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Markets, Planning and Democracy

Essays after the Collapse of Communism

David L. Prychitko

The essays contained herein span over a decade and reflect David Prychitko’s thinking about the role of the market system, and its relation to planning and democratic processes. The collection consists of previously published and unpublished articles written not only for economists but also for an interdisciplinary audience.
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Chapter 13: Socialism as Cartesian Legacy: The Radical Element within F.A. Hayek’s The Fatal Conceit

Essays after the Collapse of Communism

David L. Prychitko


* Virtually all the benefits of civilization, and indeed our very existence, rest, I believe, on our continued willingness to shoulder the burden of tradition. These benefits in no way ‘justify’ the burden. But the alternative is poverty and famine. F.A. Hayek (1988, p.63) [I]f it were the case that there were no single locus of solidarity remaining among human beings, whatever society or culture or class or race they might belong to, then common interests could be constituted only by social engineers or tyrants, that is, through anonymous or direct force. But have we reached this point? Will we ever? I believe that we would then be at the brink of unavoidable mutual destruction. Hans-Georg Gadamer, letter to Richard Bernstein (Bernstein, 1983, p.264) During the spring of 1989 dozens of internationally recognized Marxist philosophers met for two weeks in Dubrovnik to re-examine the potential of the Marxist critique of capitalism and its corresponding vision of socialism. As with any intellectual conference of this sort, there were sharp differences of opinion over particular details of Marxist and post-Marxist thought. Nevertheless, most, if not all, were willing to abandon completely the goal of comprehensive planning and concede that the ‘anarchy’ of market processes delivers both economic rationality and political freedom. KarlOtto Apel’s session was the most telling. Apel argued that the vision of Lenin, Mao, and the others suffered from what he called ‘the great pretension’. The market system, he maintained, is a great evolutionary achievement of...

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