RevolutionZ

Ep 249 Who Likes Participatory Planning Part 1

October 01, 2023 Michael Albert Season 1 Episode 249
RevolutionZ
Ep 249 Who Likes Participatory Planning Part 1
Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

Episode 249 of the podcast titled RevolutionZ is the first of three  that will together present and comment on Participatory Planning. Most of the content is from two years ago, the book No Bosses, which presents participatory economics. But interspersed throughout these episodes are also clarifying and critical comments I make, now, as I revisit the content. Three episodes on one component of a post capitalist economic vision? Well, allocation beyond markets and central planning  is not simple and has many moving parts so that describing it fully enough to assess will take some time. Indeed, the three episodes aren't week after week but themselves spread out a bit so that if you send comments and questions I can use those to augment subsequent content. 

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Speaker 1:

Hello, my name is Michael Albert and I am the host of the podcast that's titled Revolution Z. This episode continues a sequence that is presenting chapters from the book no Bosses, which was written very carefully a couple of years ago, including intermittent spontaneous comments on the material interjected. Now, two years later, we are up to no Bosses, chapter 7, titled who Likes Participatory Planning, which presents a proposed alternative to both markets and central planning, which we rejected last episode. That is called participatory planning. But there is a wrinkle. This chapter of the book is seriously long, so to keep it manageable as podcast episodes, I have divided it into three parts, and this episode is the first of the three. The other two will arrive after some episodes with guests are interspersed, so they won't all be done in a row.

Speaker 1:

As with other chapters of no Bosses and thus other episodes, this one too begins with a couple of quotes. First we have Ursula Gwyn writing nothing is yours, it is to use, it is to share. If you will not share it, you cannot use it. And then we have the naturalist William von Humboldt saying the only possible alternative to being either the oppressed or the oppressor is voluntary cooperation for the greatest good of all. And so here is part one of three parts addressing allocation vision. Allocation is what economists call the procedure that selects, from a nearly infinite list of every conceivable item that might be produced using every conceivable combination of labor tools and resources, a single final list of what economic actors actually do produce and consume. Markets allocate via competition among buyers and sellers. Central planning allocates via commands from central planners. We reject both markets and central planning for reasons that we summarized last chapter, which was the basis for our Revolution Z episode.

Speaker 1:

Who Likes Markets or Central Planning? One way to conceive or to present participatory planning would be to start from either markets or central planning and progressively alter each to better approximate desired aims, better accommodate and work with other favorite institutions and better ameliorate or eliminate inadequacies More in practice, in real social situations. That approach will undoubtedly be part of any systemic change, with movements winning various changes. But to conceive and present an alternative that isn't constrained by the limitations of the two systems and that is able to provide focus and direction for practical, real-world campaigns and changes, it seems to me we are more likely to conceive what we desire if we simply start over, so to speak, thinking about how to do allocation in a participatory, classless and self-managing manner. For that reason, in this chapter, these three episodes, we describe participatory planning with a series of ever more revealing takes on its features. Each new take repeats, in different ways, elements of prior takes, even, while it also adds new dimensions. Each new take clarifies but also raises questions that each subsequent take addresses. Different readers, listeners, may have different preferences regarding how many takes to assess, depending on how deeply you want to address allocation I interject. Look. The point is that allocation is not an easy topic and to describe it, much less to make a case for it, takes time and requires some attention to imbibe, so to speak. So the approach of the multiple takes gives the reader or the listener a chance to get each new piece and have it repeated in a different form so it becomes to, it achieves a comprehensibility, I guess, as we go along. Anyway, we'll see how it goes.

Speaker 1:

So to start, participatory planning, take one requirements. We have proposed that all productive assets be treated as a commons. We have proposed that workers and consumers self-manage, and councils and federations of councils. We have proposed that jobs be reconceived to convey comparable empowerment. We have proposed that everyone who works receive equitable income in accord with duration, intensity and onerousness of their socially valued labor, and we have proposed that productive assets should benefit and be overseen by all who are affected by their use. To achieve all that, given that we have also rejected markets and central planning, it follows that we must propose new means of allocation that will let workers and consumers collectively self-manage what they produce and consume. That will sustain classlessness. That will elicit freely expressed desires and provide information sufficient for workers and consumers to work and consume socially responsibly. That will foster solidarity, empathy. That will take into our appropriate account the full personal, social and ecological implications of production and consumption. That will, at the start of each new year, arrive at a plan and then, during each year, continually update it in ways that respect personal and collective desires. That will efficiently use society's productive assets. That will allot income equitably. That will avoid the flaws of markets and central planning. And that will enhance the virtues of the proposed property decision-making division of labor and income structures of our proposed new economy.

Speaker 1:

I interject. Well, that is a long list of needs to accomplish To deal with all that. No wonder this is a long chapter. No wonder we go over and over some elements more than once. The chapter continues. What can accomplish these many results. We propose that, in a new participatory economy, workers in different enterprises and industries and consumers in different living units, neighborhoods and regions propose their joint endeavors in accord with revealed knowledge of one another's needs and capacities. Councils revise their proposals as they discover more about the impact of their proposals on others and the impact of others' proposals on themselves. Councils finally arrive at a plan for each new year and cooperatively update and implement that plan as the year progresses.

Speaker 1:

I interject. Summarizing participatory planning in a hundred words is arguably ridiculous, but there it was. Filling it out will require more words. The chapter continues, but wait. Can such non-competitive, non-authoritarian procedures facilitate successful, self-managed, equitable, sustainable and classless allocation? Can a social multi-step planning process collectively determine that workers' proposals for what to produce are socially worthy, that consumers' requests for what to consume are socially responsible and that, in some, their production and consumption proposals match sufficiently to implement? We have already proposed that society's natural and built productive commons should have no private owners and indeed have no owners at all. We have proposed self-managing workers and consumers' councils and federations of councils. We have proposed enabling actors to influence decisions in proportion, as they are affected by them, by way of their prior training, plus their working and balanced job complexes, and we have proposed equitable remuneration according to effort and sacrifice of socially valued work.

Speaker 1:

It follows that, to be consistent with all that, participatory planning must include individuals, workers and consumers, and also workers and consumers' councils and federations of councils, as both self-managing conceivers and inactors of plans. The councils are, after all, the venue from which workers and consumers develop and pursue agendas. One added actor we propose is what we call an iteration facilitation board, which is just a group of people a part of whose balanced job is to help tally and report data that informs allocation. I interject Perhaps you notice the method unfolding. See what institutions we have said. We must have add to them whatever we need if we are to accomplish remaining functions without subverting what we already have.

Speaker 1:

The chapter continues To be compatible with the rest of our proposed economy. New allocation procedures will need to be a system of decentralized, not centralized, and cooperative not competitive negotiation, able to arrive at relative valuations that reflect individual social and ecological costs and benefits, so as to inform workers and consumers' self-managed decisions about actual inputs, outputs and procedures and equitably allocate income to all involved. That's a mouthful, I warned you at the beginning. But if participatory planning achieves less, it is hard to see how it could be consistent with the properties we seek for a new economy. So how might an equitable, self-managing, classless allocation system actually fulfill these requirements?

Speaker 1:

Participatory planning take two bare bones. Consider a quick account of a hypothetical participatory economy's participatory planning process. Workers' councils, in light of their prior year's activities and the final prizes from last year, propose the outputs they would like to produce and the inputs they would need to use to do so for the coming year. At the same time, consumers' councils sum and then report the proposed consumption of their members plus the whole council's proposed collective consumption. The National Iteration Facilitation Board tallies all this information and mutually agreed in transparent ways and feeds it back to the councils along with updated guesses as to where prices, which are a product of the planning process itself and not of competition power or central imposition, will finally arrive. When planning is complete, the councils then consider reports of products in over or under-supply, as well as updated indicative prices. They adjust their expectations and enter new proposals for their own activity.

