Image: cover art, Fucked Up, "The Chemistry of Common Life"

Alternative Economies: Market Socialism

Instructor: Ajay Singh Chaudhary
Rosa Luxemburg Stiftung
275 Madison Avenue, Suite 2114
New York, NY 10016

Can socialism and the market be reconciled? Contemporary debates in Western societies often seem to suggest there are few options available between Josef Stalin and Margaret Thatcher. Mainstream politics in the United States and EU member-states often offer little more than variations on this neoliberal consensus, consolidated between the late 1970s and 1990s. However–with financial crises, skyrocketing inequality, and increased precarity pervading economic, social, and political life in many OECD countries–this consensus appears less and less stable, challenging Thatcher’s self-fulfilling prophecy that “there is no alternative.” But if there are alternatives, what are they? What form of political economy might they assume? Are these utopian pipe-dreams or realistic possibilities for the present day?

In this class, we will examine a broad spectrum of thinking around one set of alternatives not often included in mainstream policy debates: market socialism. Covering a wide range of economic thought and several real-world experiments — from the Meidner plan in Sweden to the contemporary Chinese “socialist market economy” — market socialist plans offer startling combinations of ideas not traditionally associated with one another: public ownership and entrepreneurship, socialism and competition, central planning and markets, and so on. We will ask: What is market socialism? What is social democracy? How do these traditions overlap and diverge? What distinguishes them from traditional market economies, welfare states, former Soviet and Eastern European-style Communism, and contemporary neoliberal economies? What are the potentials for market socialism, social democracy, or even so-called cybernetic socialism for a world of increasing ecological, social, and political uncertainty?  

Course readings will examine arguments from Oskar Lange and the “socialist calculation controversy” to more contemporary works by John Roemer, Adam Przeworski, David Schweikart, Phillipe van Parijs, as well as analyses of the influence of market socialist ideas in contemporary China.

Course Schedule

Thursday, 6:30 - 9:30 pm
October 19 — November 09, 2017
4 weeks


Registration Closed

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