J6rg Guido Hiflsmann Two Interpretations of the Causes of the Socialist Disaster n recent years, the socialist calculation debate of the 1920s and 1930s has attracted anew the interest of thinkers in the Austrian tradition. With the breakdown of the Soviet empire Ludwig yon Mises's claim that socialism I as an economic system is impossible has received a somewhat late empiri- cal confirmation. However, modern Austrian economists are far from sharing a common interpretation of the issue. Some of them think that the impossibility of socialism stems from its inability to communicate dispersed knowledge. I In their eyes, information about the particular circumstances of time and place can never be centralized. It necessarily exists in dispersed form and yet it can be communicated by the market prices of capitalist societies. Only capitalism is thus capable of solving the knowledge problem. Other authors consider the knowledge-problem to be secondary. 2 They hold that the absence or presence of private property is the salient point. In socialism J6rg Guido Hfilsmann is inm-uctor of economics at the Verwahungs und Wirtschaft~du~e~nie, Berlin. This paper was first presented at the Mlses lnstitute's ~ Scholars Conference in Auburn, Alabama, January 1996. I wish to thank
The Review of Austrian Economics – Springer Journals
Published: Nov 26, 2006
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