Marx's Theory of Socialism according to Erlich

by Anthony Hania


 Marx had a very strong point of view when it came to making socialism work. When talking about socialism, he mentions issues such as wasting labor for the production of goods as well his thoughts on the market mechanism. Erlich writes about Marx's opinion of the economy in addition to Marx's major non-economic goal. It seems as though after reading Erlich's publication he is, for the most part in disagreement with Marx's notions.


    Marx believed that socialism would surpass capitalism if it had sufficient time for its economic development. Marx saw the market economy as a failure because it wasted a lot of productive resources. He believed that under a central planning such a "waste" could be eliminated and growth could be accelerated. As a result, more important issues, such as public ownership and equal distribution of income, could be addressed.



   According to Marx public ownership would increase efficiency of production. Also, it will change people's attitudes toward work since an equal distribution of income would eliminate "poverty and restricted consumption of the masses" (Erlich, p. 303). These propositions may not be easy to attain, however. Professor Joan Robinson thinks that they may not be as difficult as they seem. She says that if capitalists reinvest their savings then the "restricted consumption" need not occur. On the contrary, she says, it will lead to faster growth.

According to Marx, "socialism is defined by predominantly public ownership of means of production and centrally planned allocation of resources" (Erlich, p. 301). As mentioned earlier, Marx felt that under socialism "waste of social labor" in the production of certain goods can be eliminated. However, Marx admitted to the fact that market mechanism can also lead to extremely fast growth. He asserted that competition in the production for profit can result in fast growth of the economy.



     Marx believed that the centrally planned economy would operate in terms of what is best for the people. He saw the government as more than a just mediator between various groups of people. The government was to be much more involved in everything that goes on among individuals. In addition to all the economic goals, Marx also had one major non-economic goal in mind. This goal was to eliminate a person's frustration with his own work. People should be in control of their own work instead of letting the work take control over them. Marx said that the future communist society would be "a community of free individuals carrying on their work with the means of production in common... an association in which a free development of each is the condition for the free development of all" (Erlich, p. 305). Marx felt that communist society was based upon the "all-around development of the individual" (Erlich, p. 306).

Erlich distinctively disagrees with Marx's concept of "free" individuals under communism. Erlich agrees with some of Marx's orthodox and unorthodox followers that public ownership and central planning are not sufficient for calling an economy socialist.




Erlich, Alexander. "Eastern Approaches to a Comparative Evaluation of Economic Systems." In Alexander Eckstein "Comparisons of Economic Systems", University of California Press, Berkeley, Los Angeles, London 1971. .





























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