For the left and the right, major multinational companies are held up as the ultimate expressions of free-market capitalism. Their remarkable success appears to vindicate the old idea that modern society is too complex to be subjected to a plan. And yet, as Leigh Phillips and Michal Rozworski argue, much of the economy of the West is centrally planned at present. Not only is planning on vast scales possible, we already have it and it works. The real question is whether planning can be democratic. Can it be transformed to work for us?
An engaging, polemical romp through economic theory, computational complexity, and the history of planning, The People’s Republic of Walmart revives the conversation about how society can extend democratic decision-making to all economic matters. With the advances in information technology in recent decades and the emergence of globe-straddling collective enterprises, democratic planning in the interest of all humanity is more important and closer to attainment than ever before.
“An audacious and exciting vision. The kind of thing with the power to start a new movement...I haven't stopped thinking about it since.”
“A tour de force through the history of economic planning, from the dark heart of capitalism to the self-management of workers, from the earliest agricultural civilizations to the cybersocialists of the twentieth century. Far from markets being the ahistorical basis of society, it is conscious human planning that has repeatedly been at the center of economic life. In the midst of new technologies, imminent climate change havoc, and economic stagnation, this book makes the passionate and persuasive case that democratic socialist planning is more necessary and more possible than ever before.”
“The book does very well the urgent job of bringing together a lot of potentially world-shaking ideas and facts that most people on the left and more widely just haven't heard about, and does it in a popular and engaging way.”
“An impressive accomplishment … the voice and writing style are wonderfully accessible without pandering. Here countless socialist arguments are presented clearly and powerfully, and I trust that it will give many others the confidence to speak as socialists.”
“Apologists for modern capitalism pretend that corporations are somehow the embodiment of entrepreneurial initiative, ambition, and innovative zeal. This remarkable book proves that nothing could be further from the truth. The modern mega-corp epitomizes planning and control – to a degree unmatched in human history. Phillips and Rozworski’s political conclusion is both timely and utterly subversive: if humans can construct large bureaucracies that ruthlessly maximize private profit, then clearly we can also construct large, efficient organizations that just as ruthlessly maximize human and environmental well-being.”
“Provocative and lively book.”
“Philips and Rozworski’s book is a timely exhortation to rethink the wisdom that markets always do it better.”
“Fast-paced and provocative. It offers readers a refreshing perspective on today’s highly planned capitalist enterprises, and the prospect of a new form of democratic, transparent and socialist planning.”