The Command System

Włodzimierz Brus and Kazimierz Laski

in From Marx to the Market

Published in print April 1991 | ISBN: 9780198283997
Published online November 2003 | e-ISBN: 9780191596032 | DOI:

Series: Clarendon Paperbacks

 The Command System

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The economic system of ‘real socialism’ grew out of the discrepancy between the expected socialist attitudes of the population and the reality of dominating self‐interest. In the absence of properly operating network of material incentives, the implementation of Soviet‐type development strategy had thus to rely on coercion, with the command system as its economic component. Selective development was to be achieved by physical allocation of resources to chosen users, while output maximization was pursued through obligatory plan targets. With the enormous and steadily growing number of items, the detailed plans must have become inconsistent, while still remaining formally obligatory. The ‘minimax’ strategy peculiar to the command system was to find ways to minimize plan targets and simultaneously maximize the planned allocation of resources. As a result, the command system could for a while serve the goal of Soviet‐type modernization, but at the same time became responsible for its inbred conservatism.

Keywords: central planning; command system; incentives; material balances; minimax strategy; modernization; resources; socialism; targets

Chapter.  5152 words. 

Subjects: Economic Systems

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