Economic Calculation in the SocialistCommonwealth
Introduction by Ludwig von Mises
There are many socialists who have never come to grips in any way with theproblems of economics, and who have made no attempt at all to form forthemselves any clear conception of the conditions which determine the characterof human society. There are others, who have probed deeply into the economichistory of the past and present, and striven, on this basis, to construct a theory of economics of the “bourgeois” society. They have criticized freely enough theeconomic structure of “free” society, but have consistently neglected to apply tothe economics of the disputed socialist state the same caustic acumen, which theyhave revealed elsewhere, not always with success. Economics, as such, figuresall too sparsely in the glamorous pictures painted by the Utopians. Theyinvariably explain how, in the cloud-cuckoo lands of their fancy, roast pigeonswill in some way fly into the mouths of the comrades, but they omit to show howthis miracle is to take place. Where they do in fact commence to be more explicitin the domain of economics, they soon find themselves at a loss--one remembers,for instance, Proudhon’s fantastic dreams of an “exchange bank”--so that it is notdifficult to point out their logical fallacies. When Marxism solemnly forbids itsadherents to concern themselves with economic problems beyond theexpropriation of the expropriators, it adopts no new principle, since the Utopiansthroughout their descriptions have also neglected all economic considerations,and concentrated attention solely upon painting lurid pictures of existingconditions and glowing pictures of that golden age which is the naturalconsequence of the New Dispensation.Whether one regards the coming of socialism as an unavoidable result of human evolution, or considers the socialization of the means of production as thegreatest blessing or the worst disaster that can befall mankind, one must at leastconcede, that investigation into the conditions of society organized upon asocialist basis is of value as something more than “a good mental exercise, and ameans of promoting political clearness and consistency of thought.”
In an age inwhich we are approaching nearer and nearer to socialism, and even, in a certain
The Social Revolution and On the Morrow of the Social Revolution
(London:Twentieth Century Press, 1907), Part II, p.1.