By Friedrick Hayek

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The problem of value? These words will astonish many of my readers; this will be the last thing they expected. The problem of value in a socialist society? Surely, if socialism is realized, there will be no value phenomena and therefore no value problem. Then everything will be a mere question of technique. This opinion is, in actual fact, very widely held, but how- 43 COLLECTIVIST ECONOMIC PLANNING ever popular it is, and however frequently and dogmatically stated, it is nevertheless profoundly erroneous.

L It should not be thought that in demanding con1 [De Economist, Vol. ] 53 COLLECTIVIST ECONOMIC PLANNING sistency from socialists I am accusing them of insincerity. Their fault is that they have not always made themselves sufficiently clear as to their own ideals. Thus a certain nonchalance, which is often a peculiarity of their expositional writings, also appears in their polemics. For example, Herr Troelstra, in his Theorie en Beweging, ascribes the rejection by the bourgeoisie of the surplus value theory to the fact that this theory is "a standing protest against the ethical feelings of which the bourgeoisie delights to boast": yet he surely cannot mean this statement to be taken literally.

Is it not further possible that our descendants having attained so lofty an ethical plane, would hesitate to introduce measures which might involve a lower standard of living for the majority? Admittedly there are perils which threaten morality in the present order of society; but this is common to any conceivable social order. Communism, for example, rriight encourage negligence, idleness or 45 COLLECTIVIST ECONOMIC PLANNING even habitual theft, while on the other hand sagacity and the power of organization might be lost under this system.

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