The Socialist Challenge

Note: the first time you go through each of these topics you should click on the following items in sequence. 

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Part "a"
Part "b"

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Ever since the idea of the self-regulating market was introduced there has been debate over the extent to which markets should be entrusted with the control of economic life. In this topic we look at the socialist critique of the market system and try to show that it was not necessarily a rejection of the technical operation of free and competitive markets, but more a concern with their social, political and other non-economics impacts on society. In a later topic we will consider criticisms which focus more on certain technical shortcomings of markets, the phenomenon of "market failure".


  • To explore the socialist critique of the free-market model
  • To discuss the differences beween revolutionary and evolutionary approaches to reform of market capitalism
  • To illustrate some of the issues involved through a review of the Lange-von Mises debate of the 1920s which is particularly interesting in light of the recent collapse of socialist planning systems in Russia and elsewhere.

Copyright 1999 K.J. Rea