Economist Andrey Pesotsky devoted his blog post to the urgent need to introduce elements of a planned economy, and not only in Russia, and gave ten arguments in favor of this:
2020 can be called the year of the state's invasion of the economy. The coronavirus pandemic has created a situation where concepts such as free trade, open borders, and small business began to turn into nothing. It turned out that a large state health care system is better than a network of private clinics, and you can somehow do without bars and cafes. At least during the growth of the diseased. Is the rollback from free market principles a temporary measure, or the world will return to planned governance. However, is there this return? Or maybe the planning didn't go away at all.
The planned economy is a peripheral topic in Russian economic science and the education system. Textbooks on economic theory, information from which reaches schoolchildren (in social studies lessons), were written in the 90s and have changed little over the past 30 years. In them, the state plan is a concept from the past, nothing more. Not every modern textbook draws the opposite conclusion that the market economy is an unambiguous blessing, however, as we turn to the materials of “elite” economic universities like the Higher School of Economics, such an opinion can be made. We will try to go from the other side - to talk about what the “faithful Gaidarites” are silent about, claiming to be the lights of economic thought.
An important assumption must be made to begin with. It would be a mistake to think that a planned economy is always more conducive to social justice than a market one. State planning also exists under state capitalism, an economic model in which large companies formally owned by the state act as the locomotive of the economy, but are actually controlled by a narrow circle of those in power. In Russia, spheres of activity are growing more and more, where this model is dominant. State-owned enterprises serve as a means of enrichment for the ruling nomenklatura, which has a purely capitalist morality, which is based on maximizing profits (or personal income).
Companies under the control of government administrators are not always a state for working people, but within the framework of this publication, another thing is important: to show that a planned economy is not only a forgotten yesterday, but also today and a mysterious tomorrow. The world economy is developing along the path of monopolization, consolidation, expansion of strategizing, where there is less and less room for the “invisible hand of the market” and the wet fantasies of lesseferists. In whatever direction the global capsystem moves, towards the final triumph or final collapse, it is doomed to surpass itself, radically reducing the role of the market as a system of self-organization of society. But first things first.
Corpplan and state plan
For a start, it's worth dwelling on terminology. In textbooks on economic disciplines, it is customary to distinguish market, planned and mixed economies. It is believed that the market economy is based on the ideas of free enterprise and is rooted primarily in the United States and Western Europe. The planned economy, as written in the literature under review, is also command-administrative - this is the model that existed in the Soviet Union and implied the absence of private ownership of the means of production. A mixed economy is a combination of two systems. It is emphasized that there are practically no countries with a purely market economy left.
Further in the textbooks it is usually reported, although there are no more purely market systems in the world (in some places it is even written that capitalism is an "economic abstraction"), entrepreneurship still lies at the heart of the growth of people's well-being. The development of private business as a vital process runs like a red line through the entire Russian economic science, which, we repeat, has changed little since the early 90s, since the early Yeltsin romanticism. Accordingly, the businessman is presented as a locomotive of development, which is constantly hindered by administrative barriers, excessive government regulation (remnants of the planned economy), corrupt officials (people from the planned economy), and free competition helps. It's funny that in our economic literature, authors since 1991 have been fond of inserting phrases in the spirit of "Russian entrepreneurship is in its infancy." Already 30 years have passed, and these phrases are being inserted - we are catching up, they say, the West, but we cannot catch up with everything, we are getting rid of five-year plans.
In fact, the very opposition of the market, as a symbol of a bright future, and a plan, as a symbol of a bad past, is seen as false. Planning is not only an attribute of the Soviet state; any corporation has plans. Any large corporation acts purely in command and control - tasks are clearly set, there is strict control over the deadline, the use of resources is minimized, managers stimulate employees with a carrot and a stick (by the way, the Stalinist people's commissars did not think of KPI). It is important to understand that in addition to the state plan, there is also a corp plan (corporate plan), which is not placed on a par with the state plan. “This is different,” the market will say. As a matter of fact, why?
