Re: ECON: Socialism as a viable form of organization (was Re: Extropyand

Michael S. Lorrey (
Wed, 20 Jan 1999 14:48:02 -0500

Tim Hruby wrote:
> It is obviously different from the "Socialism" coercively imposed by a

> government, but that's what happens when you bandy about words loaded with
> ideological baggage, without stopping to think about what they really mean.
> If "voluntary socialism" is defined as "an organization run with an
> internal command economy to which the members voluntarily submit," then of
> course it has been an economically successful method of organizing
> vis-a-vis its competitors. Just look at Microsoft....
> Now, if your ideological meme-set makes you want to define businesses and
> families as something other than "socialism" then we've got a whole 'nother
> semantic ball of wax around which to engage in a typical Extropian-list
> ideological flame-fest.... But many such disagreements, it is rooted in
> the fact that people attach different meanings to a meme-symbol like
> "socialism."

The difference between socialism and corporate structure is that: a) the egalatarian memes of socialism contradict the class strucure, promotion competition, and compensation inequality of corporate employee structures, b) socialism is majority tyranny only of members, while a the controlling majority of voters in a corporation is only the stockholders (and sometimes those that hold a specific class of stock), while employees have little to no say, unless they are shareholders. The fact that corporations are usually controlled by investors not employed by the corporations they are vested in says that a corporation is far less likely to go down a 'bread and circuses' route so long as the majority of employees are kept reasonably fat and happy, than in a collective where a majority of employees can overrule management decisions (witness Microsoft compared to 1970's US auto manufacturers).

I don't dispute Coase, except to say that command economic niches erode away with faster technological and economic growth, especially when technology helps with big advances in productivity, at which point his arguments become moot.

Mike Lorrey