Socialism’s About Turn

Aadisht points to the latest version of the old bad idea: Nationalising rivers.  This is the time to pimp my old solution to the Kaveri dispute which still has a better chance of working than everything else that is being tried now.

In this post, however, I want to ask supporters of this idea: Why do you think nationalising rivers will work? This is old style socialism of course, which advocates central planning, and it does not work of course.

But even for it to work in theory,  the central planners have to be separated from the people on whose behalf they are making decisions – “separated” in the same sense that judges are  isolated from popular pressure. 

Take the current example.  Nationalising rivers is a good idea only if the decisions are taken on objective considerations, i.e. which land requires water, which land will yield more, which land can grow other crops that do not require water, etc.  If decisions are determined by considerations like which state has more votes, which state will go to the elections next, which state the party ruling at the Centre is going to fight a close election in, etc.  things are not going to work.

Keep this fact in mind the next time someone tells you that the problem with Socialism was too little Democracy. It was not. By its very design, Socialism was an anti-democratic idea. Socialism and Democracy could not have worked together.

This also explains why I am more sceptical of the new Left than the old Left. The old Left at least identified the problem properly and provided the wrong solution to it. The new Left, which seems to think that bringing everything under democratic control is the solution, does not even attempt to grapple with the complexities of the problem.

3 thoughts on “Socialism’s About Turn

  1. Ravi,

    I was thinking that everyone can be allocated “water shares” which they can later trade. I don’t know if it is identical to know what you are saying, or even if that makes any sense, economics is not my strong point.

    One issue may be how water shares are distributed, initially I was thinking on the lines that everyone should get equal quantity. But since everyone doesn’t use equal amount, perhaps the distribution scheme should be where agriculture gets more than industry which gets more than household.

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