But what exactly is meant by socialism this time around? Is it just a return of New Deal liberalism or Scandinavian social democracy? Is it public health care and strong unions? Is it a flowering of cooperatives — as Labour shadow chancellor John McDonnell wants?
And above all, what is the role of the market versus economic planning in our alternative? This surely is where the workers’-council-manufactured rubber hits the state-built road?
As Friedrich Engels wrote, “the government doing stuff” is definitely not a good definition of socialism: “Certainly, if the taking over by the state of the tobacco industry is socialistic, then Napoleon and Metternich must be numbered among the founders of socialism.” Today that would make the statist leviathan known as the Pentagon practically full communism.
Luckily, a new, more interesting conversation about the role of markets and economic planning is emerging, from an unexpected place.
Jack Ma, the founder of China’s Alibaba Group — one of the largest and most valuable companies in the world — argues that previous state planners in the Soviet Union and the early People’s Republic of China failed due to insufficient information. He has predicted that over the next three decades thanks to artificial intelligence and the sheer volume of data to which we now have access, we will finally be able to achieve a planned economy. (más…)