So here's my planning take.

Generally we have a dichotomy between central and decentralized planning.

Centralized planning is popularly characterized as a necessarily hierarchical and remote process carried out by the administration. I'm not going to touch on how this is bad except to say: central planning removes not only control from the working class but consciousness of what it is doing. People become directed as tools rather than finally becoming masters of themselves and the solar system. A center that can impose like this is a state (Lassallean nonsense). The only examples of central planning we've had have been planned state capitalist economies.

Decentralized planning is lampooned as atomized groups just winging it in their own locality without regard for the larger picture. If it's planning at all this is an inaccurate picture. Supply chains associations could be an example of decentralized planning. The question of how people who take into account that larger picture — the administration (bean counters) — come into this is where decentralized planning falls apart for me. Without adequate information, we're simply replicating the anarchy in production of the market. We must have our beans counted because we'd be very likely to fall into some kind of chaos that'd involve famine and regressing into another exploitative system. I doubt that a working class that had been able to reach a point of vanquishing capital and establishing a planned economy would ever choose such a decentralized economy, though, so this is purely a thought experiment.

Most people say they favor a hybrid, something of both. I think that this is just appropriately planning, though. What's believed to be needed in central planning are bean counters providing an overview and suggestions. What's believed to be provided in decentralized planning is the primacy of local knowledge and the facts on the ground as well as the idea of freedom promised in communism. But what they want isn't a hybrid necessarily. More than likely, they want the planning to be informed (by our bean counters) and conducted by all involved. Rather than commands from above or wonton misproduction below, what's desired is a basis of negotiation. I think negotiation is a better way of framing what's most often meant by planning. Negotiation removes both the concern of a legumocracy and uninformed production either from bean counters or from Joe who plumbs in the afternoon. Negotiation means that people become aware and self-directing. A focus on negotiation in planning, on the process of planning, allowed people to understand what's really meant by this planning.

This was very inspired by a lecture by Michael Heinrich. It's a lecture I review a lot and it's where I believe I stole the term "negotiate" for this whole thing which itself is probable stolen from council communism generally.

Also this tweet lives rent free my head (I even bought it a space heater).

Mr Pancake (Anton Pannekoek) provides a relevant picture in Workers' Councils. This post should just be a break down of this discussion because this actually is what I was trying to say but I didn't realize it until now.

The basis of the social organization of production consists in a careful administration, in the form of statistics and bookkeeping. Statistics of the consumption of all the different goods, statistics of the capacity of the industrial plants, of the machines, of the soil, of the mines, of the means of transport, statistics of the population and the resources of towns, districts and countries, all these present the foundation of the entire economic process in wellordered rows of numerical data. Statistics of economic processes were already known under capitalism; but they remained imperfect because of the independence and the limited view of the private business men, and they found only a limited application. Now they are the starting point in the organization of production; to produce the right quantity of goods, the quantity used or wanted must be known. At the same time statistics as the compressed result of the numerical registration of the process of production, the comprehensive summary of the bookkeeping, expresses the course of development.
The general bookkeeping, comprehending and encompassing the administrations of the separate enterprises, combines them all into a representation of the economic process of society. In different degrees of range it registers the entire process of transformation of matter, following it from the raw materials at their origin, through all the factories, through all the hands, down to the goods ready for consumption. In uniting the results of co-operating enterprises of a sort into one whole it compares their efficiency, it averages the hours of labor needed and directs the attention to the ways open for progress. Once the organization of production has been carried out the administration is the comparatively simple task of a network of interconnected computing offices. Every enterprise, every contingent group of enterprises, every branch of production, every township or district, for production and for consumption, has its office, to take care of the administration, to collect, to treat and to discuss the figures and to put them into a perspicuous form easy to survey. Their combined work makes the material basis of life a mentally dominated process. As a plain and intelligible numerical image the process of production is laid open to everybody’s views. Here mankind views and controls its own life. What the workers and their councils devise and plan in organized collaboration is shown in character and results in the figures of bookkeeping. Only because they are perpetually before the eyes of every worker the direction of social production by the producers themselves is rendered possible.[1]
Conditions are entirely different when the workers as masters of their labor and as free producers organize production. The administration by means of bookkeeping and computing is a special task of certain persons, just as hammering steel or baking bread is a special task of other persons, all equally useful and necessary. The workers in the computing offices are neither servants nor rulers. They are not officials in the service of the workers’ councils, obediently having to perform their orders. They are groups of workers, like other groups collectively regulating their work themselves, disposing of their implements, performing their duties, as does every group, in continual connection with the needs of the whole. They are the experts who have to provide the basical data of the discussions and decisions in the assemblies of workers and of councils. They have to collect the data, to present them in an easily intelligible form of tables, of graphs, of pictures, so that every worker at every moment has a clear image of the state of things. Their knowledge is not a private property giving them power; they are not a body with exclusive administrative knowledge that thereby somehow could exert a deciding influence. The product of their labor, the numerical insight needed for the work’s progress, is available to all. This general knowledge is the foundation of all the discussions and decisions of the workers and their councils by which the organization of labor is performed.[2]


1. Anton Pannekoek. Workers' Councils [1948]. Part 1, Chapter 4, Paragraphs 11-12. All my emphasis.

2. Ibid. Paragraph 15. My emphasis.