A brief extract from my current reading which really stood out for me. Economics and Utopia pits the theories and practices of socialism against those of market fundamentalism, and moves towards some sort of third way, encompassing a plurality of institutions, including the market.
“Neither the individual nor the state can be omniscient. What is remarkable about both socialism (in a traditional sense) and market individualism is that they both presume a high degree of capability and enlightenment on the part of one or the other. In socialism the planning committees are assumed to be capable of knowing what is best. In market individualism the individual alone is ascribed with this capability. It is necessary to escape from this false dichotomy.
All knowledge is partial and provisional. Society, and the individuals within it, are involved in an interactive and mutually interdependent process where all are learning on the basis of conjecture, error, experience and experiment. It is suggested here that this open-ended and experimental process cannot be encapsulated adequately in these two systems. Neither a universal system of planning (democratic or otherwise), nor a set of atomistic individuals acting solely through markets and contracts, can give full reign to experimentation and learning. They require a set of varied and pluralistic economic structures, frowned upon by centralist socialists and market individualists alike.”
Geoffrey M. Hodgson (1999), Economics and Utopia, Ch.2, p.79-80