Market socialism

Market socialism is a type of economic system involving the public, cooperative or social ownership of the means of production in the framework of a market economy. Market socialism differs from non-market socialism in that the market mechanism is utilized for the allocation of capital goods and the means of production. Depending on the specific model of market socialism, profits generated by socially owned firms (i.e. net revenue not reinvested into expanding the firm) may variously be used to directly remunerate employees, accrue to society at large as the source of public finance or be distributed amongst the population in a social dividend.

Market socialism is distinguished from the concept of the mixed economy because unlike the mixed economy, models of market socialism are complete and self-regulating systems. Market socialism also contrasts with social democratic policies implemented within capitalist market economies: while social democracy aims to achieve greater economic stability and equality through policy measures such as taxes, subsidies and social welfare programs, market socialism aims to achieve similar goals through changing patterns of enterprise ownership and management.

Although economic proposals involving social ownership with factor markets have existed since the early 19th century, the term "market socialism" only emerged in the 1920s during the socialist calculation debate. Contemporary market socialism emerged from the debate on socialist calculation during the early-to-mid 20th century among socialist economists who believed that a socialist economy could neither function on the basis of calculation in natural units nor through solving a system of simultaneous equations for economic coordination, and that capital markets would be required in a socialist economy.

Early models of market socialism trace their roots to the work of Adam Smith and the theories of classical economics, which consisted of proposals for cooperative enterprises operating in a free-market economy. The aim of such proposals was to eliminate exploitation by allowing individuals to receive the full product of their labor while removing the market-distorting effects of concentrating ownership and wealth in the hands of a small class of private owners. Among early advocates of market socialism were the Ricardian socialist economists and mutualist philosophers. In the early 20th century, Oskar Lange and Abba Lerner outlined a neoclassical model of socialism which included a role for a central planning board (CPB) in setting prices equal marginal cost to achieve Pareto efficiency. Even though these early models did not rely on genuine markets, they were labeled "market socialist" for their utilization of financial prices and calculation. In more recent models proposed by American neoclassical economists, public ownership of the means of production is achieved through public ownership of equity and social control of investment.

The key theoretical basis for market socialism is the negation of the underlying expropriation of surplus value present in other, exploitative, modes of production. Socialist theories that favored the market date back to the Ricardian socialists and anarchist economists, who advocated a free-market combined with public ownership or mutual ownership of the means of production.

Proponents of early market socialism include the Ricardian socialist economists, the classical liberal philosopher John Stuart Mill and the anarchist philosopher Pierre-Joseph Proudhon. These models of socialism entailed "perfecting" or improving the market-mechanism and free-price system by removing distortions caused by exploitation, private property and alienated labor.

This page was last edited on 17 March 2018, at 02:54.
Reference: under CC BY-SA license.

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