So many critiques have been leveled at socialism as being necessarily “planned,” and capitalism is “free.” Ignoring the critique that capitalism restricts freedom through concretization of private property, inequality, and differential power and life chances, this characterization is still false.

First of all, there is a strong possibility for a market socialism, or at least markets in certain sectors of the economy (such as a market in labor but not goods, or goods but not labor, etc. That first option makes little sense to me but it is logically possible). Maintenance of inequality does not require micromanagement of human action, it simply requires the setting up of reward systems that don’t produce inequality, say, in power or wealth. In short, socialism must not be planned. Not that I think planning is inherently bad, but thinking that all socialisms must be planned is a huge flaw in Hayek’s The Road to Serfdom.

Second, between corporations there is transactional freedom, but vertically a corporation is a command economy, a little government, where a rigid top-down hierarchy (rigid by the position, not the people who fill it. . . you can [theoretically] move up to a manager or down to a clerk, but the power of a manager can never have less power than a clerk) is in place. The CEO and board of directors (with, sometimes, pushes from shareholders) make dictates based on where they think they will succeed in the market, and everyone else follows. They are no less planned, or command economies, than Soviet socialism. A corporation is a command economy, where even some of your constitutional freedoms aren’t protected because of being employed within their ‘private property’ . . . try to exercise complete free speech at work. Protest Wal Mart wages inside a Wal Mart. Exactly.

In short, keep this in mind: Socialist economies don’t have to be planned in economic transactions, and inside the primary actors in capitalism, corporations, is a structure at least as planned, rigid, and dominating as Soviet socialism.

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