Individualism Descendants

Individualism Descendants

Individualism The descendants of the Saint Simonians the economists who preferred state direction and 'social engineering', rejected the individualists and condemned the market as an instrument used by powerful capitalist and employer monopolists to exploit employee and the community at large. In recent years some socialist economists in England, Europe and America have re-examined the working of markets although they believe that the state should own and direct the major means of production. Markets have also been used or tolerated in Russia, Yugoslavia, Poland and other communist countries.

The main economic criticism of the individualist theory has been that markets are not always competitive but are often dominated by one supplier (monopoly), two suppliers (duopoly), or a small number of suppliers (oligopoly). This has been true of industries in which economies of large-scale production, management, marketing or financing enable a handful of firms to grow and sell more cheaply than the others as in some countries in steel, coal, minerals, electricity and gas, transport and others. Some of these industries are regulated (in price or service) or controlled by public authorities. The individualists contend that in many industries markets are not competitive because the state in some countries has tolerated or connived at monopoly by failing to pass laws against it (e.g. resale price maintenance), or has encouraged it by inducing producers to collaborate (as in agricultural marketing boards), or has put under a state monopoly an industry that might otherwise be competitive (e.g. coal, road, rail and air transport).

Essentially the economic debate between individualist and socialist economists turns on the legal, administrative and political practicability of making markets competitive.



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