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.
Leigh Phillips is a science writer whose work has appeared in Nature, Science, the New Scientist and the Guardian, amongst other publications.
Michal Rozworski is a union researcher and writer based in Vancouver, Canada. He holds graduate degrees in economics and philosophy and publishes frequently on political economy.
J.W. Mason is an Assistant Professor of Economics at John Jay College, City University of New York and a Fellow at the Roosevelt Institute. He has a PhD in Economics from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst.