Tuesday, 19 August 2008

Against the Market Economy: Advice to Venezuelan Friends

by Robin Hahnel Monthly Review January 2008 Robin Hahnel is professor of economics at American University in Washington DC and currently visiting professor at Lewis and Clark College in Portland, Oregon. This article is adapted from a speech the author gave at the Ministry for the Communal Economy in Caracas, Venezuela on July 13, 2007, attended by both their employees and employees from the Ministry of Planning and Economic Development. Robin Hahnel was a guest of the Centro International Miranda in Caracas for its July 2007 Workshop in Socialism and Human Development. During his stay, we arranged for him to speak at the Ministry for the Communal Economy. This ministry not only oversees and supports the significant Venezuelan cooperative sector and provides training in the principles of cooperation but has also moved recently to develop “socialist enterprises,” which work closely with communal councils. Since one of the principal goals of these organizations is to attempt to avoid the infection of the market, Robin’s talk was oriented toward providing them with important weapons for the battle of ideas. It will be obvious, however, that his demystification of the wonders of the market can be a weapon not only in the Venezuelan struggle but in the movement for liberation globally.
- Michael A. Lebowitz (October 31, 2007)
I am here to salute you – because you are attempting to do what nobody has ever succeeded in doing before – help autonomous groups of workers and consumers plan their interrelated activities democratically, equitably, and efficiently themselves. You have already created the elements of what you call the “social economy” – worker-owned cooperatives, communal councils, municipal assemblies, participatory budgeting, subsidized food stores, health care clinics, and nuclei of endogenous development. Now you want the cooperatives and communal councils to display solidarity for one another rather than treat each other as antagonists in commercial exchanges. And sooner rather than later you want the benefits of this kind of participatory, socialist economy to encompass the entire economy and all Venezuelans.

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