Courtesy Reuters

THE economists and theorists of all Socialist schools of thought agree in the denunciation of capitalist competition and of its laissez-faire apologists. But behind this unanimity in denunciation can be discerned wide differences in approach and argument, differences which finally come into the open when any Socialist school tries to look beyond capitalist society and to answer the question whether Socialism itself is compatible with any form of competition. The different answers given to this question reflect broader differences between the various visions and conceptions of Socialism.

Perhaps the most crucial theoretical controversy over this subject took place between Marx and Proudhon more than a century ago. Proudhon saw Socialism essentially as a "free association" of small property owners, of independent producers owning their means of production. It was natural for him to envisage the economic activity of such a society in terms of competition. The evil of capitalism, Proudhon

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  • ISAAC DEUTSCHER, author of "Stalin, a Political Biography" and "Soviet Trade Unions;" formerly on the staff of The Economist and The Observer, London
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