Paul Cockshott's Blog

Comments on economics and politics

About Paul

Paul is an economist and computer scientist who writes extensively on both subjects. His publications are available in several languages. He is a member of WARP and of Solidarity.

His books include

Uusi sosialismi

Paul Cockshott and Allin Cottrell present a new alternative to the capitalist market economy. The book explains how millions of different products in the manufacturing of society can be designed without having to resort to capitalist markets and bureaucratic arbitrariness. Direct democratic planned economy, based on their use of a working hours based   valuation system,  super computers and networks. Originally published in English in 1993, the book has since been translated into Swedish (2002), Czech (2006) in German (2006), Spanish (2007) and Russian (2007). Sosialismi.netin now publish the Finnish-language edition which includes the original book in addition to an updated version of chapter 15, in 2008, written to the additional figures in the socialist calculation debate (Chapter 16), and socialism, the transition (Chapter 17), as well as  a translation of the Czech language   foreword.

Arguments for

Socialism

This book is made up of a collection of polemical articles written by us over the period since the fall of �die Mauer� and the crisis of the European socialist movement brought on in its wake. They record an attempt to argue through the theoretical challenges that this period has posed:

* Why did both Leninist communism and Social Democracy come to crisis?
* What were the economic weaknesses of both and what economic policy should a future socialist movement adopt to overcome these?
Link to PDF version


EU Am Ende

A book on the Euro crisis in German of which I am co author

Glasgow Pascal Compiler with Vector Extensions

This book is a manual for the Glasgow Pascal compiler, decribing both the standard features of Pascal and the Vector Extensions that allow efficient parallel processing on modern multi-core chips.

Computation and its Limits

The book is an innovative cross-disciplinary investigation of the relationship between computing and physical reality. It starts off investigating the mystery of why mathematics is so effective in science and seeks to explain this in terms of the modelling of one part of physical reality by another. Going from the origins of counting to the most blue-skies proposals for novel methods of computation the authors investigate the extent to which the laws of nature and of logic constrain what we can compute. In the process they examine formal computability, the thermodynamics of computation and the promise of quantum computing. ( in press with OUP)

Classical Econophysics: essays in thermodynamics, information theory and political economy

A book which examines the domain of classical political economy using the methodologies developed in recent years both by the new discipline of econo-physics and by computing science. The book begins by examining the most basic feature of economic life   production   and asks what it is about physical laws that allows production to take place. How is it that human labour is able to modify the world? It looks at the role that information has played in the process of mass production and the extent to which human labour still remains a key resource. The Ricardian labour theory of value is re-examined in the light of econophysics, presenting agent based models in which the Ricardian theory of value appears as an emergent property. The authors present models giving rise to the class distribution of income, and the long term evolution of profit rates in market economies.

Simd Programming Manual for Linux and Windows

A book on programming for the SIMD instructionsets of modern processors. It looks at theese architectures and gives examples in Vector Pascal, a language that I developed for high performance image processing.

Transition to 21st century socialism in the European Union

A book based on a socialist ecconomic response to the credit crisis that was put forward at a conference in Berlin in Feb 2010

Towards a

New Socialism

EPUB format

English Edition of a book that has subsequently appeared in several languages (below). It examines the extent to which modern super computer technology allows both an efficient system of planned economy and enhanced democratic control of society using electronic voting.
Note that the EPUB format is a relatively innacurate conversion from the original latex

Hacia un NUEVO SOCIALISMO

Spanish translation published in Venezuela.

К новому социализму

Russian translation, currently on the web, probably due for publication.
 

Kybersocialismus

The full text of the Czech edition of our book with the long extended introduction we wrote for this edition.

Sozialismus ist machbar

Extended German translation of Towards a New Socialism, containing the Czech introduction. This includes certain chapters elided from the German edition published by Papyrossa ( shown in picture).

Planhush�llning och direktdemokrati

 Denna bok, skriven av en nationalekonom och en datorforskare, visar inte bara att ett annat s�tt �r m�jligt – den visar ocks� hur det rent konkret kan f�rverkligas med hj�lp av modern datakraft och det n�tverksbyggande som brutit igenom i v�r tid.

PS-Algol Implementations

Describes implementation techniques for the persistent programming language PS-algol.

