Fashioning models for a successful socialist economy is an idiosyncratic inclination these days, but one that we share with John Roemer. He’s not willing to concede that the socialist project has been buried irretrievably beneath the wreckage of communism, and neither are we. Working carefully and with an open mind, Roemer has pushed the debate on market socialism forward a good measure. But as we pore over his blueprint, imagining how it would function in three dimensions, it looks seriously flawed.
Roemer begins with some traditional noncapitalist assumptions: state control over the “commanding heights” of the economy, public ownership of
enterprises, democratic disposition of society’s economic surplus, and income equality. He sets out to show that markets function no less effectively when enterprises are publicly, rather than privately owned, and that his version of socialism will be as efficient as capitalism. Feature by feature, here’s what we found.
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