Speaker 1:

Individuals and councils are incentivized to arrive at acceptable outcomes. They have good reason to honor the instruction that their proposals must ultimately be consistent with prices' valuations. That is, consumers must make consumption proposals within their income budgets and producers must provide desired outputs without wasting assets from society's commons. The back-and-forth process of refining proposals continues until what consumers propose to consume sufficiently matches what producers propose to supply to deem the plan able to guide economic activity for the new year. Additionally, prior steps employ the same basic ideas, but in different contexts, to incorporate ecological costs and benefits into the process and to properly account for earlier settled longer-term investment plans.

Speaker 1:

I interject. This describes participatory planning, again, this time with more features addressed and thus in four paragraphs instead of one. This is how this chapter is built. Each take adds additional aspects. One thing to note is the growing clarity about what workers and consumers will do together to plan the chapter continues.

Speaker 1:

The claims for participatory planning are that the impact of each actor is broadly proportional to the degree to which he or she is affected by the choices decided. Final prices admirably account for individual social and ecological implications. The year's plan is reached without undue delay. The year's plan establishes a responsible and implementable agenda. Methods for updating the initial plan in light of changes in tastes, needs and availabilities as the year unfolds are easily undertaken. Consistent with guiding values Behaviors are called forth during planning and in ensuing economic activity are not only doable and mutually agreed by all involved, but also support and enhance solidarity among the participants, because the benefit of each participant overwhelmingly depends on the benefit of all other participants. Finally, and most importantly, participatory planning's outcomes and behaviors support and are guided by the logic and practice of self-managing workers and consumers' councils, balanced job complexes and equitable remuneration, and thus also classlessness.

Speaker 1:

But are these claims true? Participatory planning, take three, adding some texture. The above bare-bone specification is likely too streamlined to suffice for most who have read no Bosses this Far or listened to this episode this far. Such folks will want more takes. They may wonder, for example, how can workers and consumers possibly successfully utilize full knowledge of effects and exercise proportionate influence on decisions, all without undue hassle and time spent on outcomes? So to add a bit more clarity, note that at the outset of each yearly planning process, the facilitation boards announces what we call indicative prices for all goods, resources and categories of labor, in other words, for what goes into production or is available for consumption.

Speaker 1:

Indicative prices literally means informed guesses or predictions of what prices will wind up as Producers and consumers use indicative prices to guide their path of proposals and thereby arrive at final actual prices. Participatory planning's indicative prices are first offered at the outset of yearly planning, based on the prior year's final prices or relative valuations and on broad knowledge of general changes expected for the coming year, for example new technologies coming into use, climate or other such natural changes or new demographics. Consumers, consumer councils and federations of councils respond to the predicted prices in light of their understanding of social trends and their own preferences. They make consumption proposals that take the indicative prices as estimates of true valuations of all the resources, equipment, labor and good and bad byproducts associated with each good or service. Their expected budgets limit their consumption proposals. Indicative prices indicate expectations as to how much each item they propose to consume costs from their whole income. In these respects the situation appears like now, other than where the prices come from and what they take into account and the sources of income. Given my expected budget, given the characteristics of available products, how much of this particular item do I think I want over the course of the year? How much of that item do I think I want over the course of the year? I decide.

Speaker 1:

At the same time, workers, worker councils and industry councils offer production proposals that list the outputs they propose to make available and the inputs, sometimes produced by other workplaces, they would use to produce those outputs. They too take indicative prices, updated for each new round of planning, as estimates of relative prices of outputs and costs of inputs. When the iteration facilitation board receives public proposals from workers and consumers councils, it tallies excess demand or supply for each good and mechanically adjusts the indicative price for the good up or down in light of the new data and in accord with socially agreed rules for those alterations. Because their income is for their socially valued effort, iteration facilitation board workers have no way to manipulate price projections to aggrandize themselves, using new predicted prices and, of course, taking account of the first round of production and consumption proposals. Plus, if they feel the need, consulting relevant qualitative information, consumers and workers, councils and federations of councils revise and resubmit their proposals for a second round of the process. The idea is that new proposals from workers and consumers move the process forward and then do so again and again over each new round of the process to a final feasible plan. Essentially, the rounds of back and forth procedure, which are called planning iterations, whittle excessive or enlarge insufficient proposals into a feasible plan in which what is authored by producers matches what is sought by consumers. The whittling to take another step toward understanding the viability and worthiness of the approach is proposed to occur in two different ways.

