Socialism and State Economic Planning

Time Will Run Back, by Henry Hazlitt (New York: University Press of America, 1986). Originally published as The Great Idea, this book by one of America's leading economic journalists is crucial to understanding current developments in communist countries. Written as a novel, it traced the path by which socialism is likely to unravel and develop toward a market economy. (As the Hungarian Communist Party official is alleged to have answered when asked "What is socialism?," "Socialism is a transitional phase in the dialectical progress of society -- a long, difficult, and very painful transition from capitalism to....capitalism.")

Rivalry and Central Planning: The Socialist Calculation Debate Reconsidered, by Don Lavoie (New York: Cambridge University Press, 1985). The best scholarly overview of the debate over economic calculation. Shows how the "market socialists" misunderstood the essence of the critique of central planning offered by Mises and Hayek.

Economic Calculation in the Socialist Society, by Trygve J.B. Hoff (1949; reprint, Indianapolis: Liberty Press, 1981). A thorough review of the problems of economic calculation under socialism, showing why socialism leads to chaos.

Socialism, by Ludwig von Mises (1936; Indianapolis: Liberty Classics, 1981). The classic work demonstrating that socialism cannot meet human needs because it cannot solve the problem of "economic calculation," of how to translate value preferences into a system for allocating scarce resources among competing needs.

National Economic Planning: What is Left?, by Don Lavoie (Cambridge, Mass.: Ballinger, 1985). Lavoie reviews more recent proposals for state planning and subjects them to withering criticism.

Collectivist Economic Planning, ed. by F. A. Hayek (1935; Clifton, N.J.: Augustus M. Kelley, 1975). A collection of the classic essays from the economic calculation debate. Includes the 1920 Mises article that launched the debate.

Harvest of Sorrow: Soviet Collectivization and the Terror-Famine, by Robert Conquest (New York: Oxford University Press, 1986). A chilling look at forced collectivization by a prominent historian of the Soviet Union.

From Marx to Mises, by David Ramsay Steele (La Salle, Ill.: Open Court, 1992). A well-informed history and exposition of the economic calculation debate.

Return to [Selected Issues][Guide to Classical Liberal Scholarship][IHS homepage]