Large corporations have plans for five to ten years ahead, and by no means try to catch the breath of the wind like weathercocks every month. With the collapse of the USSR, there were no fewer planned elements in the world economy, you just need to shift the focus from the state to business, and everything will fall into place. And remember that the size of assets of large corporations is constantly growing, having long been compared with the budgets of states. But if the rulers of states are accountable to citizens (at least formally) and at least theoretically are obliged to distribute the proceeds of the state economy in favor of the people, then the owners of transnational corporations do not have such obligations and can distribute the profits to their pockets with a clear conscience.
Is there power in Moscow, and the rest of them a grave?
Enterprises, within the framework of the logic of a market economy, are engaged in calculating profits and losses, and the company is puzzled by the issues of finding cheap labor or, conversely, qualified personnel, convenient logistics, and capacious sales markets. Business owners do not care, for example, about the development of certain territories, if this is not expedient from the point of view of calculating profit and loss. It so happened that it is more profitable for a Russian capitalist to find the above-mentioned components of success in the city of Moscow.
Market reforms in the Russian Federation went along with hyper-centralization. It turned out that "doing business" is more convenient, and most importantly - more profitable, in the capital, so Moscow began to grow to an incredible size with the degradation (to a greater or lesser extent) of other regions of the country. A situation has emerged when capitalism is not profitable, for example, to develop the Tver region, Khabarovsk Territory or Chuvashia - more than 2/3 of Russian regions are not of interest to big business. Why invest in the development of Blagoveshchensk or Pskov? Inconvenient logistics, there are no significant natural resources, but there is a poor population who is not able to buy a lot of consumer junk and at the same time does not want to work for a penny as guest workers.
In the Russian Federation, a situation has developed when business is increasingly tied to Moscow, and state authorities are trying to somehow change this imbalance by directing investment flows to the outback. Weak attempts. Only the State Planning Committee is capable of "mosquito" Russia - a purposeful investment in those corners of Russia that "did not fit into the market". In the end, Blagoveshchensk and Pskov are still half the trouble against the backdrop of fading small towns and gloomy villages in the middle zone.
Three breakthrough projects of the era
Three key inventions of the second half of the 20th century that define our modern life are the brainchild of a planned economy. This is a computer (hello, Alan Turing), space flights (hello, Sergey Korolev), the Internet (hello, Arpanet). Breakthrough projects of this period are military projects, or areas that directly follow from the "defense industry". Needless to say, during the Second World War and the subsequent Cold War, the defense industry was organized by states on a planned basis without taking into account the “invisible hand of the market”. Even in states where the economy was formally market, the military departments worked on a different basis. One of the advantages of government planning is the ability to concentrate resources for breakthrough projects that do not directly generate profit.
Consumption is growing according to plan
We have already talked about how corporations use command and control, but global business has long been planning not only production, but also consumption. In the leading countries, there is a crisis of overproduction - in conditions when the basic necessities of the “golden billion”, such as food, clothing, a place to sleep, are satisfied, the business has learned to actually come up with (that is, plan) new needs for buyers, such as a regular change of personal cars or gadget, infecting citizens with consumer enuresis. A race for new benefits is imposed on society, the average person is convinced that it is necessary to constantly acquire more and more. The Bolsheviks with their five-year plans did not think of this.
Nevertheless, it is difficult to plan for the growth of appetites for the shirnarmass. A third of the food produced in the world goes to the trash heap. Fashion houses are burning billions of dollars in unsold clothing, and car manufacturers stockpile under-market products outside. Tens of thousands of cars have been rotting in these parking lots for years, polluting the environment, showing the whole world very characteristic touches to the portrait of modern capitalism and consumer society.
It turns out that people do not want to buy things in such quantities that a business that seeks to maximize profits produces them. However, the world capsystem still needs not only the Stakhanovists of production, who will fulfill the five-year plan in four years, but also the Stakhanovists of consumption - those who are ready to increase the mass of their purchases.