A Compiler Writer’s Toolbox 

A textbook on compiler construction showing how to build high speed interactive compilers after the idiom of the Borland compilers. The example compiler is an implementation of PS-algol. The web link is to a version of the book used as teaching notes here.

16 thoughts on “About Paul

  1. Hey Paul I’m a really big fan of your work. My name’s Weston and I’m an 18 year old Marxist. Anyways I was wondering if you had any papers on Bohm-Bawerks Capital and Interest, or if you could just give some brief critiques of it. My friend and I have a debate with two Austrians coming up. I’ve gathered a lot of info on the calculation problems, the LTV vs STV problems, and the transformation problem, but I haven’t been able to find any good info going after Bohm-Bawerk’s theory that profits aren’t exploitation they’re just the capitalists taking interest because of the roundabout nature of production. I could really use some good critiques of that argument.
    Thank You

    1. Well ask them what determines the limit of interest? Why is it a particular percentage? Why is the rate of interest in all capitalist countries now close to zero?
      Marxist economics provides an answer to that: the rate of interest has the rate of profit as an upper bound, if it rises above the rate of profit investment ceases. But the rate of profit has been falling in a way that is explicable by Marx but is not explicable by the Austrian school. Marxian derived dynamic equations exactly predict the rate of profit 2 to 3 years ahead , but these equations are based on the labour theory of value.

  2. Paul, hello there.

    I’ve been following your writings for a rather long time and they gave me a good perspective on socialism, labor theory of value and modern approach to socialism. Especially interesting for me is the computing theory on balancing, nobody really talks about it which heavily upsets me as a software engineer.

    Recently I stumbled upon David Graeber’s writings of ‘Bullshit jobs’ and ‘Debt’, both of which seem very relatable from a modern white-collar enterprise worker perspective. While reading ‘Debt’ I found a rather solid argument against Engels’ writings on emergence of private property and a slight expansion to the role of money, framing it strictly as the measure of credit in stateless, marketless economies without any gold supply behind it. Also he writes about how currency, cash and reserves were imposed on such economies in medieval or contemporary colonial times, which in my opinion is a great source of data on how we can go beyond money.

    Have you seen his work? I don’t see a terminal contradiction between it and modern marxist premise, but maybe I’m losing something.

    Also, I’m sorry for my command of English, it’s not my native and sometimes I use patterns from Russian unconciously

      1. Hello again Paul!

        Totally agree on the jobs stuff, although it is certain capitalism wastes a lot of labor, but the dream of post-scarcity is hardly obtainable now without third-world workers reduced to near slave conditions and a lot of fossil fuel.

        I was very glad to hear your answer, but couldn’t find any points upon which to continue the conversation until now.
        I read ‘Towards New Socialism’, read Kantorovich, re-read ‘State and Revolution’ and a couple of other works recently, concerning mainly the macroeconomical workings and soviet economical history and found most of my pending questions answered.

        The latter part left me a little bit sad of not having an opportunity to invent the wheel, but only reinvent it.
        Nevertheless, I formed a couple of other questions and am planning to work on them, but it would be great to see an advice and an opinion from you.

        So, the first one is more of a meta-question, concerning the tactics, not the strategy: how can we get to the position at which there is possible for socialists to propose the system described in the book?
        I remember the videos on the UK socialist strategy of direct decision to end exploitation by a referendum, but it seems unlikely to me for a referendum to be possible in the climate of revolutionary situation – by which I mean the war.
        Of course, the revolutionary situation by definition supposes that the masses are generally supportive of revolution, but in the chapter on soviets it was greatly laid out that they provide a great ground for one-party state and that they have to be led by a cohesive group of revolutionaries promoting their interests and they don’t provide revolutionary challenge in a parliamentary state. So, the communists of our century would need a form of organization which will overcome those difficulties and somehow steer the soviets, if and when they form, to still provide a revolutionary challenge and yet be able to counteract parliamentary sedative effect and get a ground for a democratic (in Athenian sense, of course) ‘state’? If that is right, may it be possible to tie the tendency of soviets to devolve into single-party control as a byproduct of their military (or otherwise armed) origin?