Speaker 1:

I interject Each take goes beyond the last to address additional issues. In this take, for example, I slid in a feature without argument for doing so or for how much of it. That would get done or how it would get done. I said during the planning process actors could consult qualitative information. Really, why and where does it come from? How much is there Any downside? I admit I did this without realizing it would be controversial, but I further address the issues in a later take.

Speaker 1:

The chapter continues Participatory planning. Take four making plan proposals. I interject again Don't try to remember everything that is being said as we go along, because it's going to come up again as we get a richer and richer picture of the participatory planning process. Just think on it as it arrives and try to notice innovation, I guess. Extra features Participatory planning take four making plan proposals.

Speaker 1:

Consumers who request more than their expected incomes warrant or who together want more of some good than workers proposed to produce, receive new indicative prices. All together, the population needs to attain a viable final plan so that economic activity can proceed. New prices make new choices beneficial. Consumers reduce or shift their consumption requests in each new iteration to better record with their anticipated budget. In parallel, workers' councils whose proposals have lower than average social benefit given the resources at their disposal, or who are proposing less or more than consumers' desire of their product, have reason to increase or decrease their efforts, effectiveness or number of employees to meet consumer desires and better use the assets at their disposal. So their work will all be socially valued. In other words, if you ask in a consumption proposal for too much stuff relative to your likely income, or if consumer councils want too much of some collective item, or if a workplace proposal doesn't produce sufficiently for its available assets, or if there is more desire than what a workplace or industry proposes to produce, then it is important that the participants have reason to raise or lower their proposals in accord. Every participant's goal needs to include getting his, her or their proposals to an acceptable range to be met, so the overall process arrives at a viable and worthy plan to execute in the new year, along with, of course, fulfilling their own desires as best their situation permits and receiving appropriate equitable income.

Speaker 1:

As each iteration of the planning process proceeds, by virtue of their induced refinements, proposals move closer to mutual feasibility, while and because indicative prices converge toward ever more accurate representations of the final full relative benefits and costs associated with the production and consumption of each economic item. I interject we often call this thing cooperative negotiation and you can see why. It's not that everybody stands face to face with everybody else and negotiates every single decision to be made in the planning process, but the planning process is a kind of negotiation between consumers and producers, taking into account the proposals of each and the impact of the proposals of each on the other, and changing proposals in accord with the needs to arrive at a final plan. So it's a kind of cooperative negotiated process. The chapter continues.

Speaker 1:

Since no participant in the planning procedure has excessive income or has excessive say in a council, no participant has an advantage and influence over any other. And since each participant impacts the valuation of social costs and benefits like all others do, but with each exerting more impact on what they are involved in producing or consuming and less on what they are not directly involved in producing or consuming, and since each exerts more impact on what they care more about and less on what they care less about. The procedure simultaneously supports sensible use of assets and also self-managed decision-making, since the income of workers is for duration, intensity and onerousness of socially valued labor. The procedure also supports equitable remuneration. No one has a socially acceptable path to excessive gain. Working longer, harder or during more onerous tasks, each with the agreement of one's workmates and contributing to valued output, does earn more income, and rightly so. But trying to steal or exploit is made difficult and even counterproductive. No one could hide excessive gain beyond what they can legitimately and morally earn. There is no such thing as being rich. So becoming rich by becoming a master thief, for example, can't lead to visible consumption or other gains that would immediately reveal the violation. I interject. There's a lot introduced just in those two paragraphs. It seems straightforward, it seems common sense, but notice we didn't say how it happens. That will come up again as we go along in the ensuing takes.