Gosplan did not have enough computers
The command and administrative system that existed in the USSR is usually criticized for shortages and queues. People grumbled - they say, why the country was producing more and more, the plans were overfulfilled, however, the goods in the required quantity often did not appear before the counters. One can speculate for a long time about the reasons for the late Soviet deficit, but one of them is problems in distribution. The centralized system could not cope with huge flows of information, as a result, for example, tens of thousands of tons of vegetables rotted in vegetable warehouses, reaching the counters in a substandard state.
Seeing the problems, scientists have long suggested a way out. For example, the famous cyberneticist and Soviet academician Viktor Glushko (not to be confused with another famous academician - rocket engineer Valentin Glushko) proposed a patch for the State Planning Commission - the OGAS system (National Automated System for Accounting and Processing Information). Sometimes it is called the Soviet Internet, but this is not entirely correct - OGAS was based on other principles, it was supposed to become a network of computing centers to automate the Soviet economy. Ideas to create a large state-owned computer and corresponding developments arose in the Soviet country back in the 50s, but did not meet with understanding among the dulling party functionaries. The OGAS project, among others, was also not implemented.
Now, when an ordinary user is able to monitor the trajectory of a called taxi from his gadget, both the state and companies can easily solve the problems with tracking tomatoes rotting in a warehouse. Technological possibilities for planning the distribution of resources and goods are available in full.
The collapse of Durov's libertarianism
The real outlet for the ultra-market is how the internet business is developing. Already where there is no ant collectivism, but everyone can arrange life in their own way - you want a crypto mining, you want to earn money on SMM or monetize your blog. Whisper. And the brainy ones are invited not only to make money on the network, but to develop the network itself - for example, to become a programmer and get a lot of money in a good company. Or even fabulously rich this way. Stephen Jobs, Mark Zuckerberg, Pavel Durov are idols of not one, but two generations. Of course, according to the laws of modern time, they are mocked and criticized, but hardly anyone can shake their throne, where they, the inhabitants of heaven, are perceived as those who "made themselves" according to the laws of the market, becoming successful thanks to the rules of "old capitalism" according to Adam Smith and John Mill, where a talented person has every chance of becoming an entrepreneur of the first magnitude without the help of officials.
Naturally, Jobs, Zuckerberg, and Durov are globalists and supporters of an economy not held back by the grip of the state. However, not so long ago, there was an embarrassment: the libertarian Durov, who in 2012 called for "abolishing a residence permit, a passport as a separate entity, entry visas, military conscription and other vestiges of feudalism" in July 2020 wrote an article "How Apple is destroying startups around the world - and how it can be stopped . In it, the author notes that "apple" abuse their positions, imposing horse taxes on application developers. “Preventing two supranational corporations from collecting taxes from all of humanity is not an easy task”, writes Pavel.
As a way out of the situation, Durov proposes good old state regulation - antimonopoly investigations, legislative restrictions for Apple on the part of states (obligations to allow alternatives to Appstore app stores), imposition of requirements for installing Russian applications.
The market pollutes
It is not profitable for an entrepreneur to deal with waste disposal, create environmentally friendly packaging, and reduce emissions. Any measures aimed at improving the environmental friendliness of production incur costs, and business seeks to minimize costs. World ocean pollution, air pollution, decrease in biodiversity, desertification, lack of drinking water - the market will not help in solving these problems. Consequently, only external coercion is capable of forcing business not to poison nature, and this is already planning carried out by society.
By the way, social networks are inundated with demotivators, where European countries not only recycle all their garbage, but also accept it from their neighbors. Like, this is what kind of environmentally friendly capitalism has turned out. However, this manamirok is far from reality, which can be learned from the video of the channel "There is a way out". Even the countries of the most developed capitalism cannot cope with the garbage problem.
