Skip to Content

Central Planning

Book Review: Money worship

Hayek and the Market. By Jim Tomlinson, Pluto Press, £24.95.

 Hayek has been a notorious life-long opponent of socialism, and not just of socialism but even of relatively mild reformist and trade union attempts to improve working class conditions within capitalism.

 After the publication of his book The Road to Serfdom in 1944 nothing much more was heard of him until he re-emerged in the 1970s to provide intellectual ammunition for the Thatcherite wing of the Tory party. So Tomlinson’s short, readable but expensive book can serve a purpose on the principle of “know thine enemy".

The Crisis: The Planners’ Swansong

Capitalism we know and have long endured. Socialism we could have and will have when a majority understands the need for it. But is there a half-way house, something that has ceased to be Capitalism but is not Socialism? Socialists know that there can be no such thing, but many people both in the Labour Party and outside thought that it was possible and desirable. Not that the Labour supporters of planned capitalism called it that. Indeed they said precisely the opposite—" there is no half-way house between a society based on private ownership in the means of production, with the profit of the few as the measure of success, and a society where public ownership of those means deliberately planned for attaining the maximum of general well-being." (For Socialism and Peace, Labour Party).

State Capitalism

Alfred P. Sloane, who once ran General Motors, is reported to have said: "It is the business of the automobile industry to make money not cars"—and what he was saying applies generally to production in the modern world. It takes place first and foremost with a view to making monetary profit and only incidentally with a view to producing goods or services. There's no difficulty in seeing this in what's called the "private sector". It's clear that an employer will only carry on a business as long as it is making a profit or there's a prospect of profit. If profit stops being made, the business will either try to cut costs (usually by reducing its workforce) or, if this is impossible, will close down.

Beyond Capitalism

In 1968 an article written by a member of the Socialist Party, entitled "Smash Cash", appeared in the magazine OZ. Some years later the author of that article, David Ramsay Steele, was converted to the free market ideas of Ludwig von Mises which he expounds in a book just published, From Marx to Mises: Post Capitalist Society and the challenge of Economic Calculation.

Syndicate content