Socialist economics after the collapse of the Soviet Union and Eastern Bloc countries underwent a radical transformation during the 1990s. The flaws of Soviet-Type Economic Planning (STEP) not only demonstrated its impracticality at this stage of the State of Total Mobilization, it has also deterred other nations from trying to adopt. Thus, the 1990s saw efforts to reenvisage Socialist economics to suit the conditions of the current century. Two perspectives have emerged as a result of those endeavors and while I have addressed them in passing, I did not discuss them in the context of Automation and Economic Planning.
One proposal involves applications of “Market Socialism” in the national economy. Instead of a Tournament, the Market is allowed to coexist alongside State Enterprises and Economic Planning. The Market is not there to promote the aims of Neoliberalism but to provide the productive forces in the control of the Totality, promoting their flourishing under the guidance of the Council State. Most Non-State Enterprises are operated by the techniques of Worker’s Self-Management, where economic activities are decided by the employees. The employees are also responsible for the drafting and preparation of economic plans, in addition to their role in their implementation. And thus, the Market in Market Socialism’s conception of Planned Economy is to play an auxiliary support role in the economic life of the Totality as opposed to a predominant one like in most Market/Mixed Economies.
The other proposal is “Democratic Economic Planning.” Supported by Council Democracy, every economic plan begins at the workspace and is customized to fulfill the specialties and capabilities of individual Enterprises. The Central Planners are not allowed to impose economic plans from the top-down nor do they play any key roles among larger economic organizations. In fact, the authorities of the Central Planners are more limited compared to the broad powers granted to them under most conceptions of STEP. And unlike MTEP, everything is decentralized and there is no central framework through which to implement economic plans.
Both of these proposals have their upsides and downsides. What the prospect of Automation promises to Economic Planning in general is the possibility of automating parts of the production process. Instead of having a huge bureaucracy of Central Planners micromanaging every aspect of the national economy, Artificial Intelligence and advanced supercomputers would be employed to assist the employees and employers of State Enterprises and Social Enterprises to make better decisions when formulating their economic plans.
Given the latest technological advancements, is it possible to speak of Automation creating its own version of Economic Planning? It is still too early to provide a definitive answer because Automation has yet to be properly integrated into economic life. Artificial Intelligence and supercomputing technologies are not sophisticated enough to assist the State and the Totality in their operations of an entire national economy. Some serious advancements in computing power and AI will need to take place first before I can speak of those technologies carrying out aspects of a Central Plan or any economic plan for that matter. It remains whether any nation is interested in pursuing further research or any nationwide implementation of a unified digital space.
This fact has not stopped a number of pro-Automation Marxists who find those technologies to bear the seeds of a future breakthrough in Socialist economics. The existing literature continues to receive gradual expansions and there is no indication that they have reached the cusp of their research. It is also possible that the related technologies become more advanced, somebody somewhere will try to implement an “Automated-Type Economic Planning” (ATEP) to test the validity of their research.
ATEP will employ aspects of Democratic Economic Planning by allowing the Totality to coordinate economic activities with the State on their National Intranet. The National Intranet might negate the need for Central Planners to oversee the economic plans as the National Intranet will be accessible to everyone who performs any Meaningful Work. It would be accessible to people living in the country with access to a computer or a smartphone. It will also be a closed network, independent of the International Internet, and capable of operating without the International Internet. Artificial intelligence software programs would act as the virtual assistants to the Economic Planners of each Enterprise.
The eventual aim of ATEP is to assist in transferring Council Democracy to the digital realm. Should ATEP prove to be successful, it will lead to the gradual realization of “E-Democracy” and “Digital Governance.” In essence, if the production process is capable of being achieved over the National Intranet, then some aspect of the political process for a functioning Council Democracy can also be conducted on the National Intranet as well.
An E-Democracy involves the implementation of some form of Democracy to the digital realm as an extension of what happens in the Real World. Digital Governance refers to the online organizations and forums tasked with setting the norms and behaviors of online political conduct as part of the Totality’s ability to govern their portion of the digital realm. E-Democracy and Digital Governance will definitely become necessities in the realization of any theoretical implementation of ATEP. The real challenges are the immense costs of implementing those arrangements and efforts to regulate the flow of information traveling between Totality and State.
Those two concepts are two topics which I would like to explore at some point from the purview of MTEP and the Work-Standard in particular. I am convinced that, based on the political models that I have provided in The Third Place, some form of E-Democracy and Digital Governance could be implemented within a Socialist Nation’s National Intranet. They should be capable of operating independently from the International Internet, which is run and operated by the World State Organization (WSO). Its funding needs to come from the State, transparent and accountable to the Totality, and simultaneously respect the privacy of the State and the Totality. And it will also need to provide an organizational framework for the Blockcycle Technologies employed by the LERE Process to create Digital Arbeit and Digital Geld.
Could MTEP employ aspects of E-Democracy and Digital Governance into its techniques and methodologies? I do not see any reasons why it would not. Unless proven otherwise, I am not convinced that Automation alone is capable of being a viable alternative to STEP anytime soon.