial law comes in a country not merely because one or the other military leader decides to be a dictator. It comes as a consequence of a very fundamental crisis in the bourgeois system when all possibilities of bourgeois democracy exhausts itself. Therefore, so long as the crisis exists the rule of the military is certain to continue with periodical relaxations which we have seen a number of times in this country.

Theory of Pricing in Socialist Countries

spread family planning acceptance which resulted in fertility control in that country was made possible, along with other factors, by the strong incentives and disincentives introduced by the government at the time when the parents started perceiving the benefits of a small family.2 On the basis of the foregoing argument one may refute Gopalan's method of comparing states and his conclusion that reduction in the number of children does not strikingly improve the nutritional status of the children. Further, differences in the food habits of the people of different states make comparison of the magnitude of malnutrition between states misleading. An increase in real income in the lower strata of society may not alter the food habits of the people but may only improve their dietary intake. One can also expect differentials across the country in household priority towards food, clothing and education with an increase in real income. In view of these diversities, the effect of reduction in the number of children on the incidence of child malnutrition could be explained only within a state over a period of time if significant reduction in the family size has taken place.

Theory of Pricing in Socialist Countries

ment in agriculture is much higher than the terminal year investment in agriculture sec- ton In absence of pipeline investment and under the assumption of uniform use of investment expenditure during gestation period (as done in Sixth TN) these figures appear to be inconsistent to each other. Inconsistency is also reflected when structure of total plan investment is compared to that of the base year (1979-80) and terminal year (1984-85). Because of ad hoc method of using adjustment factors for different sectors in the plan periods the total plan investment is also inconsistent with growth targets in Sixth Plan. As to the pipeline investment Sixth TN shows (see Table 1) that no investment is required for capacity increase in mining and electricity sectors during Sixth Plan period, the whole of plan investment being meant for Seventh and Eighth Plans. This is incomprehensible as there are a number of projects pertaining to these sectors which were started during Fifth Plan period and committed to be finished during Sixth Plan period. By our method, we find that about 73 per cent and 41 percent of the total plan investment would be required for capacity creation in mining and electricity sectors respectively during Sixth Plan period.

SOVIET UNION-Prelude to Reform

been granted the status of More Other Backward Classes and a few have been recognised as scheduled castes. Lack of adequate educational facilities, apathy of the teachers and the management wherever such facilities exist have deprived the children of plantation workers of schooling. Moreover, the children at the primary level find it difficult to cope with Assamese as medium of instruction as it is not their mother-tongue. Lack of proper education has restricted occupational mobility of the plantation workers and their children. Bhattacharya observed that the few persons from tea garden com- munities who had gone in for higher education were mainly from tea gardens where the management had taken a special interest in education or they were from families of ex-tea garden labourers.

WESTERN EUROPE-Apprehensions about Neutron Bomb

Apprehensions about Neutron Bomb Ramnath Narayanswamy THE US President has decided to steam forward with the full production of neutron weapons despite the storm of protest that this could entail in Western Europe. Reports from the White House assert that neutron warheads would be stockpiled in the United States but would not be sent to Europe "at the present time". These weapons are designed to kill people without severe damage to their surroundings since they produce more radiation and less heat and blast than tactical nuclear weapons now available. The present decision eclipses earlier discussions held in 1978 about their future deployment and had then led to strains in the Atlantic alliance by lending credence to fears widespread in Europe that these weapons were likely to replace the already destructive potential of existing nuclear weapons. But as events have shown, far from being allayed, these fears have proved to be well founded.

SOVIET UNION-Old Order Continues

Similarly, the provision in the Bill regarding inter-university transfer in the state would be further cause for uncertainty and insecurity to them. For the transfers, whatever be the department, are an important and known method of punishment of the 'erring' employees. The threat of transfer can always be used to set right a defiant or a non-conformist employee.

POLAND-Threat of Intervention

POLAND Threat of Intervention Ramnath Narayanswamy THE parallel between the recent occurrences in Poland to the events that preceded the Soviet intervention in Czechoslovakia in 1968 is striking in several respects. The recent warning issued by the Soviet Union which did not rule out the possibility of an impending intervention to save the Polish state from what was described as "counter-revolution" by "anti-socialist, aggressive trade unionism" is closely reminiscent of the situation in Czechoslovakia over twelve years ago where the Soviet Union had called on all "socialist and patriotic forces" to defend the "revolutionary gains" of over thirty- five years of communism. Although the warnings, taken by themselves, do not necessarily indicate imminent military action, the fact that they have been taken seriously enough by Lech Walesa, leader of Solidarity, the independent Polish trade union, to warn the striking Warsaw steel workers to avoid a response "through rockets and tanks", coupled with the indeterminate situation that obtains in Poland today, are sufficient indicators that a direct intervention cannot be entirely ruled out.

WESTERN EUROPE- Waking Up to Reagan

more self-reliant, the area of operation and strength of each command has been enlarged by mergers. The NPA 'fronts' have in this process been reduced from 42 to 26. These 26 'fronts' now extend in 40 provinces out of the total of 60 provinces in the country convering 4,000 villages and 300 towns. The new Communist Party of the Philippines (re-established in 1968) has now 40,000 cadres and 800,000 members of the mass organisations led by it in the areas of the NPA's operation. The NPA has expanded its capacity for arms production by 200 per cent and can now manufacture highpower rifles, It is said to have consolidated its influence in the base areas through multifarious activities, Though the actual dimension of the land distribution has not been accurately compiled, the working peasants have benefited from the curbing of usury and a doubling of wage rates. Small peasants have been induced to adopt mutual co-operation. About 90 per cent of the illiterates have become literates. Public health is being sought to be improved through the practice of acupuncture, herbal medicines and minor surgery, WESTERN EUROPE The party is also gaining strength among the workers, urban poor and the students in Metro Manila. Though the independent strength of the recently formed militant trade union centre is not large, it is capable of influencing the ranks of the reformist and yellow unions through various forms of mass contact. In the recent union elections in the largest and most prestigious University of the Philippines, held for the first time since the imposition of the martial law rule eight years ago, the radical students scored a landslide victory.

FRANCE-Communists Walking on a Tightrope

ferent categories of port workmen for quite sometime. First, it was the shore workers, and then it was the turn of DBM staff who severed all relations with it in May last con- sequent upon a tripartite agreement which in effect went against the interests of DBM staff.


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