David Schweickart's Economic Democracy: A Worthy Socialism That Would Really Work(http://homepages.luc.edu/~dschwei/economicdemocracy.htm)
Schweickart starts his essay with the concession that Marxists are "skeptical of blueprints" and that "it is not the business of Marxist intellectuals to tell the agents of revolution how they are to construct their postrevolutionary economy" he then goes on to layout a fairly utopian blueprint of a new economy. He justifies this contradiction by contending that the "long standing argument that socialism cannot work" needs now more than ever to be answered with "a theoretical model of a viable, desirable socialism".
This is not enough. Resistance to utopian blue prints is based on the fact that revolutionary processes are too radical to be hypothesized. Any radically different future society is going to be rooted in events and realizations that occur during the course of the revolution. They aren't just "not our business" they are completely outside our sphere of possible knowledge. Attempting to answer critics of socialism with anything other than evidence of capitalism's increasing instability and unsustainability is a fool's errand.
Is that then the total business of Marxist intellectuals? To repeatedly shout "doom!" at the stock market and the accumulation of capital? Is the only attitude leftists can adopt some mix of bitter pessimism about the present and absurd dreams about the future? Well, shit, I sure hope not. No wonder Marxism is getting less and less popular.
I think the business of Marxist intellectuals ought to be to track and identify observable macro-economic trends that indicate the beginnings of a spontaneous revolution. The question ought not to be "what will the future hold?" it ought to be "how are we progressing?" or "what indicators of a real revolution are present, and how can they be encouraged?"
If Schweickart is only advancing Economic Democracy as an alternative to capitalism to answer critic's claims that not-capitalism is impossible, then it's merely a rhetorical tool, a weapon used in parlor games and academic debates, not the outlines of "a worthy socialism that would really work." Oh well. I'm not above the occasional academic debate. This response is merely a diversion.
Schweickart summarizes his argument thusly:
"We have the tax revenues from capital assets, collected by the central government, dispersed throughout society to a network of local banks, which dispense these funds (some earmarked to encourage certain kinds of projects) to their affiliated firms and to newly created enterprises so as to optimize employment and the profitability of their affiliates. Thus we have a network of [cities whose economy is based on industrial cooperatives] that receive their funds for new investment from the public Investment Fund. The bank at the center of each can make grants as it sees fit, charging the standard use-tax [interest] on most, but allowing a reduced rate on encouraged projects. These grants, once received are not repaid, but they add to the capital assets of the firm and hence to it's tax base." (page 28)
This system is not radical enough. "Capital assets" are what Marx called the means of production and "Tax revenues" gained from them are only rhetorically different from "appropriated surplus value." The central government then acts like a shareholder, siphoning off profits from the worker's labor. The fact that these profits are "dispersed throughout society to a network of local banks, which dispense" them is wide open to favoritism, pork barrel legislation and outright corruption. Competition between banks to make the most profitable loans, and between applicants for those loans will tend toward monopolization. The companies that get grants this year will have a competitive advantage next year. They'll also be paying the bulk of the taxes and will demand the bulk of the revenue from those taxes. This whole thing fails to solve the problem of accumulation of wealth, which is the central paradox that makes capitalism unsustainable.
Well. That wasn't much of a diversion