Hayek's Criticisms of Communism
Economist Friedrich Hayek in 'The Road to Serfdom' proposed two criticisms of communism, to which I'm going to add a third that I believe is important.
- Motivation : for an economic system to work, people have got to want to work. Forcing people to labor eventually requires half or more of the people to be policing the other half, creating a slave class.
- Mal-investment : for an economic system to work, there has to be a way for many differing ideas about how best to solve problems to compete on the merits of the ideas
And I am adding
- Monopoly : for a system to be stable and remain free of corruption, there must be a meaningful and easily accessible marketplace of alternate leadership.
Corruption : the Monopoly Problem
Moving this first because so many communist implementations historically have turned swiftly into totalitarian governments.
The problem is this : votes and super-votes (social power) can concentrate in the hands of a small group of people, just like wealth can. However, the U.S. system has actually figures out a good way of solving the monopoly problem for a socialist system.
Voting power is distributed across the nation and allocated in such a way that the voting power of urban centers is muted.
Checks and balances
Government power is distributed across three branches (legislative, judicial, executive) that each have capabilities of shutting down the other, but not usurping it (failing safe into an inoperative state, instead of failing hot into a concentration of decision-making power)
Judges are selected by a combination of the Executive and half a bi-cameral Legislature. Senators are chosen by State legislatures. Representatives are chosen by direct election. Presidents are chosen by an electoral college that is selected indirectly by the people and more directly by a written statute.
The most broad-reaching level of government only has powers expressly granted to it by a charter document (like a Constitution). For even further clarity, the charter document may expressly forbid the highest-level of government from exerting certain powers.
Terms of Service and Term Limits
Officials only serve a certain number of years, and sufficiently powerful positions should allow a fixed number of terms. After which, an individual is barred for life from holding that same high rank again.
Built-in Populist Panic Button
It should be possible (but difficult) for the people to directly overturn the results of indirect elections. The allows the people to directly possess final veto or approval power over their leaders and policies. This mechanism is intended to be used only when the indirect mechanics of government have become unwilling to represent the will of the people. Examples are : constitutional amendments, and calling new constitutional conventions.
How Does This Work on a Daily Level?
In this system, Boards of Directors are chosen by a city, county, state, or national selection process. Those Boards of Directors select and hold accountable the C-Suite staff (CEO, CFO, CIO, etc), who select their middle management and staff by whatever method they determine.
The Motivation Problem
Hayek repeated Adam Smith's belief that we are all, at heart, individualists. That, paraphrasing, "it is not for the common good that the butcher, the baker, and the candlestick maker labor; but for their own self-interest".
However, recent science seems to indicate Smith and Hayek were wrong. Assuming he's correct, Simon Senek in his book 'Leader Eat Last' (2014) indicated the neurotransmitter oxytocin shows that humans are biologically wired to work together, provided we believe the community is also looking out for us (also called the social contract). Individualism, he proposes, arises when the community is not, or does not appear to be, keeping it's obligation to the individuals.
What you need to deal with malinvestment are as many minds as possible working on the problem from potentially unique angles. These units of decision-making need to be empowered to defy conventional wisdom. These do not necessarily need to be individual citizens, but could be : villages, cities, counties, states, and national-level government, all of which potentially own factories, businesses and resources. These are free to negotiate with one another, creating a marketplace of ideas where price discovery (what's the best way of satisfying need X) can happen.