Saturday, August 21, 2010

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the servile state and rerum novarum

Hilaire Belloc’s book, The Servile State, is heavily influenced by Catholic social teaching. Yesterday I came across this section of the encyclical “Rerum Novarum” written by Pope Leo XIII in 1891. In this famous encyclical the pope addressed many of the competing socio-economic theories of the day. The Church did not fully support capitalism or socialism or communism, but did recognize the valuable ideas that each of these theories contained. Here the pope explains the importance of private property and the ability for self-sustaining agriculture, themes which come up continually in distributist writings. Like Belloc, the pope is stressing the need for a wide distribution of private property, which is in stark contrast to capitalism which tends to concentrate property in the hands of a few. The Church has a reputation for being behind the times, but over a century later it’s clear that Rerum Novarum was in fact ahead of its time:

“For man, fathoming by his faculty of reason matters without number, linking the future with the present, and being master of his own acts, guides his ways under the eternal law and the power of God, whose providence governs all things. Wherefore, it is in his power to exercise his choice not only as to matters that regard his present welfare, but also about those which he deems may be for his advantage in time yet to come. Hence, man not only should possess the fruits of the earth, but also the very soil, inasmuch as from the produce of the earth he has to lay by provision for the future. Man’s needs do not die out, but forever recur; although satisfied today, they demand fresh supplies for tomorrow. Nature accordingly must have given to man a source that is stable and remaining always with him, from which he might look to draw continual supplies. And this stable condition of things he finds solely in the earth and its fruits. There is no need to bring in the State. Man precedes the State, and possesses, prior to the formation of any State, the right of providing for the substance of his body.”

Dems Race Scott Brown And America Over Healthcare

    As an economic system, fascism is socialism with a capitalist veneer. The word derives from fasces,  the Roman symbol of collectivism and power: a tied bundle of rods with a protruding ax. In its day (the 1920s and 1930s), fascism was seen as the happy medium between boom-and-bust-prone liberal capitalism, with its alleged class conflict, wasteful competition, and profit-oriented egoism, and revolutionary Marxism, with its violent and socially divisive persecution of the bourgeoisie. Fascism substituted the particularity of nationalism and racialism—“blood and soil”—for the internationalism of both classical liberalism and Marxism.

    Where socialism sought totalitarian control of a society’s economic processes through direct state operation of the means of production, fascism sought that control indirectly, through domination of nominally private owners. Where socialism nationalized property explicitly, fascism did so implicitly, by requiring owners to use their property in the “national interest”—that is, as the autocratic authority conceived it. (Nevertheless, a few industries were operated by the state.) Where socialism abolished all market relations outright, fascism left the appearance of market relations while planning all economic activities. Where socialism abolished money and prices, fascism controlled the monetary system and set all prices and wages politically. In doing all this, fascism denatured the marketplace. Entrepreneurship was abolished. State ministries, rather than consumers, determined what was produced and under what conditions.

Post-presidential activity

After the Presidency, Nyerere remained the Chairman of CCM until 1990 when Ali Hassan Mwinyi  took over. Nyerere remained vocal about the extent of corruption and corrupt officials during the Mwinyi administration. He also blocked Jakaya Kikwete's nomination for the presidency, citing that he was too young to run a country. Nyerere was instrumental in getting Benjamin Mkapa elected (Mkapa had been Minister of Foreign Affairs for a time during Nyerere's administration).
Nyerere's portrait on the Tanzanian 1000 shilling note
Nyerere's portrait on the Tanzanian 1000 shilling note
In one of his famous speeches during the CCM general assembly, Nyerere said in Swahili "Ninang'atuka", meaning that he was pulling out of politics for good. He kept to his word that Tanzania would be a democratic country. He moved back to his childhood home village of Butiama in northern Tanzania. During his retirement, he continued to travel the world meeting various heads of government as an advocate for poor countries and especially the South Centre institution. Nyerere travelled more widely after retiring than he did when he was president of Tanzania. One of his last high-profile actions was as the chief mediator in the Burundi conflict in 1996. He died in a London hospital of leukaemia on 14 October 1999.

