ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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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

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