The planned economy in the everyday consciousness is associated with the USSR. Since 1953, five-year plans have also been adopted in China, copying the economic achievements of the red neighbor. In 1991, the Soviet Union collapsed, but the five-year plans have not gone away in the PRC. So, in 2016, the XIII five-year plan was announced in this country. One can argue for a long time whether China is more of a capitalist or socialist state, but no one canceled the state plans in the Celestial Empire. Deng Xiaoping's reforms, which represented the active introduction of private business and a market economy, also fit into the five-year planning. On the other hand, it should be noted that the Chinese five-year plans change their content - if during the time of Chairman Mao they were directives for the production of various products, in recent decades they are more a fixation of certain directions and trends. A beautiful infographic on the Chinese five-year plans can be found here.
It is clear that the standard of living in China is growing, but one must understand that this is not just an increase in so far as it is, but an example of the rise of hundreds of millions of people from poverty, which has no analogues in the history of the past decades. The rise was carried out without perestroika, "democracy", glasnost, criminal loans-for-shares auctions.
The Chinese reformer Deng Xiaoping was remembered in Russia more as a puny grandfather who looked harmless after Mao Zedong. Meanwhile, Deng is not only a party functionary of the CCP, but also an old revolutionary, and a dictator, and the head of an entire general clan. Moreover, Deng is a Chinese military leader who commanded military formations no less numerous than the army of Marshal Zhukov, who had both great economic practice and dashing experience of action in extreme situations (he rolled out the protesters in Tiananmen Square with tanks).
There is a lot of state in the USA
“Well, well, everything is clear with China, there is half-slave labor for a bowl of rice, from the fence to sunset,” the critic exclaims“. But there is an example of the main economy of the world - the American one.” This is where there should definitely be a market and free competition, where everyone can achieve everything on their own, going from a shoe shiner to a tycoon. Something like that in the USA it was ... but for a long time. In the twentieth century, the American economy became more and more dependent on the state. In America, over the past century, both private business regulation has been actively developed (for example, through antitrust laws or environmental standards), and the share of state-owned enterprises has grown. The public sector in the United States is about 30% - this is not much, but at the end of the 19th century it did not even account for 5%. In general, literate supporters of the "clean market" have long ceased to consider what happened in the United States in the last century (and is happening now) as an example of growth through the development of market institutions.
"The disappearance of labor"
Where will humanity move? There are many answers, but one of the trends is “the disappearance of labor”. With the automation of production (you can insert a buzzword like digitalization here), the need for thousands of factories and a classic working class is lost. A modern plant is a robot plant, where fewer than a hundred people can produce tens of thousands of cars per year. People who go to work every day on a 5/2 schedule and work 8 hours a day are becoming less needed by corporations every decade. Instead of proletarians, on whom the functioning of enterprises was vitally dependent, and who in the 20th century managed to achieve significant social rights in Europe, the precariat gradually comes - temporarily employed and part-time people who work outside their profession and often experience much greater arbitrariness on the part of their bosses than officially. full-time workers.
Workers, office clerks and even soldiers are disappearing (instead of colossal armies, PMCs and drones are fighting), and the fastest growing companies are IT-related businesses, where, again, a dozen programmers can create profits comparable to the one for which they worked in the last century tens of thousands of people. In these conditions, developed countries are thinking about an unconditional basic income (UBI) - a fixed amount that citizens of the country will receive, regardless of whether they work or not. Apparently, some form of UBI is the future of many countries, if not all of humanity, although only a few rich countries with small populations are able to introduce basic income so far. In Russia, direct regular money transfers to the entire population are also very far away - even if you pay 10 thousand a month to all residents of our country, budget money, as well as financial reserves will evaporate in a short time (the period will last for months), about which I already wrote.
Nevertheless, in the global economy, a situation is emerging when added value is largely created not by human labor, but by technology, which means that the question is posed of how companies' revenues should go for the benefit of the people (at least in the form of taxes). Consequently, there is a need for state planning - the distribution of funds in favor of the population.