Positions Held after Presidency: Chairman of Chama Cha Mapinduzi (1985–1990), Chairman of the independent International South Commission (1987–1990), and Chairman of the South Centre in the Geneva & Dar es Salaam Offices (1990–1999).

In January 2005 the Catholic diocese of Musoma opened a cause for the beatification of Julius Nyerere. Nyerere was a devout Catholic who attended Mass daily throughout his public life and was known for fasting frequently.

He has received honorary degrees from the University of Edinburgh (UK), University of Duquesne (USA), University of Cairo (Egypt), University of Nigeria (Nigeria), University of Ibadan (Nigeria), University of Liberia (Liberia), University of Toronto (Canada), Howard University (USA), Jawaharlal Nehru University (India), University of Havana (Cuba), National University of Lesotho, University of the Philippines, Fort Hare University (South Africa), Sokoine University of Agriculture (Tanzania), and Lincoln University (PA, USA).

He received the Nehru Award for International Understanding in 1976, the Third World Prize in 1982, the Nansen Medal for outstanding services to Refugees in 1983, the Lenin Peace Prize in 1987, the International Simón Bolívar Prize in 1992, and the Gandhi Peace Prize in 1995. President Yoweri Museveni of Uganda awarded Nyerere the Katonga, Uganda's highest military medal, in honour of his opposition to colonialism and Idi Amin's government in 2007.

Economic policies

When in power, Nyerere implemented a socialist economic programme (announced in the Arusha Declaration), establishing close ties with China, and also introduced a policy of collectivisation in the country's agricultural system, known as Ujamaa or "familyhood."

Although some of his policies can be characterised as socialist, Nyerere was first and foremost an African, and secondly a socialist. He was what is often called an African socialist. Nyerere had tremendous faith in rural African people and their traditional values and ways of life. He believed that life should be structured around the ujamaa, or extended family found in traditional Africa. He believed that in these traditional villages, the state of ujamaa had existed before the arrival of imperialists.

He believed that Africans were already socialists and that all that they needed to do was return to their traditional mode of life and they would recapture it. This would be a true repudiation of capitalism, since his society would not rely on capitalism to exist. Unfortunately for Nyerere and Tanzania, this ujamaa system caused agricultural output to plummet. The deficit in cereal grains was more than 1 million tons between 1974 and 1977. Only loans and grants from the World Bank and the IMF in 1975 prevented Tanzania from going bankrupt. By 1979, ujamaa villages contained 90% of the rural population but only produced 5% of the national agricultural output. Subsequently, the country fell on hard economic times which was excacerbated by a war against Idi Amin and the six year drought. Tanzania went from the largest exporter of agricultural products in Africa to the largest importer of agricultural products. Nyerere announced that he would retire after presidential elections in 1985, leaving the country to enter its free market era — as imposed by structural adjustment under the IMF and World bank — under the leadership of Ali Hassan Mwinyi.

Nyerere was instrumental in putting both Ali Hassan Mwinyi and Benjamin Mkapa in power. He remained the chairman of Chama Cha Mapinduzi (ruling party) for five years following his presidency until 1990, and is still recognised as the Father of the Nation.

America’s Surrender to the Spectacle of Terror

When our fears have all been serialized, our creativity censured, our ideas “marketplaced,” our intelligence sloganized, our strength downsized, our privacy auctioned; when the theatricality, the entertainment value, the marketing of life is complete, we will find ourselves living not in a nation but in a consortium of industries, and wholly un-intelligible to ourselves except for what we see as through a screen darkly. -Toni Morrison(1)

As the link between the media and corporate power becomes more integrated, the visual theater of terror mimics the politics of the “official” war on terror. Echoing the discourse of the “official” war on terror, the violence of extremist groups as well as state-sanctioned and corporate violence are understood almost exclusively within the discourse of moral absolutes pitting good against evil.

Modern enterprise system established in 1993

November 11-14, 1993, the CPC held the Third Plenary Session of the 14th Central Committee and passed "CPC Central Committee's decisions on a number of problems regarding the establishment of a socialist market.

" The plenum pointed out that the socialist market economic system is combined with the basic system of socialism.

The establishment of the socialist market economic system is to have the market plays a fundamental role in the allocation of resources under the country's macro-control.

