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From Marx to the MarketSocialism in Search of an Economic System$
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Wlodzimierz Brus and Kazimierz Laski

Print publication date: 1991

Print ISBN-13: 9780198283997

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: November 2003

DOI: 10.1093/0198283997.001.0001

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The Command System

The Command System

(p.36) 4 The Command System
From Marx to the Market

Włodzimierz Brus

Kazimierz Laski (Contributor Webpage)

Oxford University Press

The economic system of ‘real socialism’ grew out of the discrepancy between the expected socialist attitudes of the population and the reality of dominating self‐interest. In the absence of properly operating network of material incentives, the implementation of Soviet‐type development strategy had thus to rely on coercion, with the command system as its economic component. Selective development was to be achieved by physical allocation of resources to chosen users, while output maximization was pursued through obligatory plan targets. With the enormous and steadily growing number of items, the detailed plans must have become inconsistent, while still remaining formally obligatory. The ‘minimax’ strategy peculiar to the command system was to find ways to minimize plan targets and simultaneously maximize the planned allocation of resources. As a result, the command system could for a while serve the goal of Soviet‐type modernization, but at the same time became responsible for its inbred conservatism.

Keywords:   central planning, command system, incentives, material balances, minimax strategy, modernization, resources, socialism, targets

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