Speaker 1:

The chapter continues. Neighborhood councils make requests for collective goods. In light of the implications of their expenditures on collective consumption for their personal budgets, individuals make proposals for their own private goods. Neighborhood councils then make overall proposals that include their members' summed requests for private goods as well as their members' shared collective requests for the neighborhood's collective consumption. Higher-level federations of consumer councils covering larger areas make proposals that include the summed requests from member councils as well as the federations' collective consumption requests. Individuals make their private requests in light of earlier proposed higher-level collective requests, both because the collective requests bear on their income and because the higher-level request against my neighborhood is seeking a pool, so I don't have reason to privately want one can affect my personal choices. Similarly, each production unit proposes a production plan. Workplaces enumerate the inputs they want and the outputs they propose to make available. Industry federations aggregate the individual workplace proposals.

Speaker 1:

The iteration facilitation board receives proposals and then reports excess supply and demand. It also reports above and below average workplace social benefits for social cost ratios and refined indicative prices. Having proposed its own plan, every individual and collective receives information regarding other participants' proposals and the response of other participants to its proposal and to the continually refined indicative prices and, when helpful accesses, associated qualitative explanations. Each actor individuals and collectives then makes a new proposal. Every participant navigates through successive iterations. Consumers take into account especially their own expected budgets and, of course, their preferences for goods and services. Producers take into account especially the social benefits as compared to social costs of their proposed outputs. When it can help, each considers additional qualitative information made available on request. The overall process converges to a viable and worthy plan.

Speaker 1:

I interject At this point. At least, if you were reading at your own preferred pace and stopping to consider instead of listening without pause, you would have a pretty good still a bit vague picture of this thing called participatory planning. But you might also be wondering about its benefits why bother with it? And also have questions about feasibility. The chapter continues Participatory planning. Take five some preliminary judgments and questions.

Speaker 1:

We next consider how our participatory planning process yields a viable outcome. The iterations proceed until with unacceptable pre-agreed margins. What is planned to be consumed is planned to be produced, and what is planned to be produced is planned to be consumed. That sounds good, but a number of legitimate practical questions arise. Can people, especially consumers, even make the called for proposals? Will doing so take too long? What if people change their minds as a planned year proceeds? What about unexpected events? Will pollution and other externalities be accurately accounted in prices? Will collective goods be properly valued and paid for? Can short and long-term investments be planned and then enacted and continually updated, without subverting the virtues we seek to embody in this new type of allocation.

Speaker 1:

And even if all this can be achieved so that participatory planning is viable, why should anyone think the resulting participatory plan would be desirable? I interject Allocation has more moving parts than other elements of participatory economic vision. The above list of questions seems to me at least, more detailed and mostly faceted than questions that arose for other aspects, and thus we have the longer chapter and the three-part online episodes. I should perhaps note that I don't want to imply complexity is the same as or implies importance, and likewise for time spent on the feature. I think different advocates of participatory economics will disagree if required to say which aspect seems to them most central. Someone coming from a more Marxist tradition might emphasize attaining a productive commons. Someone with a more anarchist or libertarian background might emphasize self-management councils. Someone more immersed in economic theory per se might emphasize participatory planning. For myself, if I had to pick a feature as most central to how I think about economy, to what I keep in mind most of the time, I think it would be the new approach to defining jobs for classlessness. But if I didn't absolutely have to pick one aspect, and well, why should I? But if I didn't have to absolutely pick one aspect, I would emphasize that each of the core features is essential to the character and the successful operation of the rest. The chapter continues. Please remember no. Boss's proposal for economic vision is intentionally far from detailed. It is a scaffold to build upon. Some might therefore reasonably wonder can our proposed scaffold of defining features sufficiently guide establishing a full system of participatory planning in an actual specific society? For that matter, by what steps will the scaffold fill in details as a participatory economy develops? Will the additions be controversial? These are questions.