The plenum decided to further transfer the operating mechanism of state-owned enterprises and establish modern enterprise system with clear property rights, clear powers and responsibilities, separation of government from enterprises and scientific management measures that meets the requirements of the market economy.

balanced on a razor's edge

For five decades, the Cuban people have valiantly defended their goal of socialism against economic, political and military pressure. Today, however, their revolution is in danger as never before.

With an economy that's been on life support since the 1990s, Cuba is trying to survive the current global crisis while it copes with $10 billion in damage caused by last year's hurricanes. In these circumstances, how much longer can the island stave off capitalism's return?

There are steps that could be taken within Cuba to protect the gains of the 1959 revolution until workers' victories in other countries make mutual aid possible. But the bureaucracy headed by Raúl Castro is accelerating in the wrong direction, sharpening the threat of capitalist restoration and the need for a 180-degree change of course.

At risk: all the revolution has gained. The stakes are great - for Cuba, and for the rest of the world. Generations have been inspired by seeing what's possible when the profiteers are sent packing.

Cuba launched campaigns that made healthcare, education and housing universal. Serious inroads were made against the poverty, racism and sexual exploitation created by centuries of colonization and dictatorship.

Pushed by U.S. aggression into nationalizing foreign holdings, banking and other key industries, Cuban leaders were able to plan centrally and control trade, improving life vastly.

But the new workers state suffered from the outset from a major deformity. The people were never the makers of crucial decisions: which goods would be produced and how; what social benefits would be provided; whether to aid sister and brother rebels in other lands. Instead these decisions were made by a bureaucracy politically similar to Stalin's regime in the USSR, although it never installed the bloody police state that Stalin did.

The Cuban Communist Party (CCP) adopted the treacherous and deceitful Stalinist policy of building "socialism in one country." Using this as justification, the CCP repeatedly betrayed proletarian struggles throughout Latin America, abandoning them to Cuba's perceived self-interest in negotiating ddétente with world imperialism.

Socialism, however, can only exist as an international system, with sharing and coordination of global goods and resources. As long as capitalism controls most of the world market, the fate of any workers state remains precarious. Capitalism's recapture of the Soviet bloc and China is a harsh proof of this.

Peril from without and within. When the USSR collapsed, Cuba lost its key trade partner, one that bought sugar and other exports and sold industrial technology and other vital imports on favorable terms. Cuba's economy fell into desperate straits. Ever the humanitarian, the U.S. escalated its embargo, trying to starve out the revolution.

In response, the CCP initiated measures to attract the desperately needed hard currency it could use on the capitalist world market. The reforms brought foreign capital to Cuba. With it came the danger of reversion to the dominance of the profit system, with its inevitable exploitation and oppression.

As foreign business expanded in Cuba, so did inequality, as some groups of people gained access to more income, benefits and outright bribes. Black Cubans experienced greater racism, particularly in the fast-growing tourism industry. Prostitution reappeared.

No one could live on the average state salary of $20 a month, so the black market flourished, as did corruption. Everyone is frustrated by the lack of consumer goods. Many young people are becoming alienated from the revolution their grandparents made.

Events of the past year are alarming. President Raúl Castro has opened the door to even more intense inequality by removing salary caps and instituting production incentives, saying that workers in favored positions should “make as much as they can.” Untilled state land is being turned over to private agriculture.

On the world scene, Cuba has thrown its lot in with popular-front governments in Latin America. These are governments like Venezuela's, whose leaders talk a good pro-worker line, and come to power with the support of workers and the poor, but offer no real challenge to capitalism. These countries are trying to improve their position in the world economy through a trade bloc called the Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of Our America (ALBA).

For an isolated workers state, trade alliances with capitalist countries are unavoidable. The harm done by Cuban officials is in painting these deals as part of the road to socialism rather than a hazardous but necessary detour.

Keep the revolution alive! Cuba's great potential saving grace is that the voice of the people, while muffled, was never silenced. Vibrant discussions are taking place in the streets and on the Internet.