        Speaking of military, while following the argument of your video on war and revolution, I wanted to make some remarks regarding the modern military technology and ask to do a little external sanity check.
        First of, I was for a long time interested in the example of Switzerland, which moved to a rather advanced form of munitions and equipment control – at first it had provided its citizens with firearms on compulsory basis, but citizens later asked and voted in favor of the decision to move and hold firearms in local arsenals. It sounds like a good progress meaning that the guns are not floating around, but handled in an organized manner like dangerous chemicals or restricted but legal medicine. Also, arsenals promote unit forming and cohesion, firstly due to their local nature and then to a possibility to hand out weapons not per-individual, but per-unit, eliminating the possibility of mass shootings and everything that comes as ‘necessary evil’ in american model of rights for firearms in ‘self-defense’. But, promoting arsenals immediately may mean additional organizational burden and moreover weakening of a new-born socialist state against criminal and otherwise subversive elements due to circulation of weapons left behind by war (in Russia the weapons from WWII are still in wide use by criminals who dig them up and then restore). Is it a good tactical decision, therefore, to immediately promote such communal militias organizations through arsenals, or not?

        Secondly, there is a recent experience of a socialist revolution (or at least the appearance of it) in northern Syria, which started after a long struggle was ended by an ongoing war. The newly formed commune decided to protect itself precisely by forming a local militia. The militia, however, was supported by the US air force at first, providing it with an advantage against a non-aerial opponent and safety from the aerial ones, mainly Turkey. The forces gained experience, command capabilities and cohesion and later acted both as the communal law enforcers and military. However, as soon as Turkey moved into Syria with drones, thermal imaging and overall heavy weapon capabilities the democratic forces had to retreat further and further back, trade some autonomy for safety and later collapse. Part of that may be attributed to inexperience against a technically advanced opponent or worse fighting capabilities, but I think the issue lays deeper: even though they quickly adapted by digging into the ground (using the proven tactic which worked against aerial and mobile opponent in Vietnam) lack of logistic capabilities devastated the kurds. So, the questions are: 1) Is it legitimate for a revolutionary movement to be a temporary ally with some power of asymmetrical capabilities and to which extent can the partnership extend? Can we say that aerial forces are generally proving to be reactionary, starting from luftwaffe in WWII having most direct influence from the Nazi leaders to Allende palace bombing and modern remote-strike air forces, where officers usually get a huge pay and all sorts of state benefits to stay loyal, while having considerably less risk bombing underdeveloped countries then patrolling them on foot or in a AFV?

        Also, is there a developed communist stance on the subversive forces, their effectiveness and how to fight them? We live in a surveilled world with ad-tech advertising without shame its own subversive capabilities, which may prove dangerous in strong reactionary periods, after the initial heat of the revolution, provided it started, has cooled off. Shall we envision a controlling structure at all, or rather put our stakes at the very social protocol itself? If we choose the former, how do you think, to whom such forces should answer or shall they be ‘forces’ at all or lack executive capabilities, providing only the intel to local councils or warfare specialists?

        Those are not all, I have some written down for later and also picked up a printed copy of ‘The Intellectuals on the Road to Class Power’ during a trip to Istanbul to later analyze. The book was written by a couple of parliamentary advocates in Hungary during the 70s, but it may prove to be a useful material on which to start forming the strategy on technical specialists of engineering and humanities and prevent specialist from being subverted while providing for them to be at their most productive state. My immediate suggestion is to tie the additional wage bonuses to the amount of their productivity increase for others, which is easily countable, but I have a slight fear it may either inflate the labor tokens (which makes some sense from capitalist standpoint – the previous labor is valued less if the economy has moved on, right?) or produce temporary deficits, albeit smaller ones compared to the one you described when talked about Bukharin-influenced policy adopted by Khrushchev and onward in the late USSR.

        Anyways, I’m sorry the message is rather massive, I’m looking forward to your answer and will surely understand if providing it may seem and be not rational due to my lack of expertise or other factors.
        I am also thinking of publishing and promoting ‘Towards the New Socialism’ in Russia in small quantities at approximately the end of 2021, given I manage to gather sufficient funding from my day job. I can certainly feel the demand, people are greatly leaning towards socialism, but don’t know what cybercommunism may be and what are the problems which communists may and will face, so there are a lot of small or nominally large groups theologically spitting citations from Lenin and endlessly arguing about one of two questions: (1) are managers proletarian? (2) Stalin or Trotsky. Of course, the discussions are more of a theater to gather donations and lack real substance, as the speakers hardly read or understood the works they are citing, but it at least shows the soil for a solid theory. The soil is so well-prepared that almost all independent bookshops are leaning left and the state is preparing a puppet ‘direct cyber democracy’ party just in case. Also, from my experience, there are a lot of technical specialists who crave for theory and socialist work and can possibly contribute to planning or otherwise communal software.

