理论视野 2013年08月25日 23:13

Allin Cottrell关于计划经济问题的回信

编者按:少年中国评论网站前久发表了一篇名为《计算、复杂性与计划——再谈社会主义核算论战》的文章。这篇旨在回顾社会主义计算问题的文章引起了读者热情的回帖讨论。其中最主要的一个问题就是,作者只是讨论了静态模型,却没有考虑动态模型。所以计划经济设计的关键问题并没有得到解决。为此,少年中国评论的编辑特地联系作者咨询这一问题。文章合作者之一Allin Cottrell很快就给出了回答。YCA翻译组的@偷窥马克思同学将此邮件译为中文,供有兴趣的同志参考。

Allin Cottrell关于计划经济问题的回信

 

 

YCA 翻译组 @偷窥马克思 译
Sacan,你好!

关于我们的1993年论文《计算、复杂性与计划——再谈社会主义核算论战》,你反映有如下问题:

作者提出了一种实现社会主义经济静态平衡,却没有任何一种私有制和现实的市场的方法,但是对于经济最重要的目标不单是实现静态平衡,而是要通过不断的动态非均衡来实现全部生产方式的演进。作者只提到了这个关键问题,但是就这一不仅可以实现静态均衡还能允许动态非均衡的计划经济,并没有提供给我们任何明确的模型。

首先,“静态均衡”和“动态非均衡”的对立反映了一种奥地利学派式的思维模式—尤其是这里所暗示的,“动态非均衡”被认为的资本主义积极的特征。一个社会主义经济体想要成功也必须模拟其这一面。不管怎样,我们1993年的论文意在反驳Mises的论证—社会主义经济只有在静态均衡的条件下才能运行良好(按照Mises的观点技术和消费者偏好没有变化)为了解释清楚,我们阐明了一种机制,其中a)消费产品用他们中的劳动内容来标记 b)这些产品的价格,以“劳动券”的形式,按照短期市场出清价格设定。于是,劳动内容(“价值”)和劳动券价格之间的差值就能指导计划者。在其他条件相同时,下一个时期的计划应该增加价格高于价值的产品的生产,并减少价格低于价值的产品的生产。事实上这是动态的过程,能够影响技术变革(这导致商品价值的改变)和消费者偏好(这导致市场出清价格的改变)。所以,我们应该拒绝这样的想法—我们的建议只与静态平衡有关。进一步说,我们提出一个理论机制,这一机制通过一个平衡的计划(尽管不必然是最优的)可以被提前计算。

这个观点揭示了“动态非平衡”是一定程度上在资本主义下缺乏中央计划的产物(是一个“bug”,而不是“特性”)。市场中的资本竞争要花费很长时间才能找到对技术和消费者偏好辩护的最优响应,然而,在社会主义计划经济下通过模拟实现零时搜索是可能的。

说了这么多,我猜想隐藏在上述问题背后的动机也许是认为我们(保罗和我)还没有强调创新(新科技和新产品)来源的问题。我们已经详述了一个可以响应此种创新的计划机制,但是“生产创新”是什么意思呢?的确,在你翻译的那篇文章里我们并没有深入这个问题,但是我们在1993年的《迈向一种新的社会主义》中做了详细的探讨。生产创不能当做算法问题来处理(然而计划的一些方面是可以当做算法问题处理的)。尽管如此,我们能够确定一些宽泛的政策。这样的政策应该是有用的。下面是我们从书中(以及其他的论文,这些论文在我们的网站上可以找到)讨论的一些关键点:

1)应该有大量的改革预算(应该留出社会总劳动量的一部分用于促进创新)。

2)这笔预算应该让不止一个机构管理,使得各种可能导向成功结果的创新提议都能得到实施。

3)那些被认为有成功潜力的新生科技应该加入到企业(或者项目)能用到的技术“注册表”中。

4)我们也说明了,在过去十五年中互联网的很多领域中,我们已经看到有专业技术的人们乐于与别人分享其技术——传播技巧和解决问题的方法。如果废除了商业机密(由于在一个社会主义经济时代)我们可以设想到创新将会由于新思想相互分享的增多而被加速。

相反的想法——只有当人们能够通过独占胜利果实变得相当富有时才会有创新——对于我们来说是教条的和过时的。

原文:

Hello Sacan,

You report that the following question was asked in relation to our 1993article “Calculation, Complexity And Planning: The Socialist CalculationDebate Once Again”:

This author proposed a way to achieve static equilibrium of the socialist economy without any kind of private ownership and real market. But the most important aim for an economy is not just achieving static equilibrium, but to make the whole means of productions evolve through constant dynamic nonequilibrium .The author only mentioned this crucial issue, but didn’t give us any specific model for such planned economy which allows not only static equilibrium but also dynamic nonequilibrium .

First of all, the opposition “static equilibrium” versus “dynamic nonequilibrium” indicates a very Austrian way of thinking — particularly if, as seems to be implied here, “dynamic nonequilibrium” is supposed to be the positive feature of capitalism that a socialist economy has to emulate if it is to be successful.

Anyway, our 1993 article was intended to refute Mises’ argument that asocialist economy could function well only under “static” conditions (bywhich Mises meant, no change in technology or consumers’ preferences).To make this case, we set out a mechanism in which (a) consumer goodsare “marked” with their labour content, but (b) their price, in “labour tokens”is set at the short-run market-cleaning level. Then the planners can beguided (in part) by the difference between labour-content (“value”) andlabour-token price. Other things equal, the plan for next period should callfor increased production of good for which price is greater than value, anddecreased production of goods for which price is less than value. This is infact a dynamical process, capable of responding to changes in technology(which lead to changes in the value of goods) and in consumers’ preferences(which lead to changes in market-clearing prices).

So we would reject the idea that our proposals relate only to “staticequilibrium”. Further, we present a mechanism whereby a balanced(though not necessarily optimal) plan can be computed in advance.

This points up the fact that “dynamic nonequilibrium” is, to some extent,an artifact of the absence of central planning under capitalism (and a”bug” rather than a “feature”). Capitals competing on a market can takea long time to “search” for the optimal response to a change intechnology or consumers’ preferences, while in a planned socialist economyit is possible to search in virtual time via simulation.

Having said all this, I suspect that the motivation behind the questionabove may be the thought that we (Paul and myself) have not addressedthe question of the sources of innovation (new technologies and newproducts). We have specified a planning mechanism that can _respond_ tosuch innovation, but what about _producing_ innovation?

It’s true we don’t go into that in the article you translated, but we do in our1993 book, Towards a New Socialism. Producing innovation is somethingthat cannot be treated an an algorithmic question (whereas some aspectsof planning can be treated algorithmically). Nonetheless we can identifysome broad policies that should be helpful. Here are some of the points wediscuss in the book (and in other papers available from our website):

* There should be a substantial innovation budget (a portion of the totalsocial labour-time set aside for promoting innovation).

* This budget should probably be administered by more than one agency,to allow for various views as to which innovative proposals are likely tolead to successful results.

* New technologies which are reckoned to be potentially successfulshould be added to a “registry” of technologies that enterprises (orprojects) are able to use.

* We also make the point that in many areas of the Internet over thelast 15+ years, we have seen that people with expertise enjoy sharingthat expertise with others — passing on “tips” and solutions to problems.If commercial secrecy is abolished (as in a socialist economy) we canimagine that innovation to likely to accelerate, as a result of increasedsharing of new ideas.

The contrary idea — that innovation proceeds only when people areable to make themselves very rich by monopolizing its fruits — seemsto us dogmatic and out of date.

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