An array of militant voices in Cuba are calling for the very steps that would breathe new life into the revolution: decision-making power in the hands of workers' and peasants' councils; tightened state control of foreign trade and the reversal of privatizations; freedom of speech, association, travel and Internet access for workers; autonomy for unions and mass organizations; and foreign policy guided by revolutionary internationalism.

One example is a program circulated by former diplomat Pedro Campos and co-thinkers that calls for workers' democracy and demands that the CCP allow internal factions. The program was circulated on the Spanish-language www.kaosenlared.net and widely discussed during the past year. Proponents hoped to present it at the CCP's upcoming sixth congress, making it "the trigger for a national democratization."

But Raúl Castro seems determined to tighten bureaucratic control rather than let the people be heard. Some revolutionary critics, like kaosenlared contributor Miguel Arencibia Daupés, have been harassed and lost their state jobs. And, on July 31, Raúl announced the postponement of the party congress. Days later came the news that more state companies would be put under the management of the army, which Raúl has headed for decades and which plays a major role in the joint enterprises that brought foreign capitalists into Cuba.

Meanwhile, Barack Obama announced in August an end to limits on travel and money sent to families in Cuba by U.S. relatives. But his real interest is in opening a door to Cuba for U.S. corporations.

Sympathetic working people across the world should look for ways to support the advocates of socialist workers' democracy within Cuba. At the same time, the fight to keep the U.S. boot off Cuba's neck must grow stronger. This means demanding an end to the embargo and to all U.S. interference - military threats, undercover CIA-type action, and economic coercion.

Just as only workers' democracy can force the necessary course change on the island, Cuba cannot survive alone forever. The final chapter of this epic struggle must be the building of a revolutionary U.S. movement powerful enough to stop U.S. aggression around the globe and win an egalitarian society in the heartland of imperialism. Start it up!

Economic System Reform in China

Since 1949, the new China has undertaken quite a transformation from the original central-planning system to the current socialism market economy. Now, China has become a major topic of discussion among ordinary people in daily life.

This course is designed to give students an overview of various aspects of the transformation process beginning in 1978, including the cultural and political background. The personal role of Deng Xiaoping is emphasized in the early stage of the process. The course tells a vivid story about how the country has moved to the current stage, and what kind of daunting challenges the country is facing in the 21 century.

Islamic economic system solution to our economic woes

Islamic economy is based on the limited desires and infinite resources, which provides an impetus to the industry and consequently the country becomes prosperous. The Pakistani businessmen need to adopt fair play; honesty and consistency in the quality of their products to attain their lost credibility at the international level. Islam espouses equal economic rights, something not to be found in Capitalism and Socialism. Socialism grew as a result of reaction to the Capitalism, whereas Islam guarantees the protection of rights of both businessmen and masses.

Sexism and Socialism

Austrian female socialist leader, Adelheid Popp, one of 15 children, is a good example of the displaced child as she was one of fifteen children and began to work in the factories at six years old. She writes of her childhood in the factory in an autobiography and continues to work for women’s and family’s interests including marriage rights reform and income equality.(4) Both Popp and Zetkin are immensely important to uncovering the social inequalities of women with in the socialist doctrine and the hypocritical nature of a doctrine which supports power to the people and the individual, but not really to women!

Despite Chavez, Venezuela economy not socialist

CARACAS (AP) - It's President Hugo Chavez's biggest economic battle cry, and it's getting louder as Venezuela suffers a recession: "We're going to bury Venezuelan capitalism."

Yet creating a socialist economy is one of Chavez's most elusive goals _ a stark example of the disconnect between the president's rhetoric and the reality on the ground. In fact, the private sector still controls two-thirds of Venezuela's economy _ the same as when Chavez was elected in 1998, according to estimates by the Central Bank.

The reasons are political and practical: Chavez knows most Venezuelans recoil from the idea of Cuban-style state control, and his government is far from being capable of taking over and running a majority of the economy.

"Basically he recognizes that in this day and age in a global economy ... complete state control would just doom the country," said Michael Shifter, an analyst at the Washington-based Inter-American Dialogue.

So his strategy has been to selectively nationalize companies, set up state-run supermarkets and promote worker-managed businesses, while trying to convince Venezuelans to accept his vaguely defined brand of "21st Century Socialism."

