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By Pekka Sutela

Even supposing the historical past of centrally deliberate economies has been broadly studied, the improvement of socialist considering at the topic has remained mostly uncharted. during this pathbreaking paintings, Pekka Sutela offers a close research of modern and modern Soviet monetary idea. Dr. Sutela strains the competing currents within the Marxist culture of socialist economies from the Revolution to the current day. specifically he indicates how the Gorbachev financial reform software of 1987 rose from the paintings of Nobel Prize economist L. V. Kantorovich and his fans, and explains why this software therefore failed. because then, Soviet economists have attempted to desert their conventional conception of crucial making plans and flow alongside the trail towards a industry economic system. via wide study, in addition to his lengthy validated contacts with best Soviet economists, Pekka Sutela exhibits how Soviet fiscal considering has moved from dogmatism via reformism to pragmatism.

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Sample text

The law of value was understood by Marx primarily as a shorthand expression for the way in which markets function in the capitalist society. As a price theory it is clumsy and flawed, especially if understood to deny the influence of needs and demand on value and prices. reasonable interpretations are also possible and were later put forward in Soviet as well as in Western economics. Soviet political economists, unfortunately, had no method of distinguishing between true and false theories. They could argue that the law of value existed, but did not know what that might mean.

Old or new political economy? The problem that the political economy of socialism now faced was as simple as it was crucial. It was totally unable to enlighten policymaking. 46 Everybody agreed that existing prices were fundamentally arbitrary and irrational. They often encouraged wastefulness and punished thriftiness, efficiency and good quality. What should be done? was the natural question to put to the economists. In 1941, when he asserted that economic laws did exist in Soviet socialism, Stalin had used one particular law, the law of value, as an example.

Kantorovich accepted the priority of the planners' goals as reflected in the product mix. Later, in the sixties, new interpretations arose. It was argued that in an optimal socialist society citizens' preferences must be the 32 Economic thought and economic reform decisive criterion of optimality. Society, therefore, needed a democratic mechanism for the articulation of such preferences. The planners should implement citizens' goals, not those of a political dictatorship. It was furthermore argued that the citizens' preferences are best revealed in their market choice as consumers.

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