Markets and Plans

Markets and Plans

China, one has been told since Deng Xiaoping’s market-oriented reforms began in the late 1970s, is becoming capitalist. So is the Soviet Union under Gorbachev, similarly with Hungary, Angola, Vietnam, and all the other economies that were once centrally planned and have now introduced markets to achieve efficient production.

If this were simply one more example of a superficial journalistic dichotomy—either a society is planned and socialist or relies on markets and is capitalist—it would not be too bothersome. But it goes beyond that. Serious scholars employ this facile distinction. And there are not a few socialists who believe that tolerating markets may be a political necessity but still somehow represents a surrender of rectitude, compromising the basic vision.

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