It is a hard sell for a country hooked on consumerism.

Shopping malls are filled with middle- and upper-class Venezuelans browsing through Lacoste shirts, Guess jeans and Montblanc pens. Sales have declined in the recession, but just about everyone who can afford it seems to own a BlackBerry, and Scotch whisky flows liberally in upscale restaurants at the equivalent of $110 a bottle.

Just as Chavez has ramped up his anti-capitalism tirades, he finds himself facing one of the biggest scandals of his tenure involving a state-run food distributor. The company, PDVAL, left more than 2,700 shipping containers of rice, flour, milk, chicken, beef and other foods in a port rotting or beyond their expiration dates.

Its former chief and two others have been arrested, and some Venezuelans have begun to mockingly call the state company "Pudre-val," using the Spanish word for rotting. One newspaper cartoon depicted Karl Marx wearing a gas mask to ward off the stench.

It's a glaring example of the problems and delays that regularly plague Venezuela's government-run operations.

In a review of 15 state-run companies, economist Richard Obuchi found that all "were producing well below goals or production capacity."

The vast majority _ some of which were nationalized by Chavez _ now rely on government subsidies, said Obuchi, a professor at the Institute of Higher Administration Studies, or IESA, in Caracas.

One of the expropriated companies, industrial valve maker Industria Venezolana Endogena de Valvulas SA, or INVEVAL, has been limited to refurbishing old oil industry and water valves for years _ instead of producing them as it once did.

Port workers in Puerto Cabello, where much of the rotten food was found, say six of the port's eight cranes are out of order and the pace of importing cargo has slowed since the government took over management last year.

The country's food imports have grown as the government has seized farmland, and periodic shortages of foods such as milk, beef and sugar have emerged in recent years.

People at a state-supported farming commune on the outskirts of Caracas say they have been waiting for a new well to water crops for more than a year since the first one went dry.

While production has declined, the public sector has swelled from about 1.4 million workers in 1999 to about 2.4 million in 2010, according to government figures.

"They don't have the capacity to manage any company," said Rafael Davila Guaricuco, a 34-year-old port crane operator. "They're destroying everything."

That is precisely the perception Chavez tries to fight in his speeches.

"The bourgeoisie is trying to convince Venezuelans that the path to socialism isn't viable, that all businesses in socialism go bust. It's the opposite," Chavez said.

He pitches cut-rate prices at subsidized state-run supermarkets like a salesman, and touts a successful state-run dairy factory, cooking oil plant and the nationalized telephone company.

State-run markets are part of Chavez's attempts to counter 31-percent inflation that has been battering the country, alongside a recession that shrank the economy 5.8 percent in the first quarter. Venezuela is now the only South American country with a shrinking economy, according to the latest figures available.

Tensions are growing between Chavez and business leaders, who blame his policies for prompting a sharp drop in investment.

Chavez's finance and communication ministers didn't respond to e-mails seeking comment about his efforts toward socialism.

Statement of purpose, Vancouver Socialist Forum

Vancouver Socialist Forum was founded in 2007 to promote the ideas of socialism and facilitate the political activity of its members. It organises educational discussions and regular public forums.

Socialism or barbarism

The economic crisis that engulfed the planet in 2008 once again illustrates the destructive and irrational nature of capitalism. To prevent worsening social and economic misery for the world’s population, capitalism must be replaced by an entirely new economic and social order, socialism.

The goal of socialism is to create societies that offer full participation to each member and are environmentally sustainable. Human needs will be fulfilled through public and democratic ownership of the means of producing social wealth.

The world is also facing a climate change-driven environmental catastrophe of epic proportion. Oppressed countries and Indigenous peoples will be the main victims of this. Vancouver Socialist Forum (VSF) opposes the imposition of the costs of global environmental change onto them.

Consumption patterns in rich countries like Canada must change as part of learning a new relationship with planet Earth. This need not result in poverty for working people. What will be lost is the culture of consumerism, needless waste and excessive luxuries.