Speaker 1:

Additional quote takes on participatory planning. End quote could start to clarify. So to take another step toward clarifying, consider that as a consumer in a participatory economy, your budget for consumption beyond free goods is a function of the duration, intensity and onerousness of your socially valued work, or, if you are unable to work, is average plus having your health needs met and receiving free goods like everyone else. To consume more than your budget covers, we can reasonably envision that you would have to have some excellent reason and get permission from your consumer council, presumably due to some special circumstance. Similarly, for a consumer council to consume in total more than its members total budgetary allotment, it would likely have to get an OK from a still higher level council.

Speaker 1:

As a worker, the output expected from your firm is a function of the productive capacity of the assets you employ and of your and your workmates' off efforts. In the planning process, you are saying to society that you would like to utilize some array of items from society's productive commons to benefit society by the resultant products of their combination. Let me just repeat that In the planning process, you are saying to society that you would like to utilize some array of items from society's productive commons to benefit society by the resultant products of their combination. When it arrives at a plan, the planning process perhaps says OK to your final proposal. Your proposal is responsible and it fits. However, if you were significantly underutilizing your assets, which could then better go to other purposes, the process would have revealed the problem and we can reasonably envision that you would need dispensation from your industry council to proceed in addition to it, meaning that your total of socially valued labor, and thus the total payroll allotted to your workforce, would be proportionately less than average and corrective changes would need to occur.

Speaker 1:

I interject. What's going on in this? Additional features is the mechanism by which the process becomes efficient in the sense of attaining desired ends and not wasting things to value. In earlier takes we mentioned that workplaces look at the ratio between the social value and the of their product and the social cost of their inputs what they use to create the project. What's happening in that is that the workplace is trying to be responsible, it's trying to use its assets fully and effectively to do socially desired work, to produce socially desired outputs. And if it doesn't do that, if some of what it's doing is not socially desired, is wasteful, then it gets less income to a portion. We'll see how that works again as we go along and later takes. The chapter continues An attained plan by the requisites of the whole process manifests actors' preferences roughly proportionately as they are impacted by the same requisites.

Speaker 1:

Each actor benefits according to the same logic as all others. My income depends directly on the socially average income, since I get somewhat more or somewhat less due to my contributing a somewhat greater or somewhat lesser amount of socially valued effort and sacrifice than average. One option that all agree is fair. Likewise, how my job impacts me depends on the quality of the socially average job complex, since everyone able to work has a balanced job, complex, with each job roughly equal to all others and its empowerment impact, or it depends on special degrees of onerousness of my work which all agree should be remunerated, then my benefit from any investment proposed by myself and my coworkers or by my industry or by my own workplace depends over time on how that investment raises social averages for jobs or alters average income for all by expanding the total social product that we all share in. And so does your benefit outside my work base depend on the same implications. I interject. The point is my benefits should be good for you and yours should be good for me. We should not each benefit to some others detriment. An innovation inside a workplace or an industry is not monopolized by them. They do not keep it so that they can somehow benefit more than others. All innovations, all insights, all new ideas, they're all accessible throughout the relevant industry or workplaces within an industry.

Speaker 1:

The chapter continues. Solidarity is enhanced by participatory planning because workers and consumers interests are entwined and our daily economic calculations occur in light of one another's situations, even if I don't actively learn of situations beyond my own. For my income to go up, either I have to expend more socially valued effort and sacrifice or the total social product has to go up, with everyone benefiting For the quality of my work situation. To improve, the quality of society's balanced job complex must improve, and thus everyone's situation must improve, or I have to take a job more suited to my taste or get remunerated for additional onerousness in my activity. More to the degree that a particular implementation of participatory planning opts to convey active awareness of the qualitative circumstances of others, then to that degree mutual benefit created by making choices in light of participatory prices fosters as well a personal dynamic of growing awareness and empathy. I interject Remember how I earlier noted I had slipped in qualitative information without specification. Here it is again, with a bit more attention, foreshadowing still more to come.

