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Marxism vs libertarianism: The economic calculation problem

Date: Saturday 5th November
Time: 15:15 - 17:00
Location: Hilda Clark Suite
Speaker: Adam Booth

Online discussions about socialism are frequently bombarded and plagued with shrill comments from right-wingers about ‘ECP’ – the so-called ‘economic calculation problem’. This is a shorthand for the assertion by free-market zealots that socialist planning is impossible, due to the complexity of the modern economy.

This was the main line of attack against socialism and communism put forward by infamous libertarians of the ‘Austrian School’, such as Friedrich Hayek and Ludwig von Mises, who provided – and still provide – the theoretical backing for the most reactionary supporters of capitalism.

A look at today’s global economy, however, reveals that far from being impossible, planning is alive and well inside the world’s biggest corporations. Meanwhile, it is the ‘invisible hand’ of the market that has clearly failed, with the planet wracked by crisis, climate change, and poverty.

In this talk, Adam Booth examines the economic ideas of the Austrian School, contrasting these with Marxist theory, and explaining why only socialist planning and workers’ control can enable us to fully utilise society’s resources to solve the urgent problems facing humanity.

Recommended reading: Marx, Keynes, Hayek and the Crisis of Capitalism

Recommended watching: The rise and fall of neoliberalism and globalisation