Only a mass, popular movement of resistance and change can end economic misery and reverse the destruction of the Earth's ecosystem. To achieve a shift to an ecologically sustainable and socially just economic order, planning of the world economy through democratic institutions and mass participation from members of society is required. This cannot be achieved under capitalism. The ruling elites resist any loosening of their control over the world’s natural and human resources, while their lust for profits continues to drive destructive projects like the Alberta tar sands.

Internationalism, the right to self determination

Our watchword is internationalism. Working people of the world share common interests in fighting against capitalist exploitation and national oppression. Divisions among us along national or racial lines are fostered by the capitalists and serve their interests.

We oppose the imperial wars and occupations that are a permanent feature of 21st century capitalism. Canada is an imperialist country in its own right, a junior partner in the imperialist system of exploitation. We oppose the wars by Canada and its allies in Afghanistan, Iraq and Palestine; and the Canada/US/UN occupation of Haiti.

We identify with the revolutions in the Americas that have placed socialism back on the agenda, especially those in Bolivia, Cuba and Venezuela.

We support the right of Indigenous nations around the world to political self- determination and sovereignty. We oppose the ongoing occupations of their territories, especially the Indigenous nations whose territories are occupied by the colonial-settler state known as Canada. We consider the struggle against Canadian nationalism and chauvinism and accompanying anti-native racism in the non-Native working class to be paramount in our work.

We support the struggles of the Quebecois against Anglo-Canadian discrimination, national oppression and political domination. We support their struggle for political sovereignty and self-determination. We recognise the deep class divisions that characterise Quebec society and the interest of the ruling class there in promoting racism and bigotry against the Indigenous peoples and people of colour.

Fighting oppression

We recognise the particular oppression that women face and strive to tear down all barriers to full and complete social equality. Patriarchal constructions of gender must be challenged. We oppose all discrimination and oppression based on sexual orientation and gender identity.

We oppose the racism and discrimination against racialised people, including immigrants of colour, refugees and ``non-status'' people. We oppose the discrimination and violence against poor people by police agencies whose job is to keep the poor in their place. We support the democratic rights of poor people to public space and social support.

We recognise the special role played by the trade unions in the struggle for social justice. We participate in rank and file movements for greater union militancy and democracy. We advocate united fronts among all those fighting for justice.

Working people need to organise in politics independent of the capitalists and their political parties. Only independent political action and mass movements struggling for concrete goals can achieve lasting change. Elections alone change nothing.

How we organise

Membership of Vancouver Socialist Forum is open to those who agree with the general principles of its Statement of Purpose and who wish to promote socialist ideas and collaborate in political activities. Decisions of the group are made by majority vote at general meetings.

We seek to join in common activity with like-minded activists in other cities and provinces.

May 29, 2009

Islamic economic system solution to our economic woes

Islamic economy is based on the limited desires and infinite resources, which provides an impetus to the industry and consequently the country becomes prosperous. The Pakistani businessmen need to adopt fair play; honesty and consistency in the quality of their products to attain their lost credibility at the international level. Islam espouses equal economic rights, something not to be found in Capitalism and Socialism. Socialism grew as a result of reaction to the Capitalism, whereas Islam guarantees the protection of rights of both businessmen and masses.

Economic Calculation In The Socialist Commonwealth

Ludwig von Mises's seminal essay, originally published in 1920*, appears here in the 1990 edition  published by the Ludwig von Mises Institute. "Economic Calculation in the Socialist Commonwealth" advances a devastating critique against economic calculation in a socialist economy, inspiring a decades-long debate. For more information, sources, and materials concerning the calculation debate, visit The Calculation Debate in the Austrian Study Guide.

The Economics of Feasible Socialism Revisited

The Economics of Feasible SocialismMoriginally published in 1983Mwas a pathbreaking book. It identified a workable socialist program, achievable in the lifetime of a child born today, that avoided farfetched or Utopian assumptions and the deformations of ``actually existing socialism'' of the Soviet species. Incorporating the many recent changes in the former Soviet Union and Eastern Europe, Alec Nove has updated his book to produce this second edition. Characteristically readable, controversial, and full of insights, The Economics of Feasible Socialism Revisited will become essential reading for anyone concerned with evaluating the relevance of the anti-socialist reaction typical of many economists in Eastern Europe.