Towards a New Socialism

Towards a New Socialism is a 1993 non-fiction book written by Scottish computer scientist Paul Cockshott, co-authored by Scottish economics professor Allin F. Cottrell. The book outlines in detail a proposal for a complex planned socialist economy, taking inspiration from cybernetics, the works of Karl Marx, and British operations research scientist Stafford Beer's 1973 model of a distributed decision support system dubbed Project Cybersyn. Aspects of a socialist society such as direct democracy, foreign trade and property relations are also explored. The book is, in the authors' words, "our attempt to answer the idea that socialism is dead and buried after the demise of the Soviet Union."[1]

Towards a New Socialism
Towards a New Socialism cover.jpeg
AuthorWilliam Paul Cockshott and Allin F. Cottrell
PublisherSpokesman Books

The book was covered in an article in Süddeutsche Zeitung in 2017,[2] as well as reviewed by Leonard Brewster in the Spring 2004 issue of the Quarterly Journal of Austrian Economics.[3]

The book has been translated into Mandarin, German, Swedish and Czech.[citation needed]


Leonard Brewster, Ph.D., reviewed the book in the Spring 2004 issue of the Quarterly Journal of Austrian Economics, positing that "Cockshott and Cottrell have come as close to developing a serious, up-to-date version of a neo-Marxist political economy as we are likely to see." Brewster concedes that C&C have "succeeded in countering a version of the calculation argument" but writes that this "ironically clarif[ies] and strengthen[s] the reasons for considering socialist calculation not just as troublesome, but impossible, and valuation in terms of labor an illusion." Furthermore, Brewster argues that C&C's allowance of a market for consumer goods, in effect, makes their model a "capitalistic, commodity producing society."[3]

In 2009, Cockshott published an article entitled "Notes for a critique of Brewster" in which he responded to Brewster's arguments against the book's model. Cockshott asserts that Brewster is "wrong in saying that our labour values are no longer labour values since they are now influenced by market prices", arguing that the distortion of labour value ratios, manifesting through exchange value ratios in capitalist economies, is a short-term artefact of supply and demand imbalances. Furthermore, Cockshott argues that maintaining these distinctions in his model does not "[prevent] labour values from being usable for economic calculation when dealing with intermediate goods." Summarising, Cockshott asserts that "we argue that the market has a place, but only a limited place. It should be restricted to consumer goods, and even here, market indicators are not the ultima ratio. They are just one among many constraints that society has to recognise."[4]


The book is divided into 15 chapters, excluding the introduction:[5]

  1. Inequality
  2. Eliminating Inequalities
  3. Work, Time and Computers
  4. Basic Concepts of Planning
  5. Strategic Planning
  6. Detailed Planning
  7. Macroeconomic Planning
  8. The Marketing of Consumer Goods
  9. Planning and Information
  10. Foreign Trade
  11. Trade Between Socialist Countries
  12. The Commune
  13. On Democracy
  14. Property Relations
  15. Some Contrary Views Considered


  1. ^ "Towards a New Socialism". Archived from the original on 2020-02-09. Retrieved 2020-07-13.
  2. ^ Lobe, Adrian (August 5, 2017). "Der Staat als Maschine". Süddeutsche Zeitung. Archived from the original on 2020-02-29. Retrieved July 13, 2020.
  3. ^ a b Brewster, Leonard (July 30, 2017). "Review of Towards a New Socialism? by W. Paul Cockshott and Allin F. Cottrell" (PDF). Quarterly Journal of Austrian Economics. 7: 65. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2020-03-28.
  4. ^ Cockshott, William Paul (June 20, 2009). "Notes for a critique of Brewster" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on November 18, 2017. Retrieved July 14, 2020.
  5. ^ Cockshott, William Paul; Cottrell, Allin F. (1993). Towards a New Socialism. England: Spokesman Books. ISBN 978-0851245454.

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