Speaker 1:

The chapter continues. Diversity, which is itself a guiding value of policymaking, is a natural outgrowth of participatory planning as well, both for the benefits that accrue from preserving many options and to maintain checks and balances. Equity is guaranteed by the universally operative remunerative norm that incomes for duration, intensity and onerousness of socially valued labor. Self-management is intrinsic to the allocation system's foundational logic and fostered by its every feature. In other words, we know that any plan that a participatory planning session settles on will be worthy because we know the surrounding economic structures require that the outcome includes self-management, equity and classlessness.

Speaker 1:

To clarify still further prices are indicative during the planning process in the sense of indicating the best current estimates of final valuations. Every iteration until the end is a set of proposals. Each iteration until the end is an exploration, not a conclusion. Indicative prices are not binding at each stage, but provide flexible guides. Everyone knows that indicative prices that pertain before the end of planning may change in a future round of planning More when called upon.

Speaker 1:

If made part of the process, qualitative information can provide additional guidance that can, in some situations, lead people to act contrary to what then current indicative prices might alone provoke, thereby speeding arrival at a viable plan and, in other ways, affecting the plan's outcome for the better. For example, perhaps the demand for something my workplace has produced is way above what we anticipated. We receive that information and also new indicative prices, but we still find the size of the unexpected demand baffling. We decide to consult some qualitative information. We just click and read and we find there is a really good, not a faddish, reason for the unexpected growth of demand. Instead of doubting its legitimacy, we quickly move to meet the demand. Or in another case, perhaps 60 members of my local area vote on neighborhood collective consumption to put in clay tennis courts and 40 vote to put in hard true courts. But one of the 40 also includes the qualitative information that when a neighboring town put in clay courts the annual upkeep was four times as much as for the hard true courts. When the 60 access that info, half of them switch their preference.

Speaker 1:

The point is, one can imagine quite diverse situations in which qualitative information on top of indicative prices and product specifications may yield better outcomes than indicative prices plus product specifications alone, though it is quite likely that even participatory prices alone would guide excellent outcomes, precisely because they account for all social and ecological factors and because indicative prices, up to and including settling on final rates of exchange, do not stem from competition between buyers and sellers trying to fleece one another and are not imposed by authoritarian determinations biased toward the well-being of decision makers. Indicative prices arise instead from the interactions of workers and consumers who freely propose their own activities. Qualitative information, to whatever extent it is incorporated into participatory planning, would of course have to come directly from concerned parties. Workers and consumers would then presumably consult it only when they feel that proposals or prices were so unusual compared to expectations that they want to understand whatever special unexpected circumstances might have caused the strange indications. We produce violins or air conditioners Based on last year, we expect demand for some quantity. First proposals show demand to be four times what we expect. We don't want to rely on just the reported under supply and the new prices we receive. We want to also access information that reveals why there is such an unexpected demand. We care about how our product is used, so society may opt to provide qualitative information, partly to check on and to help keep its quantitative indicators as accurate as possible, and partly to develop workers and consumers sensitivity to fellow workers and consumer situations and thus to develop people's understanding of the intricate tapestry of human relations that determines what each of us can and cannot consume or produce. It is reasonable to think that consultation of such information might be infrequent, but quite useful in unanticipated situations.

Speaker 1:

Participatory planning takes six variations. The above five takes on participatory planning address many central aspects. They do not, however, provide a detailed picture of either the planning iterations or of all the motives, actions and institutions that make the iterations viable. They do not specify detailed day-to-day roles. They do not specify detailed social implications for workers and consumers during the planning process. Although such issues have been addressed in various places, the reason I did not yet do so here is not simply a matter of keeping things concise. Rather, I feel confident that there is not a single right way to do many specific aspects of participatory planning, just as there is not a single right way for a workplace to internally enact equitable remuneration of its overall payroll to its workers or to collectively settle on balanced jobcom collectors. And there is not a single right way for consumer councils to ascertain collective desires or for the overall plan to price external effects that occur beyond direct producer and consumer. I interject. This is a serious and important point. It is the reason for the scaffold approach to describing participatory economic core features.

Speaker 1:

A vision can go too far over-specifying details in a way that precludes thinking about alternatives or in a way that usurps the right of future citizens to make their own choices rather than to obey some prior, perhaps well-conceived or worse, even ill-informed specification. Concern about this is not just concerned about getting good vision, but also concerned about avoiding sectarianism about vision, however good it may be. The chapter continues as one relatively simple example. Instances of participatory planning could differ regarding the extent to which they utilize qualitative information along with indicative prices, instead of using only indicative prices during the rounds of planning. At one extreme, each participant consumer or producer might consult only numeric prices and, of course, descriptions of the product, with no qualitative accounts of the situations of workers or consumers or their choices made available, and might therefore make decisions consciously thinking solely about its own circumstances. Consumers and producers would know the qualitative properties of items for sale, of course, but they would know nothing qualitative about other participants' situations and choices. Alternatively, in another implementation, qualitative information about participants' choices could be made available for access, particularly when such proposals diverge significantly from expectations. Likewise, means for communication among councils, as compared to communication only within councils, might be facilitated more in one implementation than in another.

Speaker 1:

I interject, you may notice a kind of irony here. Part of our critique of markets was that they isolate actors from one another's situation, not delivering information bearing on effects on others, not giving folks a degree of mutual awareness and concern, but instead producing antisociality. Having prices that reflect various implications which markets do not is a major improvement, but not facilitating access to more qualitative, informative information, perhaps to save time in planning, seems like carrying over from markets one of their serious faults, causing people to be consciously concerned only with self, not with others. The chapter continues as another example, specific means for assessing the impact of externalities on constituencies that they affect, and thus the cost to be charged to firms that pollute and paid to citizens who suffer from the pollution, may differ somewhat in different implementations or even in different cases within one participatory planning process. And, of course, use of qualitative information, of communications between councils and of modes of determining how to price external effects are only three of many elements that could conceivably vary from one implementation of participatory planning to another. Their iteration facilitation boards mandate might, for example, be another example, as might the precise mandate of agencies that help people change jobs or that propose possible investments for firms or industries, or that assess grievances. Presumably, future participants in participatory planning will choose among possible details like these, based on the lessons of their experiences and also on the circumstances of their economy, community or industry. Considerations of what methods to employ regarding qualitative information and externalities, for example, would likely include concerns to simplify and speed up planning iterations, on the one hand, as well as concerns to enrich mutual understanding among producers and consumers and to attain maximal accuracy in accounting external effects. On the other hand.

Speaker 1:

The main point, however, is that balancing what is produced by firms and industries and what is consumed by individuals, in light of the full human, social and ecological costs and benefits that go into and that emanate from each part of the dynamic, can be achieved better cooperatively than via competitive or authoritarian procedures that pervert motives to distort personalities and bias outcomes and that produce class rule. In other words, allocation can be accomplished in accord with self-management. It can foster diversity, solidarity and equity. It does not have to violate our values. It does not have to produce class division. It does not have to be done by markets or by central planning. It can be done by participatory planning.

Speaker 1:

But allocation is undeniably complicated. So, for those who wish to dive still more deeply, our next take on participatory planning considers a few additional aspects of accomplishing participatory planning, but with, I think, two or even three other episodes presented first, not least for a breather and perhaps for a time if you want to further consider the allocation issues already discussed, or even read about them first, for that matter. Z-network, where you can find additional materials, also has a section on vision and strategy and many articles on participatory economics, including the whole book Parrycon Life After Capitalism. It also has a discord system and if you wish to enter that and to discuss concerns about or extensions of, or whatever regarding participatory economics and these Revolution Z episodes, I will join you there in that pursuit. And that said, this is Michael Albert signing off until next time for Revolution Z.

Participatory Planning in a New Economy
Exploring Participatory Planning and Decision-Making
Participatory Planning in a Participatory Economy