        If it would be more comfortable and you won’t mind, I would rather move the conversation to an e-mail.

  3. Hi Paul,

    I was wondering if you have read Gerovitch’s paper on why USSR did not build a nationwide network, and if you have, what are your thought about it.

    Also, have you made any video or written anything on MMT?

    Regards,
    Saigon

  4. Dr. Cockshott,

    You are an extremely valuable resource to a growing number of young socialists. I follow your youtube channel, have ordered several of your books and contribute to your Patreon. I was wondering if you have ever considered creating a “syllabus” or informal curriculum for newer socialists trying to get up to speed on socialist theory and economics. I’m trying to create a roadmap for myself but find it daunting as there is so much to read and so many tangental paths to go down. No shortage of content, but I see a lack of anyone suggesting solid road maps through it. I think you’d be a great guide for that.

    Personally, I see it in terms of

    (1) Critique of Capitalism- your standard classics, Kaptial, Value Price and Profit, State and Revolution
    (2) World History- This would cover the historical progression of MoP, basically your new book, but also include books that comprehensively walk us through the accounts and effects imperialism. this knowledge is extremely useful when publicly debating
    (3) Past Attempts at Socialism- What was done right and what was done wrong.
    (4) New Socialism- Obviously “Towards a New Socialism” would be the main text here. But I think Econophysics and other modern looks at economics are crucial as well

    Perhaps some basic economics texts are needed here? How might you structure such a thing? There is a real need for some guidance. I’d appreciate your thoughts. Thanks of all the work you’re doing.

      1. Professor Cockshott,

        Is there a particular syllabus or programming language you would recommend for beginning students of computer science and programming interested in working on and promoting cyber communism?

  5. Hi Professor Cockshott,
    I am a big fan of your work and thanks for all you do. How do you explain the difference between the Avg Profit Rate in the charts you provide in your papers “Demography and the Falling Rate of Profit” and “A New Attractor for the Rate of Profit” and the Avg Profit Rate in the charts given by Michael Roberts in the article here:
    https://thenextrecession.wordpress.com/2018/11/02/the-us-rate-of-profit-in-2017/

    Is it simply that he hasn’t applied a deflator? Or a more fundamental difference in approaching the calculation for profit rate?
    Thanks again

    1. The series that Zachariah and I publish are based on the extended Penn world tables. This allows the same software to prepare graphs for any country since the EPWT has a standard format for all nations.
      The standardisation means that the kind of detailed breakdown done for individual countries by taking into account unproductive labour etc, is not possible. I and Greg Michaelson have previously published that sort of study for the UK but it is a lot more work.

  6. Hi, I sent an essay I was hoping you would read on your Twitter but I wanted to say that I don’t think ltv can ever up-end capitalism and instead just furthers it. I think it, as a value system, just redistributed value and doesn’t further it. If anything it just creates the same thing as contemporary capitalist value derivatively.

  7. Hi Paul,

    I have recently published “The Reality Creators,” a book about populism and the struggle to make it work for the populace. In the book, I explore whether populism is anti-intellectual and if discontent is the ironic trade-off for the comfort of civilization (yes, that would be Freud’s influence).

    I argue we are born into a world owned by a wealthy minority and must therefore work off our debt trespassing upon their earth as their labor-consumer-voter force: Birth is the Crime; Life is the Time.

    May I send you a pdf copy? My email is chris.dancefarm@gmail.com

    The book is also available here:

    I would be grateful for your critique; I am under no illusions there is much to debate.

    Sincerely,

    Christopher Hall
    Cave Junction, OR

  8. Hi Professor,

    I have a question regarding the LTV, the value of labor-power, use-value, profit, and the reciprocal relationships between them. It might be a bit long for the comments here, do you